Public Papers of Ronald Reagan, 1986

Author: Ronald W. Reagan  | Date: September 7, 1986

Remarks at a Senate Campaign Fundraiser for Representative Ed
Zschau in Los Angeles, California
September 7, 1986

Thank you all very much for a most heartwarming welcome. And thank you, Ed, for those very kind and generous words. I should say, thank you, Senator Ed, if the people of California do what’s right. And, Governor Deukmejian, Senator Wilson, all the distinguished guests here, our master of ceremonies, Nancy and I can’t tell you how good it’s felt to be back in California and now to be here with so many truly dear friends. It’s going to take a lot to get us on that plane— [laughter] -headed back to Washington. I’ve always said that had the Pilgrims landed on the west coast rather than where they did, the capital of this nation would be in California.

But I’m proud to be here tonight with a member of our own team who has taken on a special mission, and that is to enlist the American people in a war against drugs. I don’t want to sound like a doting husband-I am— [laughter] —but I’m mighty proud of the work that Nancy is doing in that regard.

With us tonight are many of the real heroes of our Republican campaigns over the years. And I want to give special thanks to those of you who, through hard work, generosity, and grassroots organizing in communities and precincts throughout this State, have not only made a difference-you’ve changed history. Twenty years ago, when many of us started out together, wewere challenging all the policies of the reigning liberal establishment; yet we shared a vision of individual freedom, of building a creative society, and of unleashing the genius of the American spirit. And it was this dream that brought us together and carried us over the obstacles and through the rough times.

We took that dream to Sacramento to put our ideas to work on a State government that was in trouble—big trouble. And that’s when I learned an essential truth about political change in America. Alexis de Tocqueville, a young Frenchman who traveled throughout our country 150 years ago, described it even then. "There is an amazing strength in the expression of the will of a people," he wrote, "and when it declares itself, even the imagination of those who wish to contest it is overawed." Now, put that in a different way: You don’t have to make them see the light—just make them feel the heat. [Laughter] And together, we’ve mobilized the people time and again. And with that support, we did what the so-called experts said couldn’t be done: We put California State government back on a sound financial footing, reorganized the State bureaucracy using the experience and professional management techniques of successful executives from the private sector-many who are in this room here tonight-fundamentally reformed the State welfare system, and more than anything else, we returned government to the people.

Now, I wanted to mention all this because, despite the progress we made in those years, it wasn’t long before liberals in Sacramento took our State back to the bad old days. And that’s why I want to take this opportunity to express my admiration for an individual who has again brought California back into the light. We both have performed the unpleasant task of cleaning up after a Brown. [Laughter] Now, when I was in Sacramento, the man to whom I’m referring was a tough and diligent member of our team in the legislature. Later he was a fine attorney general, and in these last 4 years, he’s been one of the best Governors this State has ever had—Governor George Deukmejian.

In the late seventies liberal power in our nation reached a zenith. They controlled much of State and local government, both Houses of Congress, the Presidency, and all the executive departments and agencies. As predicted, liberalism was about as good for America as Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was for Chicago. [Laughter] Again, I turned to you, and together we mobilized the people. In 1980 we set out to fundamentally change the direction of American government. The election was just the first hurdle; together we’ve been turning our dream of a strong, vibrant, opportunity-filled America into reality.

It’s fitting that as I head into the last, major campaign of my political career, the last campaign in which I will have a personal stake, that I’m here with you. In the November election the voters will decide who controls the United States Senate. It’s a make-or-break election. Their decision will determine if everything we’ve worked for, everything we’ve struggled and sweated for, is to be given a chance or to be undermined by people who oppose everything we believe in. It all comes down to the Golden State. If we win this California Senate race, we will keep control of the United States Senate. Control of the Senate will mean 2 more years of moving forward or 2 years of stalemate and retrogression. I didn’t come to Washington to be a 6-year President. I didn’t seek reelection just to protect the gains of our first term. Together, we can and will win the Senate and keep our country and our cause moving ahead.

So, here we are again getting ready to mobilize our strength and pull out all the stops to make certain California has the representation in the United States Senate that it deserves. And that means replacing one of the last vestiges of the failed past with a forward-looking leader of the future. Now, just so no one will get the wrong idea—with a birthday cake that looks like a bonfire every year—let me just say- [laughter] —it’s not that California’s senior Senator is too old, it’s that his ideas are too old. The days of the big taxer and the big spender are over. The days of something for nothing and left-wing redistribution schemes are over. The days of blame America first are over. And the days when one ofAmerica’s most strident liberal leftists can represent California are over.

And this year, when young people are looking to our party, our standard bearer for the United States Senate in California is an individual who exemplifies creativity, vision, and action—an entrepreneur who is keenly aware of what is needed to keep America number one and leading the way. After teaching at Stanford and Harvard, Ed Zschau decided to put theory into practice. In 1968, with only $2,500, he started, in his living room, a company which makes discs for computers. Ed Zschau would have started his business in a garage, only he didn’t have a garage. [Laughter] His company, as is true of any successful business in a free enterprise environment, filled a need and did it well. And it went from 0 to 800 employees. Now, that’s what I call a Republican job program.

While we were having dinner here tonight, I just told Ed about a comparison of that with the other kind of job training program. It was only a few years ago, just before I was President, when in a speech I was telling the people how in less than a year’s time, somewhere around 6 months, the Government spent $252 million on a government job program which finally succeeded in graduating a little over 5,000 workers. They could have sent them to Harvard for 4 years for less than that. [Laughter]

We’re talking about an individual who fully understands that American progress flows from the enterprise and hard work of people who are free to follow their dreams. High taxes, overregulation, and big bureaucracies are not the way to a better life for the American people. Ed Zschau’s opponent has spent a lifetime in government promoting those outdated and failed policies. Ed Zschau, as a private citizen, fought to unleash American enterprise from government’s ball and chain. In 1978 he personally fought to lower the capital gains tax from 49 to 28 percent. Having had some experience in cutting tax rates, I know how hard it is to convince those with the power to tax the wisdom of lowering the rates. Adam Smith, two centuries ago, noted that "high taxes frequently afford a smaller revenue to government than what might be drawn from more moderate taxes." Some of these young people I mentioned earlier probably think Adam Smith told me that personally. [Laughter] He didn’t. I heard it from someone else. [Laughter] Well, that cut in the capital gains tax, coupled with our income tax rate reductions and other reforms early in our administration, spurred America’s economy and put us on the road to record-breaking growth and expansion. We’ve had 45 months of economic recovery.

We’ve created more than 11.5 million new jobs, with the highest percentage of our people working on record. Total employment announced day before yesterday is 111,852 million, and at the same time, as Ed told you, inflation is at a 20-year low. You know, every time that the unemployment rates every month are mentioned and you read them in much of the press or hear them in the media—I hope they’ll forgive me if I tell you something—subtract one-tenth of 1 percent of everything they say. There are two unemployment figures: One is for only civilian employment, and the other one is total employment. And I think those people in uniform in our country are employed, and it’s always one-tenth of a percent lower if you count them in. I know figures can get boring, but I have one other one. You know, when they give you the rate of whatever the unemployment is, I think we should know, if you don’t already, that the unemployment pool in the United States is officially declared to be everybody 16 years and up, all the way to the limit, male and female. And today the highest percentage of that total pool is employed than ever in our history—61.2 percent of that total pool of people is employed.

And I’m proud to be here tonight in support of a man who has been in the forefront of the battle to keep our economy growing and keep government off the backs of American business and out of the pockets of working people. As a matter of fact, in his job as a Congressman today he does something that is very rare and unusual. You know that there is a fund that goes to each Congressman to pay for staff and to pay for newsletters and all that sort of thing—the administrative overhead of the office. I’venever heard of but one—maybe there are others—but one who turns back money, and he this year turned back 16 percent of that allowance to the Government because he said he didn’t need it. Ed Zschau was barely sworn in as a Congressman before he was named chairman of the Republican Task Force on High Technology Initiatives. Five high-tech trade associations have named him the high-tech leader in the United States Congress. The Chamber of Commerce has given him a 100-percent rating and the National Taxpayers Union named him "the taxpayers’ best friend."

Now, all of this as compared to an opponent who is a world-class champion at expanding government and centralizing power in Washington—a man with a 100-percent rating with the left-wing ADA. California needs a Senator who will focus his energy and creativity on pushing back the frontiers of knowledge and technology, creating new alternatives and new opportunity, rather than maneuvering in the halls of power for bigger and more costly Federal programs. It’s up to us, all of us, to get out the word—to make certain the voters of California recognize the difference between these two candidates by election day. And don’t underestimate, or underrate, your ability—talking to friends, neighbors, talking in the locker room, out at the club, talking to business associates. We learned once some years ago back in the motion picture industry that the greatest advertising the industry had was word of mouth-neighbor talking to neighbor and asking them if they had seen the latest movie. Well, don’t hesitate. Do all the things that you’re doing, but then talk it up with everyone you can reach. We have to make certain that the voters of California recognize the difference between these two candidates by election day.

Having been in the profession I was in for many years, I know the importance of being recognized. As a matter of fact, it was brought home to me one day in New York. I’d made 50 movies. I was then several years into a TV series, and I was walking down 5th Avenue—a typical crowded street and so forth. And about 30 or 40 feet ahead of me a man stopped coming my way. And he pointed, and he yelled, and he said, "I know you. I see you on the screen. I see you on the television all the time. I know you." And he started stalking me. And everybody, like they will in New York, just kind of went back and made a lane and stood there. [Laughter] I’m at one end, and he is coming at me. And he is reaching in his pocket for a pencil and paper it turned out to be. And all the way he was telling me how much he’d seen me and’ everything else, and he wanted my autograph—Ray Milland. [Laughter] So, I signed Ray Milland-there was no sense in disappointing him. [Laughter]

But we’re not only working to build an economically sound and growing America but a secure and safe country as well. And here, too, the choice is clear and the difference distinct. Ed Zschau is up against a man who has spent much of his career trying to weaken America’s military strength and encourage retreat from our foreign policy responsibilities. Ed’s opponent is a man who voted against an amendment declaring it American policy to oppose Cuban expansion in this hemisphere, who said the presence of Soviet troops in Cuba is not a threat, and who has blamed the arms race on the U.S. We are up against a man who has fought us every step of the way in our effort to rebuild America’s defenses. You’d have to search long and hard to find a Senator who has opposed us as often in our attempts to do what is necessary to protect our national security and meet America’s international obligations. We are succeeding despite him, but you could do America a big favor by replacing him with Ed Zschau.

We are just now, finally, overcoming many of the problems we inherited from the irresponsible days of the last decade. When we got to Washington we faced the challenge of saving an America from an economy racked by double-digit inflation, sky-high interest rates, and business decline. You might say our economy had been "Cranstonized." We’ve come a long way. We turned decline into vigorous growth, despair into optimism, and national uncertainty into what even our critics acknowledge is a rebirth of the American spirit. But the job is not finished. Today we’re offeringAmerica the leadership it needs to propel us into the 21st century. The next 10 to 15 years may well be the most exciting and challenging in the history of our nation. As President Eisenhower once pointed out, "The future will belong, not to the fainthearted, but to those who believe in it and prepare for it."

And that’s what we’re doing this evening. Being here, I can’t help but think of the dinner that we attended at this hotel shortly before the primary began in earnest. And I reminded all the candidates that after the primary battle, the party must again be united and focused on our common goals. Yes, we’ve got our differences. It’s hard to recall now, but about this time in 1982 Pete Wilson’s campaign was just getting underway, and there were some in the party who expressed misgivings and had some doubts. But now, needless to say, we know Pete Wilson has been doing one magnificent job in the United States Senate, and I know he’s one of my strongest supporters. Now, all this suggests that any differences between us are trivial compared to our differences with the opposition and compared to what is at stake. We have a choice to vote for a candidate of the past who wants to turn the clock back or a candidate of the future who wants to complete our revolution.

Some people might think having a Democrat Senator and a Republican Senator is part of our system of checks and balances. It is no such thing. If you like what Pete Wilson is doing for California, does it make sense to send a Senator back to Washington who’ll cancel Pete’s vote every chance he gets? When we took office, Democrats had controlled both Houses of Congress for more than a quarter of a century. Now, for 5 1/2 years we’ve had control of the House-or of one House, I should say. No, we don’t have the House, we have the one House-the U.S. Senate. We couldn’t have accomplished what we have without that majority in the Senate. There was no way it could have been done.

Ed Zschau will be a Senator you can all be proud of. The election of Ed Zschau and control of the United States Senate is absolutely critical to the future of this country. If there was ever a time for a maximum effort, that time is now. This election is special for us—for you, for me, and for America. And I’m asking you to just win one more for the Gipper. [Laughter] There are a lot of us back in Washington counting on you, believe me, and waiting to welcome Ed Zschau to the United States Senate.
God bless all of you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:45 p.m. in the Los Angeles Ballroom at the Century Plaza Hotel. Prior to his remarks, the President attended separate receptions for prominent guests and major donors to Representative Zschau’s campaign. The following morning, the President traveled to Denver, CO.


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Chicago: Ronald W. Reagan, "Remarks at a Senate Campaign Fundraiser for Representative Ed Zschau in Los Angeles, California," Public Papers of Ronald Reagan, 1986 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Ronald Reagan, 1986 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1164 1142–1145. Original Sources, accessed March 27, 2023,

MLA: Reagan, Ronald W. "Remarks at a Senate Campaign Fundraiser for Representative Ed Zschau in Los Angeles, California." Public Papers of Ronald Reagan, 1986, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Ronald Reagan, 1986 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1164, pp. 1142–1145. Original Sources. 27 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Reagan, RW, 'Remarks at a Senate Campaign Fundraiser for Representative Ed Zschau in Los Angeles, California' in Public Papers of Ronald Reagan, 1986. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Ronald Reagan, 1986 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1164, pp.1142–1145. Original Sources, retrieved 27 March 2023, from