MIAMI — President Reagan hit the campaign trail Wednesday, blaming big government and "Washington liberals" for the country's economic ills and pledging U.S. assistance to anti-Communist insurgencies around the world.
Calling the $100-million aid bill for the Nicaraguan rebels passed by the House last month "a clear message to the enemies of freedom," Reagan told cheering Republicans at a Florida welcoming rally that he would never let U.S. "inaction" be responsible for a Communist takeover.
Tough talk characterized Reagan's approach on a number of topics as he embarked on a steamy two-day political outing to Texas, Florida and South Carolina to raise money for Republican candidates.
Places Blame for Deficits
At a Dallas rally for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Clements, Reagan used the word "liberals" as though it were an epithet, lambasting liberals eight times in his speech as the architects of the "tax and spend" policies that have helped create the record deficits in his Administration.
Reagan gave short shrift to the economic slump affecting Texas and other oil states, promising only that the Administration is aware of the "hard times" and that it "is determined that America will never again be captive to a foreign oil cartel."
The Dallas rally, staged in the city's air-conditioned Apparel Mart, was a re-creation of past Reagan campaign events. An American flag several stories high hung from the ceiling, colorful pompon girls danced on the balconies and hundreds of red, white and blue balloons filled the atrium as the ticket-only Republican crowd sang "America the Beautiful."
In Miami, several hundred well-wishers at a rally in a hotel lobby erupted into cheers of "four more years." Reagan patiently explained that he is unable to seek a third term, but that he favors changing the Constitution to allow future presidents more than two terms "because it's only democratic for the people to be able to vote for someone as many times as they want."
Protesters Hold Signs
In Dallas, the only note of dissent came when the carefully orchestrated event was interrupted by a dozen young people, who loudly called for economic sanctions in South Africa and held up signs to spell out "Sanctions Now."
The protesters were shouted down and told to "go home" by others in the crowd. One incensed man snatched two of their signs. A woman yelled: "Let the Secret Service take care of it."
At the conclusion of his speech, Reagan remarked: "There must be an echo in here," a line he has used since he was governor of California in the turbulent 1960s to deal with hecklers.
Reagan's biggest laugh of the day came in Dallas when he recalled his statement that Nicaragua is only a two-day drive from the Texas border. "The Communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua has made a lot of mistakes, but even they know better than to get themselves in a tangle with a bunch of Texans," Reagan said, predicting that former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach would come out of retirement to run offense against them.
Staubach, who appeared with Reagan, joked: "I've been asked to come back and play against the Giants and the Redskins, but not the Sandinistas."
Assists Sen. Hawkins
Reagan flew from Dallas to Miami, where he attended a party-building rally and a fund-raising reception for Sen. Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.), who is trailing badly in her bid to keep her Senate 1936023924from popular Gov. Bob Graham.
In remarks tailor-made for the coastal city, home to the popular television show, "Miami Vice," Reagan issued a Hollywood-style ultimatum to drug traffickers. "The drug pushers and the merchants of death who supply them are on notice," he said. "The time is right to retire from the trade for health reasons. We mean business and--to paraphrase John Paul Jones--we have just begun to fight."
Today, Reagan flies to Columbia, S.C., where he will speak at fund-raising events for GOP candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. Reagan also will stop to see one of the government cargo planes used to airlift hay from farmers in Illinois to feed cattle in the drought-stricken Southeast.