Richard Nixon photo

Excerpts of Remarks Prepared for Delivery by the Vice President of the United States, Lafayette, LA, and Jackson, MS

September 24, 1960

All Americans salute President Eisenhower for his inspiring speech last Thursday to the United Nations.

The ideals and good faith of our people and their yearning for a trustworthy peace were never more eloquently revealed.

What we saw was wise and seasoned leadership in action - unyielding, as our people are, when faced with provocations in the world - never belligerent, but always unafraid to stand up to a threat of force by the powerfully armed - all this hacked up by the most peaceful, yet the most powerful, people on the face of the earth.

We need not be surprised at Chairman Khrushchev's intemperate response. The contrast between the President's attitude and his will speak more eloquently than anything any of us could say about it.

From this and other recent events we see once again the true character of America's leadership of the free world.

The warmth of the reception given our President by the United Nations also reminds us of America's standing in the family of nations. Our all-out support of the United Nations effort in the Congo, ending with a rout of the Communists' attempt at penetration there - our patient labors to weld the nations of this hemisphere together in attitude and action on the difficult problem presented by Mr. Castro's provocative words and deeds, rather than our acting arrogantly on our own - our role in securing a unanimous rejection by the United Nations of the Soviet views on the Congo - and now our President's challenge to the Communist leaders to face up to the great issues of peace and freedom - these, taken together, reveal that America is at a high point of world influence.

We have every right to be deeply proud and hopeful because of these achievements.

They bring into bold relief the naive comments of those who seem to believe that the greater the Communist hostility the lower the prestige of our country.

Let me make this clear: in our foreign affairs, as at home, I do not say we have achieved perfection. It is essential that we have constructive criticism of our shortcomings so that we can constantly strengthen the military, economic, and moral power of America. But in pointing out our weaknesses, it is the responsibility of all of us to avoid presenting an inaccurate picture of America to the world. America has not been, is not now, and with the right leadership never will be a nation wallowing in indecision, facing retreat, or losing the respect of her friends in the world.

Neither of our political parties, nor any administration, can expect to solve all at once all problems for all time to come. The inspiring thing about our system is that we continue to try, aware of our shortcomings but confident that with our great strengths we will move forward.

The age-old problem of discrimination and prejudice is a case in point. This is an issue that concerns not just ourselves. It has intimate ties with the overriding issues of peace and the extension of freedom. Wherever and whenever we contribute to the elimination of prejudice and discrimination, we strike a blow against the Communists and their propaganda ridiculing our moral values. Conversely, to the extent that we are unable to present to the rest of the world the image of an America in which all citizens have equal opportunity, to that extent we weaken our battle for freedom everywhere.

And so, as we in America recognize our shortcomings in this respect, short comings that affect not a single section but the entire Nation, so we will continue to push forward on all fronts to bring ever nearer to reality our ideal of equality of opportunity for all.

But it would be wrong and injurious to our country to say that we are not progressing at all, or are losing ground, only because our progress should be better.

I believe that the charge that America's prestige in the world is lost, or impaired, or low, or declining, is both absurd and irresponsible. I think it is bad for our country abroad and will be unrewarding at home to those who make it.

I believe that to dwell continuously on America's shortcomings, as if those overshadow our great strengths, serves to shake our friends' confidence in us and to undercut our confidence in ourselves.

I say it is not necessary to run America down in order to build America up.

While we are all willing to sacrifice for the good of our country, let us not sacrifice our perspective.

There is simply no justification or need to assert we are weak when we in fact are strong, disrespected when we are respected, declining when we are rapidly advancing, simply in order to drive home the agreed and obvious point that much remains to be done in the never-ending task to build a better future.

I suggest that President Eisenhower's sober and confident example at the United Nations points the responsible way for the candidates in this campaign.

Let us contrast and compare rival plans and programs that concern America's tomorrow.

But let us do this without misrepresenting America's today.

Richard Nixon, Excerpts of Remarks Prepared for Delivery by the Vice President of the United States, Lafayette, LA, and Jackson, MS Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project