Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President, Courthouse, West Chester, PA

October 22, 1960

Now, since you were waiting so long and standing here packed so closely, there are just two or three points I want to make. I want to make them quickly - I want to make them directly - in a way that I am sure all of you will understand and appreciate.

First of all, you heard me say in the debate last night that I found in traveling to 46 States in this country, and, incidentally, I have been in every State now except South Carolina and Alaska. I want to say that in traveling in these past few weeks to these States - you heard me say that I find it everywhere I go - it doesn't make any difference what kind of crowd it is - that the issue that people are thinking of above everything else is the one of keeping the peace without surrender and extending freedom.

Now, why did I say that? I want to tell you why. I know that many people here might well say, "Now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon. We could argue that point. After all, there are other things that are important. How about jobs? How about schools? How about housing? How about all these things?"

And, of course, the answer to that, my friends, is this: You know, we can have the best jobs and the best schools and the best housing and the best clothing we can possibly imagine, and it isn't going to make any difference if we're not around to enjoy it.

So, therefore, your major test for the candidates has to be: Who can lead us to victory in this great struggle without war? Who can keep the peace without surrender?

Now, on that score I just want to add to what I said last night to this extent: This problem is not one that's going to be easy. I would like to tell this great audience here that Cabot Lodge and I, experienced as we are in knowing Mr. Khrushchev and the men in the Kremlin, Mikoyan, Kozlov, and all the other Communist leaders around the world that I've had the opportunity to meet with and to talk with. I'd like to tell you I've got a magic formula, where, just elect me and you won't have to worry about the future. But let me say this: We've got to remember that in the future we're going to have troubles, not because we want them, but because they're going to stir them up, because they want to take over the world, but I also want to tell you this: Life is never perfect for anybody. There's no perfect government, and there isn't going to be a future in which there's going to be no problems, but I can assure you that if you elect me and Cabot Lodge, we are two people who know the men in the Kremlin. We won't be fooled by them, and we believe we know how to deal with them, and we think that's what you want in these next critical years.

And I say, on the basis of what you saw last night and in our previous debates, that our opponent showed, whatever his intentions may be - and I wouldn't question them - certainly a rashness, an impulsiveness, which would indicate to the American people that when you have a known quantity, a known quantity in which we present, and when you have the uncertain quantity that you have in what they present, that America isn't and can't take a chance on leadership in these critical years in the sixties; what we need to do is to have people that you know will know how to handle the men in the Kremlin and Cabot Lodge and I offer that to you in this year, in this election.

Now, just along that score, may I just mention one point that particularly concerned me as I went along today. I recall as we went by Swarthmore College some signs were up, saying, "Mr. Nixon, why not disarmament?"

I want to talk a bit about that. I, as you know, happen to be a Quaker. I come from a tradition going clear back, as a matter of fact, to this area where my Irish Quaker forebears came to Pennsylvania, the Milhouses, before they moved then to Indiana, and then on to California, and there is nothing in my life that I've heard from my grandmother, who always used plain speech to all of us, and my mother who still uses it with her sisters - I have nothing in my life that I remember more than, and which has been ground into me more than that we must keep the peace.

I know this. I believe in this. I want disarmament, above everything else. I want peace above everything else. Why, then, don't I say this is an easy formula for it? Why don't I say, let's take Mr. Khrushchev at his word? Why don't I say there is a way to get this without standing for inspection and the like? And I want to tell you why. I sat opposite the conference table to this man. I see him, ruthless, tough, completely a man dedicated to one purpose only - the evil purpose of conquering the world, and this is what I know. If America ever makes the mistake of entering into a disarmament agreement, which he does not also keep with inspection, it will increase the danger of war rather than reduce it, and I'll tell you why: We cannot leave to a man who is the enemy of peace power to start a war and destroy the world. We have to have the power because we are friends of peace. As long as America is the strongest nation in the world, the world need not fear that there will be war, because we will use our strength to keep peace, and I think that all of you, including those who are as dedicated to peace as I am, will say that we want the next President of the United States always to go the extra mile, as President Eisenhower has, to negotiate with Mr. Khrushchev or anybody else for disarmament. We want to go the extra mile to strengthen the United Nations and the instruments of peace, but under no circumstances do we want the next President to be a man who will be fooled, who will make concessions to them without getting concessions in return, and, above all, we do not want the next President to be one who will reduce the strength of America unless we're absolutely sure that the enemies of peace are also reducing their strength at the same time.

I want to talk about another point, a very different one. We talk about peace and all these things, foreign policy - they all seem far away. I want to talk about what you do on a Saturday. I grew up in a grocery store. Saturday was our busiest day. That was the day we got up very early in the morning, my mother particularly. She used to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to bake the pies that were sold in the store. They were mighty good, incidentally. Twenty-five cents for the best green apple pie you could possibly put in your mouth. But, in any event, the rest of us, five boys, we all worked in the store, and I remember people came in that day, shopping, looking for the bargains. That was the day we had the sales usually. And I remember, too, that in that period - I remember too that in that period - we're never going to let this flag fall any time any place in the world - I can assure you of that.

I remember in that period - I know the problems of families, frankly, to meet the family budget. I remember, for example, housewives would come in a nd they would buy hamburger rather than steak, stew meat rather than the chuck roast that was a little more expensive, no strawberries out of season, for example, if they couldn't afford it. In fact, what I'm really trying to say is this: I know the problems of Americans these days, and at all times, millions of Americans, good as our wages are, and certainly Americans live the best life in the world, the problems of making ends meet.

Now, what does this all have to do with electing a President of the United States? My friends, what you do on November the 8th will determine the prices you pay in the stores. It will determine your jobs. It will determine your future at home. And I just want to say that, in that connection, if you vote for our opponents, you must have in mind that the programs that they have will raise taxes - and I charge this, and they cannot deny it - they will raise prices, particularly in your food stores, and also they will, in my opinion, blunt the growth of the American economy, and I want to tell you why. Because they go the wrong way in working for progress for America.

The right way to get progress in this country is not to increase the power and the size of the Federal Government, just for the sake of doing it. The right way to get progress in America is for Government to do those things that will give us 180 million free Americans a chance to develop to the full the potential of this country, and that's what we stand for, and that's the way I'm sure the American people want to move in these years ahead.

And I say to you that our programs will keep America prosperous at home. Our programs will not spend a dollar, believe me, that we don't need to spend in Washington, and yet we will spend every dollar that we need to see that we move forward and that we also keep the peace abroad.

Now, the last point that I make is one that is particularly related to and directed to these girls who are in front of me, and the boys as well, who are probably going to have dates with them tonight. We hear a great deal these days about the responsibilities of people in public office. The Congressman should do this and the Senator that, and the President of the United States is the man who can keep the peace, and all that sort of thing, and has these responsibilities.

There is no question that public officials have a great responsibility; but, as I said last night, my friends, in that debate, a President of this country can only be as great as the people of this country are great. Let me spell it out for just a moment.

What will be decisive in this struggle in which we're engaged? Not America's military strength. That is important. Not America's economic strength. That is important. But what will be decisive is whether or not America is stronger in its faith, in its ideals, in what it believes.

Let me tell you what I saw in Russia. In every factory I visited, on every billboard, I saw a sign, "Work for the victory of communism." Pat, my wife, went to pioneer camps where young girls like these, and boys, were there, and they were working, driven on, working for the victory of communism. Now, they are working for something that is wrong, but they are working for it all over the world.

What is the answer to that? It isn't just to be against communism. It isn't just to be strong militarily and economically, as we must be and will be. But the answer to that, my friends, is to work for greater ideals, for the victory of freedom. Let me tell you what that means.

That means keeping the faith of America strong; seeing that the young people in this country know what America really stands for.

Why has America caught and held the imagination of the world for 180 years? Not because we're militarily strong and economically great. When they wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, America was a poor country; America was a weak country militarily, economically, but America was a strong country. Why? Because we believed in the right things - our faith in God; our belief in the rights of men; our belief that these rights belong not just to us, but to all men.

And what rights do I mean? Freedom of speech; freedom of press; freedom of religion; equality of opportunity for all. These are the principles, my friends, that America has given to the world to preserve. These are the principles that we in this great last half of the 20th century have the responsibility not just to keep for ourselves, but to extend to the whole world.

If the young people of America can be filled with that kind of zeal we're going to win this struggle. We will win it in this last half the century, and we will build a new world, a new world in which all men can enjoy what we have here, all men can enjoy freedom, all men can have a chance, an equal chance, for opportunity, all men can wage a winning war against poverty, misery, and disease. This is the opportunity that my friend and colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I ask in this campaign. If you believe that we're the men who can lead a strong American people, believing in these ideals, in this direction, then may I ask you: Don't just vote on election day, but take off between now and election day. Remember, this is probably the most important decision you're going to make this year; maybe the most important in your life. Take off. Even you young people who can't vote - go out and talk to your friends and neighbors. All of you take off and work for our cause, remembering you're not just working for men or for a party, but you're working for the destiny that America has always stood for - for freedom for all mankind, for peace for all the world.

This is a great cause. I believe in it deeply. That's why I am working and Pat is working 12, 16, 18 hours a day, and that's why I ask you to work just a few hours between now and election day, to be sure that we win this victory that America needs.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President, Courthouse, West Chester, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project