Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Akron University, Memorial Hall, Akron, OH

October 01, 1960

Now, if I may, I would like to tell you a little about the day we had yesterday and the day before. In Boston, the day before, and in upper New York State yesterday it was raining. The weather was not like it is here in Ohio, when certainly it couldn't be better, good sharp football weather, and not only was it raining but yesterday in New York it was raining cats and dogs and a few pitchforks as well, but the interesting thing is that I have never seen larger crowds - a quarter of a million people on the streets of Boston, as we came in - a quarter of a million - and in Troy, Schenectady, Albany, and that area, again literally thousands of people on the streets, after dark, at night, standing in the rain cheering, shouting, as you are, waving and indicating their interest in the campaign.

What does this mean? It would be rather easy for me to say this means solely a personal tribute to the Vice President and his wife. It means that to an extent because obviously a lot of people were out, but it also means something else, and this is something that involves the Nation itself, the very heart of our problems in this country. It means that people this year are concerned about our Government. They know that the decision they are going to make on November 8 is one of the most important decisions they will make in their lifetime because it is one that affects not only their future, but their children's future. It's one that affects not only their future and their children's future, but the future of the whole world, because in this period of the sixties great decisions will be made by the President of the United States, decisions that will affect the course of history for perhaps centuries to come because we are joining battle - not in the sense of the traditional battle where guns are fired and bombs are dropped, but battle of a much more difficult kind - battle of the nonmilitary character, in which the forces of communism on the one side are arrayed and the forces of freedom on the other side.

You've had a chance to see that battle. You can see it today. Look at the television of the U.N. proceedings. Look at Mr. Khrushchev acting as he does there. Look at Prime Minister Macmillan and President Eisenhower - such a wonderful contrast, incidentally, to Mr. Khrushchev. This is an indication of what has been going on and what will continue to go on in this period of the sixties. It will go on not because we want it to, because the United States, Great Britain, all of our friends in the world, India - none of us wants anything from anybody else. All that we want is independence for ourselves, freedom for ourselves. We don't want to impose our form of government on anybody else; but Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues do not look at the world that way. Here are men who are ruthless, fanatical, dedicated, determined to conquer the world, conquer it by any means, if necessary, without war, if possible. So, this is the problem. You see it. This is the reason people are stirred up. This is the reason the crowds are big. This is the reason they come out in the rain as well as on a delightful, beautiful Ohio day. So, I say to you today the issue I want to discuss today - and this is the issue to which I want to relate the other problems in which you are interested - is the greatest one confronting the American people this November, and I can put it in a question. The decision you must make on November 8 is: Which of the two candidates for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency can best provide the leadership that will keep the peace for America without surrender and extend freedom throughout the world?

This is the great issue.

Now, how should you make the decision on that issue? And again I'm going to say something that particularly the students here will probably be surprised at, and perhaps some of the voters as well of the older people. I do not suggest here that you should make this decision if you are Republicans by saying, "Well, Nixon's a Republican, I'm a Republican. I'm going to vote Republican." That would be easy to do. The decision you make this November is too important to simply do it on the basis of the label a man wears. The decision you make this year should be on the basis of what's behind the label; what does he stand for; what is his record; what are his qualifications. America must have the best leadership, Democrat or Republican., that it can provide - and it's that way that I present the case today.

I say to you: Consider my qualifications; consider my program; consider my colleague's qualifications, and his program; consider our opponents', and then decide which of the two teams will be best for America, and this is the way I present the case.

Now, obviously, I begin by being a bit prejudiced as far as I'm concerned, and on considering the case you must take that into account. But I begin first by suggesting that as you analyze this issue you must first look at our record. Now, as far as this record is concerned, it is one that Cabot Lodge and I have been a part of for 7½ years. Both of us have sat in the meetings of the National Security Council and meetings of the Cabinet. Both of us have counseled and advised with the President of the United States and the great decisions with regard to Lebanon, Quemoy and Matsu, and all the others. Some have been criticized, all of those decisions some have vigorously criticized. We have participated in the making of those decisions in the sense that we have been counseling the President when he has asked for that advice, as he pointed out the other day in his speech from Chicago.

And, so, here is that record. You must judge by that record, and we ask you to judge us. And I will agree that some don't like it, and our opponents have a responsibility to criticize it where they think it is wrong, but I have also the right to defend it when I think it is right, and it is right in this respect: All the criticism in the world can't take away the truth that under President Eisenhower's leadership we got this country out of one war, we've kept it out of others, and we do have peace without surrender today.

But then, being fair, we've got to say the opponents say, "But, now, look here, Mr. Nixon, look at what's happened in the last 7½ years. America has been standing still and the Communist world has been moving. America has been making mistakes and the Communist world has been gaining. We look around the world today and we find trouble, we find that our President, for example, isn't able to go to Japan because of riots that Communists inspired. Our Vice President gets stoned in Caracas, Venezuela, because of riots the Communists inspired, and soon down the line."

Now, I do not claim this administration's record is perfect, but I do say this with regard to the Japan and Toledo incident, and with regard to the incident in Caracas: It's time that the American people, critics and proponents alike, should quit blaming ourselves for what the Communists do abroad and what our friends may be opposed to.

You remember all the talk after the President did not go to Japan. Everything was wrong about our policy with Japan. We were responsible for this. We had been making mistakes in our policy toward Japan and, therefore, that's why the President wasn't able to go. What's happened since? The President maintained his dignity. We didn't change our policy. We didn't blame the Japanese people or the Japanese Government for what the Communists had inspired. We continued to be friends of Japan. We continued to trade with them. We continued to help them. What has happened? Our relations with Japan today are better than they have ever been. The Communists were defeated in the elections when they were held there recently and in the local elections, and now the Crown Prince of Japan is here in the United States. I say we're going to have troubles in the world. We've got to expect that, but every time we have trouble, it isn't because we're at fault. The question is not whether we have troubles, but how we handle them, and I say President Eisenhower handled the Japanese trouble well.

Now, of course, I noted that Senator Kennedy in a speech in New York the other day, on Thursday, had some criticisms to make. He referred to this, and among other items, and he also referred to the current proceedings at the U.N., and in his discussion during the course of the speech he made this remark. He said: "I'm tired of reading in the paper of what Mr. Khrushchev is doing. I'm tired of reading in the paper of what Mr. Castro is doing. I want to read in the paper what President Eisenhower is doing."

Well, all I can say: If the Senator would quit talking so much and start reading, he would see what President Eisenhower was doing.

Now, let's get one thing very straight. He isn't doing the things Mr. Khrushchev or Mr. Castro are doing, but I say thank God for that. We don't want that.

Mr. Khrushchev gets before the United Nations and he tries to gain the initiative by coming out for another phony disarmament plan. Do we want that from our President? No. Our President goes before the United Nations. He comes out with an honest program of disarmament. Not one which is naive, because, as the President says, America must never disarm unless we have guarantees that the Khrushchevs and the others will also reduce their armaments at the same time.

And the President, in addition to that, comes out with a great food-for-peace plan, operating through the United Nations, one of the most generous offers ever made by a nation in the history of the world. What does Mr. Khrushchev do? He tries to use his economic powers and his economic aid not for the purpose of helping newly independent nations to keep their independence and freedom, but for the purpose of subjecting them, for the purpose of dominating them, for the purpose of making them satellites. I say the way we act 15 certainly much to be preferred to the way he acts.

Oh, it's difficult. It's difficult. We could act a lot differently toward Cuba, for example, than we have; and this is a very difficult problem for us. We could do, for example, what Mr. Khrushchev did in Hungary - slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the streets of Hungary as he did - but what have we done with regard to the Cuban problem? We have done, it seems to me, the responsible thing. We haven't named the innocent people of Cuba for being misled by a demagogue, Mr. Castro. We have been trying to work through the Organization of American States, our friends in the American States, trying to bring it about so that the people of Cuba, themselves, can get what they deserve, and that is the realization of the Cuban revolution's true objectives - freedom, progress, economic progress; but realization of those objectives without dictatorship. This is responsible. It's difficult. But may I say that here again we can be proud that the United States is not acting, using its muscle, using its power, as we could use it, against a very small country.

Look at the Congo. We say, "Well, Mr. Khrushchev's acting there and we're not acting." Yes; but look at what he's doing. he is muscling in, trying to move unilaterally, not through the United Nations, trying to move in for what purpose? Trying to take over this poor, newly independent country, poor not in terms of resources, but poor in terms of its ability to keep its independence because of lack of trained people. What do we do? We could move in unilaterally, too, but no. The United States moves through the United Nations, patiently. We attempt to go in to save the independence of the Congo, to help these people who have gotten this independence, to help them to keep it. This, I say, is not as spectacular; no, but it's the right thing to do, and that's what America has been doing and will continue to do.

Oh, I know others will say, "Oh, but Mr. Nixon, look at how the U.S. prestige has been going down."

Mr. Stevenson said the same thing in 1956. He was wrong then, and Mr. Kennedy is doubly wrong today, as far as American prestige is concerned. If you want a test, you know the best test I can think of is what has occurred in the United Nations on the situation in the Congo. You remember they had a vote a few days ago? The United States was on one side, the Russians were on another. You know what the score was? 70 to 0. We got 70; they got nothing. That would be a pretty good score in football; it's a tremendous score in international relations, and it certainly is the answer to those who say the U.S. prestige is down. No when you look at the situation in the world today, you will find that when President Eisenhower spoke to the U.N. he spoke not only of the wishes and the aspirations and the ideals of America; he spoke for the whole world.

And it's time for all Americans, without regard to party, to realize the President represents America at its best in speaking as he did. We back him, and I'm sure most of the American people do back our President in this period as he speaks in this way for the cause of peace and freedom.

Now, so much for the record. We should turn, of course, to the future. What kind of leadership will we give in this area? Well, again, you must look at our backgrounds. I can't speak appropriately of my own experience, but I can of my running mate's, and I'll only say this: Anybody who has watched what he has done at the United Nations over 7½ years would find it hard to disagree with the statement I am about to make: That no man in the world has had more experience and no man could have done a better job of speaking for the cause of peace and freedom as Henry Cabot Lodge, our Ambassador to the United Nations.

Why do I mention the vice presidential candidate? Of course, some of you who are students of political science, will think back to the days of Throttlebottom. They've gone, those days. The next Vice President, as in the case of this administration, due to President Eisenhower's leadership, will be one who will work with the President in carrying out assignments, particularly in the field of foreign policy. We will work together, for example, in strengthening the instruments of peace, rather than weakening them, strengthening the Organization of American States, strengthening the United Nations, developing new organizations. Why? Because through such organizations we develop world opinion on the side of what we want - peace, freedom, independence for all.

And, so, these are our credentials. No, what will we do? What's our program?

Well, again, you must look at our background and experience. We are people who know the Communist leaders, and consequently you've got to expect that our program will be designed to meet the kind of men that they are. However, Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues do not react like leaders of the free world. They don't react like Mr. Macmillan and President de Gaulle and Prime Minister Nehru, but they are ruthless men, determined to conquer the world.

And, consequently, knowing what kind of men they are, knowing their background, we believe these things must be done by America if we're to keep the peace and extend freedom.

First, we must be the most powerful nation in the world. We are today. We must continue to be, and we must be prepared to pay whatever price is necessary to pay, and the American people, I am sure, will be willing to.

We're the most powerful nation in the world, militarily. Why? Not because we ever want to use this power against anybody else to acquire anything in the world, but because we are the guardians of peace. And so long as we are the strongest nation in the world, this is the greatest deterrent to anybody that would threaten the peace.

And, so, we pledge this, and I can assure you we will carry out this pledge, because we know the kind of men we are dealing with. We must never have an American President go to the conference table in a position where the man on the other side of the table, Mr. Khrushchev, or whoever is his successor, can say, "I'm looking down your throat. I'm stronger than you are." This will never happen. We'll see to that.

Point 2: In addition to military power, the United States must move forward economically. I've spoken of our record. I think it's a good one, but a record is never something to stand on. It's something to build on, and in the world in which we live, with the threat with which we are confronted, America can't be satisfied with her military strength. We can never stand pat on our economic policies and our economic strength. We must move forward to develop the full potential of this American nation of ours.

Now, here I am sure that all of the American people will have difficulty in choosing between the two programs of the candidates. I will tell you today the things that I believe are necessary, the program that I stand for. I will tell you, for example, that I think we need economic policies that will stimulate the creative energies of a hundred and eighty million people, that will increase employment, that we need Government policies, for example, which will provide better guarantees and better protection against unemployment than we presently have.

I will tell you today, for example, that I think those policies will produce more economic programs and progress than will the policies of our opponents. I will tell you, too, if we're going to have economic progress, all America must move forward together, and none must be left behind. That means no section of the country - and that's why we've got to have a bill on depressed areas - which will deal effectively with it, not in the way that our opponents tried to deal with it with the bill which they introduced in the last session of the Congress and which was a fraud on the whole situation, but deal effectively with it on a rifle approach rather than a shotgun approach.

I will tell you again that as far as these policies are concerned if America is to move forward economically we've got to develop our educational resources. We cannot waste the talent of your young men and our young women.

Let me tell you about the most exciting day of my life, other than the day that Pat said, "Yes." I was going to say it wasn't the day I was nominated for President of the United States, but it was the day in 1934 that I got a letter from Duke University Law School indicating that I was going to get a scholarship to study law. If I hadn't gotten that scholarship, I could never have studied law.

I was talking to Father Hesburgh, of Notre Dame, when I was there in February of this year about the scholarships to Notre Dame. He told me that over a hundred valedictorians applied for admission to Notre Dame last year who couldn't get in and who couldn't afford to get in because there weren't enough to go around.

Now, speaking here at a great university, speaking not only of the problem of scholarships, but expenditures generally for the students, let me say this: Those in this university are the most fortunate in the world, but you are a very small percentage of all the young people who could go to college and you're not a very substantial percentage of those who are qualified to go.

America can't waste its resources here. That's why I have advocated an educational program which will deal with this problem, deal with it by aid to higher education, deal with it also through scholarship programs and loan programs and through a program which will allow tax deductions and tax credits to parents who do incur expenditures for their sons and daughters to go to college.

Why do we do this? Why do we do this? Because America can't afford not to discover and develop one of the great scientists of our time. He may be the one who didn't get the scholarship. We can't afford not to do that.

The same is true of our minority groups. All Americans must move together. None must be left behind.

We cannot, for example, waste the talents of 14 million of our Negro citizens. We can't do it for a number of reasons. (1) Because it hurts the moral fiber of America not to deal justly with all of our people. (2) Because economically we need the talents of these people, and we must see that they have equality of opportunity, too.

I could go on. The point that I'm making here is this: How do you know which to believe? My opponent says the same things. He's for education and developments in science and economic progress, and I am, and my answer is: I think we can produce where he can't. I think that his programs are not new programs. They are retreads, and you in Akron know what a retread is. They can be pretty good today. They can be pretty good today, but going back a few years they weren't too good. You had quite a few blowouts. And his is a retread that will have a blowout because of the very weaknesses in it.

They're retreads of policies that were tried and found wanting and that we left in 1953, and ours are policies that will succeed. Why? Succeed, because we don't say the Federal Government is going to do all these things, turn it over to Washington. We say the Federal Government has a responsibility to lead. The Federal Government has the responsibility to supplement what individuals will not do, but the primary responsibility for growth, the way to get the most out of this American economy of ours is for government at all levels to stimulate creative activities of a hundred and eighty million free individuals. This is the way to progress.

My last point: We need military strength. We need America to move ahead economically; but, above everything else we need to be sure that the moral and spiritual fiber of this country is strong.

Why? Why is this important when you're dealing with men that respect only power? You know, for centuries the militarists and the materialists have underestimated the power of moral and spiritual strength. But when Pat and I were in Poland we saw it. We received a welcome such as we didn't even receive yesterday or today or the day before. A quarter of a million Poles on the streets behind the Iron Curtain on a Sunday afternoon, shouting and cheering, "Niech Zyje America," long live America, and when the car stopped in the middle of the city, I noticed that many of them, grownups, grown men and women, crying with tears streaming down their cheeks. Why? Not because we were militarily strong, and not because America was economically rich, but because they knew we stood for values and ideals greater than military strength and economic strength.

They knew that we stood for faith in God, for belief in the dignity of men, for recognition for the rights of man, the right to be free, the right of nations to be independent; that these rights belong to all men, not just to Americans and that America came into the world to see that these rights were gained for ourselves, but preserved for and extended to others.

That's why they were cheering and that's why, my friends, that America and those who stand with us will win the struggle, not just hold the line, but win it for peace and freedom, because the people in the world are on our side.

And so I say to you: We appreciate your coming. You must consider what I have had to say, but above everything else may I take you back to my first proposition: Consider our experience; consider our background; but, above all, remember, this is a decision for America. If you believe that Henry Cabot Lodge and I can provide the leadership that America needs, that will keep America strong militarily and economically, but above all that will keep America strong in its moral and spiritual strength, in the strength of its ideals - and you must help in doing that, too - if you believe these things, then I ask you to go out and work for our cause. I ask you to work, having in mind that you will be working not just for a man, not just for a party, but that you will be working for America and for everything she stands for. If you do that, we will win.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Akron University, Memorial Hall, Akron, OH Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project