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Reagan Issues Plea for a Big Voter Turnout

October 19, 1986|DON IRWIN | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Reagan, after claiming "great progress" at Reykjavik, Iceland, in his arms talks with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, devoted his radio broadcast Saturday to a plea that all Americans vote in the Nov. 4 election.

Holding that "freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction," Reagan admonished his countrymen: "Whether you're a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, circle Nov. 4 on your calendar and then show that you care about America's future and get out and vote."

The brief reference to the Iceland meeting at the opening of his talk was in keeping with the pattern Reagan has set in recent campaign talks he has made in support of Republican congressional candidates. Those talks have accentuated the positive side of the Reykjavik sessions, even though it produced no firm agreement.

Could Tip Balance

But the President focused on encouraging voting by three groups normally well disposed toward Republicans--service personnel, young voters and people who, like the President, plan to travel and must obtain absentee ballots to vote. Good turnouts of these groups could tip the balance for the GOP in close races.

Seeking to counter the argument that individual votes do not count, Reagan recalled that President John F. Kennedy in 1960 "was elected by a margin of just one vote in each precinct around the nation."

"But even when elections aren't that close, your ballot counts because, in voting, you're accepting your part in the greatest decision-making body the world has ever known--the American electorate," Reagan said.

In his pitch for absentee voters, Reagan suggested that they follow the example of the First Family.

'Got Absentee Ballots'

"Nancy and I voted last night" because "we won't be home on Election Day, so we got absentee ballots," Reagan said. He did not say if they plan to follow through on plans to end a pre-election campaign swing with a stay at their ranch near Santa Barbara.

"If, like us, you plan to be away on Election Day, why not arrange for your own absentee ballot?" Reagan said. In California, the deadline for obtaining absentee ballots is Oct. 28.

Reagan advised members of the armed forces that "helping to protect America includes helping to decide America's future, and that begins with voting."

To young voters, Reagan said: "America needs your optimism, your patriotism and idealism, your thirst for opportunity, in shaping the decisions of the years to come."

Chides President

Responding for the Democrats, Rep. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota chided the President for making a campaign issue of his insistence on his Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as "Star Wars," at the Reykjavik talks. The real issues, he said, are "a failed economy, the exporting of American jobs and the sea of red ink in Washington."

In a claim of inroads in territory that was once predictably Republican, Dorgan added: "Yes, Mr. President, there's trouble in central America. It's in our central America--in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. So help us in . . . the right central America."

Dorgan called for an economic plan that would "stop the deficits," rewrite farm legislation to aid family farms, require "fair treatment from our trading partners" and "invest in education, health care, job training and more."

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