Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium, La Crosse, WI

October 08, 1960

I want to say particularly to the young people who are here that, as you hear me mention these candidates for State office and the Congress and the like, often in presidential campaigns people can get very excited about the Presidency, but they forget about the campaigns for the assembly, the State assembly, the State senate and the Congress and the like, and you must remember, all of us, that in order to have good government we must have it up and down the line, and that the races at these other levels are just as important, and I commend to all of you, as you move on into adult life, not only interest in the big contest for the Presidency, but also interest in these contests as well.

Now, I'd like to begin my remarks today by indicating to this audience the test that I think you should apply in selecting a man who should be President of the United States. Those of you who heard the television debate that Senator Kennedy and I had last night heard a very real clash of opinion on this point. He said, in effect, that in electing a President the primary consideration should be: What is the man's party?

I said in electing a President that what the American people should put first is not the party, but the country, that America must come first.

Now, I am proud of my party. I am proud of the part that it has played in giving government to this State and to the Nation, but I say that when we are electing a man who not only is trying to be President of the United States, but who is going to lead the whole free world, we have to get the best man that both parties can produce. That's been our tradition. Those of you who are students at the present time, if you will read American history, you'll find that we have had some great Presidents who have been Republicans and some who have been Democrats. The important thing is that the people, when they elect a President, must have a standard of what will be best for America and it's on that basis that I present our ticket to this audience here in Wisconsin today. What is best for America?

Don't vote just as your fathers did, as your grandfathers did, or because somebody has a label that you have. Look beyond the label. Look to where the man stands. Look to his whole background, his whole life, and see if this is the kind of leadership that America needs.

Now, that's the first test. Let's go now to the test that you should apply and what you want from your Government in Washington, and I think that's pretty much the same for all of us.

To begin with, we want a government under which this country can make progress, and that means progress in all fields.

I remember my father always used to say to me when we were growing up, to me and my four brothers, that he didn't want to go back to the good old days, which he remembered were not too particularly good from his standpoint, or others as well in that period - he wasn't satisfied with the present - but that in America we always look to the future. We want a better life for our children than we have for ourselves.

And, so, today I think the first test you must put to the presidential candidate is, Are their policies the ones that will move America forward? Move her in what way? So that the American economy will grow and prosper, get jobs, higher wages for our people; so that our schools and our school system can improve in quality; so that our teachers can be better paid; so that our standards can be raised; so that we will have adequate classrooms, better education. We want better health care. All of these things - health, education, housing, jobs - which spell progress, we want for America, and I tell you today that in these fields I stand for programs that I believe will produce the greatest progress that America has ever had, a program that will expand our economy and create more jobs - not Government jobs, but jobs in private industry, which people want; programs which will build more schools and release funds so that we can raise the salaries of our teachers, as they should be raised; programs in the field of medical care for the aged, for example, which will provide that every person over 65 who wants health insurance can get it; that everyone who ought to have it is encouraged to get it, but that no one who does not want it is forced to get it against his will, because that is the American principle.

I tell you today that I have a farm program - I'm going to discuss it in just a few minutes - a farm program that I think will move forward in this field and that will provide prosperity on the farm, and the kind of program that American farmers can and will support.

Of course, when I say all these things, I know that this leaves the voter in somewhat of a predicament, because my opponent will tell you just the opposite. He'll say I'm against all these things and he's for them, that his programs are the ones that are going to produce the housing and the better medical care and the education and the jobs and the farm program and everything that we want. So, this is the predicament of the voters, the thoughtful voter, who says, "I'm not going to just vote the party label, I'm not going to vote as somebody else told me to vote. I'm going to vote in terms of what's best for America."

The predicament that he's confronted with, then, is one in which he must choose between the two. Now, how do you choose? Well, first, you've got to determine the qualifications of the candidates in terms of the record, and on the record, incidentally, I think we have a record here which absolutely proves that our programs will produce progress where theirs won't, because, whether it's in the case of more schools, better housing, whether it's in improved medical care, anything you want to take, you will find we have made more progress in these 7 years than was made in the 7 previous years.

So, the record must be examined. The second point you must examine is the philosophy, the philosophy of the candidate as he attempts to solve these problems, and I want to tell you the difference in our approach. Our opponent says that the way to get progress in all these fields is to turn the problem over to the Federal Government, set up a huge Government agency, finance it with tremendous amounts of the people's money, weaken the State responsibility, weaken the responsibility of the individual, that Washington will do the job.

I'll tell you what my approach is. We start at exactly the other level. We don't start with the Federal Government. We start where the real power is in America, and that is with 180 million individual free Americans.

Then, we say: How can we encourage individuals to produce more? And, then, where the individual can't do the job, the State should step in; where the State can't do it, the Federal Government; but by drawing on all the energy of the States, the individuals, and the Federal Government, we believe we will produce more progress than they will. This is the second point you must have in mind.

The third point I think is one all of you will understand, particularly in this State where this is somewhat of an issue. I was talking to Phil Kuehn on the way out about the issues in the State election and he indicated that he had somewhat on a State level what we have on a national level, where here the promises made by the opposition are for pie in the sky, where the promises that are made on our side will produce the progress that the people want.

Let me put it another way. As I was riding into the city, not here, but in Philadelphia, recently, where the caravan was stopped by a bunch of school children, and one boy about 12 years old ran up to the car, and he said, "I'll tell you, will you make a promise, Mr. Nixon?"

I said, "What is it?"

He said, "Will you promise us you will give us a 4-day week for school?"

I could have said, "Yes, we'll give you that," and he would have liked me for it, but it wouldn't have been good for him and his mother would probably have hated me for it; be that as it may, the point is this shows you the point I am trying to make that what we are talking about here is that when you hear promises made, promises made for huge spending programs and the like, remember this: that the bill is going to be paid by whom? It's not going to be paid by me. It isn't going to be Jack's money; but it's going to be your money that's going to have to pay for all these programs, and I say the American people, therefore, are going to take a hard look at the programs that will cost billions of dollars more, and I say today that, as far as those programs are concerned, offered by our opponents, they will cost billions more; they will require a rise in our taxes; they will require a rise in our prices, or both, and it is time that the American people know what they are faced with. How do our programs differ? We produce the progress. We will not require the same amount of money. Why? Because we tap, as I say again, the real power of America, the individual enterprise, which has been responsible for America's growth and its greatness.

Let me turn to the farm program, if I can, because here we have a very good example of the difference in approach between our two candidates for the Presidency and for the Vice Presidency.

First, my opponent's program. If you followed it, and I hope there are farmers in this audience, and that those who are not farmers will pass the word to farmers, you will find that he has promised what he has called full parity of income. Now, that sounds very good. Full parity of income.

Now, how's he going to do that? Well, he says that the prices under his plan could be computed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by the nonpolitical career men there. So, we've had this done, and these figures have been made public.

Now, how is he going to get this full parity of income? That sounds very good to the farmers. What he would do - and here's the catch - he's going to place marketing controls over every farm commodity - that's about 250 of them - under what he calls supply management.

And what does this mean? This means that the farmer is given full parity income, as far as price is concerned, but as far as production is concerned, a drastic cutback in production.

In other words, it's a complete blueprint for planned scarcity.

Now, overall agricultural marketings would have to go down by about 20 percent. Now, what would this plan do? Hog farmers, for example, would have to cut their marketings by about 25 percent. Cattle farmers would have to cut theirs by about 15 percent. Each farmer would have to get a marketing quota, based on his past history of marketings, and it would be illegal for him to sell any hogs or cattle where he had no marketing certificate to cover the quantity involved.

Now, in view of the price incentives, there would be black marketing; there would be farm slaughtering, and all the evils, in my opinion, of the old OPA days, and we can be sure because consumers would have, under this scarcity program, substantially less meat than they have and did have under rationing. And, of course - and here again is the catch that the farmers must watch for - there have to be stiff controls, not only on the hog farmer, the cattle farmer, but on the dairy producers, of which there are some in this State.

I should also point out that those producers who exceeded their quotas would have to have penalties and fines, and, remember this: A farmer's son, in order to go into dairying can do so only if he inherited the right or bought it from somebody else.

Now, that doesn't sound like the United States of America to me, and I don't think the American people want that kind of program on the farms.

In addition, in order to put this program through, it would drive a million farmers and farmworkers off the farm. It would dry up a million nonfarm jobs, which depend upon farming. We would have rural towns that would be heavily hit because of these cuts. Ghost towns would multiply. Livestock, poultry, fruit, vegetables, and other products, now free, would all be put under Government control, and, as far as the consumers were concerned, food prices would go up 25 percent, and that, of course, would fall most heavily upon the lowest income citizens who spend the largest part of their income for food. In farm areas, in other words, freedom would disappear. The farmer would be made into - what? Frankly, into a Government servant, being doled out a fixed return on a fixed amount of production.

Now, what is the farmer being asked to do, in other words? He has made a glittering promise here. We're going to give you full parity of income. But what's the price? The price is: Cut his acreage; in essence, really, to cut his real income in the end, but what he is doing is selling his birthright of freedom for a mess of pottage - and I say it is the worst mess concocted by irresponsible vote-seeking politicians in the history of this country.

Now, if any of you have any doubt about it, I don't know whether you noticed this or not, but even the former Secretary of Agriculture, who certainly couldn't be classified as being a conservative, said the other day that he and President Roosevelt talked over this very same income parity scheme 27 years ago. You know what they concluded? They turned it down. Why? Because it would require the licensing of every farm, every field, and every handler of farm products.

He went on to say that my opponent's farm program would require stricter controls than they have in most Communist countries. So, what is it then that he's trying to do here? He offers the complete destruction of the way of life that our farmers have today. He offers some 50,000 new Federal inspectors, overseeing the farmers' every move, with no prospect other than fines and penalties of all sorts multiplying, and the possibility even of jail sentences looming in the background to make the harsh control system work, because it won't work any other way. He offers Government controls of the severest kind over crops that are now free. All these things are offered by my opponent in his program.

He offers to throw 2 million people out of work. He offers to sky-rocket food costs. He offers inflation throughout the economy. He's going to cut production back so far that food supplies will become scarce, and he offers to make certain that America is second rate by making Mr. Khrushchev's dream come true of passing America in agricultural production.

In sum, what he offers is a program of retreat, of iron regimentation. He would declare liberty surplus in rural America, and I say that this program alone, this one alone, would impose such a disastrous and repugnant program upon the farm families of America that it is justification for his being defeated for the Presidency of the United States.

Now, let's take a look at what we can do, what we can do about this farm problem and solve it. I have announced a new farm program, one that will move into this area not on the basis of managed scarcity, but on the basis of dynamic abundance, a program that is good for farmers and good for America as well. I advocated it in two speeches, as you may recall; one in Iowa, the other one in South Dakota, and it is a program that is designed to make an all-out attack on our farm surpluses.

It's based on the fundamental principle that our ability to produce more than we consume should not be considered a liability, as they seem to consider it, but it should be treated as a tremendous national asset.

Now, just in a nutshell, what would we do? We would put our food surpluses to use. We would put them to use, first in the great struggle in which we're engaged in the world. We're using a great deal now, but I have advocated new programs that would tremendously expand the amount of these surpluses that can be used for foreign policy purposes.

Second, we would make extensive use of payments in kind, from existing surplus stocks in retiring acres that now produce the surplus, and, next, I propose that we set aside enough of the surplus to constitute a strategic food reserve for Americans in case of enemy attack.

Then, as part of this new program, I recommend converting excess grain stocks into protein foods, mainly meat products, for distribution outside of commercial channels overseas and also to supplement the diets of the needy here at home.

This is what I call Operation Consume. What will it do? It will use the surpluses as an asset. It will get the surpluses off the back of the farmer. By getting the surpluses off the back of the farmer, that means that the price-depressing surpluses will then be removed and the farmer will have his income move up accordingly.

"But," you ask, "what are you going to do when you get rid of them?" And there we have the second part of the program. We have Operation Safeguard. Here we must have a substantial increase in our conservation reserve, but administered in a way to achieve a real impact on production; but preventing the concentrating kind of land retirement that creates ghost towns.

To strengthen farm income during this temporary period when we are getting the surpluses off the farmers' backs, we will have a favorable payments-in-kind system. We will use the surplus to remove the surplus.

In this connection, I support my party's farm platform in calling for a reorganization of the Commodity Credit Corporation's inventory management operations to reduce competition with the marketings of farmers, and, moreover, farmers would have the full encouragement and assistance in their efforts to negotiate for markets and prices. Once farm products are thus strengthened by a return to normal inventories and by these other steps, we could then go to a long-term price-support system at levels based on an average of market prices over the immediately preceding crop years; but we will not go to that until we do get rid of the surplus problem.

We've also called for other steps which would move on the farm front and effectively deal with the problems in which farmers are interested.

Now, to carry out these programs, I believe that the next Secretary of Agriculture should come from the Midwest. Now, why? He should come from the Midwest because it is the major producer of surplus farm products. It has the greatest stake in finding a solution to the problem, and the next Secretary of Agriculture, coming from the Midwest, can and, therefore, should be a vigorous, articulate advocate of the problems of the farmers of the Midwest and of the whole Nation - and that's the kind of a man we will have.

The end result of our program, then, will be a more prosperous and freer agriculture. It is a program which has goals that are consistent with America's goals, goals in which farm people deeply believe, goals in which they would have the opportunity to develop the program themselves. It would be a program of abundance rather than scarcity, a program under which our farmers would make their own decisions, instead of being dictated to by Federal bureaucrats.

And, so, here is an example - The farmers of America, they have a problem, a real problem. They're not sharing, getting their fair share, of America's increased prosperity. On the one side, they're offered a program which sounds good, but when you look at the price tag, not only in terms of dollars, but particularly in terms of what it would do to their freedoms, what it would do to their production, you find that this program is one that is completely foreign to what farmers want in this country.

On our side we have a program which will move forward dynamically, one which recognizes the problems, but one which will move forward in the traditional way that Americans want problems solved, not by making this program a permanent Government program, but one which will be aimed at helping the farmers help themselves in solving this farm problem - and this is what I think American farmers will support as they have an opportunity to see the difference between the two farm programs.

And, now, if I could turn, finally, to one point which I should emphasize is more important than the ones I have been discussing. I suppose the farmer in this audience might well say, "Now, Mr. Nixon, don't tell me there's anything more important to me than solving the farm problem," and a teacher might say, "Don't tell me there's anything more important to us than getting better schools," and certainly the wage earner might say, "Is there anything more important than having higher wages?"

And the answer is: Yes; that's being around to enjoy all these good things.

And I say to you that the main test that we must put to the two candidates for the Presidency in this campaign, the main test that you must apply to both of us, is this: Which of the two candidates can best provide the leadership that will keep the peace without surrender for America and the world in the years ahead?

So, let's look at the record here. First, we've got to look at the record of the candidates, themselves. I cannot say anything properly about my qualifications as compared with my opponent - that's for you to determine - but I can say something about my vice presidential running mate, and I would say that there is no man in the world who has had more experience or who could have done a better job than Henry Cabot Lodge, our vice presidential candidate standing for the cause of peace and freedom.

Now, why is that important? Because the character of the Vice Presidency has changed. Because he and I will work together in strengthening the instruments of peace, strengthening them so that we can also strengthen the cause of freedom throughout the world.

What about the record? Well, you've heard a lot that's wrong about the record. Senator Kennedy in his debate last night was again repeating the charges about our prestige and the like and the things that were wrong. Well, let me say this: All of the criticism in the world cannot obscure the truth that the American people know, and it is this: That they will be forever grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for the fact that he ended one war and kept this Nation out of other wars and that we do have peace without surrender today.

What about the future? How are we going to move into the future? And my answer is: We can't be satisfied with what we are doing now, not satisfied, because we are confronted, I can assure you, with a deadly enemy. I know the men in the Kremlin, as does Cabot Lodge, and, knowing them as we do, we will see to it that America continues to be the strongest nation in the world militarily. We will see to it that this country will continue to move forward economically. We will also see to it that this country's diplomacy will be firm, without being belligerent.

What do I mean by that? I mean that we must never engage in a war of words, because when we engage in a war of words, we only heat up the international atmosphere to the point of a nuclear explosion.

But, on the other hand, while we will never be belligerent, whenever our country comes under attack in the international forums, whenever, for example, as Mr. Khrushchev did when I was in Moscow, he attacked the United States and our system, it is our responsibility to stand up to him and stand up for the United States of America and for what we believe in.

That's why I completely disagreed with Senator Kennedy last night when he said that President Eisenhower could have apologized to Mr. Khrushchev for the U-2 flights. Why was that such a foolish statement on his part? I'll tell you why. It shows a complete lack of understanding of what kind of a man Khrushchev is. When you give a concession to a Communist, without getting one in return he doesn't like you better for it. He doesn't give you something in return for it. He gets contempt for you, and he stomps on you, and, may I say, that if I have the opportunity to lead this country, we will always go the extra miles, negotiate differences; we will always stand for peace; we will always work for disarmament under proper inspection, but under no circumstances, when we're doing something which is right, and that is defending the security of this country, will I apologize for the United States of America to anybody.

This gives an idea of the choice. You have on our side two men who know Mr. Khrushchev, two men who for 7½ years have worked with President Eisenhower, two men who have no illusions about the difficulty of this struggle, two men who are not telling the people of the United States that it's easy - we tell you that it's hard - but two men who are not running the United States down, two men who have faith in the American people, faith in our system, faith that if we stand for the right that the right will prevail.

And in that connection, I would just like to say one last thing. Senator Kennedy was quoted in the papers a couple of weeks ago to the effect that he was tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev was doing. He was tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro was doing. He wished that he could read in the paper what the President of the United States was doing. And all that I can say: If he would stop talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower was doing.

No, President Eisenhower isn't making a fool of himself in the U.N., but we don't want him to do that. We want him to act with dignity, as he did when he represented us there. He isn't trying to muscle into the Congo, as Khrushchev did. He's working through the U.N., as he should.

And that's the kind of leadership that Cabot Lodge and I offer to the American people, leadership that will be strong, never belligerent, always fighting for the cause of freedom.

And, so, my friends here, I submit the case on that basis. I say to you that you must judge us by our record, by our experience, and by what we stand for, and if you believe that we can provide the leadership that will keep America strong, that will make this a richer and a better country for all of us, but, above all, that will keep the peace without surrender, that will extend the ideals of freedom which we are so fortunate to enjoy in this country, if you believe that, then we ask you to go out and work in this cause, fight for it, remembering that you are fighting and working for a cause that's bigger than a party.

This cause is as big as America, itself, and it is in that spirit that we ask for your support today.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium, La Crosse, WI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project