Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Portland, Oregon

October 23, 1984

The President. Thank you, thank you very much.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Thank you, thank you. I hadn't thought about it, but you've talked me into it.

Thank you very much. Governor, thank you for a very kind introduction -- --

Audience member. [Inaudible]

The President. -- -- and all of you for a warm welcome.

Audience member. [Inaudible]

The President. You know what? You know what? I may just let Mondale raise his taxes. [Laughter]

It's wonderful to be in Oregon, and it's wonderful to be in the City of Roses. And it's especially good to be at the University of Portland, home of the mighty Pilots. This unique, new center is a tribute to the great spirit of voluntarism that's exemplified by the Chiles Foundation.

I want to thank you right off for sending such fine representatives to Washington -- Senators Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood, Congressmen Bob Smith and Denny Smith, who is with us here. They've all helped us so much, and we're hoping that they'll stay in Washington for a long time. And they need company, so we hope that you will send your fine candidates there to be with them. And may I say, you have one of the best Governors in the country in Vic Atiyeh.

I feel very much at home here, partly because during the Republican convention, one of your State officials offered to change the name of your State to ``Oreagan.'' But I'm told that your city has had an interesting history with regard to names; that when the first settlers came here from the East, they saw its possibilities as a beautiful port. They cleared the area around here, cut down the trees, and made a tomahawk claim of the area. And then they chose to call it their own. And one of the main settlers insisted the city be called Boston. Another insisted it be called Portland, after Portland, Maine. And they settled it in a very gentlemanly manner. They flipped a coin. [Laughter] And so, Portland was born.

I'm involved, as you probably have heard, in kind of a contest now. It won't be settled by the toss of a coin -- [laughter] -- it'll be settled by the wisdom of good people like yourselves.

As your Governor told you -- and I've been thinking, too, of what has been accomplished in these past 4 years, and what we had to overcome to get where we are. And it reminded me that in 1862 Abe Lincoln gave us some enduring advice. Abe Lincoln said, we must disenthrall ourselves with the past -- and then we will save our country. Well, 4 years ago, that's what we did. We made a great turn. We got out from under the thrall of a government which we had hoped would make our lives better, but which wound up living our lives for us.

The power of the Federal Government had, over the decades, created great chaos -- economic chaos, social chaos, international chaos.

Audience member. What about the deficit?

The President. Our leaders were adrift, rudderless, without a compass. And 4 years ago, we began to navigate by certain fixed principles. Our North Star was freedom, and common sense was our constellation.

We knew that economic freedom meant paying less of the American family's earnings to the Government. And so, we cut personal income tax rates by 25 percent.

We knew that inflation, the quiet thief, was stealing our savings, and the highest interest rates since the Civil War were making it impossible for people to own a home or start an enterprise.

We knew that our national military defense had been weakened, so we decided to rebuild and be strong again. And this we knew would enhance the prospects for peace in the world. It was a second American revolution, and it's only just begun.

But what already has come of our efforts? A great renewal. America is back, a giant reemergent on the scene -- powerful in its renewed spirits, powerful in its economy, powerful in the world economy, and powerful in its ability to defend itself and secure the peace.

But now, 4 years after our efforts began, small voices in the night are sounding the call to go back, go backward to the days of confusion and drift, the days of torpor, timidity, and taxes.

My opponent this year is known to you, but perhaps we can gain a greater insight into his leadership abilities and his philosophy if we take a look at his record.

To begin with, his grasp of economics is well demonstrated by his economic predictions. Just before we took office, my opponent said our economic program is obviously, murderously inflationary. Now, that was just before we lowered inflation from above 12 percent to 4 percent.

Then, just after our tax cuts, he said the most that he could see was an anemic recovery; and that was right before our economy created more than 6 million new jobs in 21 months and just before a record nearly 900,000 businesses were incorporated in less than a year and a half.

Now, my opponent said that our policies would deliver a misery index the likes of which we haven't seen for a long time. Well, now, there was some truth in that. You know, you get the misery index by adding up the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. Now, they invented that for the 1976 campaign. And they said that Jerry Ford had no right to seek reelection, because his misery index was 12.6. Now, they didn't mention the misery index in the 1980 campaign, because it had gone up to more than 20 percent. And they aren't talking too much about it in this campaign, because it's down around 11.

Now, my opponent said that decontrol of oil prices would cost American consumers more than $36 billion a year. Well, one of the first things we did was decontrol oil prices, and the price of gas went down 8 cents a gallon. And the prices are still headed down.

Now, you know, it's just occurred to me that maybe all we have to do to get the economy absolutely in perfect shape is to get my opponent to predict absolute disaster. I must say, though, he's learned some things. My opponent is concerned now about the deficit. But back during the Jerry Ford years, he proposed that the deficit should be doubled because a deficit would stimulate the economy.

Now, he says he cares about the middle class, but he boasts, ``I have consistently supported legislation time after time which increases taxes on my own constituents.'' Now, doesn't that make you just want to be a constitutent of his? [Laughter] Now, he's no doubt proud of the fact that he voted 16 times as a United States Senator to increase taxes.

This year he's outdone himself. He's already promised, of course, to raise your taxes. But if he's to keep all the promises that he's made to this group and that, he will have to raise taxes by the equivalent of $1,890 for every household in the United States.

Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. That's more than $150 a month. It's like having a second mortgage. [Laughter] And after the Mondale mortgage, we'd be sure to have more than a few foreclosures.

His economic plan -- --

Audience. [Inaudible]

The President. His economic -- you know, I know I'm no concert baritone, so I know those can't be an echo of my voice. [Laughter] All right. Okay.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. His economic plan has two basic parts: to raise your taxes and then raise them again. [Laughter] But I've got news for him. The American people don't want his tax increases, and he isn't going to get his tax increases.

His tax plan would bring our recovery to a roaring stop. But I'll give it this: His -- --

Audience. [Inaudible]

The President. You know -- --

Audience. [Shouts and applause]

The President. Say -- [applause]. Thank you.

Audience. [Shouts and applause]

The President. Say, you know, isn't that -- now, there's a perfect example of where we solid citizens are -- caught between the right and the left.

But I'll tell you, I got one idea from my opponent. If I could find a way to dress up in his tax program, I could go out on Halloween and scare the devil out of all the neighbors.

But he sees an America in which every day is tax day, April 15th. We see an America in which every day is Independence Day, the Fourth of July. What we want, and what we're trying to plan to do, is to lower yours and everybody's taxes so that your families will be stronger, our economy will be stronger, and America will be stronger.

But I'm not finished here. I'm proud to say that during these last 4 years, not 1 square inch of territory has been lost to the Communist nations. And the United States is more secure than we were 4 years ago.

Yet there's so much more to say about my opponent. His grasp of foreign affairs is demonstrated by the following: Sometime back, he said the old days of a Soviet strategy of suppression by force are over -- that was just before the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. And after they invaded Afghanistan, he said, ``It just baffles me why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have.'' But then there's so much that baffles him.

One year ago we liberated Grenada from Communist thugs, and my opponent called what we did a violation of international law that erodes our moral authority to criticize the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Well, I will say this: His administration did mete out some strong punishment after Afghanistan. Unfortunately, they didn't punish the Soviets; they punished the American farmers.

My opponent supported the grain embargo and spoke out for it often. He even questioned the patriotism of a Senator from his own party when that Senator called that embargo just what it was -- unworkable and unfair. But now he seems to have changed his tune. He says he privately opposed the embargo -- very privately. As a matter of fact, he has, in the last several months, claimed that he opposed a number of the administration policies when he was Vice President. He was a real thorn in their side. But as Jody Powell, who was also a member of that administration, said, ``I guess I was out of the room every time it happened.''

And after the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, he praised it, saying, ``Winds of democratic progress are stirring where they have long been stifled.'' But we know that the Sandinistas immediately began to persecute the genuine believers in democracy and to export terror. They went on to slaughter the Miskito Indians, abuse and deport church leaders, slander the Pope, practice anti-Semitism, and move to kill free speech. So, why isn't my opponent speaking out now?

More recently, he failed to repudiate the Reverend Jesse Jackson when he went to Havana, stood with Fidel Castro, and cried: ``Long live Cuba! Long live President Fidel Castro! Long live Che Guevara!''

I could say of his economic program that he will either have to break his promises or break the bank. But I won't say it, because Senator John Glenn, a Democrat, has already said that.

Now, I could call his economic program a collection of old and tired ideas held together by paralyzing commitments to special interest groups. But I won't say that, because Senator Gary Hart, a Democrat, has already said that. Now, I could predict that he will create deficits more than twice what they are now. But I won't say that, because Fritz Hollings, a Democrat, has already said that.

Now, if on political issues my opponent dares to be wrong, on domestic policy issues he has the courage to be cautious. A line-item veto would help control wild government spending and end some of the porkbarreling that goes on. I had a line-item veto as Governor of California. Your Governor has a line-item veto. Forty-two other Governors in this country have line-item vetoes. But my opponent says that's not part of the liberal agenda. So, a line-item veto will not be used to help that wild spending.

He has long opposed enterprise zones. This was a program we introduced to help the most economically troubled neighborhoods like some in our great inner cities. It was to use tax incentives and to stimulate the economy in those areas. And he's opposed that. But then a few weeks ago, he said that now he's for them. Well, if he's for them, why doesn't he ask Tip O'Neill to get out of the way and loosen the program that's been buried in a committee in the House for over a year?

Changed signals a little bit -- this month an American woman walked in space -- Kathryn Sullivan made history. And then she returned to a space shuttle in which some of the great scientific and medical advances of the future will be made. Already we're learning that it's possible -- or it looks possible -- that we're going to have cures for diabetes and heart disease -- that are to be able to develop them up there in the shuttle -- advances in technology and communication. That's why I support the space shuttle. But my opponent personally led the fight in the Senate against having the shuttle program at all. And he called it a horrible waste.

The truth is, my opponent's campaign, were it a television show, would be called, ``Let's Make a Deal.'' [Laughter] You'd get to trade your prosperity for the surprise behind the curtain. [Laughter] Now, if his campaign were a Broadway show, it would be called ``Promises, Promises.'' If the administration of which he has been a part were a novel, you'd have to read it from back to front to get a happy ending. [Laughter]

Now, I'll say something that a few here, at least, will agree with: I've probably been going on too long. But the point is -- the point is we were right when we made our great turn in 1980. We were right to take command of the ship, to stop its aimless drift, and get moving again. And we were right when we stopped sending out S.O.S. and started saying U.S.A.!

Audience. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

The President. All right. Now, let me say here that the 1984 election isn't just a partisan contest. I was a Democrat once, for the better part of my life, for a long tim. And I also respected that party. But in those days its leaders weren't the ``blame America first'' crowd. Its leaders were men like Harry Truman, men who understood the challenges of our times. They didn't reserve all their indignation for America. They knew the difference between freedom and tyranny, and they stood up for the one and damned the other.

To all the good Democrats, and I know -- well, I hope, certainly, and I'm sure I know there are many among you -- you are not alone and not without a hope. We're putting out our hands, and we're asking you to come walk with us down the new path of hope and opportunity.

We, together, in a bipartisan move can go forward with what has been started in this country. And to all of you young people, I want to tell you that all across this country, nothing has touched me more than your support, your enthusiasm, your patriotism. You are what this election is all about, and it's your future that we care so much about. And I've seen enough to know that your generation is really something special.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. You're something pretty new on the scene. Your idealism and your love of country are unsurpassed -- --

Audience. [Inaudible]

The President. -- -- and I consider it -- --

Audience. [Inaudible]

The President. You know, I got interrupted on the debate when I was trying to talk about this same subject. I'm going to finish it this time.

I consider it our highest duty -- and when I say that, I'm talking about my generation, my generation and a few generations in between mine and yours -- it is our duty to make certain that you have an America that is every bit as full of opportunity, hope and confidence and dreams as we had when we were born into this America and when we grew up taking for granted that this country was a place of hope and opportunity, a place where you could dream and then make your dreams come true. And we must see, all of us together, that that is what America is going to continue to be, and that's the America we will turn over to you when it is your turn.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Thank you very much. Thank you. You know, I'll tell you a secret. If the Capital was on the west coast, I'd go for 40.

America will never stop. It will never give up its mission, its special mission -- never. There are new worlds on the horizon, and we're not going to stop until we get them all together.

And America's best days are yet to come. And I know it galls my opponents, but you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Thank you very much for your support. Thank you all, and God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 a.m. at the Earl A. Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.

Following his remarks, the President traveled to Seattle, WA.