Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Reception

October 11, 1988

Rudy, Bob, thank you for inviting me here tonight. I'm delighted to be with all of you. This is a great time of year because it gives me an opportunity to get out and around and spread some gospel. And from what I've been told, many of you in this room have been instrumental in making it possible to get the good word out to the people of North Dakota and Montana. Believe me, everything that you've done to help us with the crucial battle for the Senate has been much appreciated. Your generosity has made possible so much good work for the party and our chance to once again gain control of the United States Senate.

I've been so impressed with both Conrad Burns and Earl Strinden. He's a nice boy. [Laughter] Conrad is a Yellowstone County commissioner who helped balance the budget of the State's largest county when it faced tough economic times. And he did it without raising taxes. Now, that's being true to our Republican philosophy, I'm proud to say. And another thing that Conrad has proven is that he understands agriculture. Conrad is well known by Montanans for delivering farm and ranch news on the Northern AG Network. His entire career has dealt with farming and ranching. And that's the kind of down-to-earth experience that we need in Washington.

And I want to say a word about Earl as well. Earl has the kind of legislative experience that would allow him to hit the ground running. Earl's been in the North Dakota house for 22 years, 13 of those as minority leader. He's recognized as one of the strongest and most successful legislative leaders in the State's history. In that position, he's had to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions. I can tell you from personal experience that that's not always pleasant, but it makes me admire Earl all the more.

I see that Jan Strinden is also here tonight and has been introduced to all of us, and I know what a great source of strength and inspiration she is to Earl. Believe me, I don't know what I'd do without my better half.

And you know, whenever I come to one of these fundraisers, I think of the couple that never once during the long years of childrearing took a vacation. But then in retirement, they wanted to take a trip to Florida, and they asked their sons for some money. The first son was a lawyer, and he said, "No, I can't do it. I'm just fitting out a new law office, and sending my son to an expensive camp." So, they asked their second son, a doctor. But he said, "No, I'm sorry. I can't. I've just bought a new house, and my wife is putting in a new kitchen." Then they asked the third son, who was an engineer. And he said, "It just would be impossible for me to do it. I've just bought a big boat for the family, and we're remodeling our summer home on the lake." Well, finally the father pleaded, "Look, we've worked all our lives—not 1 day of vacation. We never had any money except what we saved for your education. In fact, do you realize that your mother and I were so busy working, trying to save money, that we never took the time out to get a marriage license?" [Laughter] "Father," said all the three sons in unison, "do you realize what that makes us?" He said, "Yes, and cheap ones, too." [Laughter]

Well, the fact that you're here tonight means none of you have anything in common with those ungrateful sons. [Laughter] But, ladies and gentlemen, I've been thinking your continued generosity is going to make a difference; and I'm starting to think perhaps a bigger difference than any one of us could have realized. I've been out on the campaign trail lately, and I'm just starting to wonder if this year there isn't something in the air.

Ladies and gentlemen, the American people are beginning to fit it all together. They're beginning to realize that under the leadership of the liberals, that once-proud Democratic Party, a party of hope and affirmation, has become a party of negativism, a party whose leadership has changed it from the party of "yes" to the party of "no"-"no" to the balanced budget amendment and the line-item veto, "no" to holding down taxes and spending, "no" to the death penalty and the school prayer amendment, "no" to adequate defense spending and a Strategic Defense Initiative. The American people are beginning to understand that in all these ways the liberal leadership has been saying no to them. Now they're going to say no to the liberal leadership by saying yes to George Bush and Dan Quayle and Conrad Burns and Earl Strinden and the Republican Party.

Let's move in on that. All of you know how vital control of the Senate is going to be for the Republican agenda for the future. We couldn't have done any of the things that we've accomplished in these 8 years had we not had a Republican majority for 6 years. Holding down taxes, stopping the special interest spending, the balanced budget amendment, the line-item veto, getting tough anticrime legislation adopted, getting the right judges confirmed, the prayer amendment, keeping our defenses strong and our foreign policy firm—you know how tough it's going to be to accomplish any of these things if that other party remains in control of the Senate, if Ted Kennedy continues to control the Labor Committee, if Joe Biden keeps his grip on the Judiciary Committee, and if Howard Metzenbaum keeps talking to death our conservative legislation?

Now in 1986, a mere shift of some 29,000 votes would have meant that we retained control of the Senate. But voter interest was low that year, and we lost some races that were so close they were heartbreakers. But I give Rudy Boschwitz and Bob Dole enormous credit, because far from being discouraged, they've realized that with voter interest much higher in this Presidential year there's a real shot at getting back control of the Senate. You see, all the issues that we had so much trouble getting out there in 1986 are automatically there in 1988. The public is beginning to realize that this election is a referendum on liberalism.

And that means two candidates for public office—the opponents of Earl Strinden of North Dakota and Conrad Burns in Montana-are going to have an awful lot of explaining to do. They're going to have to explain why they have, respectively, 92 percent and 71 percent ratings from the American Civil Liberties Union. These two candidates are also going to have to explain why they are ADA allies. That's the, you know, the Democratic alliance. Mr. Burdick has 100 percent ratings in 1984 and 1986, and Mr. Melcher's ratings in those years was 90 percent.

And I don't think I have to tell you that as this administration worked to get our economy back on track and our international stature restored, we couldn't count on the help of these two Members of the Senate. One voted with us only one-third of the time; the other only 40 percent of the time. They voted against us on vital issues like our drug bill, the balanced budget amendment, the line-item veto, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act, increased funding for SDI, aid to the contras, the MX mobile missile—well, and the list goes on.

Now, let me tell you a secret about the electorate: They tend to vote on the issues. And when the good conservative voters of Montana and North Dakota begin to realize that the opponents of Conrad Burns and Earl Strinden are nothing less than hard-core liberals, Senators who talk conservative back home but who vote liberal in Washington, they're not going to be happy. So, believe me, it isn't going to take smoke and mirrors and magic tricks. It's just a matter of going to the people of Montana and North Dakota and explaining to them how liberal their current representation is in the Senate. And that's what makes what all of you are doing to help two great candidates like Conrad and Earl so important.

Conrad Burns will fight for those great Western values we both hold dear. If you ask me who the people of Montana should vote for, my answer is Conrad Burns. You bet. And Earl Strinden is a fighter with a vision. Earl is North Dakota's best hope for the future. I think you're going to see the people of Montana saying they want a conservative like Conrad Burns in the Senate, not the current fella who votes liberal. And I think you're going to see the people of North Dakota saying they want a conservative like Earl Strinden, not the current fella who votes liberal.

So, I want to thank each of you for helping them. I think we're heading for victory in November. And I know George Bush is looking forward to the support of two great Republicans like Conrad Burns and Earl Strinden in the United States Senate.
Let me just point one thing other out, some figures that most people tend to overlook. For 58 years, 54 of those—the last 58 years, including this one is the 58th—54 of those years the House of Representatives has been in the hands of the Democrats. For 48 years of the 58, they have had both Houses of the Congress.

And in all those 58 years, when you hear them in this campaign talking about the Federal deficit as if it just started with our administration and as if we're responsible, I think you should know that there were only eight balanced budgets in all those 58 years when they were in charge—just one, and the last—or eight. And the last one was in 1969. So, whose deficit is it?

I remember making speeches all over the country back then, talking about the every-year Federal deficit and pointing out that one day it would get loose and start going wild. Well, along came the War on Poverty back in the middle sixties. Poverty won because they got it passed. From 1965 to 1980, in those 15 years the budget increased to five times what it had been in '65, and the deficit increased to 58 times what it had been in 1965.

I know there are rank-and-file Democrats that if—once the facts are pointed out, they'll do what I did, because I was one of them once, and then I saw the light. As a matter of fact, I could quote the Scriptures: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child. When I was an adult, I put aside childish things." [Laughter]

Well, that's what has brought us all together here tonight, so I'll just finish with that and just say thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 6 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Senators Rudy Boschwitz and Robert Dole.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Reception Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives