Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address in Pittsburgh at a Dinner Sponsored by the Allegheny County Republican Executive Committee

November 04, 1960

Congressman Judd, Mr. Graham, Mr. Flaherty, Senator Scott, the congressional delegation, and my fellow Americans:

After a half century in the service of the Republic, I address you tonight.

I am not here merely because of friendship for any person or out of any sense of obligation to any individual or organization of individuals. Such influences carry a great appeal but they cannot be controlling in this time of decision.

I am here solely because of my concern for the future of the United States and your hopes of peace with justice and in freedom.

That future and your deepest hopes are at stake. And they can be compressed right now to a choice between two men and their running mates.

For me, drawing on a lifetime of experience with men who want to lead and men who can lead, there is no question about the choice.

I support Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge.

In speaking to you tonight, I am sharply conscious:

Of the debt I owe this country.

Of the pride I feel as I review the long march of America, generation after generation, to leadership among the nations.

Of the hope that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will recall our days and our decisions with a like pride.

All these reasons, deep-seated in my heart, demand that I speak out on our right and duty as American citizens next Tuesday to vote-to vote our sober, serious convictions.

So doing, we shall once again justify the American faith that free men and women, voting in secret ballot, answerable only to conscience, will judge wisely as honest stewards of a grand heritage; as farsighted designers of a grand destiny.

We will not justify this faith if we are moved by selfish interest or specious promise or emotional appeal; or if we vote as members of a bloc.

The major, the over-riding, problem of today is the global struggle between those who seek to impose dictatorial domination over all men and those who seek to help all men achieve a good life in freedom.

On the outcome of this struggle depends the preservation of everything that we hold dear; the liberty that we enjoy; the opportunities we possess; the just peace we purpose.

Should we lose this struggle, Communism would darken the light of the world.

This international struggle defines the character, scope and importance of every domestic question argued and publicized in this political campaign. The primary importance of these debated issues is their effect upon our ability to win the ideological war.

To make America's world leadership felt and effective in this vast conflict, we must be strong--strong morally, economically and, indeed, militarily--as we are tonight.

Strength cannot be conjured out of glittering generalities and promises; out of fanciful pictures of a life of ease--devoid of labor, sacrifice and self-dedication; out of a grab-bag of easy answers for hard questions.

If we are to be respected and our leadership willingly accepted, the substance of our strength must be realized and felt. Every individual among us must find his greatest happiness in constructive work--work for himself, his family, his community, our Nation.

Our moral strength must never waver; never weaken before the blackmail of threat; never degenerate into surrender-infected compromise with a gun-enforced tyranny.

Our military strength must be, at whatever cost, so maintained that never again will the United States through military weakness be plunged into war--as it was three times within this century.

To fortify our economic strength, we must pay our way, not thoughtlessly piling an ever-mounting debt upon the shoulders of our children and our grandchildren and forfeiting the confidence of other nations.

We must be proud of our heritage, diligent in its maintenance and determined in its continued development; neither deserting our traditions, nor downgrading ourselves.

We must have leadership--leadership of the very finest kind that we can produce. In this campaign, only in Richard Nixon and Ambassador Lodge is the best of such leadership to be found.

I say this because they possess a rich experience in waging the kind of war in which we are now engaged; in meeting the needs of our Nation to support our world purposes; and in leading us to victory.

What I am talking about is not a matter of predicting the number of motels to be built in a given time; of forecasting to the dollar the amount of money that will be spent on gadgets and luxuries in the next four years; or of guaranteeing precisely the number of jobs that will be filled at a distant date.

The matter of which I speak--of indescribable and lasting importance to every individual among us--is the application of integrity and intellect and experience to countless problems, always directly affecting our domestic strength and our progress toward peace; they are always changing in their context and in their priorities; but always changeless in their demand for sober, resolute, steady minds.

In the campaign of our opponents, the juggling of promises by the inexperienced, the appeal to immediate gain and selfishness, the distortion of fact, the quick changes from fantastic charge to covert retreat--all these are intended to confuse the voter; not to enlighten him.

And this is nothing new. The tactics of confusion have always been a device to cover weakness in principle or in purpose or in proposal. They are still the arsenal of those who lack a constructive program founded on tested principle.

Out of the complexities Of modern living, our political opponents construct a jungle of problems which, they say, are impossible of solution except by the formulas they have dreamed up and would like to test-on us and on the world. If allowed to do so--if elected--they will call the tune, but we--and those who come after us--will pay the piper, and we will have to pay, because their announced plans call for swollen costs and mushrooming expenditures.

Now our opponents of course are experts at assuring us that neither higher taxes nor deficit spending will be used to meet these additional costs. But all history shows the absurdity of this claim.

Now this is a time for woodshed honesty--even if the American people have to apply a little woodshed discipline to get it. Unless they do, the American family will pay the costs out of its family budget because either Federal taxes will skyrocket once again or the cheap dollar and higher prices will return.

Now, of course, political opponents promise us more dollars in our pockets so that we can meet the cost of their schemes. But purchasing power at the corner grocery comes from creative and productive work, not from Federal printing presses grinding out dollars that constantly buy less--less food--less clothing--less shelter.

My friends, all gains made by labor rest on one foundation--a stable dollar. Possibly, for a time, a wage earner receiving a constantly increasing number of dollars in his pay envelope may imagine he is keeping even with the speed that his dollars cheapen. But accelerated inflation soon destroys even this poor hope and reduces it to futility.

But think of the man living on a fixed pension, or the man whose savings are in bonds and insurance policies, or the one who has nothing but his social security.

The effect on him is catastrophic.

Does this show concern for our senior citizens? A concern so prated about in some of the other platforms we read--platform planks in Los Angeles.

These wizards in fiscal shell games try to prove that all problems can be solved by bigger government, bigger spending, bigger promises. They are idolatrous worshippers of bigness--especially of big government.

But we must recognize that:

All our problems are still human problems.

All our goals are still human goals.

Therefore, for the proper conduct of human affairs, we must have:

Character that endures; not campaign promises that evaporate.

Ability that elevates; not ambition that corrupts.

Responsibility that deliberates; not rashness that stampedes.

Experience in duty that sobers; not eagerness for power that intoxicates.

Richard Nixon and Cabot Lodge, in this light, are worthy of your choice as well as mine. They have been tried and trained, tested and proved worthy.

One thought more.

Almost sixteen and a half years ago, almost on the very eve of D-Day, I became absorbed in a soul-wracking problem. A senior staff officer of mine, a tested and gallant battle leader, came to me to express his conviction that part of the plan that I had devised and approved would require the destruction of two fine American divisions--two airborne divisions of gallant soldiers. He prophesied that if I went on with this movement, these two divisions would suffer at least 90 percent casualties, even before they could land. Manifestly, if this were true, their sacrifice would be futile, because there would be no remaining strength.

If he were right, it appeared that the attack on Utah Beach was probably hopeless, and this meant that the whole operation suddenly acquired a degree of risk, even foolhardiness, that could generate a gigantic failure, possibly Allied defeat in Europe.

And the decision was squarely up to me. There was no one to help me. Professional and technical advice and counsel had been exhausted.

There was nothing for me to do but to go to my tent and think out this problem alone. I realized, of course, that if I disregarded the advice of my technical expert and trusted associate, and if his predictions should be true, then I would carry to my grave the unbearable burden of a conscience justly accusing me of indifference to the lives of thousands of Americans, and of a stupid, blind sacrifice of thousands of the flower of America's sons. Outweighing any personal burden, however, was the fact that if he were right the effect of the disaster would be far more than local; it would likely affect the entire force and probably cause a gigantic repulse on the beaches.

Now seriously I reviewed every single step in my battle plan. Having completed that study--I phoned to him and said the attack would go as stated.

Now events proved, happily, his prediction to be wrong. And I am glad to say that the first notice that came to me of the successful landing was from this same man, whose joy knew no limits.

But for years thereafter, I felt that only once in a lifetime could a problem of that sort weigh so heavily upon a man's mind and heart.

Now my fellow Americans, now that I know that in this age the President encounters soul-wracking problems many times in a single term of office, I really realize what we are asking the next President to do. This kind of problem comes to him in every conceivable form, almost every day that he is in office.

Not the fate of two divisions or even of an entire landing force but the fate of millions of Americans--young and old, military and civilian, city dwellers and farm families--the fate of the Republic itself might depend on his decision.

When the push of a button may mean obliteration of countless humans, the President of the United States must be forever on guard against any inclination on his part to impetuosity; to arrogance; to headlong action; to expediency; to facile maneuvers; even to the popularity of an action as opposed to the rightness of an action.

He cannot worry about headlines; how the next opinion poll will rate him; how his political future will be affected.

He must worry only about the good--the long-term, abiding, permanent good--of all America.

The nakedness of the battlefield when the soldier is all alone in the smoke and the clamor and the terror of war is comparable to the loneliness--at times--of the Presidency. These are the times when one man must conscientiously, deliberately, prayerfully, scrutinize every argument, every proposal, every prediction, every alternative, every probable outcome of his action and then--all alone--make his decision.

In that moment he can draw on no brain trust; no pressure group; no warehouse of trick phrases, no facile answers. Even his most trusted associates and friends cannot help him in that moment. He can draw only upon the truths and principles responsible for America's birth and development, applying them to the problem immediately before him in the light of a broad experience with men and nations.

He will be face to face with himself, his conscience, his measure of wisdom. And he will have to pray for Divine guidance from Almighty God.

And that is exactly where every thoughtful American will be, and what he should do, when he marks his secret ballot next Tuesday.

Out of that knowledge of the duties and the burdens of the Presidency, and of the responsibility of the good citizen, I must vote for Richard Nixon and Cabot Lodge November 8th.

Thank you and good night.

Note: The President spoke at 9:06 p.m. at the Pittsburgh-Hilton Hotel. His opening words referred to U.S. Representative Walter H. Judd of Minnesota, the Reverend William F. Graham, Edward L. Flaherty, chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Executive Committee and coordinator of the dinner meeting, and U.S. Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address in Pittsburgh at a Dinner Sponsored by the Allegheny County Republican Executive Committee Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234544

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives