Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Remarks of the Vice President, West Gate Park, San Diego, CA

October 11, 1960

Now, if I might, I would like to give you a report as to how this campaign is going. A few days ago in Boston, the home State and the home city of our opponent, we had a big surprise. We didn't expect a big crowd in the streets, and yet a quarter of a million people turned out in the rain, in Boston, to welcome us on that occasion.

In Philadelphia, there were a half a million on the streets; in Cleveland, 275,000; today in Albuquerque - a record crowd there in the middle of the day; at Salt Lake City last night the same. All over the Nation - all over the Nation - we find crowds at record heights, and here in San Diego this tremendous outpouring of people.

Now, why? It would be easy for me to conclude that the reason is you simply want to see me as an individual, but I know that isn't the case. I know the reason you are here, the reason the crowds in this campaign throughout the Nation, north, east, west, and south, are bigger than they've ever been is that the American people know that this is one of the most important elections in history. They realize that the decision they make - the American people know, just as all of you here realize, that the decision you make - on November the 8th could be the most important decision you'll ever make in your life, and that is why people come out - Republicans, Democrats, and Independents - all Americans - trying to make an intelligent decision about this election.

And, so, the first question which comes to your mind and mine is this: How should you judge the two candidates for the Presidency, the two candidates for the Vice Presidency? What should your standard be?

Now, in this last television debate that I'm sure some of you must have heard, there was a discussion of that particular point. There was a discussion of that particular point, and you recall a difference of principle expressed. My opponent indicated, when the question was asked as to whether it should be the party or the man who should govern, he said the emphasis should be on the party. My answer then and my answer now is this: That the decision as to what leadership America and the free world should have in this year, 1960, is so important, so vital, that it isn't enough simply to vote as your grandfather and your father did. It isn't enough simply to vote according to the party label you wear and I happen to wear or my opponent wears. Our decision should not be on the basis of the party, but it should be solely on the basis of which man can best lead America - and let that be the decision in this campaign.

And that is the basis that I present the case to you as I have presented it to the North, the East, the West, and the South in this campaign. I say to the people: Judge me, judge my opponent, judge my colleague, my running mate, and his opponent on the basis of our experience, our background, our judgment, our qualifications to lead America, to lead the free world in this great critical period of our history.

And, so, then we turn to what are the issues of the campaign, and, of course, there are many, many on which we differ, but I can tell you that there is one issue which overrides all the rest. I can tell you that whether you're in Hawaii, in the far, far West, or in Maine, or as they call it, down East, whether you're in the South, in Atlanta, or up in the Northeast or the Northwest, that everywhere everybody realizes that the most important issue to be decided in this election is this: Which of the candidates for the Presidency can best keep the peace without surrender for America and the world?

Tonight I want to direct my remarks to that issue primarily, because all the rest pale into insignificance compared with it. We can have the best jobs and the best highways and the best health programs, the best schools, and it won't make any difference if we're not around to enjoy them.

So, therefore, let us see what America must do, what kind of leadership America must have if we're going to keep the peace and if we're going to keep it without surrender and if we are going to extend freedom throughout the world. These are the objectives to which I speak tonight.

Now, first, you must judge us by our records, and on the record it should be pointed out that my colleague and I for 7½ years have sat in the high councils of this administration, in the Cabinet, in the Security Council. We have discussed with the President and participated in the decisions on Quemoy and Matsu, Lebanon, the other great decisions that have been made in this past 7½ years. And, so, this record you must judge us by, and you must hold us accountable for it. And what is this record and how should the American people judge it? Well, let me say this: There has been a great deal of criticism of the record, and that is proper, if the criticism is responsible, but let me say this: That, as far as all the criticism is concerned, of the leadership of this administration in the field of foreign policy, it cannot obscure a fact for which all of the American people will be eternally grateful, and that is this: That under the leadership of President Eisenhower we got the Nation out of one war; we've kept it out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today.

And, so, there is the record in a nutshell. Do we stand there? No. We don't stand on it because a record is never something to stand on, but something to build on. We don't stand where we are because the threat to peace and freedom is so great and is increasing around the world, and, therefore, we must develop more strength than we have. We must develop firmer policies even than we have to keep this peace that we want and to extend freedom.

And, so, may I say in this connection that, as we consider the record and as we consider the future, we must also consider the criticisms of the present, and I realize that some of you have been reading the stories and the complaints to the effect that America has been slipping; America has been losing its prestige; it has reached an alltime low. We're not liked any more in the world, and it's because of the mistakes we've been making. In fact, it was all summed up the other day when my opponent made a speech in upper New York State in which he said this: He said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing. I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro is doing. I want to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing."

Let me say this: If he would quit talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower has been doing.

Now, I'll have to admit he hasn't been doing some of the things that Senator Kennedy wanted him to do. He didn't apologize or express regrets to Mr. Khrushchev at the Paris Conference.

And I can assure you that, under no circumstances, can any President of the United States ever apologize or express regrets for defending the security of the United States against surprise attack.

No, President Eisenhower hasn't been doing some other things that Mr. Khrushchev has been doing. He hasn't been making a fool of himself in the United Nations - and we can thank God for that.

He hasn't been trying to muscle into the Congo as Mr. Khrushchev has. No. He has done the less spectacular thing, but the right thing - and that is working through the United Nations, attempting to save the independence and freedom of this new state in Africa. This is what our President has been doing, and this is what America must continue to do - work for the cause of peace and freedom through the instruments of freedom, and this, I am sure, the American people have approved and will continue to approve in the future as far as our leadership is concerned.

But, so much for the past and the present. What experience, what background do my colleague and I offer for the future? Well, first of all, it would be inappropriate for me to refer to my own experience, but I can refer to my colleague's, and I'll say this: No man in the world today, I don't believe, has had more experience and no one could have done a better job in fighting for the cause of peace and freedom than our candidate for Vice President, Henry Cabot Lodge, our Ambassador to the United Nations.

And I can assure you that together we will work in this cause. We will work to strengthen the instruments of freedom like the United Nations; we will work to strengthen the instruments of peace like the Organization of American States; we will work together in standing firmly for the right throughout the world - and this is the kind of leadership we believe America wants.

May I say, too, we offer this: We have had this experience, but, in addition, we have had another kind of experience. We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We both have sat down across the conference table from him. We both have had the opportunity to know what kind of a man he is, that he is ruthless, that he does not follow the rules of the game that people in the free world would follow, that, therefore, you cannot conduct your foreign policy, you cannot conduct your diplomacy in the same way you conduct it in dealing with men like Mr. Adenauer and Mr. Nehru or Prime Minister de Gaulle or others you may have heard about. All of these things we know, because we know the man, and that means that with us you can be sure of one thing: There will be no woolly, fuzzy, softheaded thinking about Mr. Khrushchev in this next administration.

Why do I emphasize this? Because this is the way to keep the peace. This is the only way to keep the peace when you're dealing with a dictator. And, so, now, what programs must we support if we are to keep the peace? I begin with the most obvious, one that here in this great defense center of San Diego, all of you will approve and understand, and it is that America today is the strongest nation in the world, but I hasten to add - I hasten to add - that, while no one should downgrade our strength and that to do so is a disservice to America, while no one should downgrade it, it would be utter folly for us to stand pat on the present levels of strength in view of Mr. Khrushchev's conduct at the summit conference. So, what should we do?

And I want you to know the principles that I believe we must follow in this period ahead. There must be no dollar sign on what we are willing to spend to keep America the strongest nation in the world.

Second, as I indicated in our television debate, we must expect that our defense expenditures will be going up probably rather than going down in the period immediately ahead of us. That is because we will at all times be prepared to exploit technological breakthroughs. We cannot rely exclusively on an existing weapon, as the last administration relied on the manned bomber, when new weapons, such as ICBM's threaten to make them obsolete. For example, in this field, we have to develop, with all possible speed, the antimissile missile, and yet as we develop these new weapons, we must always beware of making the transition precipitously, because, until you have the new weapons systems, until they have been proven, until all the bugs, including those of operational suitability, are clearly gone, we've got to continue the older weapons in a high state of readiness.

And, so, what does this mean? It means we cannot abandon development of the manned bomber, the fighter, Simply because the missiles are dominating the technological advance, and this means cost, but America, I know, is ready to pay it, ready to pay it because we are the guardians of peace, and as the guardians of peace, we must be the strongest in the world, and we will continue to be that in the years ahead if we follow these guidelines that I have laid down.

But, in addition to this kind of strength, we also need small war capability, having in mind the fact that the advance by communism by the sword, whether the sword be represented by atomic missiles or infantrymen, armed with automatic weapons and modern battlefield equipment and airlift - in either case America must be prepared.

And, so, I say to you that, as we look at this program, I am confident the American people are willing to do what is necessary, even if it should mean more taxes in the future, to see that we maintain this strength; but may I say one other thing: We also are going to see that we get a dollar's worth for every dollar that we spend. We cannot tolerate duplication, and we will not allow petty interservice rivalry to bleed the sinews of strength of the United States.

This is what we must have.

And, so, first, then, America's military strength - first in the world. What else must we have? Our economy must move forward. It has been moving forward, may I say at the out set. I know the charge has been made that America has been standing still for the last 7½ years. My friends, whoever says that hasn't been traveling through America. He's been visiting some other country, I can assure you, because in these past 7½ years we have moved forward in the building of schools and hospitals and highways, in the development of our economy, far more than we moved in the 7 years which preceded it. And I say to you that we will move forward even more, and we must move forward even more, because we're in a race, a race in which we're challenged by ruthless men, men who are driving millions of people unmercifully as slaves, and America must move forward at maximum speed, and that is why we have advocated programs in science, in education, which will move the American economy forward.

And some of you may ask: "But, Mr. Nixon, how do your programs differ from those of your opponent? He says he wants America to move forward, too."

And my answer is simply this: Ours will work and his won't, and I prove it, first, by the record. He offers programs which are the same policies that we left in 1953, and we don't want to go back to what we left with Harry Truman in 1953.

Why will ours work where his won't? I'll tell you why. Because he says that the solution to all problems is to turn the matter over to the Federal Government, and then to work down to the people, and we say that the way to progress in America is not to lose faith in the individual, and that the way to progress is not to start with the Federal Government at the top, but start with the people and work up to the Federal Government, that this is the way to progress.

Of course, I recognize that our opponents say: "But, look, we're more for progress than Mr. Nixon and his party because we will spend more for progress. We'll spend more than they will in every field."

And, my friends, when we consider this, just remember this: Whose money will they be spending? After all, it isn't Jack's money. It's your money they're going to be spending.

And I say to you that where we have programs that will move America forward by tapping all the resources of this country, and will do it by spending less rather than by spending more, that Americans will support it, and your choice is clear here. They offer programs which will raise taxes, which will raise prices inevitably, in order to put them into effect, and we offer programs in this domestic field which will move America forward, but which will do so not simply by huge Federal spending, but by tapping the real strength of America, and that's the creative ability of 180 million free American citizens.

Now, we have military strength, economic strength. What else do we need in this critical period of the sixties? All the strength in the world, militarily and economically, will mean nothing at all in this struggle if we don't have the diplomacy, the wisdom, in the high councils of state, at the diplomatic conferences, at the heads of state conferences, which will keep the peace without surrender.

And in that connection, we have had just developing in the last 3 days an issue of the greatest magnitude. It involves a couple of little islands. Senator Kennedy refers to them as a couple of barren rocks in the Pacific. They're called Quemoy and Matsu. They're off the coast of Formosa. They are citadels of freedom at the present time, but the Chinese Communists want them, and they threaten them. And, so the question is, What should our answer be?

And Senator Kennedy has given his answer. He says: "We will draw a line. We will draw a line of defense which will leave these islands out. We will defend Formosa, but we will draw a line which will leave these islands out."

In other words, we will give these islands which presently are free to the Communists.

Now, why? Why does he say that? He says that for a number of reasons apparently.

First, because he says if we don't give them to them, we might have war.

Well, let me say he forgets the lessons of history very quickly. Ten years ago it was, only, when an American Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson, in the same situation, in a very similar situation, indicated that the peninsula of Korea was outside the defense zone of the United States, and all the old arguments were made. After all, Korea was militarily indefensible. It wasn't a place to fight a war. It wasn't worth fighting for. And, so, I suppose at that time and I'm sure Secretary Acheson and his colleagues thought that, because we indicated we weren't going to fight for Korea or defend it, because we left it out of the defense zone of the United States, we wouldn't get into a war over Korea; but hundreds of thousands of American boys learned differently. The Communist took Mr. Acheson at his word, and they came in, and we did become involved in a war.

So, I say to you tonight the way to avoid war, when you're dealing with a dictator, is not through surrendering these islands of freedom to him. That is the way that leads to war. It leads to surrender, and I say that we have had enough of retreat and defeat in 1953. We're not going back to that policy in 1960.

It is time, my friends, for us to realize that in these last 7½ years we have stopped the march of communism and now is the time not to move backward, but to move forward.

Oh, I know all of the old arguments that are made, the arguments that this island is indefensible - and, so, the same argument could be made about Berlin, Berlin completely surrounded by Communist forces, and yet do we say we are going to rule out the 2½ million free people in Berlin? No. My friends, if we are going to keep the peace, if we are going to keep it without surrender, let us remember we must stand for freedom every place in the world. Let us also remember this: That the history of dealing with dictators, whether it was Hitler or Stalin or Khrushchev, has always been that giving them what they want never satisfied them. It only whets their appetite. So, if you give them something now, then they will insist on more later. And then there comes a point where you can't give anymore, and then it means war. And I say we're not going to start down that path again, and I'm going to fight this particular issue out for the balance of this campaign.

Now, there's one thing we can be sure of: The Communists will take Mr. Kennedy at his word if he should succeed in November, and we'll be sure that they will take these islands beyond which he has already drawn a line. And, so, tonight again, as I did in the television debate, I call upon him in our next debate, day after tomorrow, to retract this very ill-considered statement, a rash statement. I call upon him to retract it before it's too late and let the American people, Democrats and Republicans alike, serve notice to the Communist aggressors around the world that we're not going to retreat 1 inch more any place in the world because, my friends, may I say this is a road to peace in dealing with a dictator and the other has always been a road to war, an easy road. It seems easy to give them what they want, and it seems to give us peace in our time, but it never works, and it will never work in the future, and that is why we must face up to this and other problems in the way that I have indicated tonight.

So, now we have analyzed those things which America must do in this critical period to keep the peace. We must be militarily strong, and that means increase our strength. Our economy must move forward, and that means develop our economic growth even at a faster pace than we're presently moving. We must see that our diplomacy is firm, without being belligerent. We must see that we always strengthen the instruments of peace, always willing to go the extra mile to negotiate, but never being willing to surrender freedom any place in the world. In addition to all this, my friends, we need to mount a grand offensive, an offensive for the minds and the hearts and the souls of men.

Why do I emphasize this? I emphasize this because this strength, the moral and spiritual strength of America, is more important than everything else I have said tonight.

Why do I say this? Because I know. I have seen it around the world. I have seen it in the eyes of thousands of people in Asia and in Africa and in Latin America. I have seen it in the faces of 250,000 people on the streets of Poland, in Warsaw, on a Sunday afternoon. I have seen them there on a day when we were not expected on that particular day, at that particular time, and yet a quarter of a million people greeting us, shouting, as you have been tonight, at the top of their voices, "Niech Zyje America" - "Long live America" - and then, as the car stopped in the middle of the streets, I looked in their faces, and over half of them, grown men and women, crying, with tears running down their cheeks. Why? Not because America was strong militarily, as we are, and not because we were strong economically, as we are, but because America stands for something more than this simple gross materialism of the Communist nation. We stand for ideals, and this we must let the world know.

What are those ideals? Our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of all men; our belief that the rights that men have to be free

come not from men, but they come from God and cannot be taken away by men; our belief that every nation has a right to be independent, that all people have a right to be free.

These things we Americans believe. These are the things we came into the world to preserve, and these principles it is our destiny to extend to all the world. It is this battle that we, Cabot Lodge and I, ask for your permission to fight, to fight it throughout the world, to win victory without war - and we ask you for it tonight.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks of the Vice President, West Gate Park, San Diego, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project