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Remarks at a Campaign Reception for Northeastern Supporters, in New York State

October 23, 1972

Governor and Mrs. Rockefeller--Nelson and Happy, as most of us, I think, are privileged to know them--and all of our very distinguished guests:

I was thinking, as the Governor was introducing me so generously, of the many meetings that I have attended, going back over 25 years. I ran for the House, and believe me, when I saw Peter Peyser introduced, and thought of his race, and Carl Vergari and his race,1 just let me say one thing at this point: There is nothing more lonely in a Presidential campaign than to be running for any other office.

Believe me, support our candidates for the House, for the State legislature, up and down the line, because they really deserve it in a Presidential year.

I was thinking, too, of all of the 50 States we had visited, of all the places that I have had the opportunity of speaking in, and I must say that coming here today to this magnificent residence to be received so generously and so warmly by Nelson and Happy Rockefeller, is certainly one of the highlights of all of our political traveling. I think they deserve a hand.

I am going to be speaking a little later over in Nassau--is this Nassau? I am going to speak at Nassau and Suffolk, in Nassau. So we are now in Westchester. I, too, was impressed by that splendid motorcade today, by the reception that we had. I must say, we had an awfully good advance man, though, because riding in the car ahead was Nelson and Happy Rockefeller, so they cleared the way for us all the way.

As you ride in a motorcade, you can get rather a feeling of how an election is going. Naturally, you see some of the opposition out, that is always the case. And you also see some of your own supporters out, usually quite a few more than they have, and that is the usual case. But the real thing that determines it is the enthusiasm of your supporters, our supporters.

What impressed me, incidentally, was the fact that there were not a lot of signs that were all made and distributed in advance. There were, on the other hand, it seemed to me--and I think, Nelson, you will agree--there was really a warm, friendly, holiday crowd, very proud to be Americans, receiving the President of the United States. They may not all vote for us, but let me say that as I drove through those towns in Westchester County, I thought what a really good country this is and what really good people we have in it and how privileged we are to be able to represent them in any form of government.

The campaigning that I can do this year is somewhat limited, due to the rather extraordinary requirements of the office of the Presidency at this time. I had, therefore, scheduled, as you know already, a regional meeting in Atlanta where all of the Southern States were gathered together, just as you are gathered here. And here in New York State, the leaders of the Eastern and Middle Atlantic States are gathered here.

This is a very important and vital group. Let me put it in terms that all of you will understand, comparing it with the past elections on which I have been a candidate at the top of the ticket.

In 1960, when we lost a very close election, in 1968 when we won an election not quite as close but still close, it was significant to note that in neither of those years did we carry the State of New York or the State of Pennsylvania or the State of Connecticut or the State of Rhode Island or the State of Maryland. Now, when you think of that, it makes you realize that what really is at stake in this room are the States that can make all the difference in this election.

I know that I don't need to tell a group of people who are what we call proudly "political professionals"--and that means whether you are doing it full time or part time you consider it so important that you will give up anything in order to participate in the campaign, and that is correct--I don't need to tell you that you never take anything for granted. I do tell you today that the area where we can have the greatest turnover compared with '68 and '60 is in the area of the East, because this year w-e want to win those States. I will mention another one, incidentally, that was not on the "win" list--Massachusetts.

I don't mean that we are predicting that we will win them all, but we do have a chance to win in each one of them. We are not going to take any one of them for granted. We are not going to concede any one of them. But let me say that when election night comes, there is nothing that would mean more, certainly, to all of us than to see a State like New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, the ones I have mentioned, in our column this year, and you have it in your hands to do it.

Now, just a word of confiding in you with regard to the relationship that we have to each of these States. Anyone who has been a candidate for public Office, or anyone who has heard candidates, knows that the candidate always tries to find some way to relate himself to the State in which he happens to be campaigning. It is interesting to note that my wife Pat and I have something in common with each of these States. We have lived, for example, in the State of New York. We have lived there for 5 years. We have lived, also--and this was long before we were in political life--in the State of Maryland for 2 months, toward the end of the war when we were settling terminated war contracts at Middle River, Maryland, and in the State of Pennsylvania where we lived in Philadelphia for about 6 weeks. So much for States we have lived in.

In addition, we have these things to relate to this area: My wife's father was born in Connecticut. Now, while we have not lived in the States I am now going to mention, it happens that we have taken vacations in each one of the following States.

We have vacationed at Kennebunk and Ogunquit in Maine. We have taken vacations also in the State of New Jersey, at Mantoloking, all that marvelous beach area there.

We have also taken vacations in the State of Delaware, at Rehoboth.

When you come down the line, that only leaves two that I have not mentioned. One is Vermont. Now, we have never vacationed in Vermont, and we haven't lived there. But I was thinking, "What do we have in common with Vermont, except that it has never done anything but vote Republican?" And we have this: Our two girls went to camp in Vermont.

I have missed Rhode Island. I was in Rhode Island for 2 months taking a course so that I could get into the Navy as an officer in World War II. So there, we have covered them all.

What I am really trying to say here at this point is very simply that as we look at this great belt of States in the eastern seaboard, with so much history, with so much character, with so much to offer America, we feel very close to each of you, to each one of these States. We visited each one of them many, many times.

Oh, I have left one State out, and I have done it quite deliberately. We have never vacationed in New Hampshire. We have never lived in New Hampshire. But believe me, as one who has been in primary after primary, I have spent more time in New Hampshire than almost any State in this country. So, there it is.

Just a couple of final words: I mentioned the importance of your local candidates and of the candidates for the House and, in those States that are here who have candidates for the United States Senate, for the United States Senate. We have tried in every way possible where the national candidates were concerned to see them, to provide endorsements for them, and the like. You can be sure that as far as the whole ticket up and down the line is concerned, that we are very proud of our candidates for the State legislature and for local office throughout all of the States that are represented here.

The other point that I would make is one that I know all of you will totally understand. The election is only 2 weeks away. As far as what will happen on issues is concerned, no one can predict how many voters will change. Some theories are that voters change a great deal in the last 2 weeks, and others are that they really don't change that much, it is only that the pollsters don't poll late enough and find out that a change has already started. But that doesn't make any difference. What I am saying to you here now is: The vital importance is to get out the vote, to get it out up and down the line. The vital importance also is not to get out just the Republican vote, which of course, we must do, but get out the votes among independent voters and among Democrats and, here in the State of New York, among those who are conservatives, to get them out up and down the line.

Because what you are going to find, what we are finding all over the country this year, is that people are not just thinking in terms of voting party. We do find, as a matter of fact, less defection from the Republican line than in any election in recent history. But on the other hand, we find that more Democrats at the present time will cross over and vote at the top of the ticket for us than ever before. That can help everybody.

The point that I make is: Let us keep as our goal, of course, getting out our own vote. Let us also recognize the vital importance of having a big vote, because we must remember that when there are indications that one candidate is ahead of another, the candidate who is behind tends to have his vote come out in greater numbers than the one who is ahead.

I will just say finally this last thing. We are going to meet all of you personally, the Governor and Happy and Pat and myself. But in the brief time that you go through the receiving line, while we have met many of you before, I cannot say adequately what I want to say now.

I have done, as you all know, a lot of campaigning. If I haven't been in your town it is because probably only that it was not there in 1952 or '56 or '60, not only in those years but in '54, '58, '66. We covered a lot of them, too. I can tell you that I know as a candidate, sure the speeches are important, and the television we do is important, and how we handle the issues is important. But what is really important is you, the party workers, the people who come from the ranks of labor, the people who come, who participate in politics, from any other group, but who get behind the candidate.

You are the ones who are going to make the difference. You are the ones who are going to steam up the workers. You are the ones who are going to get out the vote. On election eve, when the vote comes in, if we do have this enormous turnaround which we can have in this great eastern seaboard--understand, it can be the biggest turnaround of any section of the country--if we do have it, while I will not be able to call each of you individually, I am just telling you right now, I know who did it. You did it, and thank you very much.

1 Representative Peter A. Peyser was the Republican candidate for Congress from the 23d District of New York; Carl A. Vergari, district attorney for Westchester County, was the Republican candidate for Congress from the 24th District of New York.

Note: The President spoke at 6:02 p.m. at the Rockefeller estate at Pocantico Hills, Westchester County. He spoke without referring to notes. The reception was attended by Northeastern representatives of the Republican Party, State Committees for the Re-Election of the President, and Democrats for Nixon.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at a Campaign Reception for Northeastern Supporters, in New York State Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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