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For ‘The Gipper’: Scalise Rallies GOP With 1964 Reagan Speech

Scalise and other Republicans on Monday looked to the words of the late President Reagan for inspiration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Scalise and other Republicans on Monday looked to the words of the late President Reagan for inspiration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On Monday, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., gave his 233 House Republican colleagues and a handful of congressional candidates a virtual pep talk, emailing around a copy of President Ronald Reagan’s famous “A Time for Choosing” speech, along with a note on its significance. Reagan’s speech, which turned 50 Monday, was originally delivered on behalf of the 1964 Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. Scalise wrote to members that the speech — which is often referred to simply as “The Speech” — is still relevant today as the GOP fights for fiscal restraint, smaller government and other conservative values.  

A campaign spokesman, in a statement, described Scalise’s correspondence as “a token of inspiration as we enter into the final days of the mid-term elections.”  

It also could be seen as a goodwill gesture from the still-new House GOP majority whip looking to endear himself with members, old and new. He faces re-election to a full, two-year term as whip the week Congress reconvenes for the lame duck session. The full text of Scalise’s letter:

Dear Colleague,

Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” address, which aired on Oct. 27, 1964, launched the Great Communicator on a path that ultimately resulted in America addressing him as President Reagan. With the 50th anniversary of this historic speech just around the corner, I am reminded of the significance of Reagan’s words and how they have stood the test of time and are still just as relevant to our country today.

Often referred to as “The Speech,” historians agree it was a seminal moment in Reagan’s meteoric rise to power. The issues he discussed with such eloquence – shackling deficits and debt, ever-expanding federal government, the failed war on poverty, an anticompetitive tax code, and a questionable commitment to the time-tested principle of “peace through strength” – are every bit as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. Like Reagan, we continue to share those same beliefs in the greatness of America and the shared values that make us the beacon of democracy that looks toward the shining city on a hill.

As we spend this October work period in our districts speaking with constituents and listening to their concerns, which we will bring back to Washington with us in just a few weeks, I wanted to share with you a copy of Reagan’s historic “A Time for Choosing” speech.

We must continue to fight for an America that fulfills the promise of equal opportunity for this and future generations to come. I thank you for your friendship and commitment to solve our nation’s problems, and look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks.


Steve Scalise



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