Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Merrimack Common, Manchester, NH

September 29, 1960

On an occasion like this, as you can imagine, a speaker is confronted with a real problem as to what people most want to hear him talk about. Here's a great crowd of people from this State, from this city. Some of you have driven several miles to get here. All of you have come here when you could have been doing other things that were useful. Some of you are interested in one issue more than in others and, of course, the time that we have won't permit discussion of them all; and, so, as I look over this crowd, as I think of your interests, of your future, I have to select - and I want to select - today that issue which is closest to your hearts, and particularly the one that concerns your future and the future of your children.

I think you know what it is. It is the future as far as our ability to enjoy the good things of life that we see in this community, in this State, in this Nation.

We all want, of course, Government under which we can have progress, in which we have good jobs, and I was tremendously impressed to note the progressive scene in this very area here, in the Manchester area, the new businesses, as I came along, that have been established since I came here before. This shows the individual enterprise, the strong will of the people of this State and of this section.

You're interested in Government in which we can have better schools and better housing, better health for our people. All of these things are immensely important, and particularly those of you who are parents, as Pat and I are, are concerned about our children, thinking in terms of their future and wanting for them, as my father did and as yours did, a better life than we've had - and yet, when we think of all these things, as close and as dear as they are to us, we know the most important thing is to be around to enjoy them. That has been brought home to us very acutely by this session of the United Nations. We see Mr. Khrushchev down there in the United Nations today. A report just came over the wire that he shook his fist at Mr. Macmillan, Prime Minister Macmillan, and walked off the floor of the United Nations.

And, so, as we think of him, as we think of those who threaten the peace and the freedom of the world, we realize that that is the great issue. We realize that the most important question that the people of New hampshire, the people of America must answer in this election Campaign: Which of the candidates for the Presidency, for the Vice Presidency, are best qualified, by experience, by judgment and background, to lead America and the free world, to keep the peace without surrender and to extend freedom throughout the world.

Now, in discussing that issue, obviously I'm a bit prejudiced as far as our background and experience are concerned, but I'm going to ask you to consider it in this way: I recognize that in this audience are many Republicans. I know, too, there are many Democrats, many Independents. For the moment that I talk, will you forget what you are, Republican, Democrat, Independent. Think of the country first.

I'll tell you why we must do this. The history of this country indicates that the American people, when they elect a President,

put the country first, the party second. This is as it should be. It's as it should be because America in these times can afford nothing but the most qualified leadership to deal with this problem of peace with honor and justice and freedom.

So, I say, that is the test. That is the test that I want you to apply to me. Apply it sternly. Apply it to my background, to my experience, to what I stand for, and apply it as well to my running mate and to our opponents.

Now, first, in judging us, you have to look at our record. We are part of the record of this administration. For 7½ years Cabot Lodge and I have sat in the Cabinet. We have sat in the Security Council. We have participated in the making of the decisions and advising and counseling with the President who has the final responsibility in decision making in this and in other fields. Therefore, as we look at the record of this administration, you must hold us responsible for it.

Now, I know that many are critical of that record, and in election campaigns we hear a lot of criticism - some of it perhaps justified; others the result of partisan considerations. But let me say this about the record: No criticism can take away the truth and no criticism can obscure the fact that the American people will be forever grateful to Dwight Eisenhower and his leadership for the fact that he did end one war; he's kept us out of other wars and we do have peace without surrender today.

Now, the easy thing to do would be for me to say that's the record. We're going to stand on it. You can look at it but they can't match it.

We could say that. That would be easy, but, you know, that isn't enough for America today. It is a great record. We're proud of it. But a record is never something to stand on. It's something to build on.

And, looking at that record, when we have in mind the nature of the threat which confronts us - Khrushchev, Mao Tse-tung, the other Communist leaders - we must remember they are not standing still.

I know the Communist leaders. I have talked to them. I think I know what their fanatical dedication is to those things that are wrong. I know that with them moving as they are America can't stand still. She must move forward, move forward, militarily, economically, ideologically, so that in this great race for survival we will always be ahead: we will never be second: we will always be first - and, incidentally, we are first today, whatever any of the critics may say.

And, so as far as this record is concerned, my colleagues and I do say we are the ones who will move America ahead. We are the ones who can keep her strong. We are the ones who will see that America can progress economically. We are the ones who can give the leadership in the diplomatic area which will deal with Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues in a way that will avoid surrender on the one side or war on the other.

Now to prove a point. First, our experience. I can't, of course, appropriately comment on my own, that's for you to judge, but I can sure comment on my colleague's, my running mate's, and I will say this: You folks here in New Hampshire have had a chance to see him on television in the U.N. I don't think any man in the world today, any man from any nation has had more experience or could have done a better job representing the cause of peace and freedom than Henry Cabot Lodge, our Ambassador to the United Nations, over these last 7 years.

Now, why does a Vice President matter? Because under President Eisenhower's leadership the character of the Vice Presidency has changed, and it's going to change even more in the next administration because Cabot; Lodge and I will work together as partners, partners in strengthening the instruments of peace of the United Nations so that it can deal with situations like the Congo even more effectively than it has, and it's done a splendid job there, partners in developing the instruments of peace like the Organization of American States which are dealing with situations like that we have in Cuba, partners in developing new instruments which can keep the peace, but go beyond that - which can extend freedom - because, my friends, it isn't enough for America simply to defend what we have. It isn't enough for us to say we will keep our freedom, but we don't care what happens to the freedom of others.

Remember, the world is changing, and the change is inevitable to occur, and if it's going to occur we've got to make sure it changes our way and not the Communist way. We must stand for freedom of others as well as for the freedom of ourselves.

Now, all this is pretty fine talk, but how do we do it? What do we have to have?

Well, one, looking at the men with whom we are confronted, we recognize, first, that we must have more real power and strength. Why? Because these are men who know power. They respect it. So, that begins with military strength - and certainly talking in the presence of Styles Bridges, one of the greatest experts in this field in the Congress or in the Senate, I think he would certainly agree with me when I say, first, America is stronger than any other nation today - and that is the reason why we have been able to keep the peace, to hold the line as we have - but he would also agree with me when I say that we don't stand still where we are. We constantly examine what they are doing. We constantly examine new breakthroughs, and America must continue to spend whatever is necessary, to ask the people to appropriate whatever is necessary, to keep us first in the world in military strength so that we can keep those who would threaten the peace of the world from using their strength, militarily, diplomatically or otherwise, against the strength of the forces of peace and freedom any place in the world.

So, we pledge we will keep this country strong militarily.

What else must we do?

We must move forward economically, move forward as I noted a moment ago this area has begun to move by your own efforts, move forward throughout the United States, with none being left behind.

Why is it so important for the economy of the United States to grow?

After all, we're the richest country in the world. Our economy is twice as rich as that of the Soviet Union. Our gross national product is twice as great as theirs. The reason we must not rest on our laurels is that we're in a race. They challenge us. They say they're going to catch us; they say they're going to pass us, as Mr. Khrushchev said to us at the kitchen in Moscow.

He said, "You know, Mr. Nixon, I agree you're ahead of us now economically, but," he said, "we're moving faster than you are. We have a better system than you have. We're going to catch you, and, when we catch you; I'm going to wave and I'm going to say, 'Come along, follow us; do as we do or you're going to fall behind hopelessly in this race.

And sometimes people ask me "Is he right?" And my answer is, he isn't going to catch us, not in 7 years or 70 years, if we remain true to the principles that have made America the strongest Nation in the world today.

Let me tell you what I mean by remaining true to those principles and building on them.

We must not make the mistake of assuming that the way to greater progress in the United States is to turn over the functions of individuals and of the States to the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. We must remember the Federal Government has responsibilities, and great ones, responsibilities to lead where the States cannot or will not do the job, responsibilities to do the jobs that are too big for individual enterprise; but we must always remember the great sources of progress in America are what you see around you. What created this city? What Created the tremendous productivity of America. Not the Government, but people - and the policies that we advocate will stimulate the creative activities of 180 million free Americans. That's why we will move forward where our opponents would not, because we have more faith in people than they have, and our platform shows it, our policies, and what we say today shows it, too.

Oh, I know that some might say, "Well, now, Mr. Nixon, just a moment. How can you really say that you stand for more progress than your opponents - in health, in education, in welfare, in all of these areas that we Americans want progress in? How can you say it when your opponent comes into this same city and he promises more?"

And he does.

"He promises that he's going to spend as much as - or at least for programs that would cost as much as - $13 to $18 billion, and you are for programs that would cost far less. How? Why is it that you don't come in and promise as much as he does? Doesn't this show that he's more for us than you are?"

And let me ask you a question: Who's going to pay for these promises? Whose money is it? It's not Jack's money. It's your money. That's the thing we have to remember.

And that's why I say I'm not going around this country trying to buy the people's votes with their own money. I recognize that it's the responsibility for us to spend every dollar that's necessary in Washington, but, believe me, I know what it means to meet a family budget. I grew up in a little grocery store. I remember in those years in the thirties the families that came in and put things on the books. I remember the housewives, for example, that, instead of buying the chuck roast, would get stew meat; instead of buying the steak would buy hamburger; instead of buying the strawberries out of season, would just get the green beans which happened to be in or something like that, because they had to do it to meet the bills at the end of the month, and I know every time we add a dollar to that Federal budget it makes it harder to balance the family budget. Oh, it would be easy for me to go around the country, promising this, promising that, spend this, spend that; but I say we are going to spend what is necessary, but we are going to leave with the people what we can so that they can balance their own family budgets - and this is what you want.

And I add this: Our programs will bring more progress, because sending it down to Washington doesn't produce the progress. It produces stagnation. Why? Because it does not tap the total resources of this country, the individual, the State, and the Federal Government.

Now, one other point: I have mentioned military strength, economic power. I should mention diplomacy. What kind of diplomacy do we need?

It must be firm diplomacy. It must be nonbelligerent. We have to take insults without engaging in a war of words, always recognizing, however, that we keep the record straight, that we never allow the United States or her friends to be pushed around in Berlin or anyplace else in the world. We do this, but, on the other hand, while we must be nonbelligerent, in our dealings in order to keep the peace, we must also be firm. We must not be naive, and may I say in that connection that as far as this Government is concerned, we are strong enough that whenever we do anything wrong we can apologize or express regrets for it, but when a President of the United States is doing what is right to defend the security of this country, as President Eisenhower was in ordering the U-2 flights, he must never consider apologizing or expressing regrets for that to anybody.

And some might say, "But, Mr. Nixon, maybe by a different attitude you might bring peace." And if it would, that would be another thing. But this shows a naive understanding of the Communists because whenever you make a concession not justified by one they make in return, it doesn't satisfy. It only whets the appetite, and it paves the road to the very consequences that we do not want.

And, so, my last point, then, is the most important one. What could be more important than the military and economic strength of America, than her diplomatic firmness?

And that is the ideals for which America stands.

People sometimes say when I mention this, "Now, Mr. Nixon, if you know the Communists, as you claim you do, why do you put any stress on ideals? These people talk only about power."

That is true. They talk only about materialism, economic progress. I'll tell you why I put stress on ideals. Because the tyrants throughout history, my friends, the militarists and the materialists, have always made this mistake of underestimating the power of moral and spiritual strength, and America, above everything else, must have that. America must stand not just for military strength, not just for economic strength. We must stand for the ideals that caught the imagination of the world 185 years ago.

What are they? Faith in God; belief in the dignity of every man, woman, and child, regardless of his background; belief in the freedoms and the opportunities that men and women have. They do not come from men. They come from God, and, therefore, they cannot be taken away from men.

We believe that these freedoms do not belong to ourselves alone, but they belong to all mankind. These things are what America stands for. These are the reasons that the people throughout the world cheer when an American President or Vice President comes among them. This is the reason Pat and I received an overwhelming reception in Poland, and, to an extent, even in the heart of Siberia because America stands for more than military strength and economic strength. She stands for the strength of ideals which must come from you.

Because these things I talk about, a President himself cannot produce them. I can talk about them, but the people of this country, you, through your churches, your schools, your homes, you strengthen the moral and spiritual ideals of America. Let our young people grow up with a real feeling of love of country in their hearts. Let it not be unfashionable to be patriotic. Let it not be certainly the case of our young people not knowing what America stands for.

We need this kind of spirit to match the dedication of the enemies of freedom, and if we have this kind of freedom we will win the struggle for peace and freedom because an American President will be backed up by a united, strong country, strong in its ideals, and that's the greatest strength of all. And, so, this is my case. I present it to you. I present it to you on this basis again. Look at our records. Look at our qualifications, but, more, consider what we stand for, and if you in this audience believe that what I stand for and my colleague, Cabot Lodge, stands for, if this is what America needs, if this leadership is what she needs, then I can, in good conscience, ask you today to go out and work for us, to work for the others on our ticket, remembering that you're working for - what? Not just a man; not just a party - remember that you're working for a greater cause than that. You're working for America and for the great ideals that men throughout the world have always wanted and that we stand for.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Merrimack Common, Manchester, NH Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project