Excerpts from News Conference Held by Vice President Nixon, Newport, RI
Following are excerpts from the official transcript of the news conference held here today by Vice President Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge after their meeting with President Eisenhower.
Vice President NIXON. Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, we have just had a conference with the President, and I think I can properly indicate the subjects that were discussed without going into the details of what the President said.
We discussed, first of all, the upcoming legislative session on August 1, and the President made it very clear that it was his view that it was vitally important that this be a session in which the interests of the people rather than politics be put first.
I told the President that I agreed completely with that view, and that I felt that we could, at this session, pass some legislation which would be in the interests of the people, provided we had cooperation from the Democratic majority.
One point that was made with regard to that session was that the bills, which it has been suggested may he introduced by the members of the majority, called for vastly increased spending, would not be in the interests of the people and would be purely political, unless they carried with them the taxes, the increased taxes necessary to pay the bill for such legislation.
And I would say in summary, with regard to that session, that the President has under consideration a proposal that he send a message to the Congress when it meets. That decision is one that he has not made and that, of course, he will announce at an appropriate time.
The second subject that we discussed was the food-for-peace proposal - the distribution of surplus foods through the United Nations. As you ladies and gentlemen will recall, I discussed this proposal in my speech at Minot, N. Dak., a few weeks ago. The matter was discussed today in terms of how that might be implemented both within the administration and within the United Nations.
In addition to that, we discussed the campaign. I might say I received, along with Ambassador Lodge, some very good campaign tips from the "champ" in this respect; and we discussed the campaign. We reported to the President on the meetings that we had had in Washington today, and we discussed also his plans for the campaign period.
Now, obviously, we will not indicate what those plans are. They have not been completely firmed up, and any announcement in that respect he will make himself.
Now, as far as your questions are concerned today, I will be glad to respond to any of them that deal with, of course, any of the subjects I have mentioned, and on others that you have. And I will respond also to any political questions.
As far as Ambassador Lodge is concerned, as I indicated at my press conference in Chicago, since he still is acting as Ambassador to the United Nations, he will engage in no political campaigning and will make comments on no political subjects until he completes his responsibility in the United Nations. He, however, can be questioned and will respond to any questions you have with regard to business before the United Nations.
So we will be glad to have questions now.
Q. Mr. Vice President, the Republican platform calls for accelerated defense spending. Many people have interpreted this as a conflict with the President's defense policy, since he has not sent up any supplemental requests for defense money. As a second - I would like your comments on that - a second question in that connection, I wonder what money figure you think should be appropriated to accelerate the defense program?
A. First, as far as the accelerated defense spending to which you have referred is concerned, I believe that in those areas where technical breakthroughs have made it obvious and necessary that increased spending be approved in order to improve our defense posture, that in this case you can have justification or increased spending. I believe also that to the extent that the world situation has become more critical in certain areas than it was previously, that increased spending to improve our defense is justified.
I do not agree with those who say that the programs that have been approved by the administration in the past are inadequate. I do say that where technical breakthroughs have occurred, and where the world situation has changed, that we must reappraise our defense spending to meet those situations.
Now, so far as specific amounts are concerned, I would not indicate at this time any answer to that question. At a proper time, in the course of the next few weeks, I shall of course be discussing defense and will then expand on the answer that I give at this time.
Q. Mr. Vice President, Communist China's Premier Chou En-lai today has suggested a world-power nonaggression pact that would include the United States, Communist China, and other world powers, and also a nuclear-free zone, I believe, in Asia. I would like to have your reactions to those two proposals.
A. I haven't had an opportunity to study either of the proposals and I would say that to comment upon them, without having seen them specifically and studied them, would be inappropriate at this point.
Q. Mr. Vice President, you said you had received some good campaign tips from the - did you say the chairman?
Mr. Nixon. From the "champ."
Q. Could you tell us what some of those campaign tips were?
A. I wouldn't want to give any information that would be helpful to our opponents, so - [laughter].
But the President, I might say, is tremendously interested in this campaign and he had a number of suggestions that we found helpful, that we are going to put into implementation as we make our whole campaign plans.
Q. Did you get any clear indication as to the extent of the President's participation in the campaign to come?
A. Yes, we did. As I have indicated, however, it would not be appropriate for me to answer any questions with regard to what - how much he will participate.
I will only say that he is vitally interested in, and he would hope to be helpful to the extent that his participation would be helpful.
Q. Do you want him to participate
A. I can - I would answer that question by saying that I have always felt that the President had immense public approval in the country, both as a man and for his policies. I think his recent visit to Chicago, the reception that he had there, is an indication of his great popularity in the country, and obviously, to the extent that he could participate after he has, of course, put first his responsibilities as President - and that must come first. We, of course, would be delighted to have him. But that decision is one that he must make, and which he, himself, will answer at the proper time.
Q. Mr. Vice President, as I am sure you know, Senator Kennedy and the Democrats took out after you today on farm policy, and they have accused you of abandoning the administration's farm program, after supporting it for 7½ years, as they say, and picturing you as a political captain leaving a sinking ship. Do you have any comment on those charges?
A. I would only say that I am not surprised at the charges and that, as I explained, I thought, quite clearly in Chicago, I think it is essential that we need a new approach, a new leadership, in farm policy.
Due to the fact that the present positions, both from the legislative standpoint and the executive standpoint, have resulted in an impasse, a stalemate, which means that upon the farmers of the country and upon the people of the country we have imposed a program which is not in the best interests of either, in which the surpluses continue to pile up, and farm income for major commodities continues to go down.
That is the reason that I believe that at this point we should move forward from this position and attempt to break the stalemate through a new approach. And the new approach that I have indicated I will spell out in greater detail in a major farm speech early in the campaign.
Q. You indicated in Chicago that you hoped to do some weekend campaigning, and hoped for an agreement with the majority leadership about that. The majority leadership indicated that it wanted to work weekends. What change has that made in your planning?
A. I am perfectly happy to do whatever the majority leader and Mr. Kennedy would say they desire to do. I only had in mind the fact that Mr. Kennedy, of course, was campaigning a great deal, and I don't criticize him for doing this, during the session of Congress through which we have just passed. And to the extent that he desires to be on the job in Washington, I will be on the job in Washington. To the extent that he leaves Washington in this period, I, of course, will have to feel free to leave Washington also * *
Q. In view of the fact that there will be intense political activity in this upcoming session of Congress, do you think they will be able to accomplish anything?
A. Being perfectly realistic, a session of this type in the past has not been particularly productive. On the other hand, I think it is important that this be a productive session. I think we need action, for example, on the school legislation, on our health legislation, on our depressed areas legislation in - to just name three areas - action in which committees have already held hearings and where certainly we should be able to move forward * * *
But I would say that any bill providing for increases in spending massive increases in spending, which do not carry - any bills which not carry with them the taxes to pay the bill, are going to walk right into a veto, in my opinion. And they should.
The test here is whether or not they are playing politics or working in the interests of the people, is whether or not they meet up to the fact that with that increased spending they have got to increase the taxes. Or, to quote Senator Kennedy, he said that this was a time for sacrifice
Q. Considering the crowded docket that faces Congress, do you think it would be appropriate for the Republicans to push for additional civil rights legislation during this August session?
A. I would say that that is a matter that is probably out of the hands of both the President and the leadership generally, because I understand that both Republicans and Democrats are going to present civil rights legislation bills to carry out both platforms to the Congress.
I would suggest this, in that respect: Certainly this legislation will be presented to the Congress. To get action on new legislation that had not been before committees would be extremely difficult in a 3-week session, but it does happen that we have several proposals that - on which committee hearings have already been held. For example, to give statutory status to the Committee on Government Contracts. There are several proposals in which committee hearings have already been held which could be brought up and which could be passed. And I think that it would be responsible to present those proposals and ask for action for them in a 3-week session
Q. Could Ambassador Lodge tell us how soon he believes an effective program for disposal of surpluses could get through the United Nations?
Mr. LODGE. I think a proposal for disposal of surpluses would be welcomed very warmly in the United Nations. I think you could get a resolution through in the forthcoming General Assembly that would accomplish a lot.
Q. Mr. Ambassador, have you had time to catch up today on the Russian proposal for a kind of summit meeting in the General Assembly on disarmament?
A. Yes. I heard about it. It's a typically specious and frivolous maneuver. We have made a good-faith effort to advance the - advance toward disarmament - and make some progress by having a meeting of the Disarmament Commission. Now, when they make a proposal like this, it's a cynical attempt to prevent progress, that's what it is it shows that they don't really want disarmament.
Q. Can you estimate how long your disarmament duties will keep you under this self-imposed noncampaigning status?
A. Well, it isn't really self-imposed. It is - would obviously be inappropriate for me to, as the U.S. representative to the United Nations - to engage in partisan politics.
For the 8 years I have been there, I have never made a single utterance of that kind. And when the time comes that I do make utterances of that kind, I will not be at the United Nations any more.
Richard Nixon, Excerpts from News Conference Held by Vice President Nixon, Newport, RI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273613