Richard Nixon photo

Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President at the Reverend Hays' Housing Development, Newark, NJ

October 04, 1960

What I want to say to you however today is this. Very simply, I want to say to this audience that when you elect, as you will, the next President of the United States, you should apply only one test - not what label he wears, not what promises he makes, not what he may say in speeches or anything of that sort, but you must apply your own conviction as to who can give the leadership that America needs in this particular period in our history.

Now, why do I mention that? I say that when we elect a President of this country we must think of the country first, and this is particularly true now as we see the great developments in the world and as we note the requirements that America has in the world, and I want to say to everybody here that America needs to select between the two candidates for the Presidency and the two candidates for the Vice Presidency not the one who may be the best from the party standpoint, but the one who's best for America, and I think all of us agree that's what America needs - nothing but the best.

Now, I want to say a word about Jackie Robinson, too. He has been very kind to introduce me as he has. I happen to come, of course, as you know, from California, as did both of us, incidentally, many years ago, but he later than I.

I have known him for many years. I have appreciated his support very deeply because I know that it is support that comes from his convictions and from the heart, and I only want to say this, after hearing him speak as he has about me and about my running mate. It is a privilege to have on our team this man who has contributed so much not only to baseball and football in America - and I know him more as a football star when I saw him play for UCLA against Oregon and other schools, and Southern California - but who also has contributed so much, particularly since he left sports, in the field of making this a better country, a truer country. I certainly want to join you in paying tribute to one of the fine Americans of our time, an honest man who is never afraid to express his convictions.

And so, Jackie, I couldn't have appreciated more the words you have had to say today. Incidentally, the Dodgers, I know, had Jackie for some years. Then, of course, they went out to Los Angeles and by that time Jackie was no longer playing. But with the World Series starting tomorrow, I was saying to Jackie a little earlier that I was sure that the Pirates or the Yankees could use him playing either at second base or third base, and Jackie said, "But I'm a little heavier than I used to be," but certainly as a pinch hitter, I think he'll do any time. What do you think?

Incidentally, I noted a few boos. I can say that anybody who doesn't appreciate Jackie Robinson doesn't belong in this crowd right here today.

Thank you.

Now, noting the Kennedy signs here, I want to say I'm glad to see they are here, because we want some people to convert. So we're glad to have you here.

Now, here today, you have heard some talk about civil rights. You know what you expect me to say. I know. "Well, this fellow Nixon is going to get up and say, 'I'm the fellow that is going to promise you the things in civil rights that you want. I'm the fellow who is going to produce and promise the things in housing and education and so forth that you want,'" and then just expect you to take it on that.

I want to tell you today, my friends, I don't submit what I have to say on the basis of promises. I submit it on a record, a record that goes back a long time.

I'm proud of the fact, for example, that in the last 7½ years in this administration we have produced more progress than was even talked about in the 20 years before.

And I say, it's time to quit having so much talking about this and more producing, and that's what we're prepared to do.

I also was glad to note Jackie's reference to the fact that on this particular issue, I have talked about it in every State that I have visited, and I'll tell you why: Because it's a problem in every State. Because it isn't right for a candidate for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency to talk one way in the North and another way in the South - and I talk the same throughout America.

Another thing that I'm proud of is that I've talked and I've voted the same way as my running mate has. In the case of our opponents they talk out of both corners of their mouths because they don't agree on this issue. I'm glad we do agree, and I know you appreciate that fact too.

Now let me come to the heart of this question. We have here two men, Lodge and Nixon, who have records, who have strong beliefs, and who have proved by their deeds what they believe.

We have two men on the other side who disagree, disagree in their votes, disagree in their statements and, of course, you can see what would happen in the event that you left with them this proposition.

But this isn't enough. I've got to say what I believe, why I believe this issue is important, and I want to put it in an entirely different context. I think too many people come before a group of our Negro Americans, as you are, and simply talk about civil rights. You people are interested in that, but you're also interested in America. And I want to say to you that when I talk on this issue of civil rights it's not only because you're interested in it as individuals but because America has to have a solution to this problem. And that's what I say in the North, East, West, and South.

Let me give you an example. All of you have been following the United Nations over there on television. I see those aerials. Now, you've seen Mr. Khrushchev, haven't you?

Did you see his speech the other day? Did you hear what he said? Here's a man who has enslaved millions of people, and I have seen those Russians. Here's a man who has slaughtered thousands of people in the streets of Hungary - and I saw the refugees come across from Hungary, boys and girls in their teens driven across by this man.

He was the man responsible for the slaughter in Budapest. Here's this man at the United Nations in New York, and what does he do?

He, the enslaver of millions - he, the slaughterer of thousands - points the finger to the United States and says, "you who stand for freedom or say you do, you practice prejudice and hatred at home, and you say something different abroad."

And I say we've got to change that so that neither this man nor anyone else can point the finger to the United States and say we're not living up to the ideals for which we stand.

Now, how do we change it? We've got to change it by giving everybody in this country an equal chance.

You know, we all can't hit home runs, but we are all entitled to our time at bat, and that means everybody here. It means everybody regardless of what his background may be. That's why I have a program in the field of education which will see to it that our young people who ought to go to college, who do have the ability, get to go and are not denied it because they don't have the money.

That's why I have a program in the field of housing and metropolitan development which will see that all of our people move forward together and that no one is left behind. That is why I say to you that in this field of human rights it isn't just a question of what we do for Negro Americans or others that are discriminated against. It's a question of what we do for America. America needs you. America needs the best you can produce. I know that all of you have heard the story of George Washington Carver - it's one of the most exciting ones in history - this boy who used to walk a total of 12 miles to and from school in order to get an education. This boy making discoveries in the field of science which developed scores of new products in the South. Now we need to see to it that every potential George Washington Carver gets the education that he needs and deserves - and there may be some right out here. We need to see to it that not only everyone who can be a great football or baseball player gets a chance, as Jackie Robinson did, but also that everyone who can be a scientist, everyone who can be a minister, everyone who can be a legislator, everyone who can serve America gets his chance. That's what I believe in.

That is why I say we are going to see that you get the chance, and we are not just going to talk a good game for votes. We are going to play a good game, because America needs nothing less, and this is what I say to you today

And so, my friends, I thank you for your attention. I ask for your consideration. I only say this: I do not make promises. I make to you assertions and pledges that I intend to keep, and I say to you that I believe in this cause.

I believe in it because I have seen the world. I believe in it because I know that America cannot win the struggle for peace and freedom unless we are an example of opportunity for all to see abroad.

We can't talk one way abroad and practice something else at home. I have been abroad, and I know what it is, and I say that you can help, help us work together in solving this problem so that America can be a shining example of the country we love and want her always to be, an example in which every American has his chance, in which every American has his opportunity, in which every American has a chance to make his contribution to this greatest country in the world.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of the Remarks of the Vice President at the Reverend Hays' Housing Development, Newark, NJ Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project