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Excerpts of the President's News Conference

August 29, 1924

PRESIDENT: I suppose the Washington baseball team is the one that represents the whole nation. The others have some local claims. That which comes from the city of Washington I suppose represents the nation in its entirety more than any other team. If it should be so fortunate [as] to secure first place, in that respect I suppose it would be more agreeable to the whole nation than that which could be secured by having any local team win the pennant. I don't know as I can make any statement about the present condition of our team that hasn't already been better made by someone else. I am not an expert on baseball, though I enjoy the game. I haven't made any plans yet about attending the World Series, but should that be the case I assume that it goes without saying that I should want to see the opening game.

PRESS: Mr. President, would it be permissible to quote that remark about baseball?

PRESIDENT: NO, I don't think so.

* * * * * * *

I haven't seen the British protest against increasing the range of our guns on American battleships. I am not certain whether any formal protest has been received. My position about that would be to maintain whatever right the American Government has under the treaties, as a matter of right. Now, in addition to that is the matter of policy. Our Government, in conjunction with others, is trying to discourage competitive armaments. It entered into treaties for that purpose. It is also known that the governments in Europe are struggling along under a heavy burden of debt. I don't want to do anything here that would make it necessary for them to start increasing their naval armament expenses for the purpose of building new ships, or changing over those ships that they already have. I should be very loath to start in on a policy of that kind. But that is entirely apart from what right the American Government may have under the treaties. As I say, whatever right we have I shall assert at all times. I don't want to surrender the right. That is somewhat different from what we might consider a practical policy to pursue. I think the practical policy to pursue at this time is not to enter into a competitive method of arming ourselves. As I have already indicated, they have staggering expenses abroad. I don't like to refer to it too often—they owe us money over there. I should very much prefer that they should take their money and pay us, than on account of any action we took over here feel that they should take their money and build battleships. I think it would be very much better for all concerned to adopt a policy of that kind. I never knew of just how much importance the British protest was, whether it was a natural form they took for the purpose of filing a protest in order to save any right they might have and to indicate they might not want to start in on any competitive armament at this time, or whether they thought it was a distinct injury to them or a violation of the spirit of the treaty. I haven't seen the protest. The time for action on it wouldn't arrive until we made an appropriation by the Congress, and then undertook to determine whether we wanted to spend the appropriation that had been made. I think I have made myself clear—that is, to assert all the rights we have and surrender none of them. But so far as the policy is concerned, I am very loath to take any action that would cause the governments abroad to think they must spend great sums of money on their naval armaments.

Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.

Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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