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Press Conference of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, CA

September 13, 1960

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, could you give us a medical report on that knee after your first day's campaigning?

The VICE PRESIDENT. It stood the stress very well, and the doctor took a look at it last night, found no complications, and I expect to be able to return to full duty on it by the end of the week. Yesterday, of course, was a very light day as far as the knee was concerned.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, your Democratic opponent made this statement last night in Houston: "If the time should ever come when my office would require me either to violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office." I would like to ask whether you can conceivably anticipate circumstances in which you, if elected, might face a potential violation of one or the other and would contemplate the course of resigning if elected?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I do not - and, as a matter of fact, I do not anticipate such a time coming in the case of Senator Kennedy. I have indicated my views on that very strongly. I respect his statement on it, and I think it should be accepted without any further questioning by people since he has stated it so categorically. I certainly don't question it, and if I don't I certainly don't feel others should raise a question about it since he has covered it so thoroughly,

QUESTION. Do you support the administration's decision to limit Mr. Khrushchev to Manhattan?

The VICE PRESIDENT. Yes. I believe that the decision of the administration to limit Mr. Khrushchev to Manhattan was dictated by Security requirements that all of us can understand. When he came to the United States previously, I don't think many people realized to what great ends we went, what means were used to be sure that there was no security risk. We also prepared public opinion, and I was among those who helped to do it, to accept his visit and not engage in any incidents. I think now, in view of the fact Mr. Khrushchev has acted in such an insulting way toward the President of the United States, in view of the fact that he does not come here, as he did previously, as trying to or at least appearing to try to be a friend to the President and to the Government of this country, that there would be a much graver risk than there was the other time. I think this is in Mr. Khrushchev's interest to limit him there. I regret that it is necessary. I think any visitor to this country should have the run of this country whenever possible, but I would say in the case of Mr. Khrushchev - and, of course, as you know, Mr. Kadar of Hungary is also placed under the same limitation - that to allow them the run of the country would be irresponsible as far as they were concerned. There would be too grave a risk, which in a nonpolice state we could not afford to take. For example, if I might add, with regard to Mr. Kadar, on Mr. Khrushchev's previous visit, one of my major concerns - and I talked to the security officers at length - this is with regard to Hungarian refugees. You would be interested to know we had privately - and I participated in some of them - several meetings with the key groups of Hungarian refugees in this country, asking them to use their influence against demonstrations while he was here. Now, at the present time, with Mr. Kadar coming here, I don't think that you would be able to control that situation.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, some of us noticed yesterday that you campaigned the whole day without mentioning the words "civil rights" either in Indianapolis or here in Dallas. And, though you had mentioned several other of the great domestic issues, just in passing at least, we were wondering, sir, if there is any possibility that you have come to the conclusion that this issue is not as great as some of the other issues on the domestic scene, or was it just one of those things?

The VICE PRESIDENT. My recollection was in my speech last night in San Francisco, while I did not include the issue of civil rights in the very brief excerpts that I passed out, that I made a very strong plea for all Americans to do their personal part in the fight against bigotry, against racial and religious prejudice in the United States. As far as mentioning it in each speech, obviously, you can't cover all subjects in each speech, and I did not feel that yesterday was a time that I could work it in with all the other subjects that I had to cover. I might point out, incidentally, that, as far as Dallas, Tex., is concerned, the civil rights issue there is not nearly as controversial and it is not nearly as important that it be mentioned as it was in Birmingham, Ala., in Atlanta, Ga., and in Greensboro, N.C., which are so-called Deep South States in which the issue, of course, is raised. I might add, incidentally, that I am planning several statements on civil rights, including a major one in the course of the next few weeks, in which it will be a major portion of one of the speeches I make. I don't believe that the issue is a minor issue. I think it is one that is inter-related with the great issue, the one that I have described as the great issue, the issue of the extension of peace with freedom throughout the world because, unless the United States can present to the world, particularly that portion of the world where the battle for freedom and peace is going on, the so-called uncommitted countries, an image of the country in which we fight prejudice of all types and stand for the individual dignity of people, regardless of their backgrounds, we cannot successfully fight the battle for peace and freedom. Since I believe that, I will of course emphasize this issue accordingly.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, isn't it a fair assumption, however, that since people in the area of Dallas conceive of the Federal aid to education bill as largely an attempt to force integration upon them, that your remarks on that bill, without reference to civil rights, might be interpreted there as some type of endorsement of their view?

The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, if it was, it was unfortunate because it was not intended so, and if you heard my remarks - of course, you were there - you will know that I did not take the position that Bruce Alger takes on Federal aid to education. I indicated clearly that I favored Federal aid for school construction, with no Federal control - and, incidentally, that is the position taken by most of those supporting Federal aid for school construction, because they realize that once you attach to any Federal aid bill a Federal control amendment such as the Powell amendment, you defeat the Federal aid bill as well. That is the administration's position. It is also my position. And if I was misinterpreted it was not intentional on my part.

QUESTION. I believe it was two days ago that Senator Kennedy said that the cut-off date in discussing religion should be right now, and I noticed yesterday that he commented yesterday at some length on the religious issue. Would you comment on that? Do you consider that a breach of the idea of not discussing religion further?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I don't think it would be helpful if I did comment on it. Senator Kennedy is, of course, in a different position from what I am, and I understand that. I do feel, as I have indicated, that every time the candidates discuss it they make what would otherwise be a 3d-, or 4th-, or 10th-page story a 1st-page story. His position is different, and I don't know what I would do if I were in his position. I do know what I will do in my position. I am not going to add any fuel to this discussion. I covered it completely, categorically, on several occasions, the last time on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and, so, therefore, I think that for me to comment even on this question would be a breach of my own conviction that I can best serve the cause of keeping this issue out of the campaign by not commenting on it further myself; but I will not criticize Senator Kennedy for what he has said. That's his decision.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, where are you going to make this major civil rights speech?

The VICE PRESIDENT. We haven't selected the place as yet. We have a number of different speeches that we want to make. As you know, our practice, for the purpose of the traveling press, is to attempt to give you each day one major subject for your emphasis on that day, and for my emphasis as well. The speech is already prepared. I finished it while I was at the hospital last week but I have not yet determined what would be the best day to release it.

QUESTION. Is it your thinking to deliver it in the South, in the border area, or---

The VICE PRESIDENT. I haven't decided which area it will be in. I will say this: As has been my practice, I will discuss civil rights the same both North and South, as I think most objective observers agree I have.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, on the domestic scene, local domestic scene, can you tell us what you foresee as a revival for the gold-mining industry?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I will be very frank to have to admit, while there was a time when I was quite familiar with the problems with regard to the gold-mining industry and could have commented upon it with some understanding, that I have not had an opportunity to be briefed on it thoroughly before this press conference. I do intend, for your information, incidentally, to have a discussion with Secretary Seaton during the course of this trip, and if on my next trip to California you would again ask me that question I would be glad to comment on it then, or better still, if you would like to drop me a note within the next week or so, I might be able to give you an answer on it. I cannot comment on it with any degree of understanding today.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, for the benefit of the rural press, when will you be back in California?

The VICE PRESIDENT: I don't expect to be back in the rural city of San Francisco for some time - and, incidentally, that is much to the disappointment of the traveling metropolitan press, I am sure - but my next trip to California, I believe, is early in October. I will be in California on at least three other occasions that is, I will come into the State on three other occasions campaigning intensively in this State, but I do not have the exact date of the next trip. It just escapes my mind. It's quite early in October, I am sure.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, I have a double-barreled question. One, do you plan to do any whistlestopping in California, by train, and do you agree with what Senator Kennedy was saying all the way down the State, that is the State which may be decisive in the election?

The VICE PRESIDENT: The answer to the second question is, of course, yes. It is a battleground. All the polls and all the political prognosticators agree that this is one of the closest States and also is one of the most volatile States. It swings with whoever happens to be here last, to a certain extent. That's one of the reasons he will be here quite often and one of the reasons I will be here quite often. As far as the whistlestopping by train is concerned, I have studied the possibilities in California and I have reached the conclusion that I can better get around this State by propstopping with a smaller airplane, a Convair, and by motorcading the metropolitan areas. So, we will do both of those. We will motorcade and propstop, but I will not use a train. A train just doesn't cover enough territory fast enough in the State of California.

QUESTION. Mr. Vice President, we would like to know if you could comment on youth taking an active part in political campaigning?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I would be glad to. One of the most encouraging aspects of this campaign has been that young people, even more than in 1952 and 1956, are taking an active part. This is true not only of the young voters, those 21 and above, but it is also true of the teen-age young people who I see in great evidence at our rallies, and I understand they are also in great evidence at Senator Kennedy's. I feel it is healthy and constructive and I will just conclude my remarks by saying: With all the talk about what is wrong with youth today, the young people of America are infinitely more sophisticated and have a great deal more understanding about political affairs and international affairs than was the case when I was in school, for example, quite a few years ago.

Richard Nixon, Press Conference of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project