Partial Transcript of Speech by the Vice President, Public Hall, Cleveland, OH
I say to you tonight, based on this reception here, based on the reception we had last week in Akron and in the other cities that we visited in Ohio, that I see a great spirit here for our cause, a spirit that in this close election is going to see that Ohio is in our column on November 8.
Now, when I say that, I don't say it's going to be easy. I don't say this is going to be a walkaway in this State or any other State. I say that it's going to be a close fight, but in a close fight you will find that those who work harder, those who fight harder for their positions, are the ones that win - and we're going to outwork and outfight our opponents in this campaign.
I'll tell you why we're going to win. We are going to win because in Ohio, as in Tennessee that I visited earlier today, in my State of California and all over this Nation, we're not only going to get the votes of Republicans, but we're going to get support rom Independents, and we're going to get support from millions of Democrats who will not be deserting their party, but who will be joining ours because their party deserted them.
And it's to that point that I particularly want to talk at the outset of my remarks. Why this tremendous interest in this campaign? Why is it that we find in State after State that not only Republicans, but Democrats and Independents by the thousands are joining our cause?
I'll tell you the reason. The reason is that Americans realize that when we elect a President of the United States there is a test that is applied which is perhaps different from that applied to many other offices. It is not enough in electing a President to do as my opponent has suggested time and again - vote the party line. It is not enough to vote as your father and your grandfather did. I say that when we elect a President of the United States, particularly in this critical year, 1960, the American people are going to vote not their party but America - and we stand for what America needs in this campaign.
I say tonight that our program adopted in Chicago - I say the program that I will discuss tonight and further in this campaign - is the program that deserves the support of people, regardless of party, and it is on that basis that I present it.
The first point I wish to make is this: What is it that the American people want this year from their Government? When you ask that question you will get many answers, and I would like to put some of the questions and some of the answers, coming to the most important question last, but not underplaying any of those as far as their importance is concerned.
When you think of what we want as far as this country is concerned, I think of the crowds I saw on the streets today. I saw many grownups; I saw many teenagers and college students and then I saw many parents, and then I saw something that must affect all candidates, as it does me. I saw many parents holding up little children, babies, holding them up, waving their hands, and I want to tell you what effect that has on me, and I am sure it would on any candidate. It makes you think of the great responsibility you have. It makes you think that it is the future of this country that we're talking about and voting about in this campaign. It makes you realize that what we must do is to build a better future for our children than we've had for ourselves - and that's what we stand for, and that's why we're getting support from the American people.
I am proud tonight that I stand for programs under which America will progress, in which we will have more jobs at higher wages than we have had before.
I am proud that I stand for programs in which we will improve our educational system, raise standards for our teachers and their salaries.
I stand for programs, in addition, which will build the schools that America needs.
We stand for programs which will provide for increased and better medical care for our citizens, and particularly for those who need it, who are in the older age brackets - and I will discuss that more a little later.
We stand for progress in all of these fields, and certainly, as I stand here before you, I am proud to be a part of that platform and of that program.
And now the question which, of course, must arise is: How does this differ from what the other side stands for? Aren't they for jobs and schools and housing and all the things that you have mentioned that spell progress?
The answer is, of course, the goals that we Americans have, in the very general sense, are the same. We want a better life for our children than we want for ourselves, but the difference, I submit to you, is this: Our programs will work in producing progress and theirs won't.
And I point first to the record. I've heard a lot and you've heard a lot about all the charges that this administration has been
standing still, that we've had no progress, that it's time to get moving again, moving across new frontiers. Well, let me tell you this: Anybody who thinks America has been standing still for the last 8 years hasn't been traveling in America. He's been in some other country.
Since my opponent has associated himself with Harry Truman, let me say we're glad to compare Harry Truman's record with Dwight Eisenhower's any time. We are glad to compare them. You have the 7½ Truman years and you have the 7½ Eisenhower years - and, my friends, take the test. Do you want schools? We built more than they did.
Do you want hospitals? More hospitals than they built.
Do you want better wages? A greater increase in wages, in real wages, than in their case.
What about prices? Let's look at that one - and, boy, I'm glad to nail this right in the place where the distortion and the misstatement of fact were made by Senator Kennedy when he was here in Cleveland. Those of you who were here - and I assume there were some - may have noted that he said in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago that under this administration we had found that this administration had not had an effective program to deal with inflation, and the indication was that if we just elected him we would have one. Well, let me tell you: We welcome the opportunity to compare our record with the Truman administration, because in his administration we had the greatest inflation - 47 percent in 7 years. In this administration we've held it to one-fifth that - l0 percent.
Mr. Kennedy's policies in that field are the same as Mr. Truman's, and I say we're not going back to those policies. We're going forward with ours in this field because, remember, if you want to inflate your money, if you want to raise your prices, you have our opponents to vote for; but if you want to continue to keep prices down, as our wages go up, then we offer the progress that America wants - and we are proud to stand on our record and to build on it.
Why else do I say we'll produce where they won't?
First, the record.
Well, second, the philosophy - and by "the philosophy" I mean that our programs are programs that will bring more out of this great country of ours in the way of achievement than theirs will, and I'll tell you why very simply.
Every time they have a problem, whether it's schools or housing or education, they immediately say: The Federal Government must solve it. We must have a massive Federal program to take over what the States are doing, to take over what the individuals are doing.
What is our answer? We say that the way to progress in America is not to start with the Federal Government, but to start with 180 million individual Americans and build from them up to the Federal Government, and it is because our programs stimulate individual enterprise rather than blunt it - it's because our programs strengthen the States and put responsibility on them rather than take it away - it's because our programs have the Federal Government step in only when necessary and not to take over and not to supplant what the States or individuals can do - it's for that reason, with our teamwork, that we get so much more out of this economy than they ever, and we will continue to in the years ahead.
Let me give you an example, an example which has been worked out, incidentally, in cooperation with a very distinguished man who has served Ohio and the Nation well, Secretary Flemming from the State of Ohio. May I say as far as this example is concerned in the field of health, education and welfare we have seen remarkable progress, but in this specific area of health care for the aged I think the program that this administration stands for is one that will meet the problem. It will meet it honestly. It will do a better job, and I resent the attacks of our opponents when they say we are against health care for the aged and they're for it because, as I will tell you, we are for the only program that will do the job, and theirs won't do the job, and it's time that they be called on it.
Look at the problem, and this is an indication of how we approach these problems. We have 16 million people in our country who are over 65. Now, they have a special problem with regard to health care. I think we will all recognize it.
I remember my father in the last days he lived. He had excellent medical care because we're fortunate that the medical care under our system is the best in the world, but his medical bills that year were over $2,000, and I know what a difficult thing it was for him and my mother to pay those bills. That's why I feel deeply on this subject, deeply from that standpoint and deeply because I think in this country of ours we must find a way in which our older citizens can get the protection that they need when these disastrous diseases come upon them.
So, what do we do? First of all, we have our old-age assistance program for the 2,400,000 people who are on that; and, second, we have a program which was adopted in the last Congress which would extend aid to those who are not on old-age assistance, but who do not have the resources to take care of these big medical bills; but then, third, we have another problem that remains unsolved. This is the one that is going to come before the next Congress. This is the one in which the American people must make a choice, and here we have two different attitudes, completely, diametrically opposed. Let me explain them.
First, what people are we dealing with? Not the people on old-age assistance. Not the people who have to prove need, but people of moderate means who, because disaster or illness strikes them, are unable to take care of it. They need protection. They have been unable or have not purchased health insurance. What should we do?
And this is the plan that we adopt. We say that we should have a program in which everybody of that age who wants health insurance should be able to get it, where everybody who ought to have it is encouraged to get it, but, third, where nobody who does not want it is forced to take it against his will - and we believe that is the American tradition.
Now, look at this. This is a program where the Federal Government helps, but it's operated by the States, kept close to the people. We think that's right.
It is a program where the Federal Government and the State governments help, but again which does not discourage, but encourages, individuals to get private health insurance if they want it.
Now, that's one approach. What does my opponent suggest? He says for these 13 million people, that for 3 million of them who need it the most, no protection whatever. He says he will force everybody on social security, including the wealthy who don't need it, to have compulsory health insurance.
So, his program would blunt private health insurance, as you can well see. Of course, you have the two programs - one compulsory, the other voluntary one completely Federal, the other close to the people through the States; one covering all the people who need it, the other leaving out the people, three million of them, who do need it. But let's take another test. If his program was so good, if it was one that people were for, let's see how much success he had with the Congress in getting it through.
In the House of Representatives it came up before the committee there - Ways and Means. It was beaten, where he had a majority of 2 to 1, 17 to 8. So he struck out there.
Then it came over to the Senate committee. There it was beaten, where he had a majority of Democrats, 2 to 1 again. Twelve to five they voted against his plan. He struck out there.
And then this came up to the Senate, itself, and there, where there are twice as many Democrats as there are Republicans, they rejected it. He struck out again.
So, what do we find? As far as performance on these glittering promises of his, he's been up three times; he struck out three times. I say: What do you do with a fellow like that? You don't put him in the clean-up spot. You put him on the bench.
So, my conclusion here is this, and I will state it over and over again in this campaign: The American people don't want - and I believe it is my responsibility as a candidate to bring this home - they do not want, they must not have, a compulsory health insurance plan forced down their throats, and we will not allow it.
Now, that is an example of the kind of approach that I believe indicates the difference in our philosophy.
There's one other difference that I should mention. Many people have said to me: "Now, Mr. Nixon, how in the world can you say that you're more for progress in schools and health and all these things that Americans want than your opponent, when he says that he's going to spend more than you; his programs are going to cost a lot more? Doesn't that mean he's more for the people and for these programs than you are?"
Now, let me ask you a little question here. He says he's going to spend more, and that's true - I concede that - about $10 billion a year more than our programs would cost; but, remember, it isn't Jack's money he's going to spend, but yours. That's the answer to that.
I say that the American people in this campaign are going to look long and hard before they take one program that costs more and does less when they've got another program that does more and costs less. That's what we offer to the American people in this campaign.
I think those in the hall will excuse me if I turn around and address this next remark to the people in the back.
I want to say the people of Ohio have had some experience in what it means to have your taxes raised, and I say you do not want to vote for a man for President whose programs will cause them to be raised more at the Federal level.
I submit to you: Take any program you want - housing, health, education - yes, we will not spend as much, but we will do more. We'll do more because we know what has made this country great. We know how to make it greater. We know how to get more out of this economy, and we're going to move forward and move into a great new future, but we can only move that way by building with sound principles and not with Rube Goldberg schemes, such as our opponents are constantly putting before us.
I have one other issue to discuss. I said that I would save it until the last because it was the most important. You know what it is. What could be more important than a job, than good schools and good housing? What could be more important than these things? Being around to enjoy them.
I say to you the sternest test that you must put both of the candidates for the Presidency to this year is this: Which of the two
candidates is best qualified, by background, by experience and by temperament, to keep the peace without surrender for America and the world?
I can tell you that on this great issue again you have a record to look at. It's a record that hasn't solved all of our problems, and may I say we're going to continue to have problems in the field of foreign policy just so long as Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues are bent on conquering the world.
The question is not whether you have problems, but it's how you handle them. I say in that connection that with all the criticism of President Eisenhower's administration, they can't take away the solid fact that under his leadership we got the United States out of one war; we've kept her out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today.
Yes, there are problems, problems like the one in Cuba that my opponent is discussing tonight without offering any solution for, and, incidentally, may I say, looking at that problem, I will have more to say about that at a later time, and he had better look to the record of his administration before he starts criticizing ours in that field.
He talks about dictators, and I can only say that the number of dictators we inherited from the Truman administration is far greater than the number we have today in Latin America, and that's something he must remember.
But some of you may say, "But, Mr. Nixon, we are worried about this business, about prestige. We hear Adlai Stevenson saying that our prestige is at an alltime low. We hear Mr. Kennedy saying our prestige is lower. We hear Harry Truman saying, all these other people," some of them responsible, some not, but be that as it may, whatever the case may be, I would only suggest that all of this criticism is summed up pretty much by Mr. Kennedy the other day when he said: "You know, I am tired," - I am quoting him exactly - he said, "I am tired of reading in the papers what Mr. Khrushchev is saying or doing. I am tired of reading in the papers what Mr. Castro is doing. I want to be able to read in the papers what the President of the United States is doing."
That's what he said. Now, let me tell you something. If he would lust stop talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower is doing. Now, I'll admit he hasn't done all the things Senator Kennedy wanted him to do. He, for example - I think the American people are grateful to him that he did not express regrets or apologize to Mr. Khrushchev for defending the United States against surprise attack. No, and he hasn't been making a fool of himself in the U.N. like Mr. Khrushchev has been making a fool of himself. And, as Frances Bolton will tell you, he hasn't been trying to muscle into the Congo and take over that country as Mr. Khrushchev has. He has been doing it not in a spectacular way. It hasn't made such interesting reading, the kind that Mr. Kennedy apparently seems to enjoy, but, believe me, he's done the right thing - and that's stand with the United Nations in helping this country maintain its independence.
And, so, I say to you this night: In this field you test us by our record, our experience and our program. And what do we stand for? What can you look to to us? Well, in a word, you have here in us two men who for 7½ years have sat in the Cabinet and the Security Council, who have participated in the discussions leading to the great decisions made in that period. You have two men who have had the opportunity of meeting and knowing Mr. Khrushchev.
Oh, I know they say we just debated with them, but, believe me, I think we did a pretty good job of it and we think we can do a pretty good job of it in the future.
But what is most important is this: Cabot Lodge and I know Mr. Khrushchev. We know the Communists. We know them and, knowing them as we do, we can and will build a program that will meet and defeat them. First, we will keep this country the strongest in the world militarily. Second, we will move this country forward economically so that Mr. Khrushchev can never realize his boast of catching us or passing us. Third, we will keep the diplomacy of this country firm, but nonbelligerent. We will always go the extra mile, negotiating to reduce tensions. We will always attempt to build up and strengthen the United Nations and the other organizations, the instruments of peace, but, we will always recognize that, in dealing with men like Khrushchev, they don't follow the rules of the game. You do never make a concession to them without getting one in return.
We think we know the men and we believe that we can give America the leadership that it needs to deal with them.
But there is one other point I should make that is more important than all these, and that is that we know this great battle for the world is not going to be decided primarily in the military or the materialistic, economic sector, but it's going to be decided in the minds and the hearts and the souls of men.
Why do I say that? Because I have been to 55 countries, on both sides of the Iron Curtain and, I know - I know - that the great strength America has in the world today is not its missiles and not the productivity and richness of its factories, but the fact that we're on the right side. We're on the side of freedom. We're on the side of justice. We're against the forces of atheism.
When you hear anybody downgrade the ideals of this Nation or any other free nation, remember: The militarists throughout history have always underestimated the power of ideals. My friends, it is in that you can help. We've got to keep the moral and spiritual strength of this country strong, keep it firm, keep it clear, see that our young people know what it means to be an American, keep strong our faith in God, our belief in the rights of all men, our belief in the rights of equality of opportunity for all men. Let us, as I said today in a Southern State, and as I have said it in other Southern States, work together in this problem of prejudice so that Mr. Khrushchev, a man who has been responsible for enslaving millions, a man who has slaughtered thousands in Hungary, will not again be able to come to the United States and point the finger of prejudice at us.
And I say to you tonight: I know the power of America's ideals. I have seen it in countries around the world. I saw it on the faces of 250,000 Poles shouting and cheering, "Long Live America," crying with tears running down their cheeks. Why? Because they knew what we stood for. Not just might, but that we stood for right.
It is on that Cabot Lodge and I ask for your mandate in this election. We ask for the opportunity to lead America and the free world, to keep her ideals strong and to extend the ideals of freedom to all the world - and with your help we will do it.
Thank you very much.
Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Speech by the Vice President, Public Hall, Cleveland, OH Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273777