Richard Nixon photo

Excerpts from Remarks by the Vice President, Armory, Scranton, PA

September 19, 1960

Along with that military strength, we must have a diplomatic policy which is just as strong, a policy which must have, among other ingredients, these that I would mention tonight: First, it must be firm. It must be based on knowledge of a kind of men we are dealing with.

Mr. Khrushchev, who has just arrived in the United States to attend the U.N. meeting, is not liked and does not react like the leaders of the free world. He doesn't react like Mr. Macmillan or President De Gaulle or Chancellor Adenauer or President Eisenhower and, in order to develop the kind of diplomatic policy that will deal with him effectively, you must recognize what kind of man he is and you must build your policy accordingly. The first ingredient of that policy must be this: It must be firm. It must never make a concession without getting a concession in return. It must never assume that a smile or a handshake or pleasant words are going to change his attitudes. For example, you recall the conference at Paris recently which Mr. Khrushchev broke up he said over the U-2 incident. There were some who criticized President Eisenhower after that on the ground they claimed that maybe he hadn't done enough to save the conference, that possibly he might have tried to save it by expressing regrets to Mr. Khrushchev for the flights.

May I tell you why the President shouldn't have done that? There are two reasons: (1) That kind of suggestion shows a naive attitude about the Communist mind because if the President had expressed regrets it not only would not have saved the conference; it would not only not have satisfied Mr. Khrushchev - it would have whetted his appetite and it would have made him push for more. It would have been exactly the wrong thing to do on that score.

And then there was another reason that the President, of course, could not do that. No President of the United States, Democrat or Republican, must ever feel that he must express regrets or apologize for attempting to defend the security of the United States against surprise attack.

With that firmness, of course, must go the willingness to negotiate, willingness to negotiate provided the groundwork is laid so that those negotiations have some possibility to succeed, particularly if they are to take place at the head-of-state or head-of-government level, at the so-called summit conference level, and in that connection, may I say that when such negotiations do take place we must remember that whoever represents the United States as President, not only must be firm, but he must be so without losing his temper. He must be cool in a crisis. He must be able to take an insult, keep his position firm, but not engage in a war of words that might heat up the international atmosphere, and here again I think the President gave us a good example in Paris.

Some said, "Why didn't he give Khrushchev back as good as he received?"

And the answer is: When you're confident that you're right, when you're confident in your strength you don't get down to the level of somebody who engages in the kind of talk that Mr. Khrushchev does. You maintain the dignity of your office and of your country.

In this period, diplomatically, the American people must also, along with their Government and their leaders, develop a quality of national maturity. This means not blaming ourselves every time that the Communists cause us trouble anyplace in the world. It means not losing our heads because Mr. Khrushchev decides to come to the United Nations, as he has a right to. I know that it has been suggested that, because he came to the United Nations, that act, in itself, brought the cold war to the United States. My friends, the cold war had been brought to the United States long before that. It is being fought all over the world and will continue to be fought all over the world because that is the way the Communists operate.

But I would say, further, as Mr. Khrushchev comes to the United States and the United Nations, he will say some things that we won't like. He will do some things that may have a tendency to distress some people in this country. But, believe me, we do not have to be afraid of the comparison. When our President goes before the United Nations and talks about U.S. policies toward the world and Mr. Khrushchev goes before the U.N. and talks about Soviet policies, I say the great majority of the people of the world will recognize that it is we who stand for peace and not Mr. Khrushchev.

And to those who have any doubts about it, I would say the recent action in the Congo, where he tried to muscle in unilaterally and get power in that area and where we stood with the United Nations and got the United Nations' support, is an indication (1) of U.S. prestige, with our policies being followed, and (2) that the United States will try - and always tries - to work to make the instruments of peace stronger rather than to weaken them.

And now may I turn to a second point. Military strength and diplomatic firmness are necessary and essential to keep the peace, but they will only hold the line. In order to extend freedom, we have to recognize that we are in a great competition today, a competition of economic systems and a competition of ideals, and in this economic competition, to which I would first like to refer, we are well ahead, but Mr. Khrushchev challenges us, as he told me when I was in Moscow. He said, "Mr. Vice President, we are behind you now, but," he said, "we're moving faster than you are. Our system is better than yours." He said, "We're going to catch you and we're going to pass you by, and when we do, I will wave and we will wave and say to you, 'Come along and follow us.'"

Our answer to that must not be simply, "Well, we're stronger economically and more productive," as we are, because while you're ahead in a race you must never assume that being ahead is enough. You can't stand pat. You've always got to move ahead to stay ahead, and that means getting the maximum out of the U.S. economy.

How do we do this? We do this by seeing that there are no leaks in this economy. We do this by emphasizing not what the Federal Government does primarily, but what individuals are allowed to do and encouraged to do by their Government, and we do this, to use a specific example, by seeing to it that, as America moves ahead, nobody stays behind, no individual. That means that every individual, regardless of his background, must have an equal opportunity to make his economic and other contribution to America's progress, and it means that, while America moves ahead, no section of the country can stay behind. It means that in areas like Scranton and Wilkes-Barre that have economic difficulties, it is the responsibility of the Federal Government not to come in and federalize the institutions in these areas, but to adopt programs which will enable them to make maximum use of their tremendous human resources and their natural resources.

On that point, I have something to say that will be of particular interest to the people in this area. I know there has been considerable debate about the so-called depressed areas, and there has been talk to the effect that this administration, quoting from a billboard that I saw coming in, doesn't care. My answer is this: If the Democratic administration and the Democratic leaders really cared, they would have passed a bill that the President would have signed rather than asking for an issue.

And to those who say, "But, Mr. Nixon, their bill gave so much more money than your bill would," look what it was. It was a straight pork-barrel bill. It was one that used a shotgun rather than a rifle.

What the President asked for, for example, in his bill, putting it in specifics, would have provided Scranton well over a million and a half dollars in loans. What they passed would have been well under a million. What they passed would have helped Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton by about 1.6 million and what they rejected in the President's bill would have provided 2.6 million.

The same can be said of the other really depressed areas, those that really do need assistance, like this one, like Wilkes-Barre, like Charleston, W. Va.

And, so, I would say again that here what we need is not the shotgun of politics which they used, but what we need is the rifle of national interest, and I say that in the next session of this Congress, if I have an opportunity to send a message to that session, that an issue of the highest priority would be to get this Congress to do what the last session of the Congress did not do when they had a 2-to-1 majority of their party

I have an announcement to make tonight. In studying this legislation, I am convinced that the best approach is the one that has been drafted by Senator Scott and three Pennsylvania Congressmen, Van Zandt, Fenton, and Saylor, one which Bill Scranton, incidentally, has come to talk to me about several times, a bill which will provide $200 million for the distressed areas, which exceeds the administration's request by $20 million. It would raise Federal participation from 35 to 50 percent. I believe the principles are consistent with that of the administration bill - and, incidentally, had the Congress passed this kind of bill, I am convinced the President would have signed it. But, in any event, we can and will get action because we are interested in people, even though our opponents in this last session, by what they produced, seemed to be interested only in politics rather than people.

So, I again say this economy of ours, under our leadership, will continue to move forward and it will grow. It will grow far greater, far faster than it would ever grow under their leadership because we recognize the primary source of growth in a free economy is not what the Federal Government does, but it is by what the Federal Government does in inspiring and stimulating the creative activities of 180 million free Americans.

Richard Nixon, Excerpts from Remarks by the Vice President, Armory, Scranton, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project