Excerpts of Remarks by the Vice President, War Memorial Square, Nashville, TN
Of course, at an opportunity like this, with a great crowd with your time limited, you having to wait, it presents a great problem to the speaker, the candidate for the Presidency of the United States, because there are so many things you are interested in, so many things you would like to know my views on. So, I would like to, as quickly as I can, let you know what I think you ought to consider as you vote this November, the standards you should apply in determining which of the two candidates should be elected President.
I would like you to know where I stand on the issues of greatest interest to you and to the American people, and then at the conclusion I'm going to leave to your judgment the decision that you should make.
First, what should be the standard you apply in electing a President of the United States?
I want to preface what I say at this point by saying I am proud to be on the platform here with our Republican candidates for the Congress and our other Republican candidates in the State of Tennessee. We have a fine group of candidates, and I am proud to pay my tribute to Howard Baker, to Carroll Reece and the others who are here with me. I support them all. I recommend them to you. I do not, however, stand before this great audience and say to you that as far as my candidacy is concerned that, if you're a Republican, you should vote for me because I'm a Republican.
My opponent in a speech a few days ago said that the test that people should apply should be the party. I want to make it clear what test I believe should be applied. I think the tradition of America has been that when we elect a President of the United States we don't think of the party first; we think of the country first - and I say that what is best for America is what you want.
I say that for another reason. I say it knowing that in this great audience, as was the case when I was in Memphis a few days ago, where the rain came down, and the audience still stayed - I want to say that, recognizing that in this audience are many Democrats as well as Republicans, if you were to apply the test of party certainly you could not, in good conscience, support the platform, the program, of the candidate your party selected this time, and I want to tell you why. If you will read that platform, if you will see what it stands for, if you will read the speeches of the man who has been nominated and his running mate, I can say here standing on ground which has been hallowed by Andrew Jackson that he would turn over in his grave if he thought that this party of Schlesinger, of Bowles, and Galbraith was the Democratic Party of which he was proud to be a member.
And to all of the Democrats here who say: "Mr. Nixon, how can I desert my party? What am I going to say about party loyalty if we vote again as we did in 1952 and 1956 for the candidate of your party?" My answer is that is no problem for you because it was solved by the national leadership of the Democratic Party when in Los Angeles they deserted the great principles of Jackson, Jefferson, and Wilson and adopted principles so that, by deserting you, you now can come to us because we stand for the principles which many Democrats in this country still adhere to, we believe.
Now, naturally, you would all expect me to say that because we want the votes of Republicans and we want the votes of independents and we want the votes of Democrats, but I want to tell you I think it can be proved and I want to prove it by discussing the issues and give you our position and theirs and then say for you to decide which represents the point of view that you have with regard to the leadership America needs.
First of all, I stand and I am proud to stand for programs that would produce the greatest progress this Nation has ever had for programs that will build schools, for programs that will provide medical care for our older people, for programs that will provide for the exploration of our great resources in this country, for further development of the TVA and of our great projects in the West, which is essential if we're going to maintain the lead which we presently have economically over the man in the Kremlin, which Mr. Stahlman so eloquently referred to a few moments ago.
In order to do all these things, we need to move forward in America; and I am proud that our program is one that will move America forward, that will provide progress for all of our people, better jobs, better housing better health, better schools.
And now, course, what must come into your minds is this: Don't our opponents stand for that? What is significant about being for these things?
The answer is, of course, that all Americans, Democrats and Republicans, want progress for our country, but here is where the difference comes in: In the first place, we have programs that will work and they have programs that won't - and the record proves it.
My opponent, in speech after speech, has equated himself with Mr. Truman and me with his opponent in the campaign of 1948. Well, I say if he wants to be equated with Harry Truman let him take Harry Truman's record with him, because the American people don't want any part of Harry Truman.
And I'll tell you what that record is.
Do you want better schools? We built more schools than they did in 20 years.
Do you want better hospitals and more? More hospitals built in the Eisenhower administration than were built in the Truman administration.
Do you want better jobs? You find a greater increase in real wages in this administration than in the Truman administration.
We have all this, and we have, in addition to that, held down the cost of living, and in the Truman administration the greatest inflation that we've ever seen.
And so I say that when we find that our opponent here stands for the principles and the policies that America left behind in 1953 - I say the American people are not going to go hack to that. They want to build on and go forward with us into the future which we can present to the American people.
But let me tell you the philosophical difference, and I think it is just as well to describe that difference in terms that I think may be of great interest to all of you.
I just noted as I came in here that Mr. Kennedy, speaking from this same place on September 21, made this statement: "Today I stand on ground hallowed by a first citizen of Nashville, of Tennessee, and of America, Andrew Jackson. I come here as the standard bearer of the party which he helped to build."
Here is what Andrew Jackson said in his second inaugural: "My countrymen will ever find me ready to exercise my constitutional powers in arresting measures which may directly or indirectly encroach upon the rights of the States or which may tend to consolidate all political power in the Central Government."
And I say to you - I say to you - I am proud today to stand with Andrew Jackson and against Jack Kennedy who is against Andrew Jackson on that great principle, because in every program I have described what is their answer? They say turn it over to the Federal Government. They say weaken the States. They say weaken the responsibility for individuals.
And what do you say? We say the way to progress in this country is not simply by turning over these programs to the Federal Government, but by the Federal Government doing what it needs to and always supplementing what individuals or the States cannot do, as for example, in a great project like TVA, but where the individual can do it he should be allowed to do it. Where the State can do it it should be allowed to do it.
Let me put it another way: The way to progress in this country, my friends, is not through weakening the States, but strengthening the States. The way to progress in this country is not through weakening the rights and responsibilities of individuals, but by strengthening the opportunities for a hundred and eighty million free Americans. That's the difference in our policies and in our programs.
Now, I must say there's another difference I should point out. I know there are those who will say, "Well, now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon. How can you say your programs are going to produce more progress than his when his cost more than yours do?"
And they do. They cost about $10 billion more when you cost them out; but let me tell you this: Who's going to pay for those programs?
Remember, when anybody makes promises like this, when he makes these promises, it isn't Jack's money he's going to spend, but your money - and that's the answer to that.
And I say to you that because we stand for progress that will spend money that is necessary, of your money, but that will save all that we can and leave it for you to spend, that the fact that our programs will produce more progress at less money, that this is something that recommends your support of those programs rather than opposing them.
May I go on to another issue, an issue in which there will be disagreement in this audience with both of the party platforms. I refer to the issue of civil rights, and here again I want to say I have spoken on this issue in every State I have visited where it was a problem, as well as in the Northern States. I want to tell you why I have. I think it's the responsibility first of a candidate to talk the same North, East, West, and South, and be the same man throughout the country - and I intend to do that.
In the second place, I do not talk here trying to preach to the people of the South. I went to school there, and I know that this is not just a southern problem - it's a western problem - and we've all got to work together to solve it so that all Americans can have equality of opportunity, and I congratulate the citizens of this State, the men of good will, for the progress you have made in this field.
And may I just say one other thing: We had reference to Mr. Khrushchev a moment ago. This is a difficult and complex problem, but, my friends, let us work together as men and women of good will to solve it for many reasons, but if you need a very good one, let me give it to you. Let's get a solution so that we cannot have a man like Mr. Khrushchev, who has enslaved millions, and I have seen them, who has slaughtered thousands; and I have seen Hungarians come across the line, getting away from the tyranny of Khrushchev in Budapest - this enslaver of millions and slaughterer of thousands must not be able to come into the United States and point the finger at us and say, "You're the ones who are denying the rights of people."
That's why we must make progress - and I am sure we will go forward together - on this and other issues, as I have indicated.
And now, if I could turn to the most important issue of all, what could be more important than a good job, better schools, housing? Being around to enjoy them.
And so, the most important test to which you must put me and my opponent is: Which of the two of us is better qualified by experience, judgment, and background, to keep the peace, keep it without surrender, and extend freedom throughout the world?
This is the great test of this election campaign.
Now, I submit to you today - I submit to you - these matters to consider: First, our record. Now, there has been a lot of criticism of the President's record and this administration's record in the field of foreign policy; but, my friends, all the criticism in the world cannot take away or obscure the fact, and that is: We ended one war; we have kept this Nation out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today - and we want to keep it.
But I know some of my friends may say, "Now, Mr. Nixon, though, what about this criticism that we hear that the United States has lost the initiative, that our prestige is at an alltime low, as Senator Kennedy and others have suggested? What about this?"
I know some of you may have read he statement he made a couple of days ago to the effect, he said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing. I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro is doing. I want to be able to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing." This is what Senator Kennedy was quoted to have said.
Well, just let me say this, my friends: If he would stop talking a little while and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower has been doing. He may not be doing some of the things that we would want him to do. He has not. apologized or expressed regrets to Mr. Khrushchev for attempting to defend the security of the United States.
No, he isn't making a fool of himself in the United Nations either, as Mr. Khrushchev is. And also he isn't trying to muscle into the Congo and take it over unilaterally as Mr. Khrushchev is.
But he has been standing for the right. He has been standing for peace, for real disarmament, for helping our friends abroad. All these things he has been standing for.
And, my friends, I say that on this record we can develop a program which will continue to keep the peace, but which, beyond that, will extend freedom. It means keeping America militarily strong. It means keeping this Nation economically strong. It means keeping our diplomacy firm, but without being belligerent, and this is certainly something that is absolutely essential. In this case, I can only say that Cabot Lodge and I at least have had the experience of sitting down and talking with Mr. Khrushchev. They can call it debating, or whatever they want, but we've done a pretty good job talking with him, I think, and I think we'll do a pretty good job if you will give us the opportunity in the future.
And, above all, I pledge to you that if you give us the opportunity to lead this country, we will keep before the world our major advantage and what America really stands for, and that is not our military strength, which is tremendously important, or our economic strength, but the strength of the things in which we believe.
I have reason to feel this very deeply, because I have seen in countries abroad what it means when people are denied freedom. I have seen in countries abroad what it means when people do not have the opportunity to have independence for their nations, and I say to you that we in this country must remember that it is the strength of our ideals that will count in this struggle, and this must come from you as well as from the leaders, because our faith in God, our belief in the dignity of all men, our belief that the rights of men come not, from men, but from God, and, therefore, cannot be taken away from men - these things - where do they come from? Not just from a President. They come from the people, and they are developed in the homes, in the schools, in the churches of America.
And so I say to you: Strengthen the idealism of America. Make our young people proud of our country. Make patriotism fashionable in this country, as it should be.
And I say to you that as you strengthen the ideals of America at home, those of us who represent America abroad will be able to lead this country, to lead it to peace without surrender, but, more than that, we will be able to continue to be the hope of all the world for men who want to be free.
That, my friends, is the case as I want to present it today; and I say to you: If you believe that Cabot Lodge and I can provide the leadership that America needs in this critical period, remember, this is probably the most important decision or election you are going to participate in. Go out and make it important to you. Your jobs, the prices of the things you buy, but, most of all, your survival depends upon the leadership we get.
If you believe ours is the leadership we need, let the people of Tennessee, Republican and Democrat and Independent, do as they did in 1952 and 1956 - support our candidacy. Why? Because you believe that we are the men who can do the job for America, and that is what we pledge to you.
Richard Nixon, Excerpts of Remarks by the Vice President, War Memorial Square, Nashville, TN Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273780