Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Senate Campaign Fund-raising Reception for Pete Dawkins of New Jersey

April 19, 1988

Senators, distinguished guests, you know, more than half a century ago, there was a halfback at the University of Chicago who was so powerful, so skilled, and so dashing that he became a hero to millions of football-loving Americans, including a certain young fellow named Dutch Reagan. In 1935 this great halfback, Jay Berwanger, received a new award, and the tradition of the Heisman Trophy was born. Jay Berwanger is with us here tonight, and I couldn't begin without telling him and all the Heisman Trophy winners who are gathered here what a great honor it is to be in their presence.

College football has certainly come a long way since the day when President White of Cornell refused to permit his football team to play against the University of Michigan. President White said—this was back in the 1870's—and I quote: "I will not permit men to travel 400 miles merely to agitate a bag of wind." [Laughter] You know, I told President White I thought he was overreacting. [Laughter]

But, Pete, Judi [Mrs. Dawkins], and everyone, we're here this evening less to celebrate Pete Dawkins' past as an athlete than to show our support for his future as, yes, the next United States Senator from the great State of New Jersey. Athlete, scholar, soldier, businessman—Pete Dawkins is one of the finest candidates to compete in the elections of 1988. But I'll go even further: Pete Dawkins is one of the finest candidates I've ever known. The reason goes beyond Pete's extraordinary competence and skill. It has to do with his deepest values—with his fierce belief in freedom, in the family, in economic opportunity for all.

On the issues, Pete has already staked out forthright positions. He stands with me in wanting to keep your taxes low in order to keep our economy growing. He's staunch in his support of the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Pete has rightly called a step "to reduce the threat of nuclear arms." And he understands the need to keep the pressure on Soviet-backed regimes by supporting those struggling for freedom around the world, especially in Afghanistan and, yes, in Nicaragua.

This election will determine whether we'll continue on the path we began in 1981—a growing, expanding economy at home and a strong and secure America abroad—or whether we'll return to the failed policies of the past—high taxes, increasing inflation and unemployment, a stifling bureaucracy, and weakness abroad. Our opponents are saying that America wants to return to the good old days of the 1970's. Well, I don't know about you, but I don't think that's what the public wants. [Laughter] We're prepared to move forward into the next decade and tackle the new challenges that it offers.

Pete Dawkins is running for the Senate because he believes in the new America, not the old; because he believes America should be strong, not weak; because he believes we should discipline the Federal budget, not the family budget; and because he knows that tax hikes in Washington are seldom used to cut the deficit, just to go on spending. If I could just add one personal

Note: The President spoke at 7:49 p.m. in the Promenade at the Grand Hotel.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Senate Campaign Fund-raising Reception for Pete Dawkins of New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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