Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of Speech by the Vice President, Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

October 03, 1960

I realize that in this great audience are many Democrats as well as many Republicans, that listening on television and radio are members of both parties, but I would say that all people believe that the people of this country want a choice. They need a choice, and I'm glad that my party offers a fine choice for Governor, for Congress, and for the other offices in this State.

If you in this hall would forgive me for a moment while I speak to the television audience, this broadcast is being carried in South Carolina. We originally were scheduled to meet with you today as well, but because of the heavy commitments here we found that we couldn't do justice to South Carolina. But we'll be there because we intend to carry both North and South Carolina this year.

Now, I'm sure that many of the political pundits will say, "That's a pretty rash statement. How can that Vice President even stand up here and say he has even a chance in North and South Carolina, two States in which there are heavy Democratic majorities as far as Democratic registration is concerned?"

And I'll tell you why I think we have a chance. Because of great audiences like this. Because of the great audience I saw in Greensboro earlier in August. Because as I have traveled throughout the States, I have found a tremendous interest in those States where there are heavy Democratic registrations in our cause. I remember Memphis just a few days ago - 30,000 people standing in the rain at noontime. Why? Why this crowd? Why the crowd at Greensboro? Why the crowd at Memphis? Why at Atlanta? Why in other areas that are heavily Democratic?

I'll tell you why. I think it's because the people of this country, Democrat and Republican alike, recognize a very solid fact, and I will get at it by pointing out what my opponent believes and what I believe. He was quoted in the paper to the effect that the American people should vote their party in an election campaign. I say to you, whether you are Republicans or Democrats, that when we elect a President of the United States it isn't the party but America that comes first - and that's what the Americans are going to vote for this year.

I say to all of those listening to me: Whether you are of my party or the other party, listen to me, listen to my opponent, and think of the country first, because America can afford nothing but the best leadership, the best leadership in either party, and I submit my case to you on that ground and I suggest that you consider what I have to say, my record, and also my program in terms of that rather than in terms of the label that I wear.

We must get beneath the label. We must get at what the men stand for. This is the least that America demands from her voters this year, and this is why Democrats by the millions are going to vote for our ticket and not the other ticket in the election this November.

I realize that that raises a problem. Some of my Democratic friends might say, "Now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon, How can we be loyal to our party and vote for somebody who is a member of the other party?"

My answer is: That decision was made for you. It was made for you in my home State of California, in the city of Los Angeles, and there I say that the leaders of the Democratic Party, by the platform they adopted, forfeited the right to ask loyalty from true Democrats in this country today.

And so you say, "What is the difference then?"

As a matter of fact, when I was in Richmond, at a great throng at noon today, I was asked that question just before I spoke. The line was that there was no choice between the two platforms, that some of the orators on the other side were saying it's tweedledum and tweedledee; there's really nothing to choose. So, you might as well stay with your party.

Well, my friends, I suggest that you read the platforms. I suggest that you listen to the speeches, and then I suggest that you make up your minds.

I don't mean there aren't instances in which you may not like our platform as well as not like the other platform. As I have indicated on my previous visit to this State, I realize that on the issue of civil rights there are many people in this State, in the South, who do not like our provisions, as they do not like the provisions in the Democratic platform as well. I have stated my convictions on that issue. They are well known. I state them again tonight, not for the purpose of indicating that we are here to preach to the people of the South, because I say, having attended school here for 3 years, I recognize that this is not just a southern problem: it's a northern problem and an eastern problem and a western problem, and we've all got to solve it together. But, my friends, I will have only this to say about this issue: I have my convictions, you have yours, but together we must move forward to solve it. Move forward to solve it - why? Well, one great reason is this: We must not continue to have a situation exist where Mr. Khrushchev, a man who has enslaved millions, a man who has slaughtered thousands, is able to come to the United States of America, as he did a couple of days ago, and point the finger at us and say that we are denying rights to our people - and I say that we can and will move together in solving this problem. With your assistance and with men of good will working together, it can be solved.

That is my feeling about it, and I know it is yours as well in this part of the country.

But here again let's turn then to other issues. Where do the platforms disagree? What is the choice that the people of this part of the country and of all parts of the country have? My friends, if you read what they say, if you read what we say, you will see that it is not their position, not their platform that stands with the great principles of Jefferson and Jackson and Wilson, and the people in this part of the country know it.

What are the differences? We stand for progress for America. We stand for better schools and better housing, for an improvement in the standards for education. We stand for better jobs for our people. We stand for increased benefits under social security. We stand for a better life for Americans.

Our opponents say they stand for the same things. What is the difference then? The difference is, we can produce and they won't - and I will prove that by the record in a moment.

The difference also lies in our philosophy. They say that in order to get all these things, these good ends that Americans want, that the way to do it is to turn first to Washington, run up to Washington, and say to the Federal government: "We turn over to you our opportunities and our decision making powers. We want Washington to solve these problems. We want Washington to spend our money."

This is the way they say to do it, and we say that's the wrong place to start. We say that when you want progress in America, the place to start is not to start with what Washington does, but to start with what people do and then work up to Washington, with Washington filling what people cannot do.

We say that history tells the American people that the way to progress is not through weakening individual responsibility but strengthening it. We say that history tells the American people that the way to progress is not to weaken the States and their responsibility, but to strengthen them. We stand for strengthening the rights of the States and they stand for weakening them, and I submit to you that ours is the position that you support and not theirs on this issue as well.

But now, of course, I realize that the listener might well say: "Just a minute, Mr. Nixon. All of this is a lot of good philosophy - States rights, what the Federal government out to do, what the individual ought to do but I'm a person, an individual, concerned about my job, concerned about schools for my children, concerned about health in my old age, concerned about my social security. Who's going to do the best job for me?"

And I say we welcome that test, and first we say, "Look at the record." You know, we have a perfect record to compare here. Fifteen years have elapsed since World War II. For 7½ years we had the other philosophy in effect under Mr. Truman and for 7½ years we've had our philosophy under President Eisenhower, and on every test that you make, my friends, we have done a good job and they've only talked a good job for the American people.

To all of you listening, I say: Consider your situation; consider your jobs, for example. You will find in the 7 Eisenhower years that your wages have gone up 15 percent, whereas the increase in the real wages in the 7 Truman years was only 2 percent. You will find that we have built more schools in this period than in the previous 20 years. You will find that there have been more hospitals built in this period than in the previous administration, more highways, more progress in every way.

And that's what they pay off on. The test of whether government is good for you is not how much is done by Washington. It's how much the whole American people are allowed to do for themselves, and that is what has happened under our leadership.

And so on all these issues we welcome the test. We say that in the field of education we are proud that we stand for a program that will build more schools, that will raise the levels of our teachers' salaries, but which rejects the program that they have that would endanger the right of the States to control education and that would, in effect, give to the Federal government the power not only to pay teachers, but to tell them what to teach - and that must never happen in the United States of America.

We say that the answer to the problem of health care for our old people is our way and not theirs.

Why? Because ours is a program which leaves to the individual the choice, the choice of what he wants in the way of protection. Theirs is the one that compels people to have coverage whether they want it or not, and we say that all Americans of this age should have the right to have insurance who want it, that none of them, however, should be compelled to have it against their will. Ours is the right way. Theirs is the wrong way again, and we believe the American people know this and they prefer ours to theirs.

We believe in the field of agriculture that we have a program which means abundance; we have a program that will increase markets; we have a program that will remove surpluses. Theirs is a program of scarcity. Theirs is the one that will reduce acreage. Theirs is one certainly which, when the farmers of America consider it, they will reject it, not to speak of the consumers, whose prices would be raised by their own admission, by the program that they adopt, and here again, I say, test our programs; test our platform; and you will find ours is the one that will bring progress to America and theirs is the one that will bring stagnation to the great growth that this country has experienced.

And so in all these areas we welcome the test - the test of the record, the test of our program.

There is one other you should submit us to. I know the people have spoken to me and they have said, "Now, Mr. Nixon, you say that you stand for more progress than your opponent does. You stand for more progress in schools and health and education and welfare." They say, "How can you say this when he says he is going to spend more money for each of these programs than you do?"

And let me tell you, my friends, that's correct. He is going to spend more money, billions of dollars more for his programs than I believe should be spent under ours; but then I ask you a question: Whose money is he spending? It isn't Jack's money, but your money that he's spending - and that makes a big difference.

And I refuse to go around this country trying to buy the people's votes with their own money.

I say that if a program can do a better job for less of the people's money so that you can have more to spend, that's what the people want, and that's what we're going to give them, and that's what they're going to vote for on November 8.

And, so, in all of these fields I say ours are programs that will produce on the glowing promises that they make, and we are proud of our record; we're proud of our program; we're proud of the support you have given it.

Take, for example, a matter very close to the hearts of those in the Carolinas, which produce so much of our textiles. I have met at length with some of your leaders today. I have issued a statement which I ask all of you to study. It is one in which I have very strong feelings. I don't believe that our national trade policy must mean marking certain industries as expendable, and certainly the textile industry of this part of the country or of America is not expendable, and we have a program that will see that it is not expendable.

And I submit to you that the program of our opponents, their so-called trade adjustment plan, would be designed to put this

industry, like cotton textiles, on a dole, or it would adjust it out of the textile business, and we don't intend to do that.

But now may I turn finally to another issue. We have been talking about jobs and schools and housing and textiles, all of these things in which we're vitally interested. I now want to talk to you about something even more important, and that's being around to enjoy the good life we're going to produce by these programs.

My friends, the major test to which you must put the two candidates for the Presidency, the major test, is in the field of

foreign affairs. Which of the candidates can best keep the peace without surrender for America and the world?

And I say to you that on that issue we are proud of our record.

Oh, it's been criticized, but all the criticism in the world cannot obscure the fact that the American people will be eternally

grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for getting this nation out of one war, keeping us out of others, and bringing peace without surrender today.

And I submit to you today that we will keep America strong militarily so that we will always be able to guard the peace, that we will keep this Nation strong economically so that we will always be ahead in the economic race that we will keep the moral and spiritual fiber of America strong, because that is the most decisive, the most important of all, and I pledge to you that in the field of diplomacy we will see to it that America is always firm, but never belligerent, always willing to negotiate and go the extra mile, but always standing on principle for our friends and for ourselves whenever that principle is threatened by the enemies of freedom or peace throughout the world. These things we will stand for.

But I know some of you may have noted the criticism that Senator Kennedy made of our policies a couple of days ago. He said he was tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev was doing; he was tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro was doing. He said he wanted to read in the paper some day what the President of the United States was doing. Well, my friends, if he would quit talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower has been doing.

Now, I say: No; he isn't pounding the table. He isn't making a fool of himself. He isn't apologizing or expressing regrets for defending this country against surprise attack either.

And, so, tonight I challenge my opponent. I say for him to tell the people of this country wherein he disagrees with his platform, if he does, as some have implied. I suggest that he perhaps indicate to the country whether he goes further than he did in our debate, when he apparently had forgotten the platform pledge about debt reduction. I think he ought to really write that one in. That was one of the few good things in that platform, incidentally.

But, above all, I say to this great audience tonight: Nothing could have been more inspirational to Pat and to me than to come into this State, in which I spent three of the most instructive and pleasant years of my life, to receive such a wonderful welcome, and I can only say that we trust in the months ahead we can be worthy of your trust, that we can keep the ideals of America high in this campaign, and with your support in this election we will always see that American ideals stand before the world - faith in God, belief in the dignity of all men; the right of all nations to be independent; the right of all peoples to be free. We will always remember that this is what makes America strong, and these things, with your help, we will carry to all the world. Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Speech by the Vice President, Coliseum, Charlotte, NC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project