Remarks Broadcast on a Program Sponsored by the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union.
THANK YOU, Mr. Stulberg. This is the third time that I have had the pleasure of appearing on this series of programs--in 1960, 1964, and now again this year.
Tonight I want to give you my thoughts about what is really at stake in this election. I should like to tell you why I feel that Americans should vote for Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie and a Democratic Congress on November 5th.
The other evening, Mrs. Johnson and I sat on the White House balcony--the one that President Truman added 20 years ago. We looked across to the Washington Monument and to the Jefferson Memorial--the symbols of the greatness of our Nation's past. We could see the broad avenue that runs between the White House and the Capitol--the home of the Congress.
Looking on this scene, our thoughts went back to some of the triumphs of past years-triumphs of the people, triumphs of progress over the status quo: TVA, REA, the SEC, the Social Security Act, the Minimum Wage Act; then along in the 1960's Medicare, aid for elementary and secondary schools, the Higher Education Act, the Peace Corps, the test ban treaty, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, voting rights in 1965, the War on Poverty, and a massive housing act that puts a decent home within the reach of every American family.
My fellow citizens, these were your triumphs.
President Kennedy and I, Vice President Humphrey, and the Senators and Congressmen who wrote these laws were your chosen instruments.
It was your support that made it possible for us to turn democratic ideals into American achievements.
In 1960--and again in 1964--you rejected do-nothing, stand-pat politics. A great Congress went to work for you in 1965--went to work to heal and to build America. But it is not enough to salute the past. America cannot stand still. And, as Mrs. Johnson and I sat there in the evening on that balcony, we thought of the challenges that the next President is going to face. And, yes, we thought of the challenges that our country faces right now in this election campaign.
On the one hand, there are harsh political voices in the air that seek to divide our people and to set them against each other in mutual fear and suspicion. The man who stood at the schoolhouse door, defying the law, is now pretending to be the apostle of order.
I don't believe many Americans will be fooled by that pose. I don't believe many people will be beguiled into thinking that order--in a democracy--can ever be achieved by empty rhetoric and violent appeals to emotion. Americans are too wise to waste their votes on a false prophet of fear.
Neither will they agree with Mr. Wallace when he says, "There is not a dime's worth of difference" between Mr. Nixon and Vice President Humphrey. Because the people know the record of both of these candidates.
They know that "Nixon Is the One" who cast the tie-breaking vote that killed aid to education back when he was Vice President. They know that "Nixon Is the One" who said that Medicare "would do more harm than good." And they know that "Nixon Is the One" who speaks for the Republican Party--Mr. Nixon's Republican party--that always opposes so much vital and progressive legislation.
The voters have now heard Mr. Nixon recently call for "delay" in adopting the treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons-the treaty we worked for, in so many forums, for so long a time--though further delay on our part will delay and will jeopardize the acceptance of the treaty by other important nations, I think, to the lasting detriment of world peace and our own American security.
So I warn those who postpone and procrastinate or delay this treaty: They will live to regret the day when they threw overboard everything that America has worked so long and so hard to try to achieve.
So then the record and the differences are quite clear. There is all the difference of daylight and darkness between the Nixon-Agnew-Republican record of reaction and recession, and the kind of forward-looking leadership that the Humphrey-Muskie ticket offers to you Americans.
I have known and I have worked with Hubert Humphrey for 20 years. When I was Majority Leader of the Senate, he was a leader of the progressive forces in the Senate. When I was Vice President, he was responsible for many of the finest legislative achievements of the Kennedy-Johnson administration-as one of the Senate leaders-including the Peace Corps and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He was also first to sponsor Medicare and the food for peace program.
I asked Hubert Humphrey to be my running-mate in 1964, for one simple reason: because I believed him to be the best qualified man to serve as President, in the event that I did not serve out my term. That was a paramount consideration for me--as it should be for every voter this year.
There have been 12 Presidents in this century. Four of them--one-third of our 20th century Presidents--did not get to live to finish the term to which they were elected. So the intelligence, the experience, and the integrity of the vice presidential nominee was of crucial significance to me back in 1964--as it must be to every American in 1968. Vice President Humphrey's choice of a running-mate--Senator Edmund Muskie--has shown himself fit in every way, to serve a heartbeat from the Presidency.
Vice President Humphrey and Senator Muskie are among the ablest and most active leaders ever to serve this Nation. They have been strong and forceful voices for creative new programs and for the enduring values of our democracy.
Few men that I have ever known have understood our urgent national needs so well as Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie.
From Hubert Humphrey's past--from so many years of elected responsibility--the direction his Presidency will take is quite clear. It is toward that better educated, better housed, healthier, more prosperous America that we have begun to achieve-all of us--during these past 5 years.
My fellow Americans, the gains America has made in these years were not won by the Republican Party, and they are not going to be held and enlarged by the Republican Party. Indeed, by their words in this election campaign, Republican candidates for the Presidency, the Vice Presidency, and the Congress, have already promised to dismantle what you--the American people-have built in these years. They propose nothing more or less than to pull this Nation downward, and to pull it back into another cycle of Republican reaction and inaction. And in doing so, they really promise to pull America apart.
So, as November 5th approaches, I ask you to consider the stakes for you, consider the stakes for your family and your country. When that day comes, go to the polls then and vote your conscience. Vote for housing for yourself and for all Americans. Vote for jobs for your family and an expanding economy. Vote for better schools for your children and every child. Vote for better health for your family and every family.
Vote for men who will continue the search for ways to reduce the awful danger of nuclear war--who will work for an honorable settlement of conflicts that threaten world peace.
Vote for men whose entire lives have been given to the fight for justice and for progress, for human dignity in this great land of ours. And when you vote for Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie, you will be voting for all of this--you will be voting for progressive Democratic leadership in America.
During the past 5 years, this administration, with Hubert Humphrey's and Edmund Muskie's tireless efforts, has fought to give a decent education to all of our children-from Head Start to graduate degrees. We have fought to improve the health of all of our people--from prenatal care to Medicare.
We have fought to conserve and to beautify our land and our waters, from city parks to national seashores--adding 2 million acres to our public recreation areas. We have fought to bring justice to all--from minorities that are denied full citizenship, to men that are denied an equal chance for a good job and a good home. We have fought to lift the curse of poverty from our land--from city tenement to rural slums.
And, while we have been doing all of this, we have broken all records for sustained and widespread prosperity. All of our people have shared in the blessings of 59 months of unparalleled growth, unprecedented job opportunities, unmatched earnings.
As we have helped ourselves, so have we reached out a hand to the weak and struggling nations who live in this world. We have helped them to build and to guard themselves from Communist aggression. And not a foot of free soil has been lost to communism during this time.
I deeply regret that we have thus far been unable to bring the Vietnam conflict to an end--to achieve an honorable settlement of a war that we did not invite, but from which we could not run.
On March 31st, I did all that I knew to do when I announced the first step in what I hoped would be a mutual deescalation of the hostilities. As you know, talks followed in Paris. I have high hopes that from the conference table in Paris will ultimately come an agreement to end the war. As you, of course, can imagine, I hope it will come soon--within the next few months. But if it does not come then--if North Vietnam maintains an intransigent policy that does not meet the minimal requirements of fairness, and that would jeopardize the lives of our men and the people of South Vietnam-I am determined that the next administration will find America, South Vietnam, and our allies in a strong position on the battlefield.
The next President will have to face difficult foreign policy issues, just as President Kennedy and I had to face these issues. From what I have observed of Vice President Humphrey over more than 20 years, I believe that he has--in a unique measure-the understanding, the imagination, the commitment to freedom that this responsibility requires. I know of his love for this country. It is deep and it is genuine. I know of his great capacity to do good. It is endless. I believe that his new responsibilities as president will enable both him and our country to achieve a new greatness. I look forward to the day when Hubert Humphrey will assume the "splendid misery"--the burdens and the magnificent opportunities of the President of the United States.
Thank all of you, and God bless you.
Note: The President's remarks were carried at 7:45 p.m. by the National Broadcasting Company on a nationwide radio program sponsored by the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. During his remarks the President referred to Louis Stulberg, president of the ILGWU, Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, and Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates, and former Governor of Alabama George C. Wallace, presidential candidate of the American Independent Party. The President also referred to Richard M. Nixon, Republican presidential candidate, and his campaign slogan "Nixon's the One."
For the President's announcement of March 31, 1968, sec Item 170.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Broadcast on a Program Sponsored by the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/237232