Richard Nixon photo

Remarks in Ashland, Kentucky

October 26, 1972

Thank you very much. I want all of you to know what a very great experience it is for my wife Pat and for me to return to Kentucky. I want you to know that when I think of those six visits, and others, too, in which I have come to this State, I never fail to marvel at the wonderfully warm reception that we have received. And having noticed many of the new buildings as we came along the road, and having noticed that there are 10 times as many outside this hall as there are inside, I think we need a bigger armory right here.

To those outside--I understand they may be able to hear on the public address system--we are sorry that you couldn't get in. We are sorry we didn't have the chance to stop and greet many of you, although we did make a couple of stops on the way in, and we can only say that your devotion and your dedication to be there with your welcomes, your smiles, your flags, your signs, really touched our hearts.

Let me say, too, that the signs here are very interesting. I see one down here. It says "Sandy Says Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue. If You Kiss Me, I'll Vote For You." [Laughter] She must mean Louie Nunn. [Laughter] Are you 18? [Laughter]

Could I begin first with some personal remarks. One, we owe a great deal to this State, the support we have had through the years, the friendships that we have in this State. We owe also the fact that over the last 4 years we have had a very gracious and lovely lady from Kentucky as the Social Secretary at the White House, Lucy Winchester. We are very proud of Lucy, and we are very glad that she could be there.

While this is, of course, a very happy occasion for us, this magnificent rally and all this enthusiasm with just a few days before the election, it is also for us a rather sad day in a way, as I am sure it is for you, because we realize that John Sherman Cooper is not going to be a candidate this year, and we realize, as we think of that, his service to the Nation and to his State over the years, how splendid it has been and how much we will miss him.

I simply want to say that I have known him, of course, through all the years. I have campaigned this State up through these mountains with him on many occasions, almost 20 years ago. Sometimes he has won; sometimes he has lost. Sometimes I have won; sometimes I have lost, although, let me say, I have never lost Kentucky and I am not going to start now.

John Cooper, not only as a Senator but as a distinguished Ambassador to India, has served his Nation in a magnificent way. I know that he will serve it in the future, I trust, in some capacity, because men of this quality, of this dedication, of this character are rare, and we are fortunate to have had him in government and to have him in the future.

Let me say, too, that as I think of him, I think of the tradition of Kentucky and Senators. You stop to think, of course, of Henry Clay. We all read about him and you read about him. Four times a candidate for President. He never made it. But he was one of the great, great Senators, and to follow in his footsteps there have been other great Senators of both parties down through the years. We think, for example, of Alben Barkley, a Senator from Kentucky. We think, too, in more recent years, of John Sherman Cooper and Thruston Morton.

We think of that tradition. I could mention others. Just let me say this: With that kind of tradition in times past, what we need now is to continue that tradition. I don't know of a better team that could represent Kentucky or any State in the United States Senate than Marlow Cook and Louie Nunn. We need them both.

I, of course, have known Louie Nunn when he managed my campaign not only in Kentucky but throughout these States in the year 1968 in this Mideastern region. I have known him as Governor of this State when he has worked so hard with us in Washington, and he has always found that door of the Oval Office open then, and he will in the future, just as any from Kentucky will.

Also, in mentioning him may I say, too, that I would not want to overlook the splendid representation in the House of Representatives--Tim Lee Garter, your Congressman, who is here.

Having spoken of that tradition, it seems to me tonight that before this splendid audience here in the heartland of Kentucky, in the heartland of America, you would appreciate my talking about the future of America. I could talk about our record. I am proud of it. We haven't accomplished everything that we would have wanted. I don't suppose any President ever can or will. All we do is to try to do the best we can, but we have made great progress in many fields.

I could talk about the past. I could talk also simply of the differences that I have with those of the opposition. But as we enter the closing days of the campaign, I think what the American people really want to hear from anyone who aspires to the office of the Presidency is what his vision is of the future.

What about those next 4 years? What do we plan? What will it mean to all of us--to the older people, to the younger people? And speaking of the younger people, let me just say an interesting thing. I noted that in Kentucky 18-year-olds have had the vote since the year 1954. In 1956, 1960, 1968, as you know, I have been on the ticket, on the ballot in Kentucky. I have always come in, or at least carried it. And I remember when the 18-year-old vote was passed in the Congress of the United States there were those that said that was going to be a very great blow to us in the year 1972.

Well, one thing this election demonstrates, when the 18-year-olds had the vote in Kentucky, we won it. When the 18-year-olds have the vote in the Nation, we are going to win the Nation.

Now, let me turn, if I may, quickly, to that future, their future, our future, the future of this Nation, what the next 4 years can mean on the great issues that cut across State lines and regional lines and racial lines and religious lines, on the great issues that are American, not partisan.

Let us think for a few moments not about our partisan affiliation, our backgrounds, but simply that we are all very proud to be Americans tonight, and as we think of being Americans, what are the hopes of America in these next 4 years?

Let me first address myself to the subject that Louie Nunn so eloquently has touched upon, the subject of peace. When we speak of peace, I know the immediate thought that comes through our minds, and it is one that has been coming through our minds for many years, through the years that America has been engaged in the longest war in its history. It is a war that began long before I came into office in 1969. It is one that we have wound down. It is one which, as you know from reading your newspapers this afternoon and listening to the television and radio, in which there has been a significant breakthrough in the peace negotiations.

Let me say to you tonight that on May 8, when I made the difficult decision of mining the harbors of North Vietnam and bombing military targets, I laid out three goals for peace. I thought they were reasonable goals, and they were these: First, there should be a cease-fire, stop the killing. Second, all of America's POW's should be returned and all of our missing in action should be accounted for. And third, the people of South Vietnam, the 17 million people who live in South Vietnam, should have the right to determine their own future without having a Communist government imposed upon them against their will by force. Those were the three goals.

Now, based on the progress that has been made in the negotiations to date, I can say with confidence tonight that I believe that we can succeed in achieving those goals. I believe that we will succeed in achieving the goal that I have heard from those young people sitting behind us, peace with honor, and not surrender, for America. The day has not yet come. There are still some differences that must be resolved. I believe that they will be resolved.

However, let us look back for a moment about other times in this century. If you are old enough to have lived through them, as I was, or if you are old enough, certainly as all of you are, to have read about them, you remember the relief-1918, Armistice Day. I remember at that time I was only 5 years old, but I can recall the celebration in our little town at Yorba Linda, California. What a relief. The war was over.

But it was only an interlude; it was not peace that lasted. Because before the next generation grew up, the sons of those who had fought in World War I were fighting in World War II.

You remember V-J Day and V-E Day. I recall that on V-J Day I was in New York City, in Times Square, with my wife, and the wonderful elation that we all felt about the war--it was over. And then came the United Nations and all the hope for a new world order, and we thought, now we are going to have real peace.

And then the sons and the younger brothers of those who had fought, and many had died--350,000 in World War II--were fighting again in Korea.

Then during President Eisenhower's first year in office, you remember the headline--the war was over. And all of us had a sigh of relief because the young men that had died there, certainly their sacrifice had not been in vain, because South Korea retained its independence and its freedom from the North Korean invading forces.

And yet within a few years the younger brothers of those who had fought in Korea and the sons of the older ones who had fought in Korea were fighting in Vietnam. And now a day will come, one day, when the war will be over.

Let me tell you, that, of course, is a great accomplishment. I can assure you that anyone who sits in that Oval Office, as I do, and writes the letters to the mothers, to the wives, to the next of kin of those who have died, anyone who sees the wounded, the others, the ones who have served so magnificently, anyone who has talked, as I have, to the brave wives of POW's--what you want more than anything else is to get the war over.

But also, what you want is to get it over with honor, not simply because of some national ego. You want to get it over with honor because by ending it in an honorable way, by ending it in the right way, you may lay the foundation for not having another war in that same generation.

That is why we have insisted on these conditions that I have laid down, and that is why, as this war does come to a conclusion, it will be concluded in a way, we believe, that will discourage aggression in the future rather than encourage it.

That is just the beginning. Let me take you a little further, however, on this whole prospect for peace in the world.

It would have been somewhat easy, as a matter of fact somewhat tempting, during these past 4 years to work as we did only on trying to bring the war in Vietnam to an end. And it would have been some satisfaction to have brought home 500,000, as we did, to reduce the casualties 98 percent, as we did, to get into peace negotiations that now have a good chance for success, but we did not stop there. And the reason we did not stop there is that, as I looked at the world, I saw that once the war was over in this small part of the world, there still hung over the world a greater danger potentially in the future.

There was another super power, the Soviet Union. At the beginning of our term in office, we were in confrontation with that super power. And then there was the huge People's Republic of China, where one-fourth of all the people in the world were living, and with which the people of the United States and their Government had had no communication for a period of over 20 years.

As I studied that situation at the beginning of my term in office, long before it began, I determined that it was essential that we build a world order in which governments could have their differences, in which governments could be built on different philosophies, but in which the peoples of nations with different philosophies and different governments need not necessarily be enemies.

I felt this was essential, essential particularly when what was involved was not a conventional but a nuclear war which no one would win, where there would be only losers. And so we began in January 1969 not only to bring an end to the war in Vietnam but to establish a new relationship with the Soviet Union and a beginning of a relationship with the People's Republic of China. The year 1972, this year, has perhaps seen, historians will record, more progress toward true peace in the world than any year since the end of World War II.

I don't mean it is here. I don't mean simply because we went to Peking and established a dialogue that we are not going to have differences with the People's Republic of China. We will have. And I don't mean that because we have had an arms control agreement and trade agreements and exchange agreements and health agreements and environmental agreements with the Soviet Union that we are not going to continue to have differences with the Soviet Union. We will.

Theirs are Communist governments; ours is a free government. And sometimes our interests will come in contradiction to each other. But what we have done, you see, what we have done is now to have replaced what was a hopeless situation, hopeless, with the great powers moving down the road to an inevitable collision at some time in the future, with now a hopeful situation in which the United States and the Soviet Union are negotiating their differences at the conference table--we negotiate hard, but we negotiate, and we settle them--in which the United States and the People's Republic of China talk about their differences--we negotiate hard, but we have now developed at least a dialogue.

Let me say in that connection then, I would not hold out to this audience, and particularly to these younger people behind me, the certainty that there will not be conflict in the world, the certainty that there will not be small wars in the world. But I do say this: The chance for this new generation of Americans to grow up in a world without war for a whole generation is better than it has been, in my opinion, any time in this century, and we want to keep it that way.

When we speak of these next 4 years, what we ask for is the opportunity to continue, to continue to develop these initiatives. We think we have learned somehow, some of the methods with which to deal with these problems, and in dealing with these problems, we think that over the next 4 years we can make more progress in reducing the tensions in the world, in cooling the trouble spots like the Middle East and others that might explode into war.

This is the challenge we face, and this is what we ask from the American people: the opportunity to continue the progress that we have made in that direction.

Let me relate it now to what we need if w-e are going to be able to accomplish that.

Louie Nunn very properly mentioned national defense. I know Kentucky's interest in national defense, and it isn't simply the interest that you have in jobs. It is more the interest you have in this country and the fact that it must maintain its strength.
I noticed, for example, that the football team--I think they are the Tom Cats, aren't they? I knew I had the name right when Happy Chandler1 smiled right there.

I noticed that they were number two, with the possibility of being number one. Now football is a great game, and everybody wants to be number one. But there is certainly nothing wrong about being number two.

But let me tell you, in the kind of world in which we live, let the United States of America never be number two. Let's always be sure of that.

Now why? It is different from the football game. Here you like your town or your team, whatever the case might be, to be number one, and you are kind of proud, and I like to be for my school or for my town or my team, whoever they happen to be, and my country, as all of you.

But it isn't just that. The reason that the United States cannot have the second strongest navy or the second strongest air force and be the second strongest power in the world is that if we are in that position, or allow ourselves because of misguided people recommending programs that would put us in that position, it means that the danger of war in the world would be tremendously increased, and let me tell you why.

The day we become number two, there is no other nation in the world, in the free world, that can deter aggression. You see, before World War I, before World War II, there were the British and there were the French, there were other great nations with the power, but now only the United States is left. We need it for that reason.

And there is another reason, because I say today we can be proud of what U.S. foreign policy has tried to do in this century. We have fought four wars. For what? World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam--we didn't go for conquest, we didn't go for glory, not an acre of territory or anything else. We went to help others defend their freedom. We went to fight against aggression. The United States, in other words--when the United States has power, the people of the United States are a peaceful people. We are not going to use that power to destroy freedom or break the peace, and that is why I say that I am committed to--I know that Louie Nunn is and Marlow Cook will be and Tim Lee Garter will be--let's keep the United States in the position where our power is second to none so that we can help keep the peace in the world. That is why I am so strong on national defense.

Let me relate now this whole area of peace to what it means in other fields. We not only want peace. Obviously we want a good living. We need jobs, employment, homes, security, all of these that mean the good life in this country with which the people of our country enjoy the best life of any nation in the world.

Did you realize that you have to go clear back to President Eisenhower's Administration in the years 1955 and 1956 to find any years in which the United States has had full employment--that means prosperity with full employment-without war and without inflation?

Now I think that we can do it again. That is our goal over these next 4 years. What we want is full employment for the people of this country without war and without inflation.

Now let me tell you what we can do and what we have done. First, in 4 years we have cut the rate of inflation in half. Also, we have moved the growth of this economy up until we have the highest rate of growth, of any industrial nation in the world. We must continue to move it up so that we can produce more peacetime jobs, so that Americans can have full employment without war and without inflation. I think we can achieve that goal.

Let's see also what this new world of peace can mean to a State like Kentucky, to this entire region. Mention has been made of the farm programs. I am going to make a major farm speech on radio at 12 :05 tomorrow on all the major networks, if you would like to listen, in the middle of the day.

I won't go into the details now, but let me say that when you see the sales that we have made, a billion dollar sale to Japan this year, a 3-year sale to the Soviet Union, unprecedented, in feed grains, and the beginnings of sales to the People's Republic of China, where, note again, one-fourth of all the people in the world live, you can see the future for American agriculture.

Our exports are the highest in history. They are going to be higher because the markets of the world are opening up. That is what our peace initiatives mean to the farmers, and I think the farmers of Kentucky like that kind of an initiative, too.

There is another area that hits the bread-and-butter issue. As our economy grows, we are going to have an enormous energy crisis in this country, and that means we have to produce coal, we have to produce oil. We have to have the means of meeting that crisis, and that is why a State like this has so much to offer.

What I am simply saying is that as we move from this period of war to a period of peace, it means enormous opportunities, it means prosperity without war and without inflation, it means developing the new markets in a period of peace that could not develop in a period of war, and it means also the opportunity to turn the enormous energies of this country and the people of this country to the progress that we all want, with opportunity for every American to go as high as his talents will take him---better schools, better housing, all of those things that we want and that we have laid forth in such great detail before the Congress over these past 4 years.

What I am saying to you very simply is this: I could talk tonight--and it usually is customary in the closing days of a campaign--about "we have a great record over the past 4 years" and "send us back." But let us not look back, and let us not be angry at those who oppose us.

Let us look to the future. The future is a good future. The future can be a future of peace. The future can be one in which the United States can play the role this Nation was destined to play in building a world of peace and continuing to raise the standard of living of all of our people and increasing the opportunity for all of our people.

One final note: I have mentioned what Kentucky has meant to me personally, and to my wife—your hospitality, your friendship, your energy, your coal, your agriculture, your industry. But most important, what has impressed me as I went along that street, I must say, I saw those young people and older people in the dark. They could only see the light of the car as we went by. They had their flags out.

What impressed me was not simply patriotism. It went further than that. It was something I call character. I looked back to the beginning of this country. I remember then, and Louie Nunn referred to the fact that the bicentennial of Kentucky is in 2 years, and the Bicentennial of the United States is in 4 years, as you know—look at that young country 196 years ago, 13 States, weak, poor, but the hope of the world. Why? Because we stood for something other than power, some thing other than wealth. We stood for an ideal, for a moral and spiritual strength that caught the imagination of the world, and here in this State of Kentucky I sense it. I sense it across our country, but I sense it in this audience tonight. I sensed it as I went around.

Let me say, as much as your hard work—and I know you work hard—and as much as what you produce in your mines and as much as what you produce on your farm, what we are most grateful for is the character and the moral and spiritual strength of the people of this State. You have it, and that means a great deal.

And so I have heard them say "Four More Years." Let me tell you what m hope is for these next 4 years. It is a very simple statement. I want the next 4 years to be the best 4 years of your lives and the best 4 years America has ever had.

Thank you.

1 Albert B. "Happy" Chandler was Governor of Kentucky 1935-39 and 1955-59, United States Senator from Kentucky 1939-45, and commissioner of baseball 1945-51.

Note: The President spoke at 9:02 p.m. at a rally in the gymnasium of the Paul G. Blazer High School. He spoke without referring to notes.

Richard Nixon, Remarks in Ashland, Kentucky Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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