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Partial Transcript of Remarks of the Vice President at War Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY

October 17, 1960

I also want to say that, in speaking to you today, having this rally, one of the truly great rallies of American political history, a tremendously exciting event, occur on this particular day is of great significance. If you were to question the men behind me, many of whom have had far more experience in political life than I have, people like Walter Mahoney, for example, you would find this is what they will tell you: They would all tell you that the critical period of a campaign is the last 3 weeks. Up until that time the campaign moves along, but up until that time a great number of people are undecided about how they are going to vote. After all, there is the world series, and before that there was the United Nations, and before that there was summer vacation and the like, but 3 weeks before the end the campaign picks up and people make up their minds. Campaigns are won or lost in the last 3 weeks. That's why this evening, as I said earlier today in Hartford, Conn., is the time to step up the campaign - and I'm going to start right here at this rally tonight in Buffalo and Erie County; and I say to all of you who are supporting our cause: Remember, this is the time when you are going to separate the men from the boys. This is the time when we go to work. This is the time when we must work for our cause because the work that you do between now and election will well decide the very great and close States - and, based on what I have seen, on the reports that I have heard, if the momentum we have in the State of New York, which is exemplified by this rally tonight, continues - and it must continue - continues from now until election day - we will carry New York, and New York means the Nation, on November the 8th.

Governor Rockefeller has truly stated the great issue of this campaign. It is the survival of the Nation. It is the survival of freedom. It's the kind of a world not only that we will live in, but the kind of world that our children will live in for generations to come. When such an issue like that is before the Nation, it is important that men and women who vote think not just of their party, but that they think of America first. It is important that we have in mind that, as we make this decision, we are electing men, a President and a Vice President who will not only handle the problems of America but we are electing men who will make decisions that may determine the difference as to whether or not we have war or surrender in the period ahead - and, putting it more bluntly, I say that the major qualification, above everything else, that the next President of the United States and the next Vice President must have is this: Which of the candidates are best qualified, by experience, by background, by judgment, to keep the peace and keep it without surrender of principle or territory?

Tonight I submit to you our case. I ask you to compare it with our opponents', and then I leave the decision in your hands, in the hands of the Republicans, the Democrats, all of those in this great audience and the thousands outside who couldn't get in and those who will be listening on television and radio.

Point one: First of all, we, Cabot Lodge and I, submit to the American people our record. And what is that record? For 7½ years we have been members of the Eisenhower administration. We have sat in the councils of this administration. Listen to what we have done. We have sat in the meetings of the National Security Council. We have participated in the meetings of the Cabinet. We have been in Washington, in the President's office, when the great decisions have been made, and we have participated in the discussions on Lebanon, on Matsu, and Quemoy. In all these great decisions that have been made in these last 7½ years we have participated. So, therefore, the American people must and have a right to judge us by this record. And, so, in talking of the record I speak of it tonight proudly, and in speaking of that record may I say this: I recognize there are those who do not speak of it as I will, and that is their right. It is the right of our opponents to criticize our record where they think it is wrong, hut it is also our responsibility to nail them every time they distort the record of this administration - and that's what we're going to do.

And, so, we have heard a chorus over the past few weeks of everything we've done wrong. The President did this wrong and he did that wrong, and the Secretary of State shouldn't have done this and he should have done that over the last 7½ years. What is the answer to the criticism? Well, the American people know. They know in their hearts and their minds and their souls, and they aren't going to he fooled by all the doubletalk and the criticism because the American people know that in 1953 there was a war. The American people know that they will be forever grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for getting this Nation out of the war, for keeping it out of others, and for having peace without surrender today.

"Ah, yes," some people say, "but, Mr. Nixon, that's true. We were in a war, and we stopped it. We have avoided other wars, but things are very bad now. Our prestige is falling to an all-time low. We find that our strength is being sapped. We find that our economy is not running as it should. We find that our education is second, our science is second, that America is going to the dogs."

Just let me say this: I say that as far as America is concerned certainly there are things that are wrong. There are things certainly that we can correct, but it isn't necessary to run America down in order to build her up - and certainly we are not going to do that.

And the kind of talk that I don't think helps America either at home or abroad is the kind of talk that my opponent engaged in while he was in upper New York a couple of weeks ago. I will quote exactly what he said, without notes. He said: "I am tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing. I am tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro is doing. I want to be able to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing."

Let me just say something. If he'd stop talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower has been doing.

Now, let's just keep the record straight. It's true he hasn't been doing some of the things that Mr. Kennedy has suggested. He didn't express regrets to Mr. Khrushchev for attempting to defend the security of the United States against surprise attack, and he didn't follow the advice that Mr. Kennedy and 12 other Senators would have given in 1955 of drawing a line which would have left out Quemoy and Matsu and which would have invited attack in that area. He didn't do that, and we can be thankful the President didn't do that. And, yes, I'll admit he hasn't been making the news the way Mr. Khrushchev has. He hasn't been making a fool of himself at the United Nations either, and I think we are all thankful for that. He hasn't been trying to muscle into the Congo unilaterally as has Mr. Khrushchev, but he has been working through the United Nations, as we should all be proud that he has and that America has, to protect the independence of this country and of all countries.

Now let me just say this: When we look at the record, it is one which we can all be proud of. It's one which we can build on, and it's one which we shall build on if you give us that opportunity.

And now we come to the next point. We have this record. We also have experience, of which the American people acknowledge. Both of us, Cabot Lodge and I, know Mr. Khrushchev. We know the Communists. We have sat opposite the table at the conferences with Mr. Khrushchev, and you know - the people know - how we will react to Mr. Khrushchev.

Now, there will be criticism of what we have said or done, and I have noted they have said all we have done has been debating with Mr. Khrushchev, but let me say this: I have no apology for standing up for the United States wherever Khrushchev was concerned when I visited the Soviet Union - and I think the American people wanted me to do exactly what I did when I was there. Knowing him as we do, then, we believe some things. We believe some things are necessary that America must do if we are to keep the peace, if we are to keep it without surrender and if we are to go beyond that - extend freedom throughout the world.

And now may we lock to the future. May we look at it in terms of the past and what we must do to build this future to which

Governor Rockefeller has referred and to which I shall also refer tonight.

Point 1. For the last 7½ years we have held the line against Communist aggression. We have not allowed the Communists to move, through military forces, into other parts of the world.

Now the point comes: Where do we go from here? My friends, it would be easy to say that all we have to do is to do what we have been doing, but that isn't enough. I say to you that, because of the threat that America faces today, America can't rest on her laurels. We can't say that what we have been doing militarily is enough and that we need to do no more than that. We can't say that what we have been doing economically is good enough and that we are not going to do any more than that. We can't say that what we have been doing in supporting the United Nations and building the instruments of freedom is enough and do no more than that, because now, after holding the line and stopping the growth of communism, it is time to launch an offensive for freedom throughout the world - and to do that we need to strengthen America everywhere up and down the line.

Now, what are the things we must do then? First, because Mr. Khrushchev is the kind of man he is, because he is a ruthless man who is determined to conquer the world by any means, if necessary, America must be the strongest nation in the world.

Let's get one thing straight. We are the strongest nation in the world today. Let's also understand, however, that it is going to be necessary for America to increase her strength, increase her strength because new developments are coming along that require even more expenditures than we've had in the past, increase her strength because we find that the Soviet Union is, of course, moving up its strength because of its desires of world conquest.

So, I say to you tonight that Cabot Lodge and I, working in this administration, will see that America maintains an absolute advantage militarily - and we are confident the American people will pay whatever is necessary to see that we are the strongest nation in the world and can be the guardians of peace in the years ahead.

Incidentally, I want to pay my respects to the tremendous contribution to our defense areas by many in this audience, by the people in this area, and also to our congressional delegation who have spoken to me often about that contribution. It shall continue, and we need this area to continue to build America's strength as you have in the past, to build it in the future as well.

Now I want to turn to another kind of strength. Military strength is necessary because America, as the guardian of peace, must be stronger than those who threaten the peace, but military strength means nothing at all unless you're also strong and firm at the diplomatic table.

Now what do I mean by that? I mean by that, that in our diplomacy we must again recognize the kind of men we're dealing with. They don't react like Mr. Macmillan and/or Mr. De Gaulle or Mr. Adenauer or Mr. Nehru, the leaders of the free world. These are men who break all the rules of the game. These are the men who respect only consistency, who respect only firmness, and, therefore, the policy of our administration, as has been the policy of President Eisenhower, will always be nonbelligerent. We're never going to lose our dignity by trading insults for insults with Mr. Khrushchev, but we will always stand firmly in the right as he stands firmly in the wrong, and that's the only way to keep the peace without surrender in the years ahead.

Now you know what we will do, because we have been tried. We have been tested. We have been through the fire of dealing with this man and his colleagues. What will our opponents do? Well, we've had a pretty good example in recent weeks and months. Let's look, for example, at what has developed on these two little islands that you have heard so much about, Quemoy and Matsu - small islands, very few people, only 50,000 on them, and yet these two islands have become a major symbol to the world, and a great issue in this campaign. Why? Because our opponent opened up the subject. Because, after a policy had been successful, and for 5 years, as a result of a congressional mandate, the President of the United States has had the power to use the military forces of this country to defend freedom in that area, including these islands, if he thought it was necessary, for the defense of our allies.

For 5 years that has avoided war or surrender in that area, and now comes a presidential campaign and Mr. Kennedy, shooting from the hip, talking off the top of his head, says we should change this policy and we should draw a line leaving these islands out.

Well, just let me say this: Before he talks about new frontiers and conquering them we had better not abandon the frontiers of freedom that we already have.

But some will say, "But didn't he say on 'Meet the Press' that he supported the President?"

Yes, but look - look what he says. He said on September 30: "I have always thought it was an unwise place to draw the line."

He thought the line should be drawn behind the islands so that they could be abandoned. And in our second TV debate, you may remember: "It has been my judgment ever since 1954" - when he voted that way - "that our line should be drawn in the sea around Formosa, not including these islands."

And then he said: "That we will defend Quemoy and Matsu under some conditions, but not under others, I think is a mistake."

And yet yesterday he said: "I agree with the President. I have never disagreed with that position."

And yet just 3 days before, he had completely disagreed with it, and he does not retract it. All that I can say is this: That at the present time the President's position is clear. My position is clear. As the President has said, certainly there is always the possibility that in certain contingencies, after taking account of all relevant facts, it may become necessary or appropriate for the defense of Formosa and the Pescadores to take measures to secure and protect the related positions of Quemoy and Matsu.

But what does Mr. Kennedy say? "I have always thought that was an unwise place to draw the line," September 30.

Whom are we to believe - the man who said that or the man who voted not to draw the line, as the President has drawn it there 5 years ago, or the man on October 16 who says he agrees with the President?

I say this is just straight doubletalk, and the American people have had enough of it and they don't want any more of it. They want him to come out and say - and I say again - I say again - the American people are entitled to have an answer to this question. It is a very simple one: Does he retract his statements in September and in our second TV debate indicating that he would draw a definite line that would leave out Quemoy and Matsu, a policy directly opposed to that of the President?

I call upon him to do this, and I'll tell you why. Because if such statements by a presidential candidate remain in the record, it is an express invitation for the Communists to blackmail us by threats of force all over the world.

All that I can say is: How can the American people have confidence in a man who shoots from the hip on matters like this, who acts first and acts fast, as he puts it? Twice he's made statements that would make us a sitting duck for the Communists to push us around - the regret statement on the U-2 flights, and then this statement to which I referred, and in which we would abandon Quemoy and Matsu at the gunpoint of the Communists. In both cases, I say that this kind of talking off the cuff, shooting from the hip, shows a very dangerous immaturity in world affairs.

Now think for a moment. Suppose he had made these mistakes if he had been President of the United States. The free world couldn't have afforded it. I say in the menacing situation we face today in the world, we cannot have, as America's leader, a man who makes mistakes of this magnitude, nor can we have a man who today says he thinks one way and tomorrow says the opposite, because firmness and consistency are essential if we are to avoid war or surrender in dealing with the Communists.

And then there is just one other point along the same line. You have heard a lot about the recognition of Communist China and admitting it to the U.N., and yesterday Mr. Kennedy indicated that he opposed its present admission to the U.N., and yet only 2 weeks ago, Mr. Stevenson, who is his top foreign policy adviser, or at least who is alleged to be one of them, said that he would consider favoring a deal under which we would trade admitting Communist China to the U.N. in favor of a guarantee of freedom for Formosa.

Now that's trading one horse for one rabbit, because Formosa is already free, and Communist China isn't in the U.N., and if we're elected, it won't get into the U.N. until it changes its policies with regard to --- I say to you tonight it isn't enough for a candidate for the Presidency to say that he personally opposes its admission. The people are entitled to know whether he agrees with his foreign policy adviser, and I again say that he should disavow this statement, because certainly it isn't possible and it isn't good for his foreign policy adviser to say one thing on a critical issue and for him to say another.

What I am really trying to say here is this: That in this critical period, my friends, the easy course, the one that I know might be appealing to some would be to say "There's an easy way to peace. We can have this concession or that one. If we talk a little differently toward Mr. Khrushchev, he will change his ways."

But, my friends, we have learned the hard way that when on deal with a dictator, whether it was Hitler or whether it was Stalin after him, or whether it was Mao Tse-tung after him, or whether it was Khrushchev today, whether it was Korea or Quemoy-Matsu, that the road to war or surrender is paved with weakness diplomatically and militarily and that's why I say that the American people must judge our opponent; they must judge us. We know what we're dealing with. We will keep America strong militarily, but we will also see that our diplomacy is strong so that we can keep the peace and keep it without surrender in the years ahead.

Now I have spoken of our military strength, of our diplomatic firmness. I would not want this evening to conclude without my mentioning another phase of this struggle, if only briefly, which will be decisive, because with the great military strength which we will have, with the diplomatic firmness which I know the American people will support, we will keep communism in check, but to extend freedom, to extend it to all the world without war, we need to mount a great offensive. It must be economic in character, but, above all, it must be ideological in character. It must be a moral and spiritual offensive of the highest quality if we are to win this struggle, and win it without war.

And what does this mean to America? It means that America must move forward economically. Mr. Khrushchev must not catch us, and he won't if we remain true to the great principles that have made America the richest and strongest country in the world today. Mr. Khrushchev will not catch us. He will not catch us provided we do everything that we can to develop to the full the human resources, the natural resources of this country, provided we see that every American has a chance, his equal chance, to make his contribution to America's greatness.

And here in this field I am proud to be running on the platform and standing on a program that will move America forward; and I say that America wants to move forward with us rather than go back to the policies that our opponent offers, and they are the policies we left behind in 1953, and we're not going to go back to those in 1960.

How do we extend freedom? There are those who will tell you that where the Communists and the dictators of all time are concerned, that moral strength and ideals mean very little to them. That's true, but they mean everything to people, to people on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Earlier today I appeared at the Polish Union Hall. I want to tell you what I told them. I have seen and I know the strength of moral and spiritual ideals. I know we're going to win. I know what we have to do to win, because I have seen it around the world, and I saw it most dramatically in Poland just a year ago. As we came into Warsaw on a Sunday afternoon, with no notice as to when we would arrive or where we were going to go, the word had gotten around through the underground. There were a quarter of a million people on the streets. You know what they were doing? They were cheering at the top of their voices, as you have cheered, shouting, "Niech Zyje America," Niech Zyje Eisenhower" - "Long live Eisenhower" and then, as the car stopped in the middle of the streets time and time again, because of the crowd surging around, they threw hundreds of bouquets of flowers into our car. I looked into their faces. Some of them were laughing and others - more, I would say - grown men and women, were crying, just tears streaming down their cheeks. Now why this tremendous display of emotion? Not because we were famous, because we were not to them. Not because America was rich - they knew that - or strong. They knew that. Khrushchev had been there 2 weeks before, and he bragged about that kind of strength. No; the reason a quarter of a million Poles on that Sunday afternoon were shouting and crying and expressing their feelings for America was because they knew that America stood for something more than Mr. Khrushchev stands, that we stand for ideals that caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago. What are they? Our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of men; our belief that all men and women, regardless of their background, have rights to equality of opportunity that no man can take away; our belief that every nation has the right to be independent, that all people have a right to be free; our history that we have always stood not only for our own rights and our own freedoms, but for the rights of others.

This is what America came into the world to preserve. This is what America's destiny it is to extend, and I say to you: It is this kind of greatness that will win this struggle, and it will come from you, because a leader can talk about greatness, but he can only lead as greatly as the people are great, and the ideals that America has, its moral and spiritual strength, must come from the churches; it must come from the schools; it must come from the homes; it must come from the hearts of the American people.

And, so, I say to you tonight, my friends, we are the strongest nation militarily. We're the strongest economically. We have the power to keep the peace. We have the power to avoid surrender, but we also have the greatest power that has ever been imagined in the world. We're on the right side, the side of freedom, the side of justice, against the forces of atheism and the forces of injustice, and we can lead America to victory, with your help.

That is our case, and I say to you: If you believe that Cabot Lodge and I are worthy of your trust to provide this leadership, that we will not let you down.

Thank you very much.

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