Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Memorial Hall, Akron University

October 21, 1964

Dr. Auburn, Mayor and Mrs. Erickson, my longtime, faithful friend Steve Young, Miss McGovern, candidate/or Congress, Mr. Sweeney, candidate for Congressman at Large, Mr. Leonard, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls:

I almost said fellow Ohioans. This is my third visit to Ohio in the last 2 weeks, and they seem to be getting better every time I come. It is a little chilly outside in that 42 degree temperature, but I am getting a mighty warm feeling inside my heart for Akron.

I said to my friend here representing the Rubber Workers how beautiful I thought those balloons were with the union label on each one of them, and he said, "Well, we just wanted you to feel like you felt back in Atlantic City a few weeks ago, and it is going to be almost as good a vote here as it was there."

I want to thank all of you nice people for being so good to Mrs. Johnson when she was here in Akron. After meeting her, I guess you know why I think the country needs more women in public affairs. There is something that you can do about that.

I don't know how much time you have, but there are just a few days left. You have a highly intelligent, gracious, charming, effective lady that would be delighted to come down to Washington and competently help your President with a program for all the people of this country. Her name is Fran McGovern.

Now, Fran McGovern has been working with us on the Employment Security Council. We need her down there to work with us on our program. She will listen to the testimony, she will analyze the bills, and she will vote for all the people. She won't just vote "no" automatically when the roll is called.

One good turn deserves another. She has been a former member of your Ohio Legislature. She is experienced with your Public Utilities Commission. And you need her in Washington. Go and do something about it, won't you, please ?

I am counting on you, too, to get out there and work and send my colleague and my old friend in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate for many years, a most effective public servant, a most conscientious one, one of the great men I know--Steve Young. We need in the Congress, too, as your Congressman at Large, and I hope you won't forget this, Mr. Robert Sweeney. So go and give him a good vote.

We have some other interests in common. I understand that unemployment in Akron was something over 6 percent 3 years ago. Now we have it down to under 3 percent. I want to find out how you have done it, because we are going to get full employment-and I mean full employment--in the entire country.

The tax cut bill that we passed earlier in the year is going to help some. It means another $651 million for your own use here in Ohio. It means $37 million in the Akron area alone. It means more jobs.

And I have also been looking into some of these Federal-local partnership projects before I came out here. We have been working together now for 3 1/2 years. You have three new urban renewal programs. You have two college housing act loans to the University of Akron, one of the finest institutions I know anywhere in the country. It produced your great mayor and it produced your next Congressman, and we are all thankful for that.

We have 421 beds in the City Hospital, St. Thomas Hospital, St. Edwards Nursing Home, under the Federal legislation, the Hill-Burton Act. We are learning how to make this system of ours work a little better.

A great former Senator of yours is the author of that legislation, along with Senator Hill. We have gotten a good many things done in the last 3 years.

You remember President Kennedy told you when he visited Ohio so many times in 1960, "Come, lend me your heart, lend me your hand, give me your support and we will get this country moving again." And this country is moving again.

But our job is never done. There is no rest for the weary. There is a lot left to do. I hope that you are going to agree with me to do it on November the 3d.

I am not going to say anything ugly about my opponent. I don't believe in muckraking or slanderous comment, or mudslinging. I have rarely found it necessary to mention my opponent or to mention his name, or to get personal with him in the House or the Senate, or when I was Vice President.

In the 30 years I have been in public life, I never have been quite desperate. I have never been so far behind that I had to cling to a sinking raft.

But somehow or other I believe that the people are wise enough, are intelligent enough, to look and see and listen and judge for themselves, and judge what they hear and what they see. I want to appeal to your intelligence and not to your emotion.

I must say a time or two when I have turned on a television spot or have turned on my car radio, I have heard some rather uncomplimentary comments about the President, and for a moment it distressed me some. But when I got back home and I looked back over what they had said about Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Abraham Lincoln-Abraham Lincoln said he went back to his hometown and no one there spoke to him except one woman and she seemed to wish she could have avoided it. I remember what they said about Wilson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Kennedy.

So I think the best thing we can all do is try to look at our problems, analyze them, see how we can try to solve them together, and hope that our people will stand together and unite during a period when we need the best that is in all of us. The eyes of the world are on America.

The German people have a new government-following Mr. Adenauer's long period of service-in their Chancellor, Mr. Erhard. He has been here twice to see me since I have been President. We are working very well together. Their nation has made a wonderful comeback.

The British just made a decision a day or two ago and they have a new government. I have talked to their Prime Minister. Their Foreign Minister will be in Washington to see us next week.

I visited with General de Gaulle when he was in Washington. He has just made a trip of this hemisphere, in Latin America. I didn't get to see him then, but he has shown his interest in the problems of this hemisphere.

The Italians have had some changes in their government since I was there and since they have been here. It is a new government that we need to work with very closely.

The Indians lost their great leader Mr. Nehru, and they now have Mr. Shastri, and he is in charge. He is very concerned today about the problems of the world and the developments in the recent days.

The Soviet Union has decided to select others to lead their people. So now in the next 2 weeks you Americans are going to be watched and looked upon for your decision.

I think our country is going to have a great opportunity to stand up and speak with the rest of the leaders of the world, and to try to find some area of agreement on the most important problem in the heart of every person, every race, every color, of every country in the world. And that is, how can we live together, how can nations live with each other, without a nuclear holocaust, without destroying hundreds of millions of lives.

So on November the 3d, this election of ours will come at a time of great events in our world. Those events I think have made it clear to the American people what their choice will be.

I know they have made it clear to me, what course the American people want me to follow. Let me tell you how I know.

Last week the Communist Chinese exploded an atomic bomb, and they added to the poisoning of the air we breathe.

Last week, the Soviet Union threw out its old leadership and put new men at the top.

Last week the British Labor Party took over the government of Great Britain.

Last Saturday I met with the National Security Council of our country. On Monday I summoned to the White House the congressional leaders from both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party to meet with our leading diplomatic and military men. Yesterday I met for almost 3 hours with the members of my Cabinet.

I can say this to you, you Americans for whom we all work: I can say this with great pride--you have every right to be proud of the kind of leadership that your country has produced.

All of those men that I met with, men from both the Republican and Democratic Parties, were in agreement on the broad course of American foreign policy. No one advised me to break the nuclear test ban treaty. Instead, we discussed ways of making it apply to other nations.

No one advised me to break off relations with the Soviet Union. Instead, we discussed ways to make our relations with the new Soviet leadership more productive.

No one advised me to withdraw from the United Nations. Instead, we talked about the need to strengthen it.

No one advised me to make threats or issue ultimatums, or to talk about lobbing one into the men's room in the Kremlin. Instead, we talked about how we could avoid expanding conflicts, instead we discussed ways to reduce tensions, instead we sought means of trying to reason together and resolve any differences that exist between nations.

All of those who met with me and all of those who contributed counsel, agreed that our country should continue on the path of strength and restraint, which we have followed under all administrations for the last 20 years, since World War II.

You will remember that it was Arthur Vandenberg, a great Republican Senator, who joined President Truman in a bipartisan policy of stopping the Communists in Greece and Turkey.

You will remember that I, as Democratic leader of the Senate, joined President Eisenhower in his crisis in the Formosa Strait and the other critical decisions that he had to make in foreign policy.

You will remember that it was Senator Dirksen, the Republican leader from Illinois, that supported President Kennedy on the nuclear test ban.

And it has been Senator Hickenlooper, Republican Senator from Iowa, who has worked closely with us on our foreign policy so we could present a united front to the world.

But there are those who would not follow this responsible bipartisan course. There are those that have placed under attack all the policies which have brought us through these years of the cold war closer to peace. They stand in opposition to the collective wisdom of the leaders of both parties, experienced in foreign affairs.

I think I know that the American people are not going to follow that course of obstruction. I think I know the American people are not going to junk the bipartisan course of 20 years and fly to evils that they know not of on a dangerous adventure that they know not where it leads.

Sunday night I talked about the problems of the world on television. More than 63 million Americans listened to that discussion. The great majority of them are, I think, united behind the responsible foreign policies of this country that have kept peace for us. I believe that they are going to choose those policies on November the 3d.

What is the real foreign policy issue of this campaign ?

The issue is whether we will use our great power with judgment and restraint.

The issue is whether we will continue the long, the hard, the patient search for a lasting peace.

I intend as your leader and as your President to work to strengthen the United Nations, because I think they have prevented a number of wars already, and I think they can help us on the road to peace in the days ahead.

The United Nations, with all of its defects, has been a source of many achievements for peace and for the dignity of man.

I will continue to work to find areas of common interest with the Soviet Union. We do not know what course the new Russian leaders will follow. But if they are willing to seek peace, if they sincerely and genuinely want peace, then I can say to them and I can say to you they will find the United States ready.

Our scientists are working with their scientists, and their scientists were here a few days ago and I sent them by plane to some of our great desalinization plants which offer one of the really great hopes for all the people of the world, when we can take the water from the sea and convert it, take the salt out of it, and we can use the oceans to make the deserts bloom.

It is not really important how a man spells his name if we can find the right answer to it. We have these brilliant scientific geniuses from several countries working with us to find that answer. We have already gotten it down where we can produce it for less than $1 a thousand, but if we can get it down to where we can produce it for 25 percent of that amount it will be a great victory for humanity all through the 3 billion people in the world.

I intend to pursue goals of this kind. I intend to submit new proposals in Geneva to slow down the arms race, and to lessen the tensions and lessen the danger of war. And I hope that we can get agreements from other nations to do the same thing. We are going to keep on trying.

I can assure you that your country is the mightiest nation in all the world. But we do not intend to use that might to bury anyone. And we want all to know and read us loud and clear: we do not intend to be buried, either.

In Asia we face an ambitious and aggressive China, but we have the will and we have the strength to help our Asian friends resist that ambition. Sometimes our folks get a little impatient. Sometimes they rattle their rockets some, and they bluff about their bombs. But we are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.

President Eisenhower said in 1954 to the Government of Viet-Nam, "President Diem, we want to help you help yourselves. We will give you advice, we will provide leadership, we will help you with material things, with your weapons and the things that you do not have, to protect your independence because we are so proud of our independence we would like for you to have independence, too, and not be swallowed up by the Communists."

We have been doing that for 10 long years under three Presidents. We have now some 18,000 men in Viet-Nam, officers and men, advising, counseling, leading them. We have a good deal of material that we have sent there, very costly to our taxpayers each month. The reports that come in are gloomy from day to day.

But we have a choice. We can seek a wider war. China is there on the border with 700 million men, with over 200 million in their army. And we could get tied down in a !and war in Asia very quickly if we sought to throw our weight around. Or we could retreat and pull out and say "Goodby" to the rest of the world, that we are going to live on our own shores, and we would let Asia go to other people. But we don't seem to think that either of those alternatives is the wise decision.

We are going to continue to try to make these people more effective and more efficient, and do our best to resolve that situation where the aggressors will leave their neighbors alone, and they will finally learn to live together in peace as they have in other parts of the world.

So we are going to assist them against attack as we have. We will work to help them achieve progress and self-confidence. We will not permit the independent nations of the East to be swallowed up by Communist conquest.

In the developing world, the great continents, other continents, that we are interested in--Latin America, Africa--we have only a single goal. What is that goal? America does not seek slaves or satellites. We do not seek domination or dominion. We only want those countries to live in freedom and independence. We want them to be strong enough to resist the aggressions of others. We want to help them meet the needs of their people for food and shelter and education.

These are some of the policies that we have followed. They are the policies we are going to continue to follow.

The White House has a very special atmosphere when great events are happening, as they happened all last week. As I sit in my office late in the evening, at night, I am very deeply conscious of the immense powers that this Nation commands.

So this great power cannot be put into the hands of those who would use it either impulsively or carelessly. We must constantly be deliberate, prudent, and restrained. Before we shoot from the hip, as Mr. Rayburn, the great political leader, used to say, the three most important words in the English language for everyone are, "Just a minute."

So let's say to the rest of the world that the world's hope for peace cannot be left with those who really have no faith in the possibility of a lasting agreement, and who really predict war. The future of man should not be entrusted to those who would tear down the institutions and policies which a threatened world has carefully built for its own protection.

That is our central concern. It is also the concern, I think, of a watching and worried 3 billion people in other parts of the world.

But we will not have peace just because we desire it, not just because we want it. There is only one road to peace, and that is to work at it, patiently, deliberately, wisely, step by step, year by year, never to become reckless, never to become weary of the journey and irritated with folks who may not agree with you the first time you talk to them. That is the course, I think, that we should follow, the course of the prophet Isaiah, "Come now, let us reason together."

Here are two great powers. When they put their thumb on the button, they can kill 100 million Americans in a matter of hours. When we move our thumb up on that button and sound the alarm, and the bell rings, we can kill 100 million Russians in a few hours. A total of 300 million people could be wiped out from daylight to dark.

But that is not the kind of world that you want to live in. So the prophet Isaiah says, "Come now, let us reason together."

And I say to all the world that we are a mighty power, but we don't brag about it and we don't throw our weight around. We have more strength and we are going to maintain it, at great sacrifice from our taxpayers. We have more strength than any other nation, more strength than all nations put together, and we are going to keep it. Our guard is always going to be up, but our hand is always going to be out.

The leadership, the responsible leadership, of both parties in this country--and I believe in the two party system. And that is why I so earnestly want every person to go and vote his convictions so all can see that there are not many people who approve the temporary captivity leadership of the present Republican Party of extremes. And we will be voting for a strong two party system on November the 3d.

When they pass on these extremists, the men who booed others at San Francisco, the men that are intolerant of others' opinions, the men who speak off the cuff--when they act decisively on their judgment, then there will be a new group of moderate leaders come in and build a stronger and a more effective Republican Party.

But we will always maintain our bipartisan cooperation, and together we will do what is best for America, because when you do what is best for your country, you do what is best for your party and for yourself.

So the hour is here, the clock is ticking, the calendar is moving. You have a privilege that millions in other countries are denied. You have a right, an obligation, and a duty to see that you and yours go to the polls November the 3d and select the leadership that in your judgment most nearly represents the best interest of this country.

I am not going to discuss individuals in this matter. That is a decision you can make for yourselves by listening to the radio, seeing the television, reading the morning newspapers.

I am very happy that the college permitted me to come here today and have free speech. This is a great university and I treasure this invitation.

I am also mighty grateful to the Akron paper for their endorsement yesterday. I must run along because I can just intuitively feel Mrs. Johnson getting ready to send another note up here. But I can't leave until and unless I tell you that they say that it has been more than 100 years since some of these papers have endorsed a member of my party.

But I want to tell you about my party. I said my philosophy many years ago: I am a free man first, I am an American second, I am a public servant third, and a Democrat fourth--in that order.

We must not be complacent about what is happening in the world. We must not be complacent about what is happening at home. You have a duty to do, so go do it in accordance with the dictates of your own conscience.

I saw a poll coming down here this morning. It showed that I had most of the Democrats and had 30 percent of the Republicans. But that distressed me, that I only had 30 percent of the Republicans. Those are good people if they get the truth and if they get the facts, and we have to improve that situation between now and November the 3d.

So let's all put our shoulders to the wheel and unite instead of divide, and again in the words of the prophet, let's go out and reason together.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:33 p.m. at Memorial Hall at the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio. In his opening words he referred to Dr. Norman P. Auburn, president of the University, Mayor and Mrs. Edward Erickson of Akron, Senator Stephen M. Young of Ohio, Frances McGovern and Robert E. Sweeney, Democratic candidates for Representative from Ohio, and Ernest Leonard, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee for Summit County. Later in his remarks he referred to former Senator Harold It. Burton of Ohio, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, Arthur H. Vandenberg, U.S. Senator from Michigan during the Truman administration, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois, and Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa.

Mrs. Johnson also spoke briefly. The text of her remarks was released.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Memorial Hall, Akron University Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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