Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Before Two Groups at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore

October 24, 1964

Senator Brewster, Mayor McKeldin:

I am going to take a little longer than I think you would like for me to take, and I am going to speak a little more than I normally do because I am so touched by the depth of your hospitality and the warmth of your reception, and the good hand of fellowship that you have extended that I just can't go back home without letting you know how I feel.

So many of my good friends through the years have been residents of the great Free State of Maryland, so many men that I have served with in the House and in the Senate and in public life have been chosen by you to represent them. When I saw young Tommy D'Alesandro out at the airport tonight, I thought of the years of service I had had with his father in the House. When I saw Herbert O'Connor up here a few moments ago stepping into the footsteps of his father, I thought of the kind and good man that had worked with me in the Senate so long.

When I first went to the Senate as a youngster back in 1949, one of the great men of the Senate was the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and I was assigned to that committee the first day I went there. He came from the great Free State of Maryland, and his name was Millard Tydings. One of the great regrets of my life is that in a moment of temporary misunderstanding, he was confronted with some of the same forces that confront me today. I am so happy that you people that are proud to wear the label of the Democratic Party in this State are going to send Joe Tydings up there to take his place.

Mayor McKeldin, you did a very unusual thing when you, as mayor of this great city, came out to the airport tonight to welcome me. I will always remember it. I think you came perhaps for two reasons:

One, you are a courteous and hospitable man who speaks for all the people of this city, and when the President of this country visits this city, you want him to be welcome, regardless of what party he comes from.

But secondly, I think you came because you genuinely believe that the present President of this country is trying his dead level best to do what is best for this country, regardless of party.

Mayor McKeldin, I want to make a personal pledge to you tonight. It is a pledge that I made to myself some time ago. That pledge is this: that if the good Lord will give me the sight to see the right, I will do the right, and do what is best for my country, regardless of my party.

So I am deeply grateful for your welcome to Baltimore. I take new strength and inspiration and courage from those warm words, Mayor, that you uttered, and I am profoundly thankful for that tribute to me and to those ideals that we both hold as Americans.

The Old Testament tells us to be strong and of good courage; fear not nor be dismayed. And with God as my judge and as my guide, each day I try with all that is within me to do what is right and do what is just for my country and for all the people of America. For, Mr. Mayor, I think I know, as you know, that if we are to survive as a free nation, if we are to prosper as a happy people, it will be because we have held our courage and we are not afraid.

One of the most important national resources that we have in America is responsible leadership. We have it in the White House, in the Congress, and in many of our State capitals and cities. And here in Maryland you have given your State and you have given your country outstanding leadership throughout the years.

Joe Tydings, your next Democratic Senator, is young and he is aggressive, and we need his ability and his vigor in Washington. And when the going was tough, and when the campaign was rough, Maryland produced a courageous and a valiant Senator to uphold my hand, and he stood in for me when I couldn't be here--my old and good and trusted and beloved friend, your great Senator Danny Brewster. And Carlton Sickles, who is here on the platform with me tonight, has served you well as Congressman at Large.

I want each of you to remember that it takes as many votes to send Carlton back to the House as it does to elect Joe to the Senate. I know that you are going out there and see that he gets those votes November 3d.

For many years, one of my best friends and one of the great leaders of the House of Representatives, one of Mr. Rayburn's old friends from the Fourth District, who is now in line for the powerful chairmanship of the House Public Works Committee--an important job-and I don't think that you are going to let the dean of your delegation down. I think you are going to give George Fallon the greatest majority he ever had.

I would like to run like this fellow is running in the Third District. He won his reelection by his able service. He has no opposition tonight. He deserves to have none. I know he is going to be elected--my friend, Ed Garmatz.

And Sam Friedel has served the Seventh District since it was created in 1952, and he has been my good friend ever since he came to Congress. You just can't afford to lose his seniority or his experience. I know that you will send Clarence Long from the Second District back because we need him there to work with us. Harry Hughes and Hervey Machen are campaigning hard. They are working from daylight to dark. You are going to have to get out there and help them because we must elect these promising men. They are in the First and Fifth Districts. Don't forget to put in a good word for them.

It has been a pleasure to have a chance to renew my friendship and pleasant association with Governor Tawes, your great Governor; your Attorney General, my old friend Tom Finan; and Comptroller Louis Goldstein, who always gives me a warm welcome when I come to Maryland. Governor Tawes is an able national committeeman. Dr. Mildred Otenasek is every bit his equal as national committeewoman. And Herbert O'Connor, Jr., and Francis Keller are the kind of State campaign cochairmen who win elections, and Philip Goodman and Thomas D'Alesandro III are doing a fine job as Maryland's city campaign chairmen, and I hope it shows up on Tuesday, November 3d.

It is a great honor to me to have my old friend Senator Radcliffe of many years standing come here and join us on the platform tonight. I am honored by it. I thank you for it, Senator.

One of the good things about a political year is that it makes us pause for a moment and take stock. Tonight I think is a time for all Americans to ask themselves: What do we want, where are we going? What does it mean to be an American, what does America mean? What does America stand for in the world?

Well, I have been all around the world. I have been to more than 40 countries in the world, and I think I can tell you tonight what America stands for. It stands for hope, because America is the hope of the world; because today we Americans are responsible not only for our own security, but we Americans are responsible for the security of all the free nations in the world.

Let there be no mistake. I want all of you to know, and I want all the free nations of the world to know, that tonight America is prepared to meet every challenge.

In every area of military might, in every area, we are stronger tonight than we have ever been before in all our history. We are stronger, in fact, than the combined might of all the other nations in the history of the world.

Recently we have heard--

[Demonstration from the floor]

I am so glad that you good people welcomed our friends. In most States of the Union we have from 30 to some places 35-up in Pennsylvania we have 37--percent of the Republicans, and as I have observed the last few days, we occasionally have visitors that come to our meetings because they like to associate with good people, and they like to attract attention.

After all, we need everyone we can get, and we want to welcome them all to our fold. I will bet you that some of those people that came in here unexpected and kind of delayed us for a moment, kind of--you know--I will bet you that they are going to join with us and elect that good Democrat Royce Hanson. I believe some of them have already dropped their original signs that they brought in and now they have Royce Hanson signs over here.

That is something I don't want any of you to forget. You can get two for the price of one here. You can get rid of a Republican Congressman and you can get a Democratic Congressman.

I guess I can have a little fun on Saturday night, can't I? One of these nice fellows from Maryland that always has a good joke stood up here just now and said, "Do you know what those signs are? Now don't get upset about them."

And I said, "No, what?"

He said, "Don't you see them back there?"

I could see them, but I don't have good eyesight for a long distance. I said, "No, what do they say?"

And he said, "They say 'Gold for the rich, water for the poor, and Johnson for President.'"

Really, I don't want you to get angry with them. Let's be charitable with everybody. Let's turn the other cheek and be nice.

We want to get down to some serious business now and talk to issues. It is getting late, so let's go.

Recently we have heard some very reckless and heedless talk and accusations about our country's military power. There are some people who have said our defenses are weakening, that America is falling behind.

I think it is fortunate that these reckless voices are not believed by our friends in the world or by our adversaries, and I might add that they are not believed by the American people.

Your Government must keep the record straight, because we will not let anyone, anywhere, be fooled by these reckless and false charges. Why?

We know from tragic experience what can happen when the enemies of freedom deceive themselves about America's strength. How do we know that?

The Kaiser listened to some voices in America and deceived himself and sunk the Lusitania because he didn't think we would fight or were prepared to fight, and he brought on World War I.

Hitler deceived himself and listened to some voices here at home that were reckless, and he brought on World War II, because he didn't think we could get ready or we were ready or we would do anything about it.

Red China deceived itself and brought on an expanded war in Korea.

This is pretty important business to you people that are furnishing the boys that must die in these wars. These lessons of history must not be lost.

The first act of this administration, after President Kennedy met Premier Khrushchev in Vienna, was to come back home and reexamine and strengthen America's military power. And we have vastly increased that power.

When people talk to you about peace through preparedness, you tell them that since President Kennedy became President, the 4 years of this administration, we have spent $30 billion more on defense and $10 billion more on space, a total of $40 billion more, $40 billion in addition to what we would have spent if we had spent at the last rate of the last year of the administration before President Kennedy. He raised expenditures $30 billion in defense and $10 billion in space, or a total of $40 billion over 4 years.

And what did we get for that $40 billion ? We increased our nuclear power that was on the alert, ready to go, 2 1/2 times, and our nuclear superiority is continuing to grow every day.

We have now, tonight, more than 1,000 fully armed intercontinental ballistic missiles and Polaris missiles ready for retaliation against any attack on America.

We have more than 1,100 strategic bombers tonight, more than twice as many as our adversary could put over this country.

We have vastly increased our forces to fight conventional war.

We have raised the number of Army combat-ready divisions by 45 percent.

Tonight we and our NATO allies have more than 5 million men in uniform under arms.

Our adversaries attempt today to subvert our freedom--and the freedom of our allies--by terror and by subversion, and by guerrilla warfare.

But since January 1961, we have trained more than 100,000 officers in anti-guerrilla warfare alone.

We have heard others claim recently that they have a patent on preparedness. Well, few Americans will be deceived by such claims. But it is important that our adversaries abroad never be deceived by this misleading talk, because it is dangerous talk, and it is deceptive talk, and it is talk that brought us into two conflicts.

We just must not in this nuclear age lead ourselves innocently into another one. When we Americans debate the whole world listens. Our friends and our enemies alike seek clues to what the next President will be like.

They are debating all around the world tonight--3 billion people--what kind of a President will America have for the next 4 years. We must, therefore, deal in facts and not fantasies.

My record is clear. So is our opponent's.

The record shows--and Al Smith used to say, "Let's look at the record"--the record shows that in 1953 our opponent voted--this Air Force general, now--voted not to give the Air Force $400 million more for aircraft purchases. I voted for that increase for the Air Force of $400 million.

In 1954 our opponent voted not to spend $350 million more for Army personnel and maintenance. I voted for that increase.

In 1955--let's just come right on up to date--our opponent voted not to invest $46 million more for our Marine Corps. I voted for that $46 million.

In 1955 our opponent voted against a $420 million increase in appropriations for military assistance to our allies abroad. I voted for that increase.

In 1956 our opponent voted not to increase Air Force procurement funds by $800 million. I voted for that increase.

In the last Congress before this administration took office our opponent voted against an increase of $233.9 million for the Army to procure missiles and equipment. I voted for that increase.

Our friends and allies alike, my fellow Americans, are going to judge for themselves which of the two candidates for President has truly, through the years, not just at election time, through the years, truly supported military preparedness.

Our friends and allies alike can judge for themselves whether we will maintain military preparedness in the years to come.

Now, you must also make a decision. Your decision is the choice between words and deeds, between strong words or strong action, between the strength we have and the strength we will keep, and the strength that we will increase. And in Berlin, in Cuba, in Viet-Nam, and in the Tonkin Gulf we have shown that our will matches our might.

I think you want, and I know your President will speak softly and act with prudence because we are firm in the knowledge of our strength. We know that bravado is not bravery, and we know that loud voices frighten only the weak, or those who are deceived.

We know that we gain very little by trying to threaten and scare other nations. This business of rattling your rockets and bluffing with bombs is not the road to peace.

Our adversaries are not weak. They are strong, but I can assure you faithfully tonight that America is stronger. And I want to announce to them and I want to announce to you that they should have no doubts or illusions about America's strength.

In the words of the Bible, "When the strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace."

We have strength in our country tonight, and you young men that must patrol our borders and wear those uniforms must maintain that strength.

We have peace in the world tonight, and you mothers that produce those sons and raise them to maturity must help us keep both the strength and the peace.

Eleven months ago and 2 days, all America awakened to a great tragedy. Our leader had fallen. On a moment's notice, I had to assume the awesome responsibilities of the office I now hold.

Our Constitution provided that I would have to accept those responsibilities. I didn't have time to call in a group of wise men. I didn't have time to search through the shelves of the libraries. I had to stand up and take that oath while jet planes were roaring in the background.

But I said that day to you people and to all the people of the world, that with God's help and your prayers I would do my best. And I tell you tonight from an honest heart I have done my best.

Now the buck passes back to you. Now the decision is yours. You are the masters, not the servants. We are the servants. You have the high privilege that not all the people of the world have, of deciding whom you want to have his thumb next to that button.

You have the great duty and obligation to that flag and to that seal to select the man that you want to pick up that receiver at the end of the "hot line" when they say, "Moscow is calling."

You have nearly 2 weeks to decide what you want to do about it, and I haven't come over here to stampede you or to try to influence you, or to say any ugly things about any other men. I don't believe in indulging in personalities. I am a man that loves and not hates.

I am a man that has faith and not doubt. I am a man that has hope, not fear. I know what I stand for and I have told you. I stand for a policy of strength, backed and supported by firm restraint. I follow the Golden Rule as President with my own people and with the people of all nations, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I stand for a policy of peace in the world and peace at home, where the businessman can get along with the laboringman, and where both of them can have a bigger pie to slice between each other instead of fighting all the time.

I am proud that fewer men are idle tonight than at any time except in wartime in the history of America. We have lost only fourteen one-hundredths of 1 percent--not 1 percent, not a half of 1 percent, not a quarter of 1 percent, but fourteen one-hundredths of r percent of the hours we have worked we have lost by strike, which means that we have actually lost very little, if anything. I am glad that our employers and our employees have their shoulder to the wheel and the average weekly wage in manufacturing industry tonight is $104.

I remember when I first went to Congress I voted for a 25-cent minimum wage, and they told me it would defeat me because I was from the South. They told me it would ruin the labor organization. But I don't think it has ruined either one of us. Do you? So I stand for a peaceful nation and I stand for a prosperous nation. I stand for a policy where every man and woman who wants to work can have a job, where every boy and girl of whatever religion, of whatever region, whatever section, whatever race, whatever color, that is born under the American flag has the right to all the education he can take.

I stand for a Government that has as its basic national policy the best social security system in all the world, and under the Johnson administration I tell you now it is not going to be voluntary.

I am not going to muckrake and I am not going to mudsling, and I am not going to say anything ugly about what anybody else stands for. That is their business. "By their acts ye shall know them; by their words ye shall judge them."

But don't expect your boy to be willing to go and die in the trenches for you, don't be willing to expect the leader of this country to exercise prudence and caution and judgement and experience for you if you sit back there in your rocking chair on November 3d and don't even go and exercise your great heritage, your great privilege of voting.

So as I leave to go back to that locked gate behind those big black bars, where the White House sits, and I will meet in the morning and get some spiritual strength from one of the great men of this United States--as I go back there tonight, I am not even going to ask you to vote for Lyndon Johnson.

I am going to ask you to vote for the person that your own conscience tells you is best for your country, not your party, not yourself, but best for your country, because when you vote for what is best for your country, you will vote for what is best for yourself.

Let's preserve this Nation as our forefathers intended it should be--a nation of peace with honor; a nation of prosperity for all; a nation where all men are treated equally and where there is special privilege for none.

Thank you.

Note: See note on page 1421.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Before Two Groups at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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