Excerpts From Remarks by Vice President Richard Nixon Prepared for Delivery at MacAlester College, St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN
This week I have had a wonderfully exciting and inspiring experience - that of visiting with tens of thousands of Americans from Maryland and Indiana to Texas and California, from Oregon and Washington to Idaho and North Dakota, from Illinois and Missouri to New Jersey and Virginia, from Nebraska to Iowa and, finally, to Minnesota.
Every place I have visited I have seen a surging spirit and vitality in the people of our country and have felt their eagerness and ability to achieve better things for themselves in freedom. I have sensed their idealism and strength of character, and everywhere I have noted gratefully a friendly interest in the message we came to present.
As a matter of fact, we have been so busy and so pleasantly absorbed in this undertaking that not until today have I realized that, as I have been moving about, my political opponents have apparently been visiting a different country, or seeing different citizens, or else they have been viewing our people and our country through different eyes.
For where I have seen strength, they seem to have feared weakness.
Where I have seen idealism, character and appreciation of our Nation's ideals, they seem uneasily to have feared aimlessness, even shiftlessness, and, therefore, a clear need for management of our people from Washington, D.C.
When I have seen an America great today, and determined to be greater tomorrow, evidently they have nervously felt that all is lost unless, again, the Federal Government steps in and somehow forces America to be great.
And, then, I understand our opponents are saying now that America's $40-billion-a-year defenses, built under the leadership of our great soldier - President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, have all of a sudden become shaky, weak, and vulnerable, so that, here again, unless we find a cure for our sleeping sickness, we face destruction by the Soviet Union.
Strange indeed this difference in pictures. Where I have found inspiration, they have detected complacency, lethargy, inertia, a lack of purpose, inadequate progress in every important area of our economic and social life. And, finally, they even see a depression right around the corner. Making the picture entirely black, they proclaim that abroad America is held in disrepute and disrespect.
They say America is weak and has lost its prestige - but the American people know better.
My impression is that people usually see in good measure what they feel and believe, deep down inside. One might say that I see a strong America because I am convinced that she is strong - and, indeed, I do believe that I have seen idealism and faith and vitality everywhere we have gone. These have been the hallmarks of America for 185 years and they still are; we aren't panicky about what tomorrow will bring because we are convinced that Americans are going to demand and strive for a tomorrow far better than today. They will achieve this mainly through their own effort and ability instead of from Uncle Sam.
But surely an obsession with fear and failure, a gnawing concern that we are going to let hostile forces prevail, a panic lest next month or next year the whole economy is going to crumble, and a reliance not in the people but in the Federal direction of the people have not become the hallmarks of greatness or ambition or symbols of leadership. Those who amidst unmatched prosperity and progress can detect only retreat, defeat and disaster had better have their glasses - or their values - carefully examined.
To be sure, major tasks are unfinished in our country, and we Americans always aspire and work to achieve greater things for ourselves and our children. These things we will continue to demand many of them we can and will accelerate - but what, exactly, is the calamity that occasions the fright?
Is it the fact that this Republican administration has in the first 4 of its peacetime years spent almost three times as much on our defenses as the last Democratic administration did in the only 4 peacetime years it had - and, even counting 3 wartime years, spent some $50 billion more than the Democrats did for defense in the whole 7-year span?
Is it the fact that during this administration the real wages of men and women of labor have gone up more than seven times as much as during the last administration?
Is it the fact that during this administration Americans have built more hospitals and roads and more schools and homes and made more money, spent more money, invested more money, and saved more money than ever before? Is all this proof that America has been and is standing still?
Or is it that we brought one war to an end, honorably avoided other wars, and kept America at peace without surrendering principle or territory? Is this an indication that disaster will befall us tomorrow?
No, the truth is that America is strong, and America is sound, and given good Government in Washington - one that encourages but does not try to manage the people, we will keep our America strong and sound and free.
* * * * *
Chairman Khrushchev is about to arrive at the United Nations, here on American soil. He has the right to do this, as head of his delegation, under the United Nations Charter, and this is true as well of his dictatorial colleagues such as Castro and Kadar.
But my point is this: In our free system the American press and radio and television will publicize widely every move these men will make and every word they will utter. No doubt this will stir up quite a furor. But the fact that the United Nations is headquartered in New York and is covered by our free press, which will report all of Mr. Khrushchev's antics, does not represent a defeat or a threat as far as we are concerned.
The only real danger that he can turn his visit to his advantage will develop if we show signs of confusion, disunity and immaturity over the occasion.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
My opponent has just said that his visit as the Soviet chief of delegation to the United Nations means that the cold war is being brought "* * * to within 12 miles of the Bergen Mall * * *" in New Jersey.
Now what was that supposed to mean? Is it calculated distortion, or accidental error, or lack of understanding, or, possibly a stirring after something to scare people with?
Whatever it is, it hardly contributes to America's well-being, and certainly it does not enlighten our people or our friends in the world.
I think it is time that we be done with the practice of cutting the pride and support of America by endlessly forecasting doom and prating gloom.
I think we should stop this continual insisting that America is poorly defended against a powerful and deadly foe. It is dangerous, as well as dead wrong.
And I hope we will discard as fallacious and unworthy the absurdity that our progress is defeat, our strength weakness, and our hope not ourselves and the ideals of America but a faraway Federal bureaucracy doing for us what we should do for ourselves.
Let's stick to the facts, not fancy, in this campaign. And let's have pride and faith in our country, our cause, and our future.
Richard Nixon, Excerpts From Remarks by Vice President Richard Nixon Prepared for Delivery at MacAlester College, St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273978