Reagan, in Texas, Peppers Democrats With ‘L Word’
President Reagan on Thursday began a two-day campaign swing through Texas and Florida by hammering the Democrats with his two-term record and warning voters against wiping out Republican progress in a “moment of folly.”
His political arsenal was bolstered by a kind of attack dictionary that redefined the Democrats’ campaign language and a relentless use of what has come to be known as “the L word.”
Knowing how skittish Democrats are about being called “liberal,” Reagan used the word 22 times in a speech here.
The trip, beginning here and ending today with a fund-raising brunch in Boca Raton, Fla., is part of Reagan’s weekly schedule of appearances on behalf of Vice President George Bush and other Republican candidates.
In addition, such travel gives the President an opportunity to present his Administration in a highly favorable light as his tenure in the White House draws to a close.
Contrasts to Carter
On issues from education to foreign policy, Reagan, in his speech at Baylor University here, contrasted his Administration with that of Jimmy Carter, his predecessor, and broadened the distinction to include the two major political parties--present, past and future.
“America has traveled such a remarkable distance in the last eight years,” Reagan told an enthusiastic crowd of about 8,200, “that the memory has faded of the economic and foreign policy crises that we faced when Vice President Bush and I took office.”
The President voiced support for Bush’s proposed child-care tax credit of up to $1,000 for a working couple, and he attributed the idea not to Bush but to “our party.” In endorsing the plan, Reagan said it would also cover “what experts as well as common sense tell us is the best option of all--making it easier for the mother to stay home.”
In comparing the Democrats and the GOP, Reagan at several points in his Baylor speech ticked off his own definitions of commonly used campaign words and phrases.
The Democratic Dictionary, according to Reagan:
--"When the liberals say ‘family,’ they mean ‘Big Brother in Washington.’ When we say ‘family,’ we mean ‘honor thy father and mother.’ ”
--"Opportunity” means “subsidies.”
--"Closing the deficit” translates to “raising taxes.”
--"Strong defense,” he said, means “cut defense spending.”
The President said he has presided over “the longest peacetime economic expansion in American history” and the creation of “17.5 million peacetime jobs,” and he asserted that his Administration has proved that “candid rhetoric, a strong defense and tough diplomacy bring peace.”
He said: “We intend to ensure this kind of economic prosperity right through the ‘90s and into the next century, by guaranteeing the federal government can never again spend and tax the American people into another economic nightmare.”
Reagan continued: “What a great moment we have before us and, oh, how future generations will dishonor us if now, in a moment of sudden folly, we throw it all away!” He urged the crowd to “hold to this moment of hope,” adding that “we must be allowed to complete that which we have begun.”
Although most of Reagan’s campaign message is supportive of the status quo, he does call for at least one change. “The liberals have been in control of both houses of Congress for 46 of the last 56 years,” he complained, urging the election of more Republicans.
Later, addressing NASA employees at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Reagan said the nation could build “a space shield to defend America.” He said it is “mankind’s manifest destiny to bring our humanity into space” and “to colonize this galaxy.”