When the Republicans met for their national convention in Dallas in August, Reagan and his Vice President, George Bush, faced no competition as they held onto the Republican nomination. Reagan asked America to "stay the course" and put him back in the White House. And feisty 75-year-old Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater — who lost the 1964 election to Democrat Lyndon Johnson — gave an old-fashioned party pep talk on a traditional Republican strength, national defense.
Goldwater describes his speech as a reaction to speeches made by Democrats at their 1984 convention. Check the speech, Mario Cuomo Addresses the 1984 Democratic Convention, to get an idea of what the Democrats had said.
From "Freedom,"delivered by Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater at the 1984 Republican convention in Dallas:
A month ago I sat in my den and watched the Democratic National Convention. Speaker after speaker promised the moon to every narrow, selfish interest group in the country. But they ignored the hopes and aspirations of the largest special interest group of all, free men and free women.
So tonight I want to speak about freedom. And let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
What, I may ask, was more extreme than our Revolutionary War? Our founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for that most honorable and noble cause, freedom.
And I remind you, too, that these men and women who rebelled against tyranny did not have the unanimous support of even their friends, their neighbors, or relatives. But they were willing to sacrifice, struggle, and die for the ideal of liberty, while others sought more comfortable lives.
And since that time other Americans have fought, bled, and died to protect those God-given privileges. But last month, those Democrat orators turned their backs on our heritage. Indeed, they would have us ashamed of our freedom and our ability to defend it.
Let me tell you, the proudest moments of my life have been those times when I wore the uniform of the United States of America. To join with the men and women in the defense of freedom was, to me, the ultimate expression of faith in our heritage . . . and let me remind you "veteran" was a word you never heard from these Democrats on the podium.
To those men and women now in uniform, and to the veterans and the ones to come, I solemnly pledge that I will do all I can to see that you are never forsaken, as you were in San Francisco.
What I'm going to say is not easy to say; but nonetheless, truth demands it. It has been the foreign policy and defense weakness of Democrat administrations that have led us to war in the past. And I will be as specific as the Democrats were unspecific in San Francisco.
Every war in this century began and was fought under Democrat administrations. You doubt me? World War I, Woodrow Wilson, Democrat. World War II, Franklin Roosevelt, Democrat. Korea, Harry Truman, Democrat. Vietnam, Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, both Democrats . . .
The Democrats tell us that spending a small portion of our national resources for national defense is driving up deficits and hurting our economy.
Let me give you Thomas Paine who said, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
Now I suppose a lot of you are wondering why I chose to speak on this particular subject. It's true that defense is close to my heart. But that is not the reason.
What I am concerned about is our grandchildren and their children and grandchildren after that. Wherever I may be, I do not want my grandchildren or their children saying, "Why didn't Paka — that's what they call me — do something so we would not have to go off to war now?"
If in the life left to me — and let me warn you there's more life left in me than the Democrats like — if I can prevent that question from ever being asked, then I will have fulfilled my duty to my country and to freedom.
And let me warn those Democrats who made such a mockery out of freedom in San Francisco. Remember the millions of Americans who cheered, waved flags, and felt joy in their hearts and tears in their eyes at the success of the American men and women in the recent Olympics.
Don't you Democrat leaders try to tell me that Americans don't love and honor America. And don't you Democrat leaders ever suggest we are not on the right path. And one more warning, quit trying to divide America. There are too many millions of Americans who just won't take that guff. I've cleaned that one up. Guff.
Members of the convention, we have a leader, a real leader, a great Commander in Chief: President Ronald Reagan. And in your hearts, you know he's right.