Since Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination, I have thought a great deal about the kind of president he will make.
To begin with, Ronald Reagan was not my first choice for the Republican nomination. As the caucuses began in late 1979, I felt that Howard Baker or George Bush would be better for the industrial states of the East and Upper Midwest. Bush ultimately won my home state of Pennsylvania by a large margin, but by then the contest was over; Ronald Reagan had won most of the primaries and the nomination was his alone. r
My decision to support Ronald Reagan is based on much more than Jimmy Carter's inability to do the job. Certainly, Carter's inept handling of the country's domestic and foreign affairs would be reason enough for a change and for supporting the Reagan alternative. But I am not merely against Jimmy Carter; I am for Ronald Reagan. I am convinced that he is, more than anything else, a man who wants to succeed in his work -- and to him that means the job of governing the country, not just winning an election.
We desparately need a president who can and will work with Congress. Jimmy Carter walked up Pennsylvania Avenue after his inauguration; he has never returned. In my judgment, Ronald Reagan will once again make Pennsylvania Avenue a two-way street.
There is solid evidence of Reagan's willingness and ability to deal with Congress in his record of success with the California legislature -- from creating the nation's first state Department of Consumer Affairs to providing Californians with more than $5.7 billion in tax relief over his eight years as governor. Since the declaration of his candidacy, Gov. Reagan has constantly and genuinely consulted with the Senate and House Republican leadership.
The president of the United States must be served by men of sound judgment and proven ability, and Reagan has assembled a highly talented and reassuringly qualified group of advisers. His Economic Policy Coordination Committee, for example, is chaired by former labor and Treasury secretary George Shultz. Among its other members are Casper Weinberger, former OMB director, as head of the spending-control study group; Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, as head of the budget task force; and Authure Burns, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, as chief adviser on international monetary policy.
That Reagan is prepared to listen and utilize his advisers is evidence by his carefully crafted speech before the International Business Council in Chicago on Sept. 9, announcing a detailed national economic road map for the next five years. This is quite a contrast to the off-again/on-again economic "plans" announced by the Carter administration.
I am also convinced that Gov. Reagan understands that the best way to preserve peace is through consistency and strength. He would ensure our national security by improving our military manpower, particularly in the ranks of skilled technicians. And he would increase the procurement of non-nuclear weapons -- such as tanks, artillery and ships -- that the Soviets are producing more than twice as fast as the United States.
This is not "warmongering," as the president falsely charges. It is sound policy that our defense should be based on strength, that to be strong we must provide adequate pay to keep and to motivate our military personnel and that we must supply them with the most updated and functional weapons.
I know some people believe that Gov. Reagan, because he is a fiscal conservative, has no sense of priorities as far as human needs are concerned. But in his public life, Ronald Reagan has demonstrated that he can be a president of all the people -- a man whose compassion can encompass the nation.
Here again, his record in California demonstrates both social concern and his ability to deliver real results. In just three years, his welfare-reform program reduced the state's welfare lines by 350,000 people and increased benefits to the truly needy by an average of 43 percent. Reagan also initiated policies to help injured and unemployed workers. He improved working conditions and added over $225 million in benefits -- which led one of California's AFL-CIO leaders to say, "No governor, Republican or Democrat, has ever done anything like that."
Finally, Ronald Reagan has those personal qualities we look for in a president: leadership and character.
President Carter hasn't been a leader. Ironically, in this campaign he has been following a leader. For example, Jimmy Carter pledged to reduce defense spending; but Ronald Reagan has called for increased defense spending, particularly military pay increases; and now Jimmy Carter wants to increase defense spending by 5 percent and boost military salaries. Jimmy Carter said no to a tax cut; but Ronald Reagan announced a balanced tax-relief plan; and now Jimmy Carter wants a tax cut. Several months ago Jimmy Carter removed the trigger price mechanism (TPM) as an import restraint to protect the American steel industry from foreign dumping; but Ronald Reagan said the TPM should be restored; and now Carter has not only just announced restoration of the TPM, but embraced several other Reagan initiatives to help American steel.
Leadership is only one of the many personal qualities we should look for in a president, and I am deeply disappointed and offended that Carter and his campaign have restored to smears and slurs evoking racism and warmonger. As with many Carter pronouncements these days, nothing could be further from the truth. But such behavior reduces the stature of the presidency as it shrinks the stature of the president. Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when our national security is threatened and we need a president who, instead of slinging mud, acts like a national leader. Harry Truman said it best: "You have to appeal to people's best instincts, not their worst ones. You may win an election or two by doing the other, but it does a lot of harm to the country."
Ronald Reagan has risen above these attacks that demean all of us in politics. He has avoided the temptation to respond in kind. He has demonstrated to me that he has the personal characteristics necessary to the stature of a president and that he has the statesmanlike abilities demanded by that office.
I don't agree with Ronald Reagan on every issue, ERA being a case in point; but I do believe Reagan is a leader who will bring a new sense of respect and purpose to this country.