President Ronald Reagans Best Debate Moments

mr. president I want to raise an issue that I think has been lurking out there for two or three weeks and cast it specifically in national security terms you already are the oldest president in history and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with mr. mr. Mondale I recall yet that President Kennedy had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuban Missile Crisis is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances not at all mr. Truitt and I and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign I am NOT going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience [Music] I still have time I might add mr. Truitt I might add that it was Seneca or I was Cicero I don't know which that said if it was not for the elders correcting the mistakes of the young there would be no state we were succeeding and that was why the terrorist acts began there are forces there and that includes Syria in my mind who don't want us to succeed we did not engage in conflict that was out of line with our mission I will never send troops anywhere in a mission of that kind without telling them that if somebody shoots at them they can darn well shoot back I'm not going to continue trying to respond to these repetitions of the falsehoods that have already been stated here but with regard to whether mr. Mondale would be strong as he said he would be I know that he has a commercial out where he is appearing on the deck of the Nimitz and watching the f-14s takeoff and that's an image of strength except that if he had had his way when the Nimitz was being planned he would have been deep in the water out there because there wouldn't have been any Nimitz to stand on he was against it he was against the f-14 fighter he was against the m1 tank he was against the b-1 bomber he wanted to cut the salary of the all of the military he wanted to bring home half of the American forces in Europe and he has a record of weakness with regard to our national defense that his second to none indeed he was on that side virtually throughout all his years in the Senate and the opposed even President Carter went toward the end of his term President Carter wanted to increase the defense budget you that I believe with all my heart that our first priority must be world peace and that use of force is always and only a last resort when everything else has failed was we had adequate warning that there was a threat to our embassy and we could have done what other embassies did either strengthen our security there or remove our personnel before the kidnap and the takeover took place I am eternally optimistic and I happen to believe that we've made great progress from the days when I was young and when this country didn't even know it had a racial problem I know those things can grow out of despair in an inner city when there's hopelessness at at home lack of work and so forth but I believe that all of us together and I believe the presidency is what Teddy Roosevelt said it was it's a bully pulpit and I think that something can be done from there because the goal for all of us should be that one day things will be done neither because of nor in spite of any of the differences between us ethnic differences or racial justice differences whatever they may be that we will have total equal opportunity for all people and I would do everything I could in my power to bring that about a president should never say never but I'm going to violate that rule and say never I will never stand for a reduction of the Social Security benefits to the people that are now getting them leadership first of all I think you must have some principles you believe in in mine I happen to believe in the people and believe that the people are supposed to be dominant in our society that they not government are to have control of their own affairs to the greatest extent possible with an orderly Society now having that I think also that in leadership well I've believed that you find people positions such as I'm in who have the talent and ability to do the things that are needed in the various departments of government I don't believe that a leader should be spending his time in the Oval Office deciding who's going to play tennis on the White House Court and you let those people go with the guidelines of overall policy not looking over their shoulder and nitpicking the manner in which they go at the job you are ultimately responsible however for that job but I also believe something else about that I believe that and when I became governor of California I started this and I continue it in this office that any issue that comes before me I have instructed cabinet members and staff they are not to bring up any of the political ramifications that might surround the issue I don't want to hear them I want to hear only arguments as to whether it is good or bad for the people is it morally right and on that basis and that basis alone we make a decision on every issue the environment yes I feel as strongly as anyone about the preservation of the environment when we took office we found that the national parks were so dirty and contains so many hazards lack of safety features that we stopped buying additional parkland until we had rectified this with a what was to be a five-year program but it's just about finished already a billion dollars and now we're going back to budgeting for additional lands for our parks but I'm running on the record of what we have asked for we'll continue to try and get things that we didn't get in a program that has already brought the rate of spending of government down from 17% to 6.1 percent oppose a program of returning authority and autonomy to the local and state governments that has been unjustly seized with the federal government and you might find those words in a democratic platform of some years ago I know because I was a Democrat at that time and I left the party eventually because I could no longer follow the turn in the Democratic leadership that took us down an entirely different path a path of centralizing authority in the federal government lacking trust in the American people now I don't think that to try and say that we were taxing the rich and not the other way around it just doesn't work out that way no the president is supposed to be replying to me but sometimes I have a hard time in connecting what he's saying with what I have said or what my positions are sometimes think it's like the witch doctor that gets mad when a good doctor comes along with a cure little work the my point I have made already mr. president with regard to negotiating it does not call for nuclear superiority in the part of the united states it is calls for a mutual reduction of these weapons as I say to the point that neither of us can represent a threat to the other and to suggest that the salt to treaty that your negotiators negotiated was just a continuation and based on all of the preceding efforts by two previous presidents is just not true it was a new negotiation because as I say President Ford was within about 10% of having a solution that could be acceptable and I think our allies would be very happy to go along with a fair and verifiable assault agreement you know I wasn't going to say this at all but I can't help it there you go again I don't have a plan to tax or increase taxes I'm not going to increase taxes I can understand why you are mr. Mondale because as a senator you voted 16 times to increase taxes now I believe that our problem has not been that anybody in our country is under taxed it's that government is overfed