Richard Nixon photo

Remarks on Arrival at San Diego, California

August 24, 1972

We want to express our very, very great appreciation to you for the wonderful welcome that you have given us as we return home to California.

Incidentally, some people have suggested if you would put your signs down, they could see a little better. I like the signs, but you put them down for them.

I think you probably are aware that we were attending a convention yesterday across the country, and at that convention there were some very distinguished people. I didn't bring them with me on the plane, but they haven't been introduced, and before I say a few words, I would just like to present some of these people to you.

First, the Governor of our State, Governor Reagan, who was the temporary chairman.

GOV. RONALD REAGAN OF CALIFORNIA. This is once when we can say "fellow Californians" not only to all of you, but to our guests, and we are so happy to have them here. As the President explained to you, there were 3 days of preliminaries, but finally, for the climax of the convention, on the fourth day, here we are in San Diego.

Mr. President and Pat--because she is the First Lady of our land, but I think in the hearts of all of us she is "Pat," and we are just going to take advantage of it and keep it that way--we are also very proud, proud to have you here, proud that you are one of us. And, of course, those people who tried to pretend that what was taking place the last few days in Miami Beach was unexciting because we knew how it was going to turn out, well, I have never seen a John Wayne movie that was unexciting because you knew he was going to get the bad guy in the end. [Laughter]

[Crowd chanting: "Four More Years."]

You are right. It is going to be four more years.

It is a great pleasure to welcome you here, and now I think you would rather present these other people that are here. Bless you. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. And then, of course, somebody who--nobody here, of course, needs introduction. Everybody is a celebrity. You know, for somebody from Whittier to see all of these celebrities, it is really something, believe me. But I do want you to know we have Bob Wilson. We brought him back. I asked for a new majority in the country, and Bob is trying to get a new majority in the House of Representatives. Come on up.

REPRESENTATIVE BOB WILSON OF CALIFORNIA. Thank you, Mr. President. I can assure you we are going to give you the conventional Nixon landslide in the election this year in San Diego. Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. And the Lieutenant Governor of our State, Ed Reinecke. Ed, come up here.


Thank you, Mr. President, and Mrs. Nixon.

I would like to introduce you to a whole lot of delegates that helped to win that vote you just won the other night, Mr. President. These are the delegates that have just come back from--San Diego was it,1 or was it that other city, or wherever we were? These are the people who helped put you across, and we are going to put you across in November, just like I am sure thousands, hundreds, millions of people are going to do. God bless you.

THE PRESIDENT. And the Mayor, Pete Wilson.

MAYOR PETE WILSON OF SAN DIEGO. Thank you, Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon. These folks came here to listen to you, so all I am going to say is that America's finest city welcomes America's finest citizens, and we are going to be happy to see you back in the White House.

THE PRESIDENT. Now, I understand you have been here a long time and you have had a wonderful show. I will not talk long, because what I have to say I think you will understand very clearly, and we would like the chance to shake bands with a few more of you before we go on to San Clemente.

First, I would like to express appreciation not only to all of you, but to this wonderful group of celebrities that I have referred to, and they are celebrities, believe me. We couldn't possibly afford them, but they are here as volunteers.

I said the other night--some of you may have heard--when I spoke to the youth rally in Miami Beach, I was talking about the fact that when people in show business come out into a political rally, this is really a risk for them, because we in politics, when we go to a rally, of course, we know that the game is winning over 50 percent. You always expect the other fellow to get perhaps a little less than 50.

But in show business you are trying to please everybody. So somebody in show business who tries to be nice to everybody, when he gets into politics, he has got to be convinced that the country's needs come before even show business, and these people feel that way. Let's give them a hand.

We appreciate their sticking their necks out for us, and we just hope that as a result of what happens that their business will be better, and that the country's business will be better. We know that we are most grateful for what they have done.

I should also like to say a word, too, about Governor Reagan. I saw him in Camp David when he reported to me on his trip to Europe where he represented the United States so successfully in talking to our friends after a period, of course, when we had necessarily been having conversations with some of those who had been our adversaries.2

Then in Miami Beach, he, of course, presided the first day. He made one of the finest speeches of the convention, and at that time he said that when he didn't expect to be in the position of making the speech of the temporary chairman, that he expected to be making the welcoming speech.

Well, he has made it here in San Diego. This is the welcoming speech as we all know.

Now, I want to turn, if I can, for a moment, to San Diego, what this city means, what this county means. It is a very special place in my heart for a number of reasons.

A moment ago Mayor Wilson said that he had proclaimed that San Diego for this week would be America's finest city. Now, I have just been today in Miami--that is Florida. [Laughter] And I have been in Chicago, and that means Illinois. I have been in Detroit and that means Michigan. Now, as I come to San Diego, which, of course, is enormously important in California, I might lose Illinois, I might lose Michigan, and we might lose Florida. You wouldn't want us to do that.

So I am going to say this: I think the Mayor has made a declaration that is a fine one. This is certainly a wonderful city. I won't say it is the finest city. I can't say that. I can't pick and choose right now. But I will say this: This is the finest reception we are ever going to have in this whole campaign, and we thank you for that.

And I will also say, it is, as far as I am concerned, my luckiest city. You know, I have run for office--I hadn't realized it until I jotted it down coming out on the plane, how many times I had been on the ballot in this city and county of San Diego. Nineteen hundred fifty was the first time. Some of you are old enough here to have been around for that one. Nineteen hundred fifty, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1968-six times I have been on the ballot in the State of California, and in the city of San Diego. I haven't lost it once. I have lost some elections, but I have never lost San Diego, and I am not going to start now.

Now, if I could turn to one other thing that San Diego means to me. It has a special place in my heart, because after I served overseas in World War II, I came home to San Diego, and there is where I met Pat after having been overseas. So I will always have that memory of when we met after that period of time.

San Diego is a very special place to us. It is special for another reason. In 1968 after having been nominated in Miami, we came to San Diego first off, and so it was lucky then, because after coming to San Diego right after Miami, we won in November.

Now there is one difference. This crowd is twice as large as we had in 1968. We are going to win twice as big in 1972.

I don't mean by that that we are going to be complacent about it. We are going to work hard and we are going to work hard for reasons that I will describe very briefly, reasons that are terribly important to all of you, and terribly important to the future of America.

Let me describe my day very briefly to you. As I left Miami, I was at Homestead Air Force Base and there were 500 GI's out there. They had come down from Fort Bragg. They were fine young Americans. They had come down there to handle some of the problems that might arise. They weren't all that difficult. We really didn't even need them.

But I went over and shook hands with some of them and I could see that they were proud to wear the uniform of the United States. Oh, they were like all GI's; they were counting their days to when they are going to get out--some of them. Some of them are going to stay in, in the volunteer army.

But it made me feel that whoever is President of this country has got to be proud of the young men who instead of deserting their country, serve their country. And let us remember that.

Then, after that, I flew to Chicago and I talked to a crowd of 5,000, a packed house in Chicago, of Legionnaires, the American Legion. There were a few from World War I, a number from World War II, some from Korea, and the Legion now has 500,000 members from Vietnam. And the thought that ran through my mind as I talked to the American Legion was this: That is four wars in this century. Every generation has had a war. We have never had a generation of young Americans who have grown up without a war. That is why I have been talking about a generation of peace.

We want not only to end the war in which we are involved, and end it in a way that will discourage other wars, in an honorable way, but we want to build a lasting peace. And we have got to build that not simply by being for peace, but doing something about it, doing something not simply by negotiating, but negotiating in a way that we are respected. And that comes down to the very significant point that I wish to make with regard to the other stop that I made.

It was in Detroit, Michigan. Not really in Detroit, in one of the suburbs, a little town called Utica. Well, it is not so small. It is a little bigger than Whittier, I think, as a matter of fact. I dedicated the Dwight Eisenhower High School.

There were 2,500 inside and about 8,000 or so outside. Most of them were young people. Oh, there were junior high school students and high school students and their parents and, of course, many of their teachers, as well.

It was a wonderfully exciting crowd, and as I looked at their faces, I thought of their future, all of those young people, just as I thought of the future of America when I saw those young volunteers down in Miami Beach, and just as I think of the future of America when I see all of the younger people here.

I don't mean that we don't think of our future, too, but I simply want you to know that as I put all of those things together, as I remember returning from war in the Pacific to San Diego, as I remember seeing those wonderful GI's in Miami Beach this morning, as I remember speaking to the American Legion--a fine group of Americans--as I recall those young people, those boys and girls so idealistic, so enthusiastic, with so much to give to their country, so much to live for, I became even more dedicated than ever before to the proposition that it is the job of whoever is President of this country to do everything that he can to bring peace, but to do everything that he can m be worthy of the people of this country and particularly of that new generation, who for the first time, are going to have a chance to vote.

Oh, worthy of the older generation, too, but let's now talk about the new generation for just a moment--18 to 21. Here they are all voting. You know a lot of people said, "Oh, we don't know whether we ought to give them the vote. Are they responsible enough? Are they going to vote in a way that is going to consider the issues? Are they really old enough?"

The answer is: They are bright enough and they are patriotic enough. And we can count on young America. I believe in young America--and we are going to do very well among them.

Now, as I crossed the country, and as I came back to San Diego, one final thought went through my mind: How much times have changed in the last 4 years--and they have changed for the better. Everything isn't all right. It never will be in any country in this imperfect world. Ours is still, of course, the best country. We know that and we are so lucky to be here. But as we look at it we see that our cities are safer. We see that what was happening on some of our campuses isn't happening as much today. People are there for an education.

We see, too, that we have been able to cut the rate of inflation in this country which was nagging so many. We have made progress in dealing with the problems of the environment. We have moved forward on many programs in health and education for the interest of the American people.

This country is really a better place than it was 4 years ago. But looking also abroad, I was thinking this morning-I looked out on the Atlantic and today I am going to look out on the Pacific--how different it is in both of those areas. In the Pacific we find that the war that we are in has had the effect in these past 4 years-we have been able to move it down in terms of the American involvement. We have been bringing men home and we have reached the point where we can certainly say that we in the United States of America are seeing to a conclusion a war that has been terribly difficult, but we are seeing it to a conclusion in the right way rather than in the wrong way.

We have not heeded in the past and we will not heed in the future those who say that the United States, which has an honorable history throughout its history in terms of those wars in which it has been involved--that we will end this war as we have ended the others, without, of course, abandoning our POW's, without turning over the country that we are allied with to Communists, and also without staining the honor of the United States. It is a goal that we can achieve.

But beyond that, we have had the opening to the People's Republic of China. This doesn't mean that the Communist government of that country and the free government of the United States don't have enormous differences. We do, and we always will as long as they are Communist and as long as we are free. But it means that 800 million of potentially the most able people in the world are no longer shut off from the United States. It means that we have laid the groundwork for Americans and Chinese who live in the People's Republic of China, as well as Chinese in other parts of the world who have contributed so much to this world to work together rather than to be driven apart. That is a great thing for the world. It means that our young people, looking ahead, as they look at this wonderful world we live in, and it is a good world with all of its problems, that they will be able to go there and see the wonders that we saw, the Great Wall, and see those people, despite the differences in government. We did that. That is a good thing.

We want to try to continue that kind of thing for the United States and for the world.

Looking out across the Atlantic, we saw the Soviet Union, and here again we had very great differences between the United States and the Soviet Union as far as philosophy is concerned. But now we have started the limitation of arms. We are starting cooperation in so many fields. We are finding that the Russian people, as we have always known, are a great people. And we have started that communication between the Russian people and the American people that is needed, while recognizing still that there is no time for complacency, while recognizing that the United States, as the guardian of freedom in the world and as the guardian of peace in the world, must always negotiate any reduction of arms--and please don't ever send a President to the negotiating table as the head of the second strongest nation in the world. Don't do that.

That brings me to a point that I would like to particularly make in San Diego. I covered this in part at the Legion. I emphasize it here.

The Soviet Union is a great land power. They have an armed force, as far as the numbers in their Army is concerned, much larger than ours, because they need it as a land power. We are a great sea power. We have the largest Navy in the world, and we need it as a great nation. The United States cannot have a viable foreign policy--Dave Packard, I think, will agree with this as a former Under Secretary of Defense--we cannot have a viable foreign policy unless the United States, without question, not only now but in the future, continues to have the strongest Navy in the world, because we have two great coasts. We have the Atlantic. We have the Pacific. We have the Mediterranean. We need that Navy.

Now we do have, I can assure you, my fellow Californians, my fellow Americans, the strongest Navy in the world. We must keep it that way, and that is why even though we would like to cut our expenses in any area so that we could put more into other problems--education, health, the rest--let me say the most important thing to remember is that you can have the best health program and the best school system and the best welfare system in the world, and it isn't going to mean anything unless you are around to enjoy it. So let's be sure we have enough to strengthen the United States and to maintain it.

And that is why--and this is the only political note I will make in these remarks--we will have to do everything we can to see to it that those who would cut the strength of the United States Navy by reducing our carriers, for example, from 16 to 6, those who would do that would inevitably make the United States Navy the second strongest Navy because the Soviet Union is on a navy-building program, which we are all aware of, which will make it first.

So, therefore, looking to the years ahead, if we really want peace, let me say, here are the ingredients: First, we must negotiate with those who might be our adversaries--the People's Republic of China, the Soviet Union--so that we can negotiate differences rather than fight about them.

But second, in order to be able to negotiate, the United States must be strong, we must be respected in the world, we must never reduce our strength unless they do, too, and that means let's don't go to the negotiating table unless, in the areas where we are supposed to be strong, we are strong enough, and the Navy is indispensable.

San Diego. Whenever we hear that, it is the Navy's town. It is a great city, and as San Diegans, let me say, I pledge to you, we are going to keep our naval strength and we are going to stop those, however well intentioned they may be, who would cut the strength of the Navy and make it the second strongest in the world. We are going to be number one in our Navy so that America can continue to be a peaceful nation.

I have delayed you too long. I know you have been here a long time. I just close with this final note: I have traveled a great deal, of course, since going to Washington as a Congressman 25 years ago. I have been to 80 countries, and it has been a wonderful experience. But the best part of going away is coming home. To come home, to see you, all of you who have worked with us over the years, and to see all of you younger people who will be working with us and with other candidates of your choice in the future, gives us certainly a very great feeling of pride in being Californians and adopted San Diegans.

We thank you very much for this welcome. We are going on now to a campaign over the next 2 months which will be long, which will be hard. It will be very vigorous. We go into it with no complacency, but we go into it with confidence. We go into it with confidence because we are going after all the American people. We are not going to concede anybody to the other side, and particularly we are not going to concede America's young people to the other side because they are part of our new majority.

You know, I have a real treat here. I didn't realize when I saw Art Linkletter here that he hadn't just arrived when we did, because he had been there in Miami Beach doing a wonderful job of emceeing, and to have Art Linkletter here and not to have him on this program— Art, won't you say something?

Incidentally, don't you ever believe, when you look at him, that you look at this young fellow. He is as old as I am.

ART LINKLETTER. You know, I always get these lovely spots right after the President talks. When I was in Washington a few weeks ago, they introduced me right after Billy Graham prayed, and I had to do that. But actually, I was in Miami to do the opening gala there, and I was so excited about being there that my opening remarks were: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to San Diego." Then I realized we had moved. But it was a wonderful evening and it was a great breakfast the next morning.

You know, I had dinner with your wife Sunday night, and breakfast with your wife Monday morning, and I hope that both you and Lois [Mrs. Linkletter] will be understanding. It was a marvelous convention. I flew down to introduce Ronnie Reagan, who was going to introduce the President, and all of a sudden here you were. You didn't need any introduction. They knew who you were. Isn't this remarkable? But we have been friends for 30 years. This is no new alliance for me. Breakfast Club and programs back when the President was running for Congress, and I have seen his family grow up, and the finest, not just the First Family, the best American family, and they will be there another 4 years.

THE PRESIDENT. Incidentally, when Art talks about all that business of break fast and dinner with Pat, I just want to keep the record straight. He has also slept in the White House. He slept in the Queen's Room. When Pat's room is being painted or anything, she sleeps there, so we can say that Art Linkletter has slept in Pat's bed. [Laughter]

ART LINKLETTER. Well, you have my vote.

1 San Diego was the site first scheduled for the 1972 Republican National Convention.

2 On August 18, 1972, Governor Reagan met with the President to report on his 3-week trip to Europe as the President's special representative for the purpose of underlining the importance the Administration attaches to our ties with Europe, to our NATO commitment, and to mutually beneficial relations with the enlarged European Community.

Note: The President spoke at 6:04 p.m. at San Diego International-Lindbergh Field. He spoke without referring to notes.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Arrival at San Diego, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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