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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks to New Members of the Republican Party


Thank you very much. And all of you, greetings, welcome to the Rose Garden. To Lee Atwater and Jeannie Austin -- delighted that the leaders of our party are here for this important occasion. And of course, to our special friend, Congressman Bill Grant of Florida -- a great, great pleasure to see you again and have you here with us. And to State officials, key elected leaders, fellow Republicans all -- welcome to the White House. And welcome officially -- you don't need it from me -- but welcome to the Republican Party!

It was once said that some men change their principles for their party, while others change their party for their principles. And since the election, scores of elected Democratic officials, men and women, have made the right choice and joined the Republican Party because the values and principles of the Democratic Party were not their values and principles, and I think many more will follow them.

The switch is on to the party in sync with the American principles. The switch is on to the Republican Party. In February -- seems like just yesterday -- Bill Grant, Congressman, came to the White House to announce his switch from Democrat to Republican. And now he's with the party of opportunity, the party of ideas, the party of the future -- because in the future, I honestly believe there will be many more Democrats joining our ranks.

And people say the Republican Party is on the move. Well, when I look around here today, I'd say that's true. We're moving in the right direction. But the Democratic Party is on the move, too: to the left and out of the mainstream. And as the greatest former Democrat of them all, President Reagan, once said: ``I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.'' The Democratic Party is leaving droves of voters behind as it moves over onto the more liberal side, the left side of the political equation. And now many of those stranded voters have made a move on their own -- to the Republican Party, our party of family, faith, and the future.

And each of you here has made a courageous decision, sometimes a very tough political decision, to join us -- taking considerable political risk in the process. But you've also made a move to be on the winning side in the contest of ideas and issues in America. And when you made that bold choice to join us, we made a choice, too. We will support you; we will back you up in every way we can. You've made a tough decision -- the right decision -- and we're with you. And when you're out there on the front lines for us, you won't be fighting alone. This party will stand with you shoulder to shoulder.

As former Democrats, you are the most visible sign of the great sea changes that are going on in the American political scene. I'm told that since 1984, the Republican Party in Florida has increased its voter registration by nearly half a million; and in the last 60 days, Republicans have been out-registering Democrats in that State by better than 3 to 1. And that's because mainstream Americans believe in peace through strength, and economic opportunity, traditional family values. And with the Republican Party, they're swimming with the current.

We know which party stands for a strong America and a growing economy, and Americans know that, too. And that's why with the able leadership of Lee Atwater, Jeannie Austin, the party will become the majority party in America. We can do it -- I want to help -- we will do it because of the courage of you and thousands like you. On behalf of Republicans everywhere, then, thank you, congratulations, welcome to the Republican Party. Thank you all very, very much for coming.

Note: The President spoke at 3:44 p.m. in the Rose Garden of the White House. In his remarks, he referred to H. Lee Atwater and Jeannie Austin, chairman and cochairman of the Republican National Committee.

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