Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President in the Garment District, New York, NY
Governor Rockefeller, Senator Javits, Senator Keating, all of our distinguished guests here on the platform, and those of you who have paid my wife, Pat, and me a very special compliment by coming out and giving us a part of your noon hour: I know that you realize how deeply moved we are by this great crowd and also how deeply aware we are of the responsibility we have as I talk to you.
I say a responsibility because, as has well been indicated in the remarks that have preceded mine, the decisions that we are making this November are decisions that must not be made on the basis of the labels we wear. They must be made on the basis of what men believe, on the basis of what they stand for; but, more than that, on the basis of what they can produce.
There was very little question among Americans running for high office as to their desires for America. We want peace for our country. We want freedom for ourselves and the world. We want, in addition to that, a better life for our people. We want progress in schools and health and education, in civil rights, in many areas that I will touch upon today. But what a predicament it must put the voter in.
As I look over this audience, I appreciate the fact that there are many of you who are not members of my party. I appreciate the fact that there are many of you who have come here in a great American tradition to hear someone that you may not agree with because you want to give him your day or his day in court, but more than that, you realize the tremendous importance of hearing both sides and then making the decision.
Who is the most important person in this election this November?
It isn't my opponent or me, or our Vice-Presidential running mates. It's you, because it's your combined judgment, of course, that will determine whether America has the leadership that it needs or whether it does not.
And, so, it is to that point that I particularly talk today, and what a predicament, I say, it puts you in because you will hear me say, as I will today, you will hear me state the convictions and restate the ones that Nelson Rockefeller so eloquently stated a moment ago.
You will hear my opponent state his convictions, and then the question which arises in your minds: Whom can you believe?
Where should you go?
And I say that answer you must find in the man, in his background.
You must find it in what he has produced. You must find it not so much in what he says as in what he deeply believes deep inside, and, so, today I begin by telling you what I stand for, and then tell you why I have these beliefs.
First, the most important responsibility of the man, the next President of the United States is to be sure that these young people we see here grow up in a life of peace and freedom.
We have seen this responsibility, the threat that's presented to us by Mr. Khrushchev's attendance at the United Nations.
I have seen at first hand - I have seen him tough, ruthless, unprincipled, never following the rules of the game as the leaders of the free world, like Mr. Nehru, Mr. Adenauer, Mr. Macmillan, and others who might follow them, but a man, therefore, who, since he follows rules entirely different, must be dealt with accordingly.
And, so, it isn't enough to say simply we are for peace and for freedom.
We must know how to deal with it. We must know how to handle the man who opposes peace, and opposes freedom.
And that's why I tell you today that I ask the American people to support whatever we find is necessary in the field of defense, whatever increases may be necessary to be sure that America always maintains the position we have today, and you know what it is?
We must be stronger militarily than any potential enemy. Not only must we be stronger, but he must know it, and the American people must be prepared to pay this price. It would be easier to say that it could not be paid. It would be easier to say that things are all right and will continue to be all right and we won't have to do more, but the world changes. The threat increases rather than gets less, and so I say to you that in this field we will keep America the strongest nation in the world, and that comes first.
We will move this country along.
We must also move this country economically. We must move it for international reasons. We must move it for human reasons, to which I will refer in a moment. Why is it so important that America not be satisfied with the fact that we're the most prosperous nation in the world today, that we're twice as productive as the Soviet Union?
And here again I have seen in the Soviet Union what they are doing, signs on every building and every factory, in working for the victory of communism. I see how their people are being driven like slaves, unmercifully. To do what ? Catch up with the United States, pass the United States. I have heard Khrushchev say to me, "Mr. Nixon, we're behind you now economically, but were moving faster than you are, and were going to catch you in 7 years, and when we catch you we're going to pass you by, and I'm going to wave and say 'Come along; follow us; do as we do or you'll fall hopelessly behind.'
Let me tell you something: He will not catch us. He won't catch us in 7 years or 70 if we are true to our principles and get the most out of the American economy, and that means not only that America must move ahead, but no Americans must be left behind. This is the important thing.
I tell you today that it is essential that we keep firm diplomacy. Oh, it would be much easier to tell you it would be a small price to pay for peace, to change our position on Berlin, to change our position in the Pacific, but, first of all, the price would be one that all of you who know freedom and love freedom would find too high ; but, beyond that, those who would even suggest that you could ever make a concession to a Communist without getting one in return and expect that this would lead to peace must read history. We have tried that with dictators, and it has never worked. We must always remember that in dealing with the enemies of peace, we must always be willing to negotiate, always go the extra mile, always do anything to reduce tensions, but never give them anything that is not accompanied by a concession on their part.
Why? Because it feeds their ambition. It does not satisfy them.
And so I say to you we will be firm in our diplomacy. We will be fair, but we will always remember the kind of men that we are dealing with.
And then the third point I would make is this: America has to be strong in its heart and its soul, and this strength must come from our schools, from our homes, from our churches in this country, and, as far as this strength is concerned, it is important because the decisive factor in this struggle will be in the fight for the minds and the hearts and the souls of men.
Why is that important when we're thinking of power?
Why is that important when we're thinking of a man like Khrushchev who thinks primarily in terms of military and economic strength?
It is important for this reason: The tyrants, the materialists, the militarists have always underemphasized the power of ideals, and it is to that point that I particularly speak today.
We have got to make American ideals a reality for all Americans so that we can lead the world to peace and freedom, and that is what we do through our campaign and through the leadership that we give.
Now, here again I ask you: Put yourself in the position of the voter. He hears me say what I say. He hears me say, as I believe, that we need a new education program that will see that every young man and woman who has the ability to go to college is not denied it because of financial grounds. He will hear me say, as I have said, that every one of our older citizens must have the right to get health insurance and not be denied it because of lack of funds to do so, but must not be forced to have it against his will.
He will hear me say, as I do say today, that we need new breakthroughs in science and activities on the part of the Federal
Government which will encourage such breakthroughs and bring them apart. He will hear me say, as I do say, that we need policies that will stimulate our economy, so we can have more jobs and higher wages for the American people.
How do I believe in these things? Why do I believe in them?
And here you must look to the man.
You must look to his background, education.
I want to tell you about the biggest day in my life, the biggest thrill I ever got, except for the day, of course, that Pat said, "Yes.
It wasn't the day I was nominated for President, but it was a day 26 years ago when I received the word from Duke University that I was getting a scholarship to go to law school. If I hadn't received that scholarship, I would probably be in California today, not certainly practicing law, but doing something perhaps of a very different nature, and only because I received it was I able to get an education; and, so, I feel, deep down inside, that no young man or woman in this country should be denied the opportunity to go to school, because there weren't enough schools to go around.
And, so, I say on this you can believe that I mean what I say and that I will carry it out.
Let's take the field of civil rights.
Have you ever talked to a Negro mother as I have? Have you ever heard her tell you, try to explain to a child in the South? How do you explain that she can go into a store and buy a loaf of bread but can't sit at the counter and have a Coca-Cola?
This makes you understand that it isn't enough just to pass laws; it isn't enough just to make speeches, but what you have to do is do what the Attorney General of the United States must do, not just a lot of promises and talk, but get in the leaders of chainstores and get them to agree to break down this barrier so that we can remove this block from the people of this country and our Nation.
What about unemployment? How can you believe me when I say I will move this economy forward, that we will use all the power of this Government to fight unemployment, to fight recession; but, more than that, we're going to use it in a positive way to stimulate employment, to open new avenues for expansion of economy?
How do you know? How can you believe me?
I'll tell you why. Because I know what it means. I remember the little store that my father ran. I have seen people come into that store. I have seen the shame on the faces of the fathers who wanted to work and who couldn't get any, and I have seen their youngsters in school. I have seen them and I know the feeling they have had because their fathers couldn't work. Do you think for one moment I would tolerate never using the full power of this Government not to deal with this?
And the answer is: I can tell you the promise. I make it. But you have to judge me on the basis of what I believe and my background.
What about the issue of peace?
And here again you must look to a man's background.
I remember from the day that I was born perhaps, as early as frankly I can remember politics. I remember that in the year 1916 I was only three then, but I remember that years later my mother and my father used to argue. My father was not a Quaker. My mother was. She voted for Woodrow Wilson. My father, who was a strong Republican, never forgave her, but my mother had a concern, as the Quakers put it, for peace, a concern that she drilled into all of us, and, so, on this issue we feel deeply about peace, but also you feel deeply about freedom.
Why do I feel about that? Because I know the hopes that people have in America.
I'll tell you of an experience a year ago in Poland - the most certainly moving day of our travels abroad - a Sunday afternoon, no one else but the Government knew we were arriving, no caravan like we had today, and yet, you know, in a totalitarian country - just as it was in Nazi Germany, so it was in Poland - we found a quarter of a million people on the streets, and they were cheering and they were shouting and they were throwing bouquets into our cars. You know what they were saying? "Niech Zyje America" - "Long Live America."
And you know, when the car stopped in the middle of Warsaw, they stopped and I looked into their faces. You know what they were doing? Some were smiling, but over half of these people, grown men and women, tears streaming down their cheeks. Why? Not because we were strong militarily, not because we were strong economically, but because America stood for freedom. We stood for faith in God, in the rights of men, and believe that these rights belong not just to us, believe that we as Americans have a responsibility to carry them to the whole world.
These things we believe.
And so, in the field of civil rights and all these I can only say this: Judge us by our deeds, and I will make this one political comment today: I say this: I am proud of the part that Nelson Rockefeller and I played in writing the civil rights plank in our platform.
It is a platform, incidentally, as to which I have done what my opponent has not done. In every Southern State I have been I have talked there. Now let me say this: Let me say this: We can talk, my friends. We can talk about leadership, the need for leadership and brave new leadership in the world, but, my friends, if you're going to lead on the issue of civil rights, you've got to talk on it in the place where it's a great problem, and not just in New York, as I talk about it here today.
And I challenge my opponent to do that. I challenge him to do it as he did once in the primaries, but has failed to do since.
This I say is a deed rather than a word. Because it isn't enough to write it in the platform. You have got to lead.
And, incidentally, it isn't enough just to talk it in the South because it's a problem here. It's a problem in my State, in California. It's a problem with all of us. We've all got to move together so that Khrushchev cannot come to this country, this man who has enslaved millions and slaughtered thousands and point the finger to us and say, "You deny us rights." We're going to stop that, and with your help we will.
One other test and I will be through. This is the first time I have spoken under those banners down there.
May I say: I respect both of my opponents. I want to say one other thing. I want to say that I am proud of my party - and of my convention - that they took my recommendation and that other great issue of human rights we refuse to talk about out of both corners of our mouths. But we have in Cabot Lodge a man who shares my views and who will be working with me and not against me in working toward this great end.
And, so, there it is. Do you want progress in civil rights? Do you want somebody who talks about it or do you want somebody who acts? In the last 7 years we've had more progress than we had in the previous 80.
Do you want somebody who just talks about it in the North or somebody who's got the guts, frankly, to talk about it every place, as any American leader should talk about it?
Do you want somebody who compromises his ticket by putting somebody on who will be sitting over the Senate and who will not make the rulings that I did that opened up this issue so that we could ever have a civil rights bill?
Do you want that?
I say that it's time that we have some frank talk on this, and I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to this audience here.
Now, again I want to make one thing very clear.
I have been speaking. I have been saying some things you agree with, maybe some things you disagree with.
I simply want to conclude by saying again: I don't ask one Republican here to vote for me because I am a Republican. I ask
everybody here in this decision: Think of America. Think of what the leadership needs. If you think Cabot Lodge and I, by experience and background and toughness, and also the ability to negotiate, are the men that can keep the peace without surrender, we deserve your vote. If you think we're the ones that can keep America's economy moving forward, we deserve your vote. If you think we're the ones that will produce on this great area of civil rights, then we deserve your vote. It is on that basis I ask it. If you think not, then we don't.
And I say, however, don't judge it on the basis of what somebody tells you to vote. Don't judge it on the basis of somebody saying, "Go in; vote the party line," simply because your father did and your grandfather did.
I say this is a time to vote for America, and I believe we stand for what America needs, and that is the basis on which we present our case to you.
Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President in the Garment District, New York, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273759