Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President, Montgomery High School Football Stadium, Phoenix, AZ

October 15, 1960

What is, first, the major consideration that you, as voters in this State, in the Nation, should have in mind as you elect the next President?

I would say this: That, above all, we must remember that in electing a President of the United States we're not just electing a man to lead this country. We're electing a man who must lead the whole free world, and the decision that is made is so vital to America and to the free world that the man elected must be the best man that the two parties can produce.

What am I trying to say? I am saying here that in this election it isn't enough to vote as your grandfather did or as your father did. It isn't enough simply to say, "Well, this is my party label and I'm going to vote that way, because the other fellow has the same label." You've got to look beneath the labels. It isn't enough to vote as somebody else tells you, someone who is the head of an organization to which you belong. This is a time when every free, individual American citizen should vote not according simply to party labels or anything else. But he should vote for what is best for America - and that is the basis that I present the case to you today.

Now, what does America need? What is the main index or test of leadership that you should apply to whoever is going to be the next President of the United States? Well, of course, there are a tremendous number of issues on which the candidates differ, but the most important issue is the issue of the survival of this Nation and of the cause of freedom throughout the world.

You know, we can have the finest programs that we can possibly imagine in health and education and welfare and highways, and it isn't going to make any difference if we're not around to enjoy them. So, therefore, the major test to which you must submit me and my opponent and my running mate and his running mate is this: What two men are best qualified, by experience and by judgment and background and by program, to keep the peace and keep it without surrender for America and the world?

Now, in speaking to that point, I want to say, first of all, that in comparing qualifications it would not be appropriate for me to compare my own with those of my opponent. That's for you to judge. But I can say something about my running mate, and I would say that no man in the world today has had more experience - and I don't think anybody could have done a better job - than our candidate for Vice President in fighting for the cause of peace and freedom at the United Nations, Henry Cabot Lodge.

We will work together, work together in the cause of peace and freedom, in strengthening the instruments of peace and freedom. Now, what can you expect from us? Well, first of all, we are men who know those who oppose peace and those who fight freedom throughout the world. We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We have both sat across the conference table from him.

I think we know how he reacts. I think we know what America must do if we are to accomplish our goals and if we are to deny him his goals; and his goals, of course, are the goals that all Americans must oppose, because they are the goals of a Communist world, domination of the world by communism by any means, if necessary; without war, if possible. This is the current Communist goal.

And, so, we know this man, and knowing him you can expect certain things from us. Since you can look at our records and see how we have dealt with him, you know what you will get in the future if we are elected. So, you have a known quantity here - men who know Mr. Khrushchev, men who have dealt with him in the past, men who have set a standard of conduct - and we're going to continue the same, strong, firm leadership in the future that we have used with Mr. Khrushchev in the past.

Now, how else must you judge us? Well, you've got to judge us by our record. We are part of the record of this administration in the field of foreign policy. As you know, for 7½ years we sat in the Cabinet, the Security Council. We've advised with the President on the great decisions on Lebanon, Quemoy, and Matsu, and, therefore, we are responsible, as is the President responsible.

Now, how about that record? You've heard a lot about it - it's bad - and you're going to hear a lot more in the next 3 weeks - how America has been running down, how we're second-rate in education, and second-rate in this area and that area, how our prestige is crumbling around the world; people don't like us any more - and you've heard also of all of the failures of America in the field of foreign policy. In fact, it was summed up by my opponent when he said, "This has been a period of retreat and defeat and we've got to get America going again."

Just let me say this: They have a right to say everything they want, if they believe it, provided they don't distort the record,

but whenever they say anything that is wrong, we have got a responsibility to correct it - and one thing that certainly can be said here today is that all the criticism in the world is not going to obscure the truth that the American people know, and the truth is - the truth is - that they know that under the leadership of this administration 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.

Now, of course, I realize there are those who say, "But, Mr. Nixon, that's the past. What about the present? What about all these charges about American prestige? What about the charge the other day that Senator Kennedy made in upper New York State?" And I'll quote him exactly. He said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing." He said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro is doing. I want to be able to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing."

Let me tell you something. If he would just stop talking and start reading, he'd find out what the President of the United States has been doing.

Now, I must admit something he hasn't been doing is what Senator Kennedy wanted him to do. He didn't apologize or express regrets to Khrushchev for attempting to defend the security of the United States. And I also have to admit something else he hasn't been doing that Mr. Khrushchev has been doing either. He hasn't been making a fool of himself at the United Nations. But he has been standing firmly for the cause of peace and freedom. He worked with the United Nations, for example, to save the independence of the Congo, rather than working against it, as Khrushchev did, to destroy the independence of that country and make it a satellite of the Soviet Union. This is the kind of leadership we've been having, and it's only this kind of firm leadership that will win the struggle for peace and freedom in the future.

So, again I say: Look to our record. Look to our principles. Look to our program. What are the principles of peace? There are several in dealing with the men who threaten the peace. First, we must recognize that Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues are men who do not react like the men of the free world, and that's the reason we've gotten into trouble in the past. We've had well-intentioned, naive people who said, "Express regrets or apologize and maybe he'll like us better. Do this or that or the other thing, because he'll react this way or that way."

We must remember - and I sat across from him, and I know him - he is a ruthless, fanatical man, with one aim only, and that's to destroy the things we believe in. He will follow no rules of the game, and, therefore, we have to be just as tough, not belligerent, but just as tough, just as firm in the right as he is in the wrong. That is what America needs to be.

So, I name to you three elements of strength. These are the principles of peace, if we want peace in the world.

One: We must be the strongest nation in the world. Are we? And the answer is: Absolutely, we're the strongest nation in the world, and Mr. Khrushchev knows it.

And those who suggest that we might not be and who say, if America were stronger, this or that or the other thing would happen, I would say why hasn't Mr. Khrushchev reacted then? Why is it that every time he comes up to the point of bullying, he stops short of armed force? Because he knows America is strong. What must we be in the future? We cannot rest on what we've got, because, good as it is, the whole technological revolution is occurring today. The Communists are stepping up their activities, and America - and I want to insist on this, and we must insist on it - must continue to increase its strength so that, regardless of what Mr. Khrushchev has or the Communists have, we will always have an ultimate margin which will discourage him from ever launching an attack.

Now, there is a second point that we need. We need firm diplomacy. How have we been able to keep the peace without surrender? Let me give you an example.

There's been a lot of discussion of this Quemoy-Matsu incident on the television the other day. It's a little hard to understand unless you get it in simple terms. Let's look at what really happened.

Five years ago there was a debate in the Senate. A resolution was passed giving the President of the United States the power to use the Armed Forces to stop aggression in the Far East and the Formosa Straits aimed at our ally, the Republic of China. During the course of the debate on that resolution, a little group of Senators, well intentioned, but wrong and naive, put up an amendment, in which they said, "Well, we want the President to defend our ally, Formosa, but we want to draw a line and rule out two islands that are free at the present time, but that we don't think we ought to try to defend."

Now, under the circumstances, what happened? The Senate rejected it. A majority of the Democrats, all of the Republicans, as I recall, voted against that amendment, and they said, "No, we're not going to tie the President's hands. We are not going to surrender in advance to the Communists a bit of free territory. We're going to give to the President the right to determine how to use the Armed Forces."

And why did they do that? Because the Communists had said over and over again that their objective was not those two little islands that this amendment would give to them, but their objective was Formosa, and we know, of course, the world as well. So, the amendment was rejected, and for 5 years the policy has worked because the Communists have not launched the all-out offensive either at the islands of Quemoy and Matsu or at Formosa.

And now today a Presidential candidate tries to change the policy. He says: "No. We made a mistake. Five years we haven't had war there. Five years the President has stood firm, but now we're going to change. We will surrender these two islands. We will get our ally to turn them over."

And the reason? Well, he says, one, they are indefensible, and you can say the same thing about Berlin, I assumed, but we're not going to surrender them. Second, he also indicates: "But maybe if we do that we can avoid war." But are we ever going to learn in this country - and certainly I think Americans have learned it - that when you deal with a dictator that certainly turning over territory does not satisfy him. It does not bring peace. It is the very thing that whets his appetite, that incites him and leads to war, and we're not going to do it again. We left it in 1953.

And, so, again today I call upon Senator Kennedy, in the interest of the Nation, to depart from this doctrine that he has been espousing, to join again with the President of the United States, to join with a majority of the Senators in his own party, to join with Senator Lausche, for example, who departed from his position 2 days ago, and say the President of the United States will continue to have the strength and the right to defend this country and to determine if an attack is made whether that attack must be met by the Armed Forces of the United States and - the other side of the coin - that the United States is not going to make the mistake of attempting to satisfy a dictator by turning over free territory to him at the point of a gun.

This is what America must do.

Now, another point that I should make: we also, in addition to our diplomatic firmness and our military strength, have got to see to it that the American economy moves forward. It's been moving, may I say, but is going to move more - and I'll tell you why it has to move.

I remember Mr. Khrushchev when I was in Moscow said to me: "Mr. Nixon, we're behind you now economically, but we're going to catch you. We're moving faster than you are," he said, "and we're going to catch you, and when we go by you I'm going to wave and then I'm going to say, 'Come along; follow us; do as we do or otherwise you are going to fall hopelessly behind in this great economic race for survival.'"

Let me tell you the answer. He isn't going to catch us in 7 years, as he indicated, or 70 years, provided Americans stay true to the principles that have made us the greatest country in the world economically.

Now, here we have a very great gulf between my opponent and that wing of his party which I call the Galbraith-Schlesinger-Bowles wing and which does not represent the thinking of millions of Democrats in this country, may I say. We have a great gulf of difference of approach.

How does America move? What is the test of progress in America?

Our opponent says over and over again: "America has been standing still economically, and it's time to get moving again."

Well, my friends, anybody who says America has been standing still for the past 7½ years - he hasn't been traveling in America. He's been traveling in some other country, believe me. He just ought to come to Phoenix and see what's happened here in the last 7 years.

You see, the trouble is with those who are obsessed only by what Government does is that they say you have progress only when the Government does something; but, my friends, the test of progress in America is not what the Government does, but what 180 million free Americans are encouraged to do - and that is why we have been progressive.

Government has responsibilities, which I have outlined on many, many occasions, but the difference in approach is this: They say, whenever there's a problem, "We start with the Federal Government, a huge program; we weaken the responsibilities of the States; we weaken the responsibilities of the individuals. In other words, we start with the Federal Government, and we work down to the people." And we say the way to progress in America is not that way, that the way to progress is not to start from the Federal Government and work down, but to start with the American people and work up to the Federal Government - that that is the way to get the progress that we want.

I could spell it out, but I can summarize it in a word. It is another example. Particularly I say this for these young people here.

Sometimes young people will come up to me and they will say, "But, Mr. Nixon, you say your programs and your Republican platform and the things you stand for will produce more progress in schools and housing and all these things we want than theirs, but how can you say that? How can you say you are more for progress than they are when, after all, they're going to spend more?" And that's right. There are. I concede it. About $10 billion a year more. But, remember, it isn't my money and it isn't Jack's money they are going to be spending, but yours. That's the point that everybody has to bear in mind as we consider this element of progress. My point is this: We must always remember that it's the responsibility of a President of the United States to remember that every time a dollar is spent in Washington it comes from the people. Every time he adopts a policy which inflates our currency it comes from the people and higher prices at the grocery store and the gas station and every place along the line, and I want to say to you I will not indulge in the practice of going around the country attempting to buy the peoples' votes with their own money. I will go around the country and I will stand for programs that will produce progress, but I will always remember that whenever we can leave to the people their own money that that's better than sending it down to Washington to have a bunch of bureaucrats spend it for them. That's the difference in our approach.

My time is up. I have only one last point to add. I have talked about military and economic strength and diplomatic firmness, all of which are principles of peace in this era. If we have them, we will keep the peace.

Now, let me tell you something. It will not be easy. We're going to have periods of difficulty. The Communists are going to stir up trouble every time they can around the world, but that doesn't mean that our policies are wrong. It may only mean that they are working and that they are attempting, the Communists, to operate against them. But there's one point that we must never forget; America must not rest her case in this great struggle simply on our military might and on the wealth and productivity of our economy. That's all the Communists offer, but we stand for more than that. We stand for ideals, ideals that will be decisive in this struggle in this next quarter of a century, ideals that caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago - and they still live in the minds of the people everywhere - that are the hope of the world, and it's these ideals - our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of men; our belief that the rights of men to be free and of nations to be independent belong to all men throughout the world, that America came into the world to preserve them not only for herself, but to extend them to all - these beliefs must come from you. They must come from the people, from the hearts, from the individual, from the homes, from the churches, from

the schools of America; and if you strengthen the moral and spiritual fiber of this country, if we instill in our young people a burning patriotism, a love of country and an understanding of what America really stands for, then the next President and his successor will be able to lead the forces of peace and freedom to victory without war.

And, so, let us join together in this struggle and we shall win, because we are on the right side.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President, Montgomery High School Football Stadium, Phoenix, AZ Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project