Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Remarks of the Vice President, Winfield Scott Hotel, Elizabeth, NJ

October 04, 1960

Now, in these brief stops that we make, and they have to be brief because we can't block traffic for too long a period, we, of course, can't discuss all of the matters that everybody is interested in. So, it is always the problem of whoever is the candidate to select those things that really most people are concerned about, and I would like to talk to you today on just three or four points that I think all of you ought to have in mind, as you consider the candidates, and as you work for the candidates between now and November the 8th.

The first point is this: I think it's vitally important that when we elect a President of the United States that we have in mind that it isn't enough simply to vote a party label.

It would be very easy for me to say to simply a Republican group: Vote Republican because I'm a Republican. But when we elect a President of the United States particularly in these times, we have got to remember that whoever is President is going to have to lead America. He's going to have to see that we have progress. he's going to have to see that we, in addition to that, lead the free world.

And the decisions he makes will determine perhaps the course of freedom. It may determine whether we have war or peace in these critical years ahead.

I think all of you will agree, then, that the test has got to be different than simply a party label.

Senator Kennedy said a couple of days ago in Minneapolis that the important thing was to vote for the party, his party, of course. I say to you today that the important thing is not the party, but the country, and I ask you to vote for whatever is best for America.

So, judge the candidates on the basis not of the labels they wear, but what's behind them. What experience do they have? What do they stand for? What kind of leadership will they give? And it's to that point I would like to talk now.

You know, it's the custom when presidential candidates travel through a country, a custom which is often cartooned about and editorialized about and written about a great deal, to see who can outpromise the other. One fellow comes in and says, "I promise you this," and the next one comes in and says "I raise you," and the third one comes in and says "I call you." But whatever the case may be, we're not talking now about a poker game. We're talking about what's best for the country. I don't tell this audience here that I will outpromise my opponent, and I'll tell you why: When I promise you this or that or the other thing, I've got to remember something that you are also aware of. Those promises have to be paid for, and who pays for them?

Well, it isn't my money, and it isn't Jack's money, but it's yours: and therefore, I say that not one dollar should be spent that doesn't need to be spent in Washington, and every dollar should be spent that needs to be spent.

But I say to come before a group of Americans and to talk loosely and glibly about what we're going to do about this and that and the other thing without regard to whether it raises your taxes, whether it raises your prices, whether it raises your food costs, I say this is something I cannot and will not do.

It would be much easier to do it the other way, but, my friends, again what is at stake here is the future of America, and we need to be sure that this country progresses soundly, that this country progresses in the way that it has always progressed, and you know how that has been? Not by the fact that the Federal Government takes over every responsibility, weakening the States, weakening the individuals. We've always had the greatest progress in this country when the Federal Government and the other governments adopted policies that stimulated the incentives and the creative energies of 180 million free Americans - and that's what we stand for today.

And, so I want to make clear where we do stand. I favor programs, programs that are constructive, programs that will work, programs that will produce progress; more schools, a breakthrough in science, a breakthrough in medical care and medical research, progress in terms of better jobs for the American people, raising the minimum standards as far as our minimum wage, and our unemployment coverage is concerned. All of these things I stand for, but I want to make one thing clear: As far as the cost of my programs are concerned, they are billions less than what my opponent's would cost.

And let me point out one other thing - one other thing: Some people say, "Well, now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon, if his programs cost more than yours do, doesn't that prove that they're better?"

And my answer is: No. Remember, it's your money, and, after all, if we can do what needs to be done, what will produce the progress, what will defend this country with a program which is effective, which costs less, that's what you want, because every time we save a dollar in Washington on the Federal budget, it means another dollar for the people of America to meet the family budget.

And that brings me to a third point. I grew up in a grocery store. I know something about the prices that housewives worry about and think about as they go in. I remember in the years that I was growing up I could tell those shoppers among the housewives that were going to be able to meet the family budget, have enough left over at the end of the month to buy the shoes and the other things that meant just getting along in those periods of the thirties and I remember women, for example, coming in buying stew meat instead of the pot roast that looked a lot better, hamburger rather than the steak that was a little higher, no strawberries out of season, for example, all these things. It didn't seem like much, for example, but when it was added up at the end it was terribly important, and every woman here knows how important that is. Now, I want to talk about something I am going to elaborate on tonight. And this gets back to promises.

You have heard about the farm program, and I suppose the audience here would say, "Why in the world does anybody mention the farm program in New Jersey? We haven't seen a cow except on a billboard. Why do we worry about the farm program?" I'll tell you why. Because the farm program that is adopted by this next administration can affect the food prices of everything you buy in the stores. I have a farm program. It's one that is designed to (1) keep farm income up and to see that our farmers get a better break, as they deserve it, a fair share of America's increasing prosperity, but it's a program based on plenty rather than scarcity. It's one that will work rather than one that won't, and my opponent has a program. It is a program which will put the American farmers, from their standpoint, at the mercy of the Government bureaucrats, which will tell them what they can grow, how much and what they can sell it for.

Now, what's all this got to do with you? It will raise food prices 25 percent - I mean 25 percent - milk, for example, bread, everything up and down the line.

And so, I say: Consider this. Consider if you think that kind of promising is what the American people are prepared to pay for.

I don't think they are, because, what's more, that kind of program won't help the farmer in the long run. It will hurt him, and it won't certainly help the consumer. It will hurt you. And I say what America needs today and what they stand for is a President who does not go around the country saying "I'm 100 percent for this group or that group, and I'll make this promise and that promise and that promise. We've got to have somebody in the White House who remembers that he can belong not to any one group in this country. He's got to belong to all the American people and stand for them.

Now, of course, you might say, "Well, now, just a moment. How about this, though?" We really want better schools and housing and jobs. Who's going to produce them? And my answer is: You look at the record. Compare our record with the Truman administration which preceded it, and in every instance we built more schools, we built more hospitals, we found real income going up, we found prices held down, better in this administration than in the previous one - and it's that kind of performance I'm talking about, not the kind of promises you hear about.

Now, the last point I want to make is the most important of all: What could be more important than keeping the family budget? What could be more important than a good job? What could be more important than better schools?

Being around to enjoy them.

And that means that the most important test to which you must put both Senator Kennedy and myself is this: Which of the two candidates, by experience, by judgment, by background, by program, can provide the leadership that will keep the peace for America and the world without surrender, and this is what we stand for and what we believe we can do.

I don't tell you it's an easy thing, because it isn't. It's going to be hard. I know Mr. Khrushchev. I know that he's a man you cannot assume will react like the leaders of the free world, Mr. Nehru, Mr. Adenauer, Mr. Eisenhower, and Mr. Macmillan. I know this man is ruthless, fanatical. He is determined to conquer the world. He will use any means. He will break all the rules, and we need somebody to deal with him who knows what kind of a fellow that he is and who will be firm, give him no concessions, and firm without being belligerent - and that's what I'm going to be doing.

Why is this necessary?

I would like to tell you that, for example, as Senator Kennedy suggested, that if President Eisenhower, after the Paris conference, had gone to Mr. Khrushchev and said, "Look, Mr. Khrushchev, I regret that this U-2 flight took place," that maybe that would have saved the conference, because that might have been the reaction of a free world leader. He would say, "what a decent thing for President Eisenhower to do. He regretted this thing happened just before this conference. Therefore, I'm going to go forward with it."

But, my friends, that would have been the wrong thing to do with Mr. Khrushchev. Why? He would have had nothing but contempt for the President because whenever you make a concession to a Communist without getting one in return, it doesn't satisfy him. It only whets his appetite, and I can say we can be thankful that we've had a President who has stood up on this matter, that has stood up and has refused to apologize or express regrets.

What can we do? We can keep this country strong, and we must. We must never have the American President be in a position where Khrushchev or anybody else can say: "I'm stronger than you are," and I pledge to you that we will do this, and I pledge to you that whatever the American people will need to do will be asked to do to maintain this strength.

We'll keep the economy of this country strong and sound and productive and free. We will have our diplomacy firm, but without belligerence. We will strengthen the instruments of peace, strengthen them by strengthening the United Nations and the Organization of American States, always going the extra mile to attempt to work out these differences, but remembering that there isn't any easy way, that, we've got to expect rough seas, and the question is not whether you have trouble in dealing with the Communists. They're going to make trouble. The question is how you react to them, how you handle them, whether you lose your head, whether you're rash or immature or whether you have the judgment and the toughness to be able to sail the rough seas as well as the smooth ones.

And then the final point that I make and then I am through, because this involves you. People often say to me, "Mr. Nixon, what can I do? What can I do in this cause of peace and freedom?"

And I'll tell you what you can do. You can help strengthen the hand of the United States and the President of the United States in the most important field of all. You know what it is? It isn't our military strength - that's important - and it isn't our economic productivity - that's important - but it's the moral and spiritual strength of this country, its ideals.

Let me tell you why it's important in a nutshell.

When I was in Poland with Pat a year ago, we arrived on a Sunday afternoon. Now, get the picture. No indication as to when we would arrive. No indication as to where we were going to drive, as there was today, and yet a quarter of a million people on the streets, cheering, shouting, throwing flowers into our car. The car was stopped at least eight times in the heart of Warsaw and the people surged around, and I looked into their faces. Some of them were laughing and smiling. Half of them, grown men and women, were crying, with tears running down their cheeks, behind the Iron Curtain. Why? Not because we were famous, because we weren't, not to them. Not because America was strong militarily and economically, because Khrushchev had been there 2 weeks before bragging of that kind of strength. They hadn't done this for him. No, because America stood for ideals that caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago. What are they? Oh, they sound like nothing, I know, but the materialists and the militarists have always underestimated the power of ideals, ideals like - what? Our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of men; our belief that all men, regardless of their background, have a right to have equality of opportunity for education and employment. Our belief, too, ill the right of all nations to be independent, of people to be free.

These things we believe. These things America came into the world to live for, to preserve, and not just to keep for ourselves, but to extend them to all mankind.

And this is what you can help us do. This is what you can help us do.

I say you can help us do, because this kind of strength, my friends, can't just come from a President. He can talk about it. He can believe it, as I believe it, but it must come from the churches, from the schools, from the homes of America, and these young people here, I say: Make them proud of their country. Make them aware of what this country stands for - not just a rich country; not just a strong country, but a country that will always live and that will win. Why? Because we believe in the right things. Oh, they call it patriotism. You can call it flag waving. Well, if it's patriotism and flag waving, that's what we need. We need dedication in this country to the principles that have made America great.

And, so, with that I thank you for giving me a bit of your time on this delightful afternoon, and I say to you: As we go into this campaign, again, remember: The test is not what the party label is. The test is, what leadership does America need?

And if you feel that I and my colleague, Cabot Lodge, can provide the leadership that America needs, I can only say this: We know the men with whom we have to deal. We believe in this country's ideals. We have faith in them, and we will never let you down.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Remarks of the Vice President, Winfield Scott Hotel, Elizabeth, NJ Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project