Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Capitol Square, Richmond, VA
There are many things that I would like to talk about today, many things that are close to our hearts as Americans, as Virginians, and in discussing the issues it seems to me that the theme that I might well follow has been already indicated by the two men who have appeared before I got up to speak. They have been talking about platforms. They have been talking about the positions taken by the candidates on the great issues confronting this Nation, and I know of no better theme to talk on today than our platforms, the Democratic platform or, I should prefer to call it, the Los Angeles platform, because certainly it's a far cry from a true Democratic platform if you read what it had to say, and our platform adopted at Chicago.
In talking about that platform and in discussing the provisions of both of them today, I think it is well for me to state at the outset a conviction that I deeply feel with regard to what people ought to do, with regard to the standards you should follow in selecting a President of the United States.
I noted, for example, that Senator Kennedy, in a speech yesterday, emphasized the fact that it was the party that mattered. Vote for your party. My friend, I say to everybody here, whether you're Republican or Democrat, that when we elect a President of the United States it's the country that matters. Vote for America, and America comes before any party.
And I say to my Republican friends: It isn't enough reason to vote for me simply because I wear the same label. I say to my Republican friends and my Democratic friends as well: It isn't enough reason to vote for any man because he wears the label that you wear. It has been the tradition of Americans that when we elect the President of the United States we go beyond the label. We look behind it. We see what the man stands for. We see what kind of leadership America needs.
If you look over our history, you will find that some of our great Presidents, including the great Virginians who have been President, have been Democrats. You will also find that some of our great Presidents have been Republicans, and that is as it should be because in periods in the world's history, America cannot afford to make a choice solely on the basis of a partisan label. We must find the best man, whether he is a Democrat or Republican, to be President, and it's on that basis that I ask you to consider what I have to say today to this great throng of Virginians.
Now, I'm well aware of the fact that, speaking here in Virginia to this great crowd, I am speaking to a group that contains many, many members of the Democratic Party. I realize that many of those listening to me on television and radio are Democrats, not members of my own party, and I know that to many of you there is a problem, and that is the problem of party loyalty. I know that there are those who say: "You must be loyal to your party." And I want to answer that today. I want to answer it in words that I know you will understand.
I say that those who wrote the platform at Los Angeles forfeited the right to ask true Democrats to vote for their party in this election this year. Who were they? Mr. Bowles, Mr. Galbraith, Mr. Schlesinger. I say that Thomas Jefferson would turn over m his grave if he thought those men were representing the positions of Thomas Jefferson today. In other words, the party of Schlesinger, Galbraith, and Bowles is not the party of Jefferson and Jackson and Wilson, and that is the issue that Virginians understand and that people throughout this country, Democrat and Republican, understand in this campaign
And, so, we now develop this point. We develop it because I realize, as those who preceded me on this platform have already indicated, that the charge has been made that there is no difference between the platforms, that it is tweedledum and tweedledee, that there is really nothing to loose. Well, now, first, let's get one thing straight: I stand for my platform. I talk the same north, east, west, and south, and I want everybody to understand that. Second, I note that my opponents indicated at their convention in Los Angeles that they stood for their platform. I have also noted stories to the effect put out by some leaders in some parts of the country that our opponents really don't mean it' that there are some parts of their platform that they really are against, and so I call upon our opponents today to state whether they are for their platform or not, and if they are not for it I think the people of Virginia, the people of America are entitled to know where they depart from their platform in Los Angeles.
But, considering them to be honorable men, considering them to be men, as I believe them to be, who meant what they said when they were for their platform, this is what we have to deal with, and so we have their platform; we have ours. What choice do the people of Virginia have? What choice do the people of America have?
Now, let's begin by an observation that all of you will know and understand. There are parts of our platform that you don't like, just as there are parts of the Democratic platform that you don't like. I know that there are many people in this great audience who do not approve of our platform in the field of civil rights. I know this. I know that all of you know my deepest convictions on this subject. I know also that you are aware of the fact that I have had the opportunity to study this subject in detail. I know it is a difficult problem. I attended school in the South for 3 years. I know that it isn't going to be solved by demagoguery. I know that isn't just a southern problem. I know that it's a northern problem and a western problem and an eastern problem and that all of us have got to deal with this problem before we talk about it in any part or section of the country.
But all I can say is this: Whatever our differences are, my friends, we are going to work together to solve it. We will find a way to solve it, and I'll tell you one great reason we've got to find a way to solve it. We cannot have the spectacle of Mr. Khrushchev, a man who has enslaved millions, a man who has slaughtered thousands, coming to the United States and pointing the finger at the United States of America in this field of human rights. I say: That all Americans move forward to solve this problem. Whatever our disagreements are, we will find a way. That is my conviction, and I state it here as I state it throughout the country, and I know you will appreciate my doing so in this manner.
Let's look further. The platforms are not different, they say. All right, where are they the same again? They are the same perhaps in the goals we seek, in the very broad sense. By the broad sense, I mean that, whatever we are, Democrats or Republicans, we all want progress in this country. We all want a better life, better schools and housing and health and wages. All these things we want. The question is: How do we get progress? Do we get it through one means or another? And here is where we are as far apart as the poles. Here is where our platform is built on, is based on, I submit to you, the great principles of Jefferson and Wilson and their's denies them right up and down the line.
Let me give you some examples. We say the way to progress in America is not through taking every subject and turning it over to the Federal Government and having an all-powerful Federal Government make the decisions. We say that the way to progress is not by weakening the States, by weakening individuals. We say the way to progress is to strengthen individual enterprise, to strengthen the States, and to have the Federal Government do only those things that the States and the individuals cannot do. This we say.
And, so, you have a complete contrast. If you want the Federal Government to step in, if you want a massive Federal program to come in to weaken the States, to blunt individual enterprise, you have a choice. Don't vote for us, because you have a choice on the other side. But if you want to strengthen the real fiber of this country - and that is the creative energy of a hundred and eighty million Americans - if you want to stimulate them, if you want to give them opportunity, then we are the ones to support, because that's what we stand for - and we're proud to stand on these principles.
How else do we differ? Well, they would spend more money than we would. Approximately $10 billion a year more would be spent by them in what they indicate would create progress for America than we would spend.
Now, you know, somebody was talking to me the other day and they said, "Now, Mr. Nixon, how in the world can you possibly make a case that you're more for progress, for schools and housing, and health and all these other things, good jobs for Americans, when they're going to spend $10 billion more than you are to get these things?"
My answer is a very simple one: It isn't Jack's money they're going to spend, but yours, to carry out these promises they have been making around the country. Putting it bluntly, the question, you see, is not how much the Federal Government spends; it's what it does. The question is whether the programs adopted by this Federal Government bring the progress of all the various facets of our society or whether they have a tendency to have everything done in Washington and reduce what is done at the local level, but particularly reduce what is done at the individual level.
So, I submit to you today that our program, yes, is one that will cost billions of dollars less than theirs; but if we can do more, create more in the way of progress, than they can, and do it for less of your money, I say we're entitled to the votes of Virginians and Democrats and Republicans throughout this country - and we present it to you on that basis today and throughout this campaign as well.
Let me spell it out a bit further. Let's get specific. How do we differ, for example, in our approach to the problem of aid to our schools? We both are for programs that will aid our schools, a program of primary education and a program of secondary and higher education. Theirs would cost more, but not only in dollars; it would cost more in something far more significant than dollars, because they say that they will have a program that will aid not only the construction of schools, but that will also directly subsidize teachers' salaries.
Now, let me point out this: We all believe teachers need to be paid more. We all want that, but we stand for a program limited only to school construction, which will release funds for teachers' salaries, and we say ours is the more effective way to provide this aid than theirs. Why? Because I say to you, my friends, that the last thing we want in this country is to give to Federal bureaucrats the power to pay our teachers and then the right to tell them what to teach - and this we cannot have.
Thomas Jefferson has often made the point that the greatest guarantee of freedom is to diffuse power and that we must not have concentration of power in an all-powerful Federal Government, and it is because we believe that any kind of program that would put immense power in the Federal Government over our school system is something that Americans should reject, not because of the amount of money that is being spent, but because this kind of power is something which, in the wrong hands, would be something that all Americans would be against.
Let me give you one other example in the program of medical care for the aged. We all want better health care for our older citizens. We believe they need protection so, what do our opponents have? Oh, they have a program that will cost more, but it is a program that, in addition to that, would compel people who didn't want this particular kind of coverage to have it. What is our answer? We say that any program in this field, or, for that matter, any other, should be one that would give to every one of our citizens who wants health insurance an opportunity to get it, that would encourage those who need it to get it, but that would not compel any American against his will to have health insurance, and thereby we believe our program is the one that Americans will support.
So, I say: Measure our platforms. In every instance you will find theirs cost more in money, and they also cost more in something that is much more precious than money - the potential freedoms of this country. Ours will produce the progress. Theirs will talk about it.
You say, "How do you know?"
Well, my answer is, my friends, "Look at the Eisenhower 7½ years and compare them with the Truman 7½ years, and whether it's in building schools or hospitals or increasing wages, real wages for our citizens, we have just done better than they have. They talk a good game, but we do a good game - and that's what we're going to continue to do for the people of the United States.
And so, on these great issues I say: If you consider the true philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, of Woodrow Wilson, if you match that philosophy against the various provisions of our platform and what we stand for, I say that Democrats, by the millions this year, as they did in 1952 and 1956, will be voting for us, not because they are deserting their party, but because their party deserted them and its great principles at its convention in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Now, could I turn to one other index you must use in judging the candidates for the Presidency. These issues that I have discussed are vitally important. The one I am about to discuss is far more important than all the rest put together, because we can have the best jobs and the best social security; we can have the finest housing that we can imagine, and, you know, it isn't going to make any difference if we aren't around to enjoy them.
So, the most important test you must put Senator Kennedy and me and our colleagues to in this campaign is this: Which of the candidates can best provide the leadership that will keep peace without surrender and extend freedom throughout the world? This is the great issue which you must judge the candidates by in this campaign.
Now, obviously, I'm a bit prejudiced on this issue, but I want to submit to you why I believe we offer the leadership that America needs. First, on the record: Oh, there have been lots of things said about this record, as Walter Robertson has already implied. It's been criticized. It hasn't been perfect. But, my friends, all the political criticism in the world cannot obscure the truth, and it's this: that the American people will be eternally grateful to Dwight D. Eisenhower because, under his leadership, we got this Nation out of one war; we've kept it out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today - and this is something Americans have wanted.
What about the arguments, however, that we have lost our prestige, that America has been standing still, that we find that all around the world that the American President has lost the initiative?
I think they were all summed up pretty well the other day. I don't know whether you noted it or not, but Mr. Kennedy speaking in upper New York made a rather startling statement, I thought. 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." He said, "I want to be able to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing."
Well, my friends, if he would only quit talking and start reading, he would read what President Eisenhower is doing.
Oh, yes, he isn't doing what Khrushchev and Castro are doing, but we can thank God we've got a President who maintains his dignity and maintains the dignity of this country.
Yes, it's true President Eisenhower isn't trying to muscle into the Congo and take Over this newly independent country. We can be proud that we are working through the United Nations to maintain the freedom of these people rather than to take it away.
It's true that President Eisenhower isn't making a fool of himself on the floor of the U.N. It's true that he is advocating a program for disarmament, for the use of outer space, a program in addition, for the use of our surpluses through the United Nations. All of these are honest, decent proposals, which the whole world applauds. You say, "But what about our prestige, Mr. Nixon? How about the fact that President Eisenhower couldn't go to Japan?
And, my answer is: Why do we blame President Eisenhower for what the Communists do in Japan? Let's have in mind the fact that today our relations with Japan are the best that they have been for many, many years, and, so, I say to you, as we look at the situation, look at it all - oh, yes, there are things that can be criticized in the conduct of our foreign policy. The Communists are going to continue to move. They're going to continue to stir up trouble, but the question is not whether we have trouble. It's how you handle it. It's whether you avoid war, on the one side or surrender on the other, and President Eisenhower has been able to do this, and we will continue to do this if we get the opportunity that the American people can give us in this election.
Just one point about prestige: Walter Robertson noted the votes that have taken place since Cabot Lodge has represented us at the United Nations, and I can only say that I don't know of any man who has had more experience or who could have done a better job standing for the cause of peace and freedom than he did as our American Ambassador to the United Nations, and he's going to work with me, as a partner, in strengthening the instruments of peace, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, in dealing with these problems; but, going further about prestige, if our prestige, if our prestige was low it would show up there first of all. We had a vote the other day in the United Nations. You remember it? The Russians were on one side on the Congo; we were on the other. You know what the vote was? Seventy to nothing. Well, that's a pretty good indication the United States is doing very well, and I think we ought to point up our strength as well as our weaknesses.
But what about the future? As far as the future is concerned, my friends, and this I want to make absolutely clear: America can never stand still. We can never be satisfied. We must move forward in all areas. I'll tell you why. We're dealing with the most ruthless, fanatical men that ever lived in human history. I've seen them. I know them.
Mr. Khrushchev stood with me in Moscow, and he said, "Mr. Nixon, you're ahead of us now, economically, but," he said, "we're going to catch you." He said, "We're moving faster than you are, and when we catch you, we're going to pass you by and I'm going to wave and then say, 'Come along; follow us; do as we do or you will fall hopelessly behind.'"
He meant it. He's wrong. He isn't going to catch us in 7 years or 70 years, provided we stay true to the great principles that have made America what it is today.
But, my friends, this means moving forward on all fronts. It means keeping America what she is today - the strongest nation in the world - and I pledge to you that we will do that. We will do it and we will ask the American people to pay whatever is necessary to maintain that level of military strength.
It means, in addition, seeing that this economy of ours continues to grow. It means removing the blocks to growth, encouraging education, all the other things which will stimulate growth. Why? Because, although we're well ahead now, we must move ahead in order to stay ahead:
It means, in addition to that, being firm at the diplomatic table, firm without being belligerent, and this is a difficult line to
follow, difficult because you're dealing with men who try to insult you, men who try to get your goat, men who try to get you to lose your temper, and I know from experience it's hard to hold it when you're dealing with a man like Mr. Khrushchev, but the next President has to do that. He must always remember that he cannot have the luxury of losing his temper because you might heat up the international atmosphere to the point where a nuclear explosion would be set off. But while you avoid that on the one side, you must also avoid at all costs any concession on principle. We must avoid making a concession without getting one in return. We must avoid, for example, the very thing that Senator Kennedy suggested after the Paris Conference - a well-intentioned suggestion, but one that was naive, one that did not take into account the kind of men we're dealing with. He said, "Why didn't President Eisenhower try to save the summit conference, or he could have tried to save it by regretting the U-2 flights?"
My friends, it wouldn't have helped to begin with, because Mr. Khrushchev didn't break up the conference for that reason, but there's another reason: When the President of the United States is doing something that is right, as distinguished from something that is wrong, something that is in the defense of this country, whether he's a Democrat or a Republican, he can never consider regretting or apologizing to Khrushchev or anybody else for it - and I can assure you that is what we are going to do.
One other point I would make: In addition to the military strength, the economic strength, the diplomatic power and firmness, we need another kind of strength that is particularly appropriate to refer to in this historic place, and that is the strength of our ideals. I know these days it's rather the custom to sneer about debating with the Communists. It's the custom to sneer about ideals. They say, "All that counts is power. Make America powerful and we don't need to worry about ideals."
My friends, we need the power. We need it because we are confronted with men who respect power, but, remember, ideals are what are going to decide this struggle. Ideals have always been underestimated.
When Thomas Jefferson lived, America was a weak country militarily, a weak country economically, but one of the strongest
nations in the world. Why? Because she stood for something. Ideals that were bigger than America, ideals that Jefferson and his colleagues wrote into our Declaration of Independence and into our Constitution - our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of men; our belief in the right of all men to be free; our belief in the right of nations to be independent. These ideals caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago. They live today. They live in our hearts. They live abroad.
And I say to you today: I, as a candidate for the Presidency, would like to be able to tell you: Elect me President and I will keep these ideals strong, but that must come from you. A President can only help, because these ideals - love of country, appreciation of what we stand for - this comes from the homes, from the churches, from the schools of America - and I say to all of you: Regardless of how you vote in this election campaign, strengthen the idealism of America. Let us stand for more than military might, more than economic strength. We are the richest nation. We are the strongest nation. But the reason we're going to win in this struggle is because we're on the right side, and all that I can say, as I conclude, is that I trust that if you give us your confidence this November 8, that my colleague and I will be able to be worthy of the ideals that have made America great.
Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Capitol Square, Richmond, VA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273696