Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Memorial Auditorium, Burlington, VT

September 29, 1960

Speaking to you here in the State, speaking to you particularly as a State that traditionally votes Republican, I would like to present the case for our national ticket, not just on Republican lines. That would be the easiest thing to do. I know that in this audience are people who are predominantly Republican. I know that in this State that a Republican vote, if it were on the straight party line, would assure victory for us, but I urge the people of Vermont, just as I urge the people of States in which there are Democratic majorities, when electing a President of the United States, to think not of your party label first, but of the country first.

Why do I say that? I say that because both of our major parties have contributed great Presidents to this country. I say that because in the struggle in which we are engaged in the world today, to which Bob Stafford so effectively referred, that America must send nothing but its best leadership into that struggle. I say that because I want you to consider what I have to present in terms of what America needs, not simply n terms of what you believe your party affiliations would dictate.

So, for the next few moments as I talk to you, I would like you to forget, if you will, how your fathers voted and your grandfathers and how you traditionally have voted and I would like you to think of America. I would like for you to think of our team, the Nixon-Lodge team, its qualifications, its experience, its background, its program and see whether that's what America needs.

Now, point No.1: What is the issue that you should think about I Obviously we can't discuss them all and I'm going to discuss here, as I have in other States, first, the most important issue of all. That is the one to which Bob Stafford referred. I know some people raise a question about international affairs and they say, "Now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon. That's a long way off - Africa, Asia, the Soviet Union, and the rest. Aren't people really more concerned about things that are closer to home, more concerned about their schools and their hospitals and their housing and the milk industry and all these things?"

And the answer is: Yes, people are terribly concerned about the problems that affect their families. They want better jobs and better housing and better schools income on the farm, which will be a fair share of this Nation's increasing prosperity. All these things our people want, but the American people also, above everything else, want to be around to enjoy the good things of life that we have on the domestic scene and, therefore, the most important qualification that the next President of the United States must have is this: Who can best keep the peace without surrender for America and the world and extend freedom throughout the world?

Now, obviously, I'm a bit prejudiced on that score, but I would like to set our case before you, if I might.

First, we present to you our record. Both Cabot Lodge and I have been a part of that record. For 7½ years we have worked with the President of the United States. We have sat in the meetings of the Cabinet. We have sat in the meetings of the National Security Council. I have participated in the discussions on the great decisions on Quemoy and Matsu and Lebanon and the others that the President has made during these last 7½ years. And you know the record of Cabot Lodge in the United Nations.

So, I would say that as you look at this record of ours it is one with which we are associated; it's one by which you must judge us, and I want to tell you today I'm proud of it in all fields, but I'm particularly proud of it in the field of international affairs.

Oh, there are things wrong. The critics say everything is wrong. They point to what they say is the lack of prestige of America around the world. They say that we're slipping militarily and economically and otherwise around the world. They say we made a mistake here diplomatically and a mistake there diplomatically. But, you know, when you look at the whole record of the Eisenhower administration in the field of foreign policy, they can't obscure the results - and the results the American people are very grateful for, and they are these: Under President Eisenhower's leadership, we ended one war; we kept the Nation out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today - and all Americans are proud of that.

But the record isn't the only test. The record isn't something to stand on. It's something to build on. We realize that this great struggle in which we're engaged is not one that is won by what one administration does, by what one President may do or how he leads the country. It is a continuing struggle. It's one in which we are confronted with fanatical adversaries; men dedicated, working fanatically, not simply to hold their own, not simply to keep communism in the Soviet Union or in Communist China or in the satellite countries, but to extend it, to conquer the world, and they intend to do this by any means necessary, without war, as Mr. Khrushchev says - they feel they may be able to do it - if possible. But this is the adversary we face, and when you have that kind of opposition America can't stand still. We can't be satisfied with our military strength, with our diplomatic policy, with all the programs we have developed to keep the peace in the world. We can't be satisfied with them because they are moving and we must always move so that we stay ahead.

So, therefore, I say we don't stand on the record. We don't say just because we are part of the record you must vote for us. We say look to what we will do in the future, what are our qualifications.

Well, obviously, it would be presumptuous for me to talk about my qualifications - that's for you to judge - but I can talk about my running mate's, and I want to say this about him: You folks up here in Vermont, with your tremendous interest in the UN - you know something of what he has done there, and I think I can say, without fear of contradiction from too many people, that no man in the world today has had more experience or has done a more effective job of fighting for the cause of peace and freedom than Henry Cabot Lodge, our Ambassador to the United Nations. And I tell you, as I have told other audiences, that he is going to be a working Vice President, as I have been; he is going to participate in the councils of this Government. But, more than that, we shall work as partners in the cause of peace and freedom, strengthening the instruments of peace like the United Nations and the Organization of American States, developing new instruments as they may be necessary which will hold the line for peace, but which will also be designed to strengthen freedom.

And, so, this is my second point: Experience; record; and now we come to the third-program. What do we believe in? What do we stand for? What do I say the American people must be prepared to do if we're going to keep the peace, if we're going to extend freedom?

The first thing I want to mention is this: It's the point that Bob Stafford made in his introduction. Dealing with the kind of men we are, fanatical, dedicated to what is wrong, we must remember that they are people who respect strength and have contempt for weakness. They respect military strength; they respect economic strength; they also respect strength of ideas, and they have contempt for weakness militarily, diplomatically, economically, or any other way.

So, point No. 1: America must be strong, strong militarily.

How strong? We must be stronger than any other nation.

Why? Not because we ever want to use our strength to accomplish anything in terms of aggression, because we do not, but because America is the guardian of the peace and as long as we are stronger than any other nation we can discourage any of those who would threaten the peace of the world.

So, this is point No.1. We will keep America strong. We will ask the American people to pay whatever is necessary to see that that level of strength is maintained, and we are confident they will do so.

The second point: We have to see that America remains economically strong and that refers to all sections of the country. It refers to all parts of our population. Economically strong - why? Because the race in which we're engaged, you see, is not just military in character. There's a tremendous competition going on between the economies.

I remember when I was talking to Mr. Khrushchev in Moscow. He said to me, "You know, Mr. Nixon, we're behind you now economically. I'll admit that. But," he said, "we're moving faster than you." He said, "We're going to catch up with you in 7 years or so, and we're going to pass you by, and when we pass you by we're going to wave like this and say, 'Come on; join us and follow us and do as we do or you're going to fall way behind in this race.'"

So, the question arises: How right is he? The answer is: He's completely wrong on two scores: One, because his system has basic defects in it, which I could point out; but, more than that, he is wrong because he underestimates the basic strength of the American people and our economy. He won't catch us in 7 years. He won't catch us in 70 years, provided we remain true to the principles that have made America the most prosperous Nation in the world.

What are those principles? Turning everything over to the Federal Government? No. Tremendously increased Federal spending programs to move in on every problem in which we are involved and to set up those programs in preference to ones that have been set up by the States or by the local communities or by individuals? No.

The answer to progress in America is not to rely primarily on what the Federal Government does. The answer to progress in America is to strengthen the real source of progress. And you know what it is? A hundred and eighty million free individual Americans.

This is the answer to progress in this country.

Now, the Federal Government has responsibilities. Militarily, that's the Federal Government's job. In the economic area it must adopt economic policies and fiscal policies and other policies which will stimulate and encourage our people to do their best and to make their tremendous contribution to this country's growth. But, beyond that, when we get into the economy itself, and the workings of the economy, we must never forget that the role of government is not to supplant, but to supplement what the individual, the States, the local governments can do best. If we remember this rule, we will find that America will move forward, that we will tap all the energies of our people - and it is here that we will move more than our opponents will move because they turn always to the Federal Government.

Let me give you an example. After our television debate a couple of days ago, one individual was questioning me with regard to the problem of how much money the Federal Government would spend, and he was saying: "You know, it's really rather hard, isn't it, to go up against an opponent when he says, 'We're going to spend $13 to $18 billion carrying out our promises to the people,' and you say 'We're going to spend $3 to $4 billion or $4 or $5 billion to carry out your program to the people.'" In other words, the argument goes like this: "You're running for the Presidency. The stakes are high. Why do you allow somebody else to promise more than you promise? Why don't you raise him? He promises he's going to spend $14 billion of Federal money to deal with the problems of the people. Why don't you spend 20?"

Well, of course, he would raise me and go to 30, and I would have to go to 40, and we'd go on up and up and up, and the people would have nothing left at all. That's the reason you can't go into this business of trying to buy the people's votes with their own money.

You see, these promises that they make - they don't pay them off with their money, but with yours. That is what the American people must know.

And I know something about what it means to meet a family budget. I have seen people come into my dad's store when I was working in it growing up in grade school and high school, and I've seen housewives shop around, not buying strawberries when they were out of season, buying stew meat rather than steak or even a rump roast, which was a little higher, counting all the things which meant at the end of the month the bill might be within the family budget, and I know that every time we spend a dollar in Washington that isn't necessary that it makes it more difficult to balance that family budget.

And, so, I say to you that it is the responsibility of the President of the United States not to go around the country saying, "I'm going to do this, that, or the other thing," to this special group or that special group or the other special group. He's got to think of all the American people, and he must be the guardian of the people's money, and that's why I say we are going to see to it that America's Government spends every cent that it needs to spend, but not 1 cent more than it needs to spend so that our people can have what they need to balance their own budget.

So, I have said now that we will keep our country economically strong. I should mention also the other element of strength to which Bob Stafford referred, ideological strength. Sometimes people have said to me, "Now, look here, Mr. Nixon, you know this fellow Khrushchev is a Communist. Do you really think ideological strength, the moral and spiritual strength to which you have referred in speeches means anything Doesn't he have utter contempt for that? Isn't it an admission of weakness whenever you refer to it?"

And do you know what the answer is? The answer is that the tyrants of all time, the militarists and the materialists have always made a fatal error. They have underestimated the moral and spiritual strength that free peoples have, and I say to you today that the decisive element in this struggle, more decisive than our military and economic strength, as important and vital, that is, is the strength of America's ideals.

Let me give you an example. I remember when Pat and I visited Poland a year ago. I recall the reception that we had. There were people in the streets, like there were today as we came through. They were enthusiastic, as this crowd was, there, but they hadn't been ordered out. There had been no parade route printed in the papers. The Communist Polish Government had not wanted to have an unfavorable comparison between our reception and the one Khrushchev got 2 weeks before in the same city of Warsaw, and yet a quarter of a million Poles were on the streets, shouting at the top of their voices, singing, and as the car stopped in the middle of the city, throwing hundreds of bouquets of flowers into our car. I looked into their faces. Some of them were smiling, but just as many, men and women, grown men and women, crying with tears coming down their cheeks. Why? I Not because we were strong militarily or economically. Khrushchev had bragged of that kind of strength, but because America - to the people of Poland behind the Iron Curtain - stood for something different from military strength and material strength. We stood for ideals. We stood for faith in God, for belief in the dignity of man, for belief in the rights of man; that these rights come not from men but from God, and, therefore, cannot be taken away by any man; that America stood for the hope of all people in the world to be independent, to he free, and to live in peace.

That's what we came into the world for 185 years ago. This is America's destiny - not to conquer the world with our arms, not to conquer the world and overwhelm it with our wealth; but it is America's destiny to lead the world, to inspire it with the power of our ideas.

And how can we do that? Oh, a President can talk about that, and he can help to lead, but that kind of strength, my friends, must come from the people, themselves. It comes from the home. It comes from the schools. It comes from the churches of our country, and it comes from you.

And I say to all of you here, in this State, with its great tradition of individual enterprise and responsibility: Strengthen the moral fiber of our country. This is what you can do to help us in this struggle. Teach our young people to have appreciation of what it means to be an American. Teach them that it isn't unfashionable to have patriotism, love of country in the best sense, the kind of love of a country where we point out the things that are wrong, but that we also recognize the things that are right, and we never downgrade America. You don't, after all, have to tear America down in order to build her up.

And these are the things that you can do to help in this struggle. So, the final point I would make is this: I think we are going to win this struggle for peace and freedom. We're going to win it, I tell you, for reasons that are rather difficult to describe, but

55 countries Pat and I have visited in the last 7½ years as the representatives of the people of the United States and of our country. We've been behind the iron curtain, in the heart of the Urals, in the heart of Siberia. We've been is Asia, Africa, and South America, and Europe, and in the faces of countless thousands of people I have seen that the people of the world are not so much on our side, but that we are on the right side, the side of freedom, and the people want freedom, the side of peace, the side of progress, but progress not at the cost of freedom, but with freedom. This they want, if they only know, and since we are representing the right side, America can win, we can lead, if we have leadership that is experienced and courageous and able and vital in this period.

That's what we offer. We don't say we will solve all of your problems easily. We don't say it will not cost in terms of money potentially something for the American people militarily or otherwise to meet our responsibilities, but we do say this: My colleague and I have faith in our country, faith in our cause, and we also believe that it can and will prevail if America will assume the responsibilities of leadership which are ours in the world today.

So, to these young people here I say: This future can be the brightest that the world has ever seen.

We've heard so much about what a bad future our young people are growing up into - the threat of atomic war, all of the problems of the Communists stirring up trouble in Tokyo, Caracas, and around the world - but look at the other side of it. For the first time in the history of civilization, as Arnold Toynbee said - for the first time in the history of civilization - man can realize what has been the dream of men, of poets, of idealists for centuries, and that is the dream of a world in which everybody can have enough to eat, clothing, housing and the like. Why? The breakthroughs of our scientists; the tremendous productivity of our farms here and abroad.

So, we must use this power, and it is our responsibility, and the most exciting responsibility that leaders have ever had to use this power that we have for good, and I'm confident we can.

And it is on that we ask for your support, because we believe in this cause, because we want the opportunity to serve you, but, more than that, because we want the opportunity to serve the cause for which America stands.

So, finally, my appeal to you is this: I said at the outset that I would not ask you to vote for us because we happen to be Republicans, and you may be, and so again I say to you: Consider what I have said. Consider the things I stand for. Consider the great problems confronting America and the world, and then in your hearts decide: What does America need? Is this the kind of leadership she needs?

If you believe it's the kind of leadership it needs, then I ask you: Go out in this great State of Vermont and work for us, for our colleagues here, but work as you never have before, for this reason: Not because you're just working for a man, not because you're working for a party that is your party, but you're working for a greater cause - for America and for the ideas that America stands for.

This is what we ask you to do, and we thank you for considering our case.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Memorial Auditorium, Burlington, VT Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project