Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at a Luncheon Honoring the President Given by the Republican National Committee.

January 06, 1961

THANK YOU. Thank you. It is certainly nice to know that your friends haven't forgotten you.

Mr. Chairman and Mrs. Williams, and my friends:

In my young years--high school and college--I was a member of some athletic teams, and in all of those years there were coaches who were men of character who were always telling us boys that when you had to take a defeat you had to be a good sport about it.

I believed that, and I still believe it. But I never had a coach that told me I had to get used to it. Now the contest ahead of us is for the Congress. That is the next one. When we look into the Congressional results, we find that in 1954, 1956, 1958, and 1960 we failed to get a majority in either House. Now, four times is aplenty and that gets to be a habit, and we will have no more of it.

I will go back to my coaches. I find that every time there was a loss, they just took you out and instead of scrimmaging once a week or twice, you were doing it four times. You practiced not an hour and a half but two hours and a half. Then you got down to the fundamentals, whether it was in football or baseball or any other game you were playing.

Now we are playing something that is far more important than games. The principle of winning contests as honorable individuals--but winning them honorably--means just exactly what you have to do when you are an athletic team: you have to work.

Here and there, there are some people who are supremely endowed. My memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He never practiced in his life and he could do anything better than any other football player I ever saw.

If we have any of those geniuses around here, they don't have to work--but all the rest of us do.

And if I could leave just one little message, as I try to thank you for the great support that you have given me and the people you represent have given me over these 8 years--and the support you have given to this party and the leadership to this party--if I could leave one little message with you, it would be: no matter how hard we have worked, we can still do better.

I still go back to athletics. There was a team, down in your State, Thruston, called Centre College. One year--antediluvian for most of you--they cleaned up on every great team in the United States. They were called the Praying Colonels. But here is a strange thing, they did pray before every game. But they did not pray for success; they did not pray to win. Their coach had them down on their knees praying that every man there would do his best. That's all they prayed for.

If we would pray that every day for these next 2 years that every one of us, and everybody we can contact, will do his best, we will have a Republican Congress.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke in the Cotillion Room at the Sheraton-Park Hotel in Washington. His opening words "Mr. Chairman and Mrs. Williams" referred to Senator Thruston B. Morton and Mrs. Clare B. Williams, Chairman and Assistant Chairman of the Republican National Committee, respectively.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at a Luncheon Honoring the President Given by the Republican National Committee. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234740

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