Address in Philadelphia at a Rally of the Nixon for President Committee of Pennsylvania
General Baker and my fellow citizens:
We have 10 critical days left in which to evaluate the issues and personalities of this campaign. We are thankful that we vote secretly in America--that regardless of party affiliation or party registration we can freely and conscientiously choose the best leader for our country.
Almost 8 years have gone by since millions of us--Republicans, Democrats, and Independents--enthusiastically joined together to build a better America. We have had, I feel, a happy and fruitful partnership.
Measured in the dollars that have remained relatively stable these past 8 years, you--the American people--have come a long way since 1952--
You have increased personal income by $132 billion--by 48 percent.
You have increased average weekly earnings from $68 a week to $91 a week--by over a third.
You have increased your individual annual savings by $7 billion-up 37 percent.
You are building 70 thousand elementary classrooms this year alone. That is 22 thousand more than were built in 1952--or 46 percent.
You have increased college enrollments from 2 million to almost 3 1/2 million--up 75 percent.
You have built 9 million new homes--more than ever were built before in the same length of time.
You have added $280 billion in capital expenditures on plants and equipment--more in this job-making field than in the preceding 30 years.
You have increased the gross national product by $ 158 billion--almost 45 percent.
Our Interstate Highway System was talked about for many years, but not started. Now we are building 41 thousand miles of these great new avenues of commerce--and paying for them as we go. When completed, they will save four thousand American lives a year.
The St. Lawrence Seaway was for decades a dream; finally it came true. At last we have brought the oceans of the world to the very heart of America.
In the meantime, you expanded social security, improved our national parks, forced passage of a good labor reform bill, and took the only significant steps in civil rights in 80 years. You, the American people, kept inflation down, balanced the budget four times, with another one on the way. You did these and a multitude of other things--and all this with a reduction of a quarter of a million in governmental positions.
Now, in all these years, a primary contribution of Government and national leadership was to create a climate fostering confidence, enterprise, and a willingness to venture and risk. At the same time, we stopped a wasteful war and prevented others, always with honor. By removing stifling economic controls, we allowed the men and women of America once again to concentrate on getting ahead. Under enlightened governmental policies you, the American people, have been responsible for all this surging progress.
And what about our military strength?
It is the most powerful on earth.
Into our Armed Forces we integrated weapons of tremendous deterrence, many of them unknown 8 years ago, through a program more than three times larger, in dollar amount, than only 10 years ago. And we have proof of the respect the Soviets have for our power and our resolution: the Communists have been turned from a strategy of military penetration to a strategy of infiltration by political and economic means.
So, I am proud of you--proud of what you have done, and proud of what has been done by America. Let no one diminish your pride and confidence in yourselves or belittle these accomplishments. My friends, never have Americans achieved so much in so short a time.
Now in glib political oratory we have heard this progress called "standing still."
Now in glib political oratory we have heard this progress called "stand-America needs more of it.
Now, shortly you must select a new leader for our country. Because I know what he must face--because I feel so earnestly that your choice will have far-reaching effects--possibly for decades--I trust you will think it fitting that I share with you my deep personal convictions on this matter.
There are four key qualities by which I believe America would like to measure the candidates in this election. They are:
Character; ability; responsibility; experience.
From 8 years of intimate association, I know Richard Nixon has these qualities and will use them wisely and decisively. And so will Cabot Lodge. This is why I trust and I believe that the American people will elect this splendid team on November 8.
My friends, this is a subject on which I will have more to say next Wednesday from New York.
Your President, of course, will have to be many things. As Chief of State and of Government, he will be your spokesman, presenting to the world your ideals; your firmness in the right; your strength--in fact, the true image of your country.
To perform this task he must thoroughly think through the problems of our time. In this he cannot succeed unless he is free of rashness; of arrogance; of headlong action; of the inclination to easy compromise. I hear that one candidate says he will act first and act fast. My friends, America needs a man who will think first, and then act wisely.
We need a leader who will not, one day, say that the United States Government should intervene in Cuba and then retract it the next day.
We need a leader who will not, one day, say he would give up territory to the Communists, then change his mind on it a day or so later.
Because, my friends, upon such decisions can hinge peace or war. Upon your President will fall problems like disarmament--like nuclear testing--like Berlin and Quemoy--like Cuba--and, beyond these, the task of continuing to win the hearts and minds of millions of struggling peoples. By the morality, justice, and steadiness of his decisions, he must be able to rally world support.
Your President will also be the Commander in Chief of your Armed Forces. National security will be one of his basic responsibilities and will depend greatly upon his understanding, born of experience. Just wanting to keep out of war will not be enough--as our three major wars in this century have proved. Your President must see to it that your Armed Forces are kept alert and modern, always ready to meet whatever threat may exist in this world. They are that now.
Now a strong defense necessarily rests upon a strong economy. Defense is vastly expensive. Even now you, the people, are spending $10 million a day on long-range ballistic missiles alone--more each day, every day, than the total spent for this purpose in all the years before I took office. Now as long as high level spending is necessary for your security, the Commander in Chief will need to be mindful that unless he holds firmly to policies that promote the growth of free, competitive economic enterprise in the United States, the entire defense effort will be weakened.
Now I have given these few examples of Presidential duties to make clear the momentous significance to you and your children of your vote on November 8.
I have lived a fairly long and full life, so I tend to think of this Nation in terms of my children's and grandchildren's problems. In thinking of their future I am profoundly concerned by some statements in this campaign that have had world-wide circulation and have cruelly distorted the image of America. These statements demonstrate an amazing irresponsibility. They demand, from me, emphatic correction.
This week Pravda, one of Moscow's propaganda newspapers, reproduced speeches by some American politicians--you know who they are-bewailing alleged weaknesses in our country. The Soviet leaders are gleefully quoting from these same speeches in their effort to prove that our influence with other governments of the world is shrinking.
My friends, too many people are talking carelessly and ignorantly about America's standing, as if our Republic were in a popularity contest.
The word prestige has become so badly used and misused as to have lost any real meaning. But of this we can be sure: the Nation's prestige is not measured by the stridency of a politician's voice; it is measured by proved accomplishment. Aside from the great economic development for which you have been responsible, we have, among other things, stopped a futile and costly war, moved to halt Communist advances in Viet-Nam, prevented attacks on Formosa, helped our Philippine friends eliminate Communist guerrilla warfare, achieved, through the United Nations, a decent solution for the Suez affair, saved Iran, removed the sore spot of Trieste, by our sacrifices and cooperative effort strengthened free nations all along the periphery of the Communist bloc, and forged new and strong ties with our neighbors to the South. Now these successes were not won by any lack of strength or decisiveness. It is on such a record that Americans measure prestige rather than upon self-serving political assertions.
The important thing in our foreign affairs is that our Nation's purposes and programs be right. I should like to ask you all to give your closest study to this thing of foreign relations and foreign activities. Foreign problems color every other problem we have in the world--indeed, they cause almost every other problem we have. This is the basic problem that all of us must think about, and select leaders that will know how to handle them. That these programs are right is proved in one area by the eagerness with which the heads of other governments seek our counsel and support, and by our record in the United Nations.
More than 120 heads of state and government have visited our Nation's Capital in the past 8 years, an unprecedented occurrence. The heads of government who went to the United Nations in its last session, excepting those from behind the Iron Curtain, requested to see me, as your chief spokesman, to assure me of their purpose of keeping their relations with us sound and firm. And all the new nations formed--gaining their independence since World War II, have chosen a democratic form of government--not Communist. They, at least, have no doubts about America's prestige.
And too many of our people talk loosely about relative military strength. Such talk is an exercise in calculated confusion. I remind these self-appointed experts that the past 8 years comprise the only period in the entire history of the United States in which peacetime military preparation has been adequate and tailored to meet any possible emergency. I remind you that I have served in these Forces for more than 40 years. I think I know whereof I speak. Moreover, our defense has been tuned to the continuity of the threat and to long-range goals, avoiding the wild fluctuations that too often follow upon the incidence of either panic or complacency. This is one of the important reasons why the United States is today militarily the strongest nation in the world.
In any case: whatever was America's image abroad at the beginning of this political campaign, it tends to become blurred today. This is because of unwarranted disparagement of our own moral, military, and economic power. And what American is entitled to criticize the accomplishments of 180 million other Americans?
My friends, anyone who seeks to grasp the reins of world leadership should not spend all his time wringing his hands.
As another example of unwise politicking, I call attention to the recent speculations in gold on the London market.
Today your dollar is still the strongest currency in the world. We can keep it that way if we continue to hold firmly to the right policies on our budget, our money, and our national debt.
This we have worked tirelessly to achieve for 8 years. We have successfully fought against the big-spending schemes and irresponsible monetary policies that lead to currency debasement and a weak dollar.
But recently, the price of gold in the free market has risen above our official price of $35 per ounce. The foreign press--the European press-reports that this development is based in part on a growing fear of the cheap money policies and radical spending promised in the Los Angeles platform.
If these promises should be carried out, the impact on our economic position--and on the free world--could be catastrophic. Very quickly, confidence in our dollar could be impaired.
This places an immediate obligation upon the political leaders who support that platform.
That obligation is to spell out, specifically, in dollars and cents, how they would pay for the many billions of additional Federal spending pledged by that platform. We know that they could not pay for them with high hopes alone.
If they would pay for these lavish programs by raising taxes, let them say so.
And if they would cut going programs of the Government, let them specify what they are.
But if they would pay for these programs by deficit spending, raising the debt of our children and grandchildren, and thereby debase our currency, let them so confess.
In such a case let them understand that they and their party assume not only full responsibility for the present dangerous speculation in gold, but also for the developing fear about the future worth of the American dollar.
In all these things, my friends, we will need judgment and experience as our surest guide.
Of course "America must move." But forward--not backward. Not back to inflation--not back to bureaucratic controls--not back to deficit spending--not back to higher taxes, and bigger government. We found all these in 1952.
America must continue to go forward--with maturity, with judgment, with balance. I see no sense in America galloping in reverse to what has been called a New Frontier.
This is why, my fellow Americans, we must not settle for leadership other than the very best. We cannot afford anything less.
And clearly the best is the team of Nixon and Lodge.
Dick Nixon is superbly experienced, maturely conditioned in the critical affairs of the world. For 8 years he has been a full participant in the deliberations that have produced the great decisions affecting our Nation's security and have kept us at peace. He has shared more intimately in the great affairs of government than any Vice President in all our history.
He has traveled the world, studying at first hand the hopes and needs of more than 50 nations. He knows in person the leaders of those nations--knowledge of immeasurable value to a future President. He has represented us with distinction in situations demanding diplomacy, wisdom, tact, and courage.
By all odds, Richard Nixon is the best qualified man to be the next President of the United States.
Likewise unique in experience is Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge. Where could we find a man, better qualified by stature and service in the world arena, to assume the responsibility whose burden must always be the knowledge that at any instant he may have to assume the Presidency of the United States? Cabot Lodge will be prepared.
Here is a superlative team, prepared in every respect to lead our country responsibly and well.
Fellow Americans--in the days ahead, I ask you to reflect soberly on these thoughts. However you are registered, consider it only a passkey to a secret ballot governed solely by your own convictions and your own conscience. Cast your ballot not for party, nor for any other lesser consideration. Vote for the team that can more fully lead us toward peace with justice. Vote what is best for America.
In that spirit, and joined, I hope, by a vast majority of Americans regardless of party, I shall vote for Vice President Nixon and Ambassador Lodge on November eighth.
Note: The President spoke at 8:30 p.m. at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. His opening words "General Baker" referred to Lt. Gen. Milton G. Baker, superintendent of the Valley Forge Military Academy, who served as chairman of the Nixon for President Committee for Pennsylvania.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address in Philadelphia at a Rally of the Nixon for President Committee of Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234337