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Interview of Vice President Richard M. Nixon by Walter Winchell, WABC-TV, New York, NY

October 02, 1960

WINCHELL. Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President, Richard Nixon will be interviewed in about 5 minutes, please stand by.


ANNOUNCER. Now Walter Winchell.

WINCHELL. Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea, let's go to press.

Washington - the Vice President of the United States is standing by in our Washington studios for a split screen interview in about 5 minutes. The questions were submitted by various newspapers from New York to Honolulu.

WINCHELL. Attention Please - Several people have told you that you have a duty to vote. A duty to yourself, your family, and your country but that will come after the commercial.


WINCHELL. Attention Please - Enough people already have told you that you have a duty to vote; a duty to yourself, your family, and your country. I want to tell you another reason. You should vote out of respect for the people who can't. I mean the tens of thousands of people under Communist control. They will never consider themselves slaves while one freeman lives. No matter which American candidate you favor in casting your vote, you will be casting one vote against tyranny in general and Communist dictatorship in particular. The total American votes will be broadcast to the world including those behind the Iron Curtain. Oddly enough your vote is more important to them than it is to you. The vote you cast adds candlepower to the torch of liberty, the one which lights your country's way and the other which the Communists force the captured nations to hide in their hearts.

I invited both candidates to appear before my cameras and microphones. Senator Kennedy's staff told me he will try to appear next Sunday night or on some Sunday night before election. Mr. Nixon is our first guest from Washington.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President of the United States.

Good evening, Mr. Nixon, glad to see you with us. Mr. Vice President, newspapers in various parts of the country have submitted questions to ask you, queries that will interest people in those areas.

The first is from the New York Mirror - the question, What are the chances for tax relief without cutting back or jeopardizing our defense?

NIXON. Well, Walter, as far as tax relief is concerned this next year, I think that there is very little chance for it. As far as

tax reform is concerned, that is a change in our tax structure without reducing revenue, I believe the Congress may be able to consider that and that it should consider it under the proper circumstances. The reason why tax reduction in the sense of reducing revenue cannot be considered at this time is that the international situation requires us to maintain our defenses at a level which will deter Communist aggression. To maintain those defenses is our first responsibility and as I said over and over again in this campaign the American people have to be prepared to pay the cost. I think all Americans are willing to pay taxes to be sure that the Communists do not gain the power which would enable them to threaten the peace of the world.

WINCHELL. Mr. Vice President, this question is from the Daily News in Anchorage, Alaska. The question - In the event that Russia and Cuba agree on establishing missile bases on Cuban soil, do you believe that the United States should do everything in its power to prevent such a move, possibly even in a full-scale blockade of Cuba?

NIXON. I think it would be irresponsible for me as the Vice President of the United States to answer a hypothetical question of that type. I think I should prefer to answer it in this way, the only responsible way.

As President Eisenhower has indicated time and time again, the United States cannot tolerate Russian influence or a Russian-dominated government in Cuba or in the Americas. Now the President has made that clear. I think that, as far as what we would do in this circumstance or that is concerned, that we will have to leave that to the events as they develop because the moment that we were to say or I were to say as a Government official that if this or that happened this in effect would be anticipating in advance something that we don't know is going to happen and also it might be interpreted as a threat or something of that sort which could be counter productive. All that I can say is this - the United States will not and cannot tolerate a Communist-dominated government in the Americas and of course when you add missile bases to it that makes it certain that that's exactly what it is.

WINCHELL. Here is a second question from the same newspaper, the Anchorage, Alaska, Daily News. The question - How do you feel about the military importance of Alaska if, as hinted by the present administration, troops are withdrawn from Alaska as a possible solution to budget problems?

NIXON. Well, first of all, I don't think that the hint that troops will be withdrawn from Alaska for budget reasons is one that should be taken too seriously. I have indicated over and over again that the security of the United States comes first. This has been the policy of President Eisenhower and it will certainly be my policy and as far as any withdrawal of troops from Alaska or any place else is concerned, no action of that type will be taken unless it is for security reasons and it will certainly not be taken for budget reasons. In essence, in other words, I have no knowledge of any plan to reduce our forces in Alaska for budget reasons or any other reasons.

WINCHELL. The Knight newspapers of the Miami Herald, the Akron Beacon Journal, and the Detroit Free Press, the publisher of these newspapers, Mr. Nixon, submits the question - Why isn't economy, the prudent use of other people's money, a major issue in this campaign.

NIXON. Well Walter, it is and it will become an even more major issue as time goes by. I have made the point over and over again that as far as my programs for better schools, health, housing, and the other programs that spell progress are concerned that they will cost less than those of my opponent. His programs will cost billions more and in my opinion will require a tax rise or will result in a rise in prices or both. As far as economy is concerned as I make the point over and over again, it's very easy to go around the country making promises about how much you're going to spend of the Government's money in order to produce solutions of problems. I say that what the people want are solutions of problems but they want the solutions of those problems with the least money spent as possible because as I have often said, it isn't my money, it isn't Senator Kennedy's money that will be spent to pay off these promises, it's the people's money and that's why I believe that whoever stands for economy as I do on this particular issue, I think whoever stands for economy is talking in the interests of the people and I intend to continue to hit this issue hard throughout the campaign.

WINCHELL. Mr. Vice President, the next query is from Newsweek magazine. The question - In the light of your undoubted and unexpected upsurge of popularity in the South, please state exactly where you stand on the problem of integration of southern schools in compliance with the orders of the U.S. Supreme Court.

NIXON. I have been up to the present time in six Southern States and in speaking in those Southern States I have done something that Senator Kennedy has not done as he has appeared in the Southern States. In every one of my speeches I have made it clear where I stand on the whole problem of civil rights. I have made it clear that that position is one that I realize is not shared by many of my southern listeners. I have pointed out that I believe that progress in this field is essential, essential from the standpoint of justice, essential from the standpoint of the international position of the United States, and I might say incidentally that one thing that I was very encouraged by was in speeches that I made in two Southern States just this past week that when I made this point I brought to their attention the fact that Mr. Khrushchev, a man who has enslaved millions and who has slaughtered thousands in the streets of Budapest, that when he can come to this country and point the finger at us or what he declares are our shortcomings in the field of civil rights that then it's time for Americans to do everything that we can to remedy this situation. Now that indicates how I feel about this. I believe that we must carry forward the Supreme Court decision and that, of course, is the Republican platform and I intend to carry it out.

WINCHELL. We have several questions, three at least from the Los Angeles Herald Express. The first is this - As the Vice President, you cast the tie breaking vote against Federal aid to the education bill. Does this mean that you are opposed to any such aid?

NIXON. No; it means that I am for aid but I'm for aid of the right kind. I am for aid to our schools which will produce progress in this area but which, at the same time, will run no risk of Federal control of our school system. That's why I favor a Federal aid to school construction bill, one which will release funds in the States for raising teacher's salaries, which is one of the key problems. On the other hand, the tie breaking vote to which you refer was one that would have directly subsidized teacher's salaries by the Federal Government. The moment you get into that you're going to find that the Federal Government next telling the teachers what to teach. I do not want this, I don't believe the teachers want it, I'm sure the American people do not because only as we have diversity of control, only as we have local control of our school system do we have an effective guarantee against an all-powerful Government dominating our States and our people as well.

WINCHELL. The same newspaper, the Herald Express, Los Angeles. Question No. 2 - It is widely believed that you do not always see eye to eye with the President on such matters as the farm program and foreign aid. When can the Nation expect you to make any such differences clear so that the voters may know how much of the Eisenhower policies may be correctly charged for or against the Vice President?

NIXON. Well, first of all Walter, let me make one thing very clear. I'm part of the Eisenhower record and I take responsibility for that record and I have made it clear throughout this campaign, I am proud of it. Second, I, of course, have had instances where I have not agreed with the President, and in those instances where I have not agreed, I have pointed out those differences in the campaign. The farm problem is one - this is not a disagreement on principle, it's a disagreement on method. I have already announced a farm program which I believe will break the bottleneck which has existed between the executive and the legislative for the last 6 years and which will mean progress in solving the farm problem. And as far as any other differences are concerned I will say that they are very few but as far as the people are concerned, they will know exactly where I stand on every issue because I have been pointing them out in every speech as I go through this campaign.

WINCHELL. The third question from the same paper, the Los Angeles Herald Express - In what, if any manner, would you meet such problems as the Little Rock controversy? How different would your approach be from that used by President Eisenhower?

NIXON. I believe in this whole field of civil rights that we must avoid at all costs wherever we possibly can the use of force or threats of force for purposes of solving the problem. The reason for that is that when we have to resort to the kind of situation we did have to resort to, and the President had all good reasons to do what he did in Little Rock and I supported him, but when we do that the result in the final analysis, is to stir up the situation and not to improve it.

Now I think the best way to handle this problem is for the Executive to anticipate these situations in advance and then for the Attorney General, the President, other officials to bring in the parties involved and attempt to solve it. I'll give you one example to prove it. Take the sit-ins - Attorney General Rogers brought into his office recently the heads of the chainstores that operated in the Southern States, in many of those States. He got them to agree voluntarily to open up their lunch counters. This is the way this problem should be solved. This is a lot better than using troops, it's a lot better than resorting to force and I intend to use this means every time possible because what I'm interested in here is progress toward the solution of this problem

and this means getting the people in the South to come along with working out these very difficult problems. Difficult and complex as they are, they can be worked out if men of good will can sit down around a table, I'm confident.

WINCHELL. Mr. Vice President, the next question is from the Philadelphia Inquirer. The question - What would be your response as the President if Khrushchev requested a new summit meeting?

NIXON. My response would be that I would participate in that conference only if there was reasonable assurance that something would come out of the conference which would alleviate tensions. The reason that I say that is this, that when you go into a conference of heads of state the hopes of the whole world are built up, people want peace, they want reduction of taxes and then when nothing comes from a conference the hopes are shattered and the cause of peace is set back. I believe, in other words, that no President of the United States can go into another conference with Mr. Khrushchev, particularly in view of his blowing up the last one for phony reasons, no President can go into another conference with Mr. Khrushchev, unless at the diplomatic level before that conference is held, negotiations have taken place which have delineated the issues and made it clear that there is a prospect that the heads of state will make some progress. Unless we can make some progress we should not sit down together. We should not submit the President of the United States, the dignity of his Office and of this country to the insulting treatment that President Eisenhower was submitted to in Paris again. We can avoid that by getting agreement in advance at the diplomatic level of the nature I have spoken of.

WINCHELL. This one is from the Baltimore News Post. The question - Under present laws the west coast shipbuilders enjoy a 6-percent contract advantage. Would you favor legislation eliminating this to put the eastern shipyards on an equal contract footing?

NIXON. That is a problem which has been a bone of contention within the Congress for a number of years. It is one on which I will not make a statement at this point because it's one that I intend to discuss later in the campaign when I have had the chance to develop a further position on it

WINCHELL. Mr. Vice President, this is the final question - This one is from me. General Twining, this week, stated that our Armed Forces can now destroy Russia and China and that Red leaders know it. The Democrats have been saying that our defenses are down. Mr. Nixon, what do you have to say about that?

NIXON. General Twining is right. The position of the United States today is that of the strongest Nation in the world and I noted the other day that Senator Kennedy finally admitted this in one of his speeches that we were the strongest Nation in the world. I think that those who downgrade the United States are making a great mistake in this respect. It isn't necessary to tear the United States down in order to build her up. As far as I am concerned, while I recognize we are strongest in the world today, while we do have the power to destroy Russia or China if world war should start, I want to emphasize that this doesn't mean that we can rest on our laurels because they are moving ahead; there are technological changes and that is why I have said over and over again and I repeat tonight on this program that despite the fact that we are stronger than anybody else we must continue to reexamine our position and to make whatever changes in upgrading our defenses that need to be made so that we can maintain a massive superiority. Why do we have to do this - not because we ever want to use this strength, we don't want anything from anybody else in the world: We only want independence for ourselves and the right for others to be independent and free; but we realize that we are the guardians of peace and to be the guardians of peace and freedom, we have to be the strongest nation in the world and I'm confident the American people are willing to pay whatever is necessary in taxes so that we can maintain that level of strength.

WINCHELL. Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for being with us tonight. Good night.

NIXON. Thank you, I enjoyed being with you.

Richard Nixon, Interview of Vice President Richard M. Nixon by Walter Winchell, WABC-TV, New York, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project