Precede BIRMINGHAM Reagan Tours Dixie to Help GOP Senators
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ President Reagan, saying the nation’s economy is headed for its second boom since his election, urged voters Tuesday to re-elect the ″cleanup crew″ of Republican senators swept into office with him in 1980.
Reagan said the alternative on Nov. 4 was Democrats ″who in 1980 weakened our nation and nearly brought our economy to its knees.″
Reagan toured three Southern states in a whirlwind one-day effort to help Republican Sens. Mack Mattingly of Georgia, Jeremiah Denton of Alabama and James Broyhill of North Carolina, all three of them in tough races.
Reagan ended the campaign day with a sunset appearance in a hangar at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at Charlotte.
The walls of the hangar were hung with campaign posters and hand-lettered signs with such messages as ″This Is Reagan Country″ and ″Don’t Turn Back. Stay On The Right Track.″
The sun was nearing the horizon as Air Force One set down and the sky was beginning to darken by the time the crowd ended the rally by singing, to the music of five high school bands, ″Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Carolina In The Morning.″
The president’s speeches in the three states were virtually identical, changing only the names of the candidates.
Asked whether his efforts would keep the Senate in Republican hands, Reagan said, ″I’m too superstitious to talk about that.″
Reagan ended his Georgia speech by telling the audience that by voting for Mattingly, ″You’ll be winning one for yourselves, for Georgia and for America.″
When someone in the audience called out ″and for the Gipper,″ Reagan replied, ″Yup.″
The president depicted Mattingly as ″part of the 1980 cleanup crew for the worst economic mess since the Great Depression.″
As a result of administration policies supported by congressional Republicans, he said, ″We’re enjoying one of the longest economic expansions in history.″
Government figures show that six months after Reagan took office in 1981, the national economy plunged into a 17-month-long recession, with the number of people out of work rising to the highest level since the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Recovery from that recession began taking hold at the end of 1982, and the economy grew in robust fashion during the second half of 1983 and during 1984 before slackening to a lesser growth rate in 1985 and so far this year.
He said Tuesday that recent figures on the gross national product and other economic indicators ″show our economy gathering momentum for even more growth, higher take-home pay, and more new jobs.″
″In short, we’re headed for a second boom,″ the president said.
The Commerce Department has reported that the gross national product increased at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the third quarter and 0.6 percent in the second quarter of 1986. Despite optimistic administration statements, some economists have described this as a sluggish rate of growth that could prefigure a recession in the next couple of years.
Reagan, in his upbeat assessment, asked the crowd:
″Will you choose the Democratic leaders who in 1980 weakened our nation and nearly brought our economy to its knees, who raised your taxes and have announced their plans to do so again, who oppose our efforts to build a defense to protect us from attack by nuclear ballistic missiles? Or will you give the clean-up crew of 1980 a chance to finish the job?″
Before his speech in Columbus, Ga., Reagan signed into law a bill that White House officials said would provide cost of living increases for 2.2 million beneficiaries of veterans’ disability compensation and increase other veterans’ benefits.
White House spokesman Albert R. Brashear said it had not been decided whether similar bill signings would be scheduled during a seven-state western campaign swing on which Reagan embarks Wednesday. He will return to the White House on Nov. 4.
Reagan’s swing through Dixie on Tuesday was a repeat performance on behalf of all three Southern senators. He was last in Georgia and North Carolina less than three weeks ago.
Public opinion polls indicate Mattingly and Denton hold slim leads over their Democratic challengers, Reps. Wyche Fowler and Richard Shelby, going into the final week of campaigning. ″We want to help build on those,″ White House spokesman Larry Speakes said.
He acknowledged Broyhill’s race with former Gov. Terry Sanford in North Carolina is a ″tossup.″
Speakes said a visit from Reagan ″makes a difference″ in close contests, although he said it would have less impact as the election approaches and fewer people are undecided. He said a Reagan appearance also motivates Republicans to go to the polls.
Republicans have controlled the Senate since Reagan’s election six years ago and now have a 53-47 majority, but the GOP must defend 22 of the 34 Senate seats on the ballot this year.