President Reagan, in a farewell address to the nation's governors, said Monday that his efforts to give states more power and responsibility had transformed America for the better.
"In the last 7 1/2 years we have broken the federal government of its compulsion to control every breath the states take," Reagan, a two-term governor of California, told the National Governors' Conference.Declaring that this had made federal and state government more efficient and helped revitalize the U.S. economy, the president added in his prepared remarks: "Less power for Washington, more for the people - however you describe it, it has produced in America a blooming of entrepreneurship, investment, innovation and opportunity unlike the world has ever seen."
Reagan, making his last appearance as president at the annual governors' meeting, refrained from any overtly partisan comments in the course of his speech.
Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, a colleague of those assembled here by virtue of his office as Massachusetts state chief, addresses the governors Tuesday.
But during a visit to a Cincinnati manufacturing plant earlier, Reagan took aim at middle class voters in a campaign sales pitch for George Bush, who trails Dukakis in most public opinion polls.
Striking a theme certain to be repeated at the Aug. 15-18 Republican convention in New Orleans, where Bush will officially receive his party's presidential nomination, Reagan argued that continued U.S. prosperity is at stake in the Nov. 8 election.
"Some people are telling you to take for granted the economic growth of today and of the last seven years. Their message is `You can take prosperity for granted, it's time for a change,' " Reagan said. "That's sort of like someone telling you that you've stored up all the cold beer you could want, so now you can unplug the refrigerator."
He asserted that the industrial Midwest, a region sometimes referred to as the "Rust Belt" and regarded by political analysts as pivotal in the presidential race, has enjoyed an economic revival under the Republicans.
"You know, I get a little tired of hearing Cincinnati and other Midwestern cities called the Rust Belt when the Midwest is the heartland of America's industrial renaissance," Reagan said. "The Midwest isn't the Rust Belt; It's the Boom Belt."
On Sunday, Frank Donatelli, special assistant to Reagan, reported to the NGA executive committee that of 240 recommendations for regulatory reform submitted by the association, the Reagan administration has implemented more than 137.
"They (the Reagan administration) have taken on our pet peeve and they've actually helped us," said Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey, a Republican. "I hope the next administration does as well."