Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Radio and Newsreel Panel Discussion Sponsored by the National Republican Committee in Chicago.

October 22, 1958

Q. May I ask this question? Do you think we are going to have another war?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not a prophet, of course. This world is a tense one, and we must always realize that a spark, or carelessness, or miscalculation could set off something we wouldn't want.

I will say this: I believe that as long as America lives by its principles, the principles it has always followed--as long as it reminds itself of its own traditions, stays firm and strong, and always ready to conciliate, that is the very best chance of remaining at peace.

Q. Quemoy is on everyone's mind, Mr. President. Could you give us something on that, please?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, at this moment, we all think of Quemoy and its significance to the effort that is being made certainly by the whole free world to keep the peace.

The big thing we must remember is this: Quemoy and Matsu, as bits of territory, are absolutely inconsequential. What they do mean to us is that they are a symbol of a principle. The free world is committed to the resisting of communist territorial expansion by force.

As long ago as 1947 our President--then President--announced the so-called Truman Doctrine in the area of Turkey and Greece. Ever since that moment that has been one of the guiding elements of American international relationships, to try to settle every international question by negotiation, to support the United Nations, but ourselves to stand on that principle that we cannot countenance that thing. And I believe that all of our allies, our principal allies, have announced themselves in the same way.

So Quemoy itself, I repeat, is inconsequential--that is not the problem. It is this: are the communists to be allowed to carry out their announced intentions? Not anything about Quemoy, but taking Quemoy on the way to taking formosa. That's the problem. And I think we must stand on that principle.

Q. Mr. President, at this time I am wondering if the fears of some of our people are justified. Is Russia better prepared for war than we are?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are asking a very broad question, for this reason. There are all sorts of preparation for war, if you are thinking of war or trying to prevent war. for example, a strong economy is one of the finest things we can have in this world to help prevent war or to win one if it occurs.

Twice we have been the arsenal of democracy. The strength of our economy has been one of the determining factors. Now if we are talking more specifically of the materiel, the munitions and implements and machinery of war, I should say never before has the United States been as strong as it now is. It has the best equipment and weapons that our scientists can devise, and the deterrent strength of our strategic forces and our fleet arm is really very great and is respected throughout the world.

In numbers of foot soldiers, of course, the Russians are way ahead of us, but they have always been that, and they have got the men. We don't believe in that. We believe in having adequate, efficient and modernized forces that will prevent war and make it too costly to wage.

On the over-all, I would say America is the strongest military power there is in the world.

Q. Mr. President, I am interested in knowing how your grandchildren are. I know you are a proud grandfather.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are asking a question now that I can speak the rest of the half-hour on. But they are in splendid condition and all except the youngest one going to school, and I think she is just waiting to do it. Doing fine and healthy and, I am happy to say, they are the joy of our lives.

Q. Mr. President, I want to know, can we expect the Republican Party to continue its efforts in behalf of civil rights, and what can we do, as citizens, to help?

THE PRESIDENT. Well of course, the Republican Party has always included in its platform the extension or, you might say, the universality of civil rights; that everyone has the same Constitutional rights--economic and political--in this country that anyone else does, regardless of race or religion, and so on.

Now, this can be policy. It is not, as we all know, attained in a minute. It is a very difficult thing. There is a law on the books now, as you know, for equality on voting, and there is also the decision of the Supreme Court about integration of schools.

But these are features of law that can be brought into effect only as the whole population, in its heart and in its intelligence, understands that this principle of equality is important to the United States and must be sustained.

So that while I do not believe for one second that these ideals are going to be achieved in a moment, or even in a year, I do say this: the Republican Party will always work for this ideal.

Q. Mr. President, we have noticed in the last few months that the Democrats have been talking a lot about a recession. They almost seem to hope that the country will go to the dogs, so it seems. As Republicans, can we assure them that business is good and getting better?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the answer to the last one is "Yes"--a big emphatic "Yes." I just this morning had a telegram from Washington, which I expect to read at the Rally tonight; it gives some very encouraging figures. for example, in this third quarter of this year, the gross national product is ten billion dollars up. And our people, now looking ahead, believe that the economy is on such a steady and rapid rise that it is not too much now to look for a five-hundred-billion-dollar gross national product in this country within a very reasonable time.

Now, with that kind of prospect before us, that may disappoint some of the demagogues, but I believe, by and large, that all Americans want to see prosperity, and it is certainly coming again.

Q. Mr. President, I would like to know, do you believe the policies of the Republican Party will help to create more jobs?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes indeed. for this reason: we have pinned our faith on the system of free enterprise that has made this country great. We believe in the private initiative of the individual, and we believe that the aggregate of the economic decisions made by 175 million people-free people--day by day, finally generate the demands, the capacity produced, that create more jobs than any other system can possibly do.

Therefore, the only other system would be some kind of controlled economy where they would be directed, and maybe you could give people jobs, but they wouldn't be getting the kind of pay they get now. Let's remember there are 64 million people working--let's don't, as I see it, demolish the policies and the system that has given that kind of employment; even though all of us can be concerned, must be concerned, about those people who want to work but who are still without a job. But there is no other system, in my opinion, that can do as well as this one has, and we intend to stick right on that line.

Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask what the Administration is doing to remove federal competition with small business?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not certain that I can answer that question in specific fashion because certainly we don't intend to be competing with small business. By and large, one of the great preoccupations of this Administration over the past few years has been to find ways to give, let us say, a bigger portion of federal procurement to small businesses, and to give them some advantage in the tax structure, so that they can accumulate the capital so that they may grow into bigger businesses.

We have established on a permanent basis the Small Business Administration, so that all in all one of the preoccupations has been to help small business. And I will say this: if the federal government is now competing with them, I'll see to it that, as far as I can, they will get out of that competition.

Q. Mr. President, I am interested in what goes on in the farming communities, and I would like to know if you think our farm program is better?

THE PRESIDENT. Our farm program is better, there's no question about that. Let's say at the outset, problems still exist in agriculture, but we have done this: we have tried to free farmers from excessive federal control. We have tried to emphasize research, the development of markets all over the world, so that their products can be used better.

For example, we exported in the last two years, eight billion, seven hundred million dollars of farm products. This is not only a record, but it means this: this is helping us not only as a farm community to sell these products in the foreign markets, but it means that it is an instrument in helping us maintain the peace. We feed the hungry, we are getting them better standards of living than they otherwise would have had, and we believe that a billion and a half people have been helped by this system.

So, with the emphasis on research, for new markets, for new and better uses, for better diets here at home, and with a greater freedom, and with flexible rather than rigid supports that will build up these depressing surpluses, I would say this: the farm programs of today are far better than a few years back. But as I say, we must still do better than that.

Q. At the birthday breakfast that you had recently, I believe, Mr. President, you suggested that the Federal budget should balance with the household budget. Can you tell me what chance we have of doing that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I said this, that when the housewife is balancing her budget, it is a very great important thing for her to show her concern for the federal budget. If we continue to spend more than we get, in spite of high taxes, we do several things. One is to create a deficit that must be filled by more borrowings. The borrowings, finally, cheapen your dollar more and more, or make living costs go up. And therefore. you put more and more money into your pocketbook to buy less and less at the comer grocery.

So the unbalanced federal budget is only one of the inciting factors in inflation, but it is an important one. Therefore, if you want to balance your budget, one of the things you watch is that federal budget, and the biggest way to do that is not to try to take more taxes from the people, but to try to get expenditures down. And that should be a doctrine, and should be a prayer and a determination of all Republicans, as I see it--indeed of all Americans.

Q. Mr. President, I am interested in the school system. We read that Russia has a decidedly better scientific education to offer their children in the schools. My question is this: can we not offer our children in America an equally good education in schools, and can we do it without federal aid to education?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I agree with some of the things you have heard, because of this reason: the Russians dictate what will be the education of their children. You say they are "offering" education. They are directing education, which is a vast difference, because they are being trained--you might say atmosphered in the habit of regimentation.

We are being treated as a free people, and we believe that the maturing of our children under a free system is far better than the other kind.

Now in their early years, as a matter of fact right on through their secondary schools, there is no question they are emphasizing more the difficult subjects--mathematics, science and languages--than are we. But our gifted students, as they choose these subjects and the heavier courses--there is no question about the progress they have made. Because after all, we have in our country a very wonderful and strong group of scientists--physicists, chemists and all the rest.

So, whether or not we can do this without federal aid, we have, as you know, given some inducements to get more scientific subjects taught in our secondary and college levels. And I think that with the loans that have been authorized by the United States, by the scholarships, by the help in establishing the facilities for this kind of training, we believe we are going to go faster in that kind of education.

And I believe this: we probably will develop a little tougher schedules for our children through secondary schools and in college, indeed.

So I think that all in all, while they have had the particular purpose of making themselves strong militarily, and you might say industrially, we have always remembered that freedom is first of all the big value we are defending. I think that therefore, with these aids, and there may be others, but not getting into the business of federal direction of education or making our schools dependent upon the federal government, we can start doing a job that will be the equal of that of any other country in the world.

Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask you, as the grandmother of three grandsons whom I find it difficult to keep up with in this space age, perhaps you would give me a little information on this trip to the Moon that even I will take before I die?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll tell you frankly: I'm not one of those that has volunteered for it. [Laughter] And I think we should remember this: when we stop to think of the amazing progress our scientists have made in the exploration of space just in the last three years, it is not out of the realm of reason at all to believe that some human will go out into space some day and return to the earth and tell about it.

Now there are tremendous difficulties to be overcome. But you know, the recent high altitude test, this rocket that went out to something like 80 thousand miles from the earth, shows that the propulsive machinery is there. There was much learned from it. So I think that what we have done in three years in this field is almost certain promise that a great many of us here will live to see things that today just look like Buck Rogers in the funny papers. That, I am sure of.

Q. I think there is one question on the minds of all of us, Mr. President: how important is the election of a Republican Congress, and what can we do to help in the election of Republican candidates for all public offices?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am going to make the most eloquent speech I know tonight about that. But I well tell you this: let's remember that a political contest is not perfection against complete evil. We are talking, as Republicans, of sound, sane, progressive government, in keeping, as we see it, with the American system, the American Constitution, American tradition.

We reject spendthrift government that pretends to help people while it robs the pocketbook and creates inflation. We reject centralization of power in the federal government, believing that government should stay close to you and to every citizen. We reject everything that we believe is put forward as a panacea for the moment for any difficulty we have, and completely forgetting that we have got a world not only to live in but to leave to our children and grandchildren where they may enjoy the same kind of rights that we have enjoyed in our lives.

So I think that the dominant wing of the other party, which is influenced by all of these rather extremist, or we call them radical, views as to spending and centralization and political control of the economy-those are what we reject. And we should be very much on the job.

Now as for doing: I believe, first of all, we should believe. And we should talk. And we should work. And we should give. Because, to my mind, in the long rim, the only way we are going to have the kind of government that we want is just to do that. Each one of us. Not just someone who is the president of the club, but someone who is the newest recruit, and getting out right down the block, and getting into every apartment, every house, and saying, "These are the simple issues. Do you want that kind of government for your child or your grandchild, or don't you?" Now that's what I think we must do.

Note: The panel discussion was held in the Mayfair Room, Sheraton-Blackstone Hotel, at 11:30 a. m.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Newsreel Panel Discussion Sponsored by the National Republican Committee in Chicago. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234164

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