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Partial Transcript of Speech by the Vice President, National Guard Armory, Rockford, IL

September 22, 1960

There is much that I would like to say in the time that is allotted, and there are many issues that I would like to discuss, but I think all of them pale into really insignificance, at least on this particular day in view of the fact that this is such a proud day for the United States and the American people, and I say a proud day because again we have seen America at its best represented by President Eisenhower at the United Nations in New York.

And for those who feared that Mr. Khrushchev's coming to the United Nations might serve to rattle us or to divide us or to show us off to disadvantage, I can only say that when Mr. Khrushchev's speech is compared with President Eisenhower's after he makes it, the world will know the man who is sincere and the man who is not sincere in working for the great ends of peace and freedom for all the people of the world.

And President Eisenhower, I say tonight, certainly deserves the thanks of the American people for not only what he has done again at the United Nations, but for the record he has made.

I am proud of that record. I am part of it. I helped to make it. In speaking of it, may I say that in thinking of it certainly there are these things we will always remember:

The American people will be thankful that President Eisenhower restored dignity and integrity and honesty to the conduct of Government in the highest office of this land.

They will be thankful, in addition, that under his leadership America has known the greatest prosperity and the greatest progress of any 8-year period in our Nation's history.

And they are also going to be thankful - and for this most of all, I am sure - for the fact that under his leadership we ended one war, we kept the United States out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today for the United States and the friends of peace throughout the world.

In presenting our case to you tonight, I say to you that our foremost pledge is that we will continue policies that will keep the peace; we will strengthen the peace, and we will strengthen those policies that will not only hold the line for freedom, but we will extend freedom throughout the world.

For these things we stand and these things we believe, we offer to the American people the qualifications, the program that they will and should support.

Let me discuss it in just a few minutes. First of all, we intend to keep this country as she is today, the strongest nation militarily in the world and the American people, we know, will be willing to pay what is necessary to see that we never fall behind in this area. This is the first element in keeping the peace, and the first element because, when we are dealing with a man like Mr. Khrushchev and the Communist leaders generally, we must never forget that they have different aims in the world than we do.

We do not want to conquer the world. We do not want to use our military power against anybody else. We only want to defend our own freedom and the freedom of others.

But his aims are different. He says that he wants to conquer the world. He says that he would prefer to accomplish that objective without war - and we hope that he continues to hold to this line; but, in any event, as long as he maintains the military strength he does, the United States must be sure that we are always ahead of him so that he will never be tempted by miscalculation or otherwise to launch a strike against us or any other free nation in the world.

My friends, with this military strength must also go a firm and strong diplomatic policy, a diplomatic policy that will use this strength wisely, not use it in anger, but use it wisely and use it for the very purpose for which it was intended - to keep the peace - and not to use it as an instrument of war.

In that respect, may I say again, as we think of the President's work on behalf of this country, particularly tonight, that we have an example of how strength should be used by a President of the United States in the President's conduct at the Paris Conference, which Mr. Khrushchev broke up. I have often referred to this - and I refer to it again - because it is an excellent lesson for whoever may be the leader of this country. The President was confronted with a dilemma. Mr. Khrushchev said he was breaking up this Conference because of the U-2 flights which the President and ordered for the purpose of protecting the United States against surprise attack and getting information which might protect us against that eventuality, and when he broke up the Conference there were those who criticized President Eisenhower on two grounds. They said, first, that the President should have answered Mr. Khrushchev in the way that Mr. Khrushchev attacked him. Why should he not have done this and why was the President right in doing what he did?

There are two reasons: (1) When you're confident of your strength, as we are and (2) when you know you're right, as we do, and are standing for the right, you don't answer insult for insult. You keep the dignity of your office and the dignity of the people that you represent, as President Eisenhower did after that Conference.

In addition to that, whoever is President of this country must always remember that he can never have the luxury of losing his temper.

It isn't easy to hold your temper when you're talking to a man like Mr. Khrushchev. I know. I can assure you, however, that is the only conduct which is responsible. Firm? Yes. Stand for principle? Yes. But never engage in a war of words that might heat up the international atmosphere and run the risk of a nuclear explosion

And, so, we see this side of the President's conduct, which I think most of us would support.

There are other critics, however, who looked at it a little differently. They said it wasn't a question of the President not answering, but a question of him not doing more than he did to try to save the Conference. They thought that possibly he might have acceded to Mr. Khrushchev's request that he apologize or express regrets for those flights in order to save the Conference.

I want to tell you why he couldn't do that. First of all, it would have shown a very naive lack of judgment with regard to the kind of man we are dealing with here because, you see, he is not and does not react like the leaders of the free world. He is a man who understands strength, who respects it, and when you make a concession to him, which he does not expect and which he does not deserve, it does not make him treat you better. All that he does is to treat you worse. What he does is to insist oil another concession and another one until he drives you into a corner. So, that would have been wrong on that score for the President to have acceded to his request, which was not justified.

Then there was another reason why the President couldn't do that, why no President could do that. No President, Democrat or Republican, can consider apologizing or expressing regret for doing what is right for defending the United States of America against surprise attack.

So, in this area of diplomacy, the United States, I say, has followed the proper course, and we must continue to follow the firm course, but without belligerency, that the President has laid down, and this also I pledge to you on this occasion.

Now, there are those who say, "Now, Mr. Nixon, we agree that the record of this administration in the field of foreign policy, while it has some deficiencies, has been one that in results has ended in peace without surrender." But in the economic field there are those who say it is a different story. In this area they claim the other side has all the chips on their side of the table. They say, for example, that in the economic side they are the ones who advocate growth and progress for our economy and that under our leadership in the past 7½ years America has stood still.

And, so, I want to answer that tonight, and I want to set the record straight, because, my friends, they are wrong here just as the critics of the President in the field of foreign policy were wrong. They are wrong because, as far as their economic philosophy is concerned and as far as the way they see economic conditions in this field are concerned, they're engaging again in the strategy of talking down America's strength in every field apparently that they can think of. Listening to them, those who criticize our economy, you wouldn't realize or you wouldn't dream of what the truth is - and the truth we should emphasize particularly while Mr. Khrushchev is here.

The simple truth is that America is the strongest, most productive, richest country in the world today - and this we must repeat over and over again.

The truth is that we have over a $500 billion economy, with more than 68 million Americans at work, more than ever in history, and they're earning more. They're spending more. They're saving more. They're investing more. They're building more than ever before in history. That isn't standing still. That's moving forward.

Now, there are areas in our economy, and in parts of our country, that haven't shared in the general good times. One of those areas is in the particular parts of the farm belt and I'm going to discuss that in a speech tomorrow in South Dakota. But let me say this: Contrary to the impression that's been left by some of my opponent's remarks and by some of his colleagues, I want to say, as I travel about this country - north, east, west and south - I'm very happy to say I don't find America to be one vast depressed area, and neither would our opponents find it that way if they looked for our national strength rather than being apparently obsessed with finding weaknesses in America as they travel about the country.

Some of you may ask the question: "What about the charge that the Soviet economy is growing faster than ours?"

Well, I know about this charge. Mr. Khrushchev made that charge and also that threat to me, in effect. He said, "We're moving faster than you are, Mr. Vice President. We're going to pass you by and when we go by you we are going to say, 'Come along; follow us and do as we do or you're going to fall hopelessly behind in this race between our two economies.'"

Incidentally, one amusing sidelight to that: There was a story in Poland when I went there that one of those who signed the visitors' exhibition book at the American Exhibition in Moscow said, "Dear Mr. Khrushchev when you go by the United States, please let me off."

Let's look at this charge that the Soviet economy is growing faster than ours. When an economy is, as theirs is, in an early stage of development, percentage gains are very easy to attain; but we find that our own economy, when we were in approximately that stage of development in 1880 to 1920, showed a similar rate of growth. The American economy today, however, is producing at more than twice the rate of the Soviet economy.

And let's get this one thing straight, just as I told him in the Soviet Union: The American economy is ahead of his today, and if we continue to accent the real forces making for growth we can continue to stay ahead, and that's what we intend to do in the leadership of this America.

But here again I've been talking about comparing our rate of growth with that of the Soviet Union. I've been talking about figures of a $500 billion gross national product. What about the average worker? What about the average family? What about the charge that my opponent made the other day in Detroit to the effect that - and, incidentally, he must have done this with mirrors - that with a higher annual average growth rate than that which we had in the Eisenhower administration every working man would have received 7,000 more dollars than he did receive.

That's a pretty good claim - and if that's true, incidentally, believe me, we oughtn't to win because we would have a pretty poor record to shoot at and they would have an awfully good promise to point to - but that's all it is. It is a promise. They couldn't possibly fulfill it.

May I say, in that connection, while they were saying every working man could have had $7,000, they might have said $10,000 or $15,000. It would have made just as much sense, and that is no sense at all.

Let me put it another way: You know what the real facts are? Let's take family income. All of us have families here. Do you know as far as that family income is concerned in the 7 Truman years there was only an increase in family income, after you took out inflation, of 2 percent - 2 percent in the whole 7 years. You know how much it was in the 7 Eisenhower years? Fifteen percent.

Now, that's a pretty good comparison, but let's go a bit further. If we wanted to engage in this numbers game, I could well say that if we had continued the Truman policies in effect, and with only our family income going up 2 percent over 7 years, every American family would have had $3,000 less with the Truman policies in effect than we had with the Eisenhower policies.

So, all I can say is this: With our policies, they have paid off. They have paid off not only as far as national growth is concerned, but they have paid off where it really counts - for the wage earner, for the family income in this country.

Now, let me suggest this: I know that our opponents say that with their growth rates that they're going to have, things are going to be different, but when we actually look at the facts and the records, what are their credentials? Well, the kind of policies they advocate, you see, aren't new in this economic field. They have all been tried before. They were tried first from 1932 up until about 1939, when the war spending began to come in, and after 7 years of that kind of policy there were still nine and a half million people unemployed in America and it took a war to reduce the unemployment.

They were tried again in peacetime during the Truman administration, the same kind of policies that they're advocating today. From 1946 to 1953, what did we get? We got only a 2-percent increase, as I pointed out, in what our average family had, but we also got a tremendous inflation of almost 40 percent.

So, I say again that, as we look here at these policies and as we look at the record, the American people know that they do not want to go back to the policies that they left in 1953. They want to go forward with our policies which will build even more income and a stronger America economically than we've ever had before in the country's history.

And, so, I want to say to you today how we plan, how we plan to see that our economy grows, how to plan to see to it that every American family continues to have increased income, real income, not the kind that is frittered away by inflation.

First of all, I think we have to recognize this: That our opponents, particularly when we look at their economic philosophy, come to the American people and they ask to be put in charge of the Nation's economic policy on their record.

And I say this spurring economic growth is too vital a matter for America to be left with those with such a record.

What do we need? We need the traditional strengths of our free economy. We need initiative and investment. We need productivity and efficiency, and we need not leaders who merely emphasize, as they do, expanding Government activity all along the line, together with artificially easy credit. That isn't the way to growth. That is the way to stagnation of an economy.

And I would say that what we need in this country if we're going to continue to grow is that we're going to have to stress not what Government can do for people so much as what a hundred and eighty million Americans can do for themselves if they're given a chance by their Government.

It means that we have to face up to the blunt fact that our national leadership can't prepare us for competition with the Communists by trying to make everything as easy as possible for everyone, by the Government trying to do that.

It means that we're going to have to play up the key matter of personal incentives rather than playing them down.

It means tax reforms to spur savings and investment. Why? Because that's the way to create jobs and growth.

It means that, instead of punitive measures designed to take away more of our incomes and redistribute them through the Federal Treasury, it means that Government should undertake to do for people not the most things or the least things, but the right things for the American people.

This is what it means, and I would suggest that it means that the economic problems of the sixties can be met with policies of the sixties and not with retreads of the depression - born ideas of the thirties, which are out of date and out of touch with the realities of today.

It means clearing away the Democratic confusion that policies designed for recovery of an economy can serve as policies for


In essence, my friends it means this: They say that the way to growth, that the way to a better life for the American people,

that the way to get progress in any field is to go running to Washington with the problem and increase what the Federal Government does.

We say the Federal Government must play a part, but that that part is to supplement, not supplant what the individuals and the States can do. We say that the primary function of the Federal Government must be to stimulate and to encourage the creative activities and opportunities of a hundred and eighty million free Americans.

This is the difference between our two parties.

So, I say to you tonight that, whether it is in the foreign policy field or whether it is in the economic field, the record of our administration has been one that stands up very well, indeed, as opposed to the record of our predecessors.

Looking to the future, I say the way to a bright, new future for the American people in which we don't just stand on a record, but build on it, is not through turning back - and that's what they would do to policies that were tried and found wanting during the Truman administration, but to go forward with policies that have been tried now and build on those for the future.

This is what America will do. We never want to go back. We want to go forward, and that's where we want to take you in the campaign and in the next administration.

And, so I say, in this field we welcome the competition of ideas. We welcome what our opponents have said as their challenge that we do not do well in the economic field, although grudgingly some of them may admit that on results we have done reasonably well in the foreign policy field.

But let's go to one other point before I conclude, one that should not go unanswered and unaccounted for, as far as this particular discussion is concerned.

We've heard a great deal about the fact that while we have peace today, it is an uneasy peace, and while we have peace today, that our policies have been ones that have been losing friends for the United States, that we lack prestige around the world, and our critics point to the fact that, for example, there were riots in Tokyo that made it impossible for President Eisenhower to go there, that there were riots in Caracas while my wife, Pat, and I were there. They point to the breakup of a conference in Paris over the U-2 incident.

I want to tell you what my answer is to that. It is this: I say it is time for us to quit blaming ourselves and our friends for what the Communists do around the world, and they were responsible there in all three of these incidents.

What about American prestige? Where does it stand? Well, I know something about it, I have been around the world. I've been to over 50 countries, and I can tell you we can be proud of where America stands, proud because the people of the world, the great majority of them, know that we are for peace. They know that we have no designs upon them, as do the Communists have designs upon them. They know that we have poured out billions of dollars to them only for the purpose of helping them to be economically strong so that they could resist any foreign domination. They know that the hearts of the American people have been exceedingly generous, not only to our friends, but those who have been enemies in war. All these things mean things, and they mean a great deal as you go about the world.

Oh, I know there isn't any question but that there are enemies of the United States and opponents of the United States, and when a country is as rich and as strong as ours is we're going to have those who don't like us; but, my friends, let's recognize this: When our course is right, let's not constantly run down what the United States is doing. Let's stick on our course and stand for the right, as President Eisenhower did at the United Nations in his speech today.

I would make just one other point with regard to prestige, and that is this: The best proof of it is on the score. That's what they pay off on - and, my friends, I would hasten to point out to you that, as far as the score is concerned, we had a pretty good accounting just the other day in the United Nations. There was a test vote about the Congo. The Soviet Union was on one side. The United States was on the other side. Here was a chance for all the nations that were for them as against us to line up and be counted. Well, you know the score was a pretty good one. It would be a great one in football. It was a greater one even as far as international affairs was concerned. They didn't get anything. The vote was 70 to 0 for the position of the United States, and that shows our prestige is high. That shows our prestige is high and I would also point out - and this is certainly something that it is proper for me to point out - that I am proud that running with me on our ticket, the man who will work as a partner with me in the cause of peace and freedom, is a man who in seven and a half years representing the United States at the United Nations never lost a contest in a major issue where the Soviet people were concerned. Henry Cabot Lodge deserves the support of the American people for that.

My time is up. I want to thank you for your very generous applause, for your support, and I want to leave with you one final thought: In emphasizing our military strength and our economic strength, I think it is vital that we also recognize the tremendous importance of seeing that the moral and spiritual strength of America - that our moral and spiritual fiber - is kept strong in this country.

Why is this important? Because all over the world today let us remember that it is not the strength of our arms, but the strength of our ideas that will count. My friends, I am proud tonight of the moral and spiritual positions that we have taken. I am proud of the fact that the United States stands for peace. And I say to you: Will you, as citizens, go back to your communities and remember that the moral and spiritual strength of the country cannot come from its leaders, but it comes from the people. It comes from the home. It comes from the church. It comes from the community. And it is this strength that will be decisive.

As I stand here, I am confident of the future, confident because the America I have seen is not weak. The America I have seen is strong economically and spiritually and morally, and I'm confident of the future because the people of the world on both sides of the Iron Curtain are on the side of right, as we are on the side of right.

That is my case. If you agree with it, may I ask you to go out and work as you have never worked for a victory, not just for our party, but for America and for all that she stands for in the world tonight.

Thank you, very much.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Speech by the Vice President, National Guard Armory, Rockford, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project