Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Northern Hotel, Street Crowd, Billings, MT

October 10, 1960

Let me get to the heart of the problem of why you're here and why I am here. I realize that in this great audience are Republicans, members of my party; also, I realize there are Democrats, members of the other party; I realize there are some here who will support our ticket and some who may conclude to support the other - and that's as it should be - and I want to tell you the test that I am going to ask all of you here to apply, whether you are Republicans or Democrats. Those of you who heard the television debate or radio debate the other night will recall that Senator Kennedy and I had a very strong disagreement on a number of things, but particularly on this thing at the last of the debate. The question was raised as to what standard the people ought to apply in electing a President of the United States, and Senator Kennedy said what you ought to do is to apply the standard of the party; in other words, you should vote for the man who is a member of your party. I disagreed with him. I disagreed with him then. I disagree now. I say that in this year, 1960, when the man we elect as President must not only lead the United States, but the free world, it isn't enough to vote as your grandfather did or your father did. It isn't enough to vote just a party label. We have to put not the party first, but the man first, and that is the test I want you to apply in judging us on this occasion.

So, I say to all of you here: Think of the future of America. Think of the future of the fine boys and girls in this band - and I deeply appreciate their coming out here this early morning. Think of the future of these youngsters here who are coming here just before going to school.

You know, you're really not doing too well. Usually I come into town during school hours and you get to miss a class, but not this morning.

But think of their future, and then judge me, judge my opponent, judge those who are running for office in this campaign on the basis of what leadership can best provide the progress that America wants in these years ahead.

And, so, let's examine it from that standpoint. What do we want? Let's forget whether we're Republicans or Democrats. What do we want in this country?

Let's think particularly in terms of those of us in the West. You know, my father came from Ohio and my mother from Indiana, and they both came to California, met there and were married. I know that many of you were born in Montana, but many of you or your fathers came here from someplace else, and one thing that characterizes the people of the West particularly is this: We're a go-ahead people. We never want to stand still. We're never satisfied with things as they are. We want to move forward in progress.

So, the first point that I want to make today is this: That I'm proud to stand for a program that will move America ahead, that will move it ahead far more than will the programs that our opponents offer, and I want to face straight up to a charge that has been made. I want to answer, and then I want to prove by the facts that if you want to move ahead in Montana, if you want to move ahead in the great tradition of the West, where we want this country to expand, we want a better life for our children than we've had for ourselves, your choice is with us and not with our opponents. Point one. The difference is not in the goals that we promise. The difference is: Who can do it?

And here you've got to look at the record. Here you've got to look at what we stand for. Here you've got to look at what we would spend to accomplish those goals.

So, what do we want for progress? Well, first, we want better schools for our young people. We want better housing. I'm speaking of the average family. We also want better medical care for our older people, and for all of us as well.

We want other things. We want an economy under which we can have good jobs, with high wages, and the housewives are very interested in seeing that those prices in the stores don't skyrocket, and keep up all of those wages, because they know at the end of the month they've got to meet them and have enough left over for the shoes and the other things we need to keep the family together.

In other words, we want America to move forward in all these areas, and here in the West we're interested in expansion of our economy, in the development of our resources. All of these things we want. I tell you today that in all of these fields, whether it's schools or housing or health, that we find that I have programs, my party has, which will move America forward. Time will not permit me to go into them in detail, but I say they will move America forward more than will the others.

Now, they have programs, too, and now we get right down to how you judge, and this is a difficult thing. Here you have one candidate coming in saying, "I'm for the good things which will produce progress." The other candidate says, "I'm for the good things that will produce progress." What are the folks going to do? What are the voters going to do?

Here's what you do: First, you look at our record and on the record I say you compare the record of the Eisenhower administration with the record of the administration which preceded it. Both have been in for 7½ years, and you can take any test you want - schools, housing, medical care, jobs, wages, controlling inflation - and you will find that in this administration we have moved forward; we have had far greater progress than in the Truman administration.

And, so, your choice is: If you want to go back to what we left, you have an easy choice because that's what our opponents offer. They offer the very same program with very little change, that we left in 1953.

Here in the last 7½ years we have moved forward.

But some of you may say, "Well, now just a minute, Mr. Nixon. We've been hearing Mr. Kennedy say over and over again that America has been standing still, that we've got to get going again, that we've got to cross these new frontiers." My friends, anybody who says America's been standing still for these past 7½ years hasn't been traveling around America. They ought to walk through Billings, for example, and see what's happened here, because this country has been moving. It was grinding to a stop 7½ years ago, but it has been moving in these last 7½ years.

Now, let's get to the key question. On the record we have done a better job, and you examine your own lives and your own ideals and you will find that is the case. But why have we done a better job? Why will our programs work where their won't? And this is something extremely fundamental. The reason is that they have the wrong approach. They say, whatever they want, progress in any field, that the way to get it is to start with the Federal Government. If you want more schools, turn it all over to the Federal Government, including giving the Federal Government the power to pay the teachers and to tell the people what to teach, a power which, incidentally, we must avoid at all costs if we want to keep freedom in this country. I would say that if there were no other reason for voting for Orvin Fjare for the Senate of the United States the fact that his opponent has stood for a program in the field of education that would take away in the long run the power of the State, the local control of our school systems, the fact that he stood for that and led the fight for that, is the reason for Montana to send a man like Orvin Fjare down to the U.S. Senate who will stand for the right kind because, my friends, if we want better schools, we can have better schools. We have a program for school construction where its needed that will raise the standards of our teachers salaries and everything, but without Federal control - and that's the difference again, one you can see in a specific example.

But again why do they fail? Because, whether it's schools, housing or anything else, they say the Federal Government, a huge spending program, give the Federal Government the power.

Now, that's the easy way to do it. Of course, you don't have to worry about what the States do. You don't have to worry about what individuals do. You have a bunch of Federal bureaucrats who are going to solve all of your problems.

But, my friends, that isn't the way America grew. That isn't the way the new frontiers of the West developed. That isn't the way America is going to move through the new frontiers of the 1960's and this last half of the 20th century, and I want to tell you the way we're going to move.

The way we are going to move is following our philosophy. You know what the difference is? We say if you want progress in any field don't start with the Federal Government, but start with the real power in America, and that's 180 million free American citizens. Stimulate them. Encourage them.

You see, it's because our programs will encourage and stimulate 180 million free Americans we start with them and we say: If the individual can do it, have him do the job; if he can't do it, then the local government; if the local government can't do it, then the State government; and then the Federal Government steps in when necessary, but does not step in in order to weaken the States and weaken the individual.

That's the way America has grown in the past. That's the way we will grow in the future, and this is the big difference.

Now, there is another difference, and this is one that is a little harder to explain. I particularly speak to some of these young people here, not the young voters, but the ones who are going to be young voters. Some people have said to me - talking to a teenager here recently, he said, 'Mr. Nixon, you say that you are more for progress than your opponent," and I said this on the two television debates - I'm more for progress and that my programs will produce more progress than his will - and then this youngster went on to say, "Tell me - how in the world can you say that when he is going to spend more to produce progress? In other words, isn't the measure of how much you're for progress how much money you're going to spend for all these programs?"

Pretty hard question, isn't it, until you think it through? After all, my friends, it isn't Jack's money he's going to spend, but your money. That's what the people of the United States are aware of - your money.

And, so, I say to you: Look at the program. Yes, I will admit - let's concede it right away - that they would spend billions of

dollars more every year than our programs will for health, for housing, for schools; but, my friends, consider it for a moment. You want to go in a store over here and buy something. If you can get a better product for less money, you're going to take that rather than a poor product that costs more, and it's just as simple as that. We, in other words, have programs that will produce progress that will cost billions less, and they offer you programs that have failed in the past that won't produce, and which will cost more.

And I say when the American people have that kind of choice, they're going to go with us rather than with them.

Let's look at it a little further, when we consider this whole problem of cost. We must remember, then, your choice is this: If you are satisfied that you want to pay higher taxes, higher prices, remember that the programs that they have advocated will have to bring about this kind of financing, because the amount they will add to the budget will do and will require that kind of spending.

So, I say to you: You have a choice here. Whether it's Senator Kennedy or whether it is Mr. Metcalf, who is running against Orvin Fjare, there isn't any question about who's going to spend the money - they are - but I say that you, the people of Montana, Republicans and Democrats or not, are sensible enough that you are certainly constructive enough that you're going to say we want progress, but let's get the kind of progress that is not going to raise our taxes and raise our prices. Let's move forward in the great American tradition where individuals have the opportunity to develop the great economy of this country.

There is a clear choice. Let me go on to one more. You are developing oil and gas in this area. You've heard, some of you, about the so-called depletion allowance, and you know that our opponents are rather distressed about that. Their platform indicates they're going to reduce it, and yet they have a little difficulty on their ticket because the folks down in Texas won't particularly like that. So, we have the problem here as to what you want; but let me say this: Why is it, for example, that I, as a candidate for public office, don't come in here and say, "Let's tax these big people that are drilling for oil and the like more, so that we will have to pay less"?

Let me tell you something. The problem here is not the question of whether we're going to have a lot of rich people who are

drilling for oil and discovering it. The problem is whether or not we're going to have a rich country, because, my friends, when we have the kind of a tax policy that encourages and stimulates the development of the resources of a State like Montana, that means you're going to go forward; and I want to say here that I stand for a tax policy not that will discourage the development of the resources of Montana in oil and gas, but that will have more of it, and my opponent - you don't know where he stands.

So, you know where Montana is going to be on that issue, I say, as far as this campaign is concerned.

The last point that I want to mention is the most important of all. I've been talking, of course, about our progress in all of these areas at home, but, you know, when we look at our young people here, we realize that more important than that is to be sure, as sure as we can, that we have a government which cannot only provide this kind of progress, but we also want to be sure we're around to enjoy it.

Let me put it another way. The major test you must apply to the man who is to be President of this country is: Who has the best qualifications? Who has the best experience to keep the peace without surrender for America and the world?

This is the great issue and the greatest problem which you will be considering in this election campaign.

Now, on that issue you let me ask you to consider these things. First, our record. You've heard a lot about the record of this administration. We've made mistakes here and there and the other place, and it hasn't been perfect, we agree; but, my friends, think back to 1953 when I traveled through this part of the State and the country. Think back to what we were in then. All I can say is all the criticisms in the world will not obscure the truth, and the truth of the matter is that in this administration, under the leadership of President Eisenhower, we got the United States out of one war: we've kept her out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today, and we want to keep that kind of leadership in Washington

Now, for the qualifications of the men; Cabot Lodge and I have sat in the high councils of this administration for 7½ years. We have participated in the decisions that have been made in that period in this and other areas.

Now, I can't say anything about my qualifications appropriately compared with my opponent's, but I can say something about his, and I say that no man in the world today has had more experience or could have done a better job working for the cause of peace and freedom than our candidate for Vice President, Henry Cabot Lodge, as our Ambassador to the United Nations.

And we will work together, I can assure you in this cause.

Now, what do we offer you? We offer you, first, our experience, our background, but, second, we both know the Communists. We both have had the experience of sitting across the table from Mr. Khrushchev. We've proved by what we have done that I think we know how to deal with them, that we aren't going to be fooled by them, and, so I say to you, these are the things we're going to stand for:

One, we're going to keep America the strongest in the world because we know that Mr. Khrushchev is a man who respects power and if he ever thinks we're weak, the trouble will start.

Second, we're going to see that this economy moves forward because we must never let him catch us or catch up closer to us than he is.

And, third, we're going to see to it that the diplomacy of this country is firm, firm without being belligerent.

Now, let me say to this: I know there are a lot of people here who say, "Now Mr. Nixon, we all want peace. Isn't there a way, for example, that we could perhaps get Mr. Khrushchev's friendship by making a concession here or there?"

And let me say those who think the way to deal with Khrushchev is to apologize to him or express regrets to him for doing something that is right simply shows the fact they are naive and don't understand the world situation and particularly don't know what the Communists are like.

Because, remember this: The Communists don't react as do the leaders of the free world. You have to be firm with them. The moment you make a concession with out getting one in return, it means you only whet their appetite for more. And, so, you're firm. On the other hand, you're not belligerent. That means you've got to hold your temper, and it isn't easy, and you sit down and talk with a man like that and take his insults, but you hold your temper. Why! Because, my friends, whoever is President has got to be a man who recognizes he must never heat up the international atmosphere to the point that we destroy the world through a nuclear explosion.

So, it is between this fine line, keeping firm on the one side and on the other side avoiding losing the temper, avoiding belligerency - this is the way to peace and, going beyond that, we strengthen the cause of freedom throughout the world.

And I say to you, Henry Cabot Lodge and I, with our experience, ask for the opportunity to lead America, to lead the free world in this field.

Now, my last point: We need your help. I'm not speaking now of the election. I'm speaking of this greater cause of saving the cause of peace and freedom. What's the most important thing we've got to have if we are going to win this struggle?

Military strength is important, economic strength, diplomatic firmness, but, most of all, you know what is important? The ideals for which America stands, the ideals that caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago, ideals - they sound very simple; they're worth repeating - these are the things America must stand for if we are going to lead the world to victory without war, to peace, to the extension of freedom; our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of all men; our belief that the rights that men have for freedom do not come from men, but that they come from God and, therefore, cannot be taken away by man; our belief that every nation has a right to be independent; that all people have a right to be free. These are the things America must stand for in the world. These are the things that must come from you because they come from the churches; they come from the schools; they come from the homes of America.

And I say to all of you, Democrats and Republicans alike: strengthen the moral fiber of this country. Strengthen the idealism of our young people. Let them realize what a privilege it is to live in America. Let them realize that America stands for more than might, that we stand for what is right in the world, and then the President of the United States will be able to lead the forces of freedom in the world to victory because he will have behind him a nation that stands for those great ideals that all the world wants. The people on both sides of the Iron Curtain want more than might. They want these great ideals for which we stand.

And, so, it is this case that I present to you today. If you believe that ours is the leadership that America needs, that we have the experience that will keep the peace and extend freedom, that we're worthy of your support, it is on that basis that we ask the people of Montana to support us in this campaign.

We say to you: We don't ask you to support us on the basis of a party label. We put it on a much higher plane. We put it on this basis: We say that if you believe that ours is the leadership that America needs, ours is the leadership that will move America forward at home, that will keep the peace abroad - if you believe that, then we ask for your support for our ticket nationally, for our candidates for the Senate, for the Congress and the State legislature, remembering as you work that you're working not just for a party, but for a bigger cause, that you're working for what's best for America and for the cause of freedom and peace throughout the world.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Northern Hotel, Street Crowd, Billings, MT Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project