Richard Nixon photo

Remarks in Omaha, Nebraska

October 29, 1970

Governor Tiemann, Senator Curtis, Senator Hruska, all of the distinguished guests on the platform, and all of our great friends here in Nebraska:

As I move across the country today from Illinois to California, where I will speak later this afternoon, and stop at Nebraska, I know how much you realize this welcome means to me. Here in the middle of the afternoon, at 4 o'clock, to find this great hall, where I have spoken before, the Ak-sar-ben auditorium, completely jammed, to find thousands outside, to realize that you have taken off from your jobs--many of you--to be here, to realize that you have waited, and then to get such a warm reception, makes me realize how much I owe to this State.

I am proud of the fact that in 1952, when I was on the ticket, in 1956, when I was on the ticket, in 1960 and 1968, Nebraska was the best Nixon State in America, and I thank you very much for that.

I wish to express my appreciation, too, to the University of Nebraska at Omaha Band back there. Let's give them a hand, in the back.

Toward the conclusion of my remarks, I have a special message for some of the young people who are here today and their parents, but I particularly wanted to take note of that wonderful musical organization that is here.

And since I have mentioned universities, I understand from a little bit of polling that I have done around here, that there is a holiday in the schools. I found I have never seen children so delighted. I said, "What happened? School is out?" They said, "Oh, no, the teachers are in a convention." We welcome all the teachers who are here today from all over Nebraska.

My wife, Pat, as you know, was a high school teacher. In other words, she subsidized me while I was trying to practice law before going into the Navy. And many teachers do that, or did in those days, at least. And my daughter, Julie, who is married to David Eisenhower, who is now in the Navy, is studying to be a teacher.

So, we have a very special place in our hearts for those who are in this profession which is so important to the future of our country. I am glad that you are here, so many of you. I wanted to pay my respects to you.

Also, as I speak of education generally, some of you are aware of the fact that I am somewhat of a football nut. I understand I have a lot of company here in this State.

You know, my wife went to the University of Southern California. I recall in that first game of the season that the Trojans, who were rated one of the top teams in the country, and Nebraska went out there, I asked Nobby [Governor Norbert T. Tiemann] what happened and he said they tied them 21 to 21, "but," he said, "we should have won by two touchdowns."

Then I asked Nobby, "You know, I may be in Florida, and I would probably go to the Orange Bowl if Nebraska came." I said, "Which bowl is Nebraska going to?"

He said, "Nebraska wants to go to the bowl where they play the number one team, whichever one it is. They are going to be number one."

I would like, particularly since I am in Nebraska, to go a little bit further and say that Nebraska is number one. I got into trouble last year trying that in Texas. I have already been in Texas. They think they are number one. I was in Ohio. Ohio State thinks it is going to be number one.

I am now in Nebraska. You think you are going to be number one. All that I can say is: While I am in Nebraska, Nebraska is number one. That is for sure.

Since I have been talking about football and champion teams, I am glad to be here on this platform with a group of very, very fine candidates. They are really champions in the great tradition of this State, a tradition of politics which goes back many, many years, and many, many good men, good men in both parties.

I particularly want to pay my respects to those in the congressional delegation and those who are going to be in the congressional delegation. I want to express appreciation for the years of service that Glenn Cunningham has rendered to this State of Nebraska, and I want to thank him particularly when, having not succeeded in the primary, instead of sulking, he is getting in there pitching. That is the fine team spirit that we like in anybody who is in political life.

And to Charley Thone, the candidate in the first district, I remember what a great help he was in that 1960 campaign, when we rolled up that huge majority, and John McCollister in the second district. These, with Dave Martin, give Nebraska a three-man delegation in the House that will be one of the best in the country.

We are for them all and I hope you will support them all.

All of you are aware of the fact that I have a very high regard for your Governor. I remember when he first ran--this new face in the national political scene-a man who brought some new ideas to State government, a man who recognized that it was not possible simply to talk about States rights without also talking about States responsibilities, a man who looked to the future of this State in terms of doing what was necessary for better education, for progress in all fields.

I want you to know that as I have looked at his record and as I consider the kind of leadership he can give to Nebraska in the future, that Nobby Tiemann is a man who, among his fellow Governors, is rated as one of the best. I think you consider him one of the best. That is why I believe he deserves his reelection as Governor of the State of Nebraska.

Now, I come to the Senate races, to the national campaigns generally. When I speak of the Senate race, I realize that talking about Roman Hruska is, in Omaha, something that is not considered to be necessary in terms of getting any votes that he didn't already have.

I remember when I spoke for Roman Hruska, or with him, in a campaign years ago, I said, "Roman Hruska is a man you can count on." I simply think that you here in Nebraska should know that in the almost e years that I have had the high honor to serve as President of the United States, there has not been a man in the United States Senate who was more strong, more sound, more courageous, more dependable than Roman Hruska of Nebraska.

And with his colleague, Carl Curtis, they make a great team, the kind of a team that Nebraska likes to be proud of, and you can be proud of them in Washington, D.C.

And may I say that in this respect for all of you now if, for the next few moments, we might think of the national issues where I have a primary responsibility. I would like to discuss them, discuss them in terms of these fine candidates for the House, the candidates for the Senate, and to the extent that those issues do affect State government, as is the case with one or two. Think of them in terms of your candidates for Governor and State office.

I remember when I spoke in Nebraska in the 1968 campaign. I remember the big crowds. I remember what you responded to. It was the same here as it was all over the country.

The major issue in 1968, the major concern that Nebraskans were worried about, just as other Americans were worried about, was about how could we bring peace to the world. And I pledged in that campaign that I would work, as President of the United States, to bring peace, lasting peace, to the world.

I want to report to you. I want to give you a report on my stewardship as President of the United States on that vitally important first responsibility of whoever is President of this country.

When I came into office, this is what I found: There were 550,000 Americans in Vietnam. There was no plan to bring them home. Our casualties were 300 a week; they were going up. There were no plans that would bring them down. There was no peace plan on the conference table, and no plans as far as we knew to submit one. And so, we went to work.

We have had some success. We are moving along. We have put into effect a plan to bring an end to the war and to win a just peace. Instead of men going to Vietnam, which had been the case for 5 years before we got in, we have been bringing them home by the tens of thousands and more of them will be coming home in the months ahead. Instead of our casualties going up, they have been coming steadily down, until, as you have noted, if you saw your papers yesterday, they are the lowest in 4 1/2 years, and they will continue to go down.

And finally, we have been able to submit at the peace table a comprehensive proposal in which we have offered a cease-fire, an exchange of prisoners, a negotiated political settlement in which all people in South Vietnam will have the chance to participate in the political process, and we will abide by the result. This is what America has done and this is what we have offered.

We are bringing the war to an end. And now comes the critical question.

I know it is on the minds of many people, people who may support our general goal of peace, but wonder why not sooner, why not now, why not just bring the boys home right away.

That would be very, very easy, particularly for whoever was Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, as I am.

But the problem, you see, my friends, is not to end the war. Look back over the history of this country. I was born in the year 1913, and in my lifetime, we have had four wars. In this century, as a matter of fact, there have been four wars. We ended World War I. We ended World War II. We ended the Korean war. And yet, we have yet to have in this century a full generation of peace.

So I determined, when I became President of the United States, that we would end this war, but we would end it in a way that would discourage those who might start another war so that we could win our objective of a full generation of peace for Americans. That is what we are working for and that is what we are getting support for.

It goes beyond that. It requires a strong America because the strength of America is essential--- essential if those who might engage in war will be discouraged from doing so. And that is why the strength of America is so important if we are to have this full generation of peace.

I will simply say this: We are on the road to that great objective. I believe it can be achieved. I think the chances that America can have a full generation of peace are better now than at any time since the end of World War II.

That is why across this country I am asking support for those men like Roman Hruska, like those who are candidates for the House of Representatives here in this State, who will support the President in trying to win a just peace, a generation of peace for young Americans and for all Americans.

As we end a war, we confront problems, and among those problems is the transition from a war economy to a peacetime economy.

One of the problems since World War II has been that the United States has found it difficult to have full employment without war.

I think what the American people want is prosperity without war, full employment without war. That is what we are working toward and we are on the road to doing that.

A million men have been let out of the armed services or out of defense plants as a result of the wind down of the war in Vietnam and other policies.

We are making the transition of moving those people into not wartime but to peacetime-related activities. This will rake some time, but it is something which I think the American people want to have happen. We are going to make it happen.

And also moving in that direction we have another problem that I know all of you are concerned about. That is the problem of rising prices. You recall in 1968, I talked about that, too, the fact that prices seemed to go up and up, and there seemed to be no program to stop it. So we looked at the cause and what we found was that in the years before we came into office our Government in Washington had spent $50 billion more than it took in in taxes, with the result that there was a pressure on the rise in prices for every family budget in America. So we have gone after that problem.

Let me be very precise on this question. There are lots of things Government should do. We should appropriate money for the needs, the needs of education, the needs of health, the needs in all this country that we have.

But we also must bear in mind this: that when you have a kind of spending that goes so far that it may benefit some people but raise prices and taxes for all people, then let's cut that Federal budget so that we do not raise and destroy the family budget of millions of Americans.

A third problem that I discussed when I was here in Nebraska was the problem of peace at home. It is a problem which is not limited to this State; it is all over the country. It isn't limited to our cities; it is even in some of our smaller towns. It is the fact that in the 8 years before we came into office, crime went up 158 percent in this country, and we looked at the causes of that crime.

One of the causes was that we didn't have strong enough law enforcement officials; we didn't have strong enough laws; we didn't have, in my opinion, strong enough judges in many areas-judges who, as far as their records were concerned, clearly realized that it was important to strengthen the peace forces as against the criminal forces in this country. So we went to work.

We went to work in several areas. I appointed a strong Attorney General of the United States. We strengthened the law enforcement officials at the Federal level. We have appointed strong men as U.S. attorneys across this country at the Federal level.

We have strengthened the LEAA [Law Enforcement Assistance Administration] program in which we have, of course, a program in which the Federal Government helps the States and the counties and the communities in their law enforcement programs.

And then in addition to that, I went to the Congress 18 months ago, and I submitted a comprehensive proposal to deal with organized crime, to deal with the problem of narcotics and drugs, which not only is damaging people in our big cities, but particularly young people in not just the poorer families, which is the usual mythology that you hear, but even among other families throughout this country. We had to do something about it.

I submitted this comprehensive proposal to the Congress 18 months ago and it took 18 months to get the first bill on my desk to sign just a couple of weeks ago.

That isn't fast enough, but I do want you to know this: If there is one man in that Senate and one man in that House who should be known as "Mr. Law Enforcement," it is Roman Hruska of Nebraska.

His has been a powerful voice for law, for order, for justice in the United States. And that is another reason why I am glad that he is going to win, and win big again in Nebraska this year.

Then we come to another area. I recognized that in 1968 it was essential that we examine everything this Government had been doing over previous years to see whether we were putting too much money into bad programs.

We found that that was the case. It isn't just enough to be for education and for better housing and for better welfare and the like. What you have to find out is to see whether or not the programs you have inherited are doing the job. If they are not doing the job, you need to reform them.

So we have embarked on a program of reform for America, reform that covers the whole gamut of all of our problems: a new program in the field of housing, a new program in the field of education, a new program in the field of welfare.

Let me touch upon that just briefly in terms of what we are trying to achieve in that area, because there has been some lack of understanding in this field.

First, let us recognize why we had to change the present welfare system. It isn't because we wanted to do anything that would be damaging to people who needed help. But look at what had happened.

I looked at the figures in New York City. Do you know what I found? Between 1966 and 1970, here is what happened: There were 600,000 receiving welfare--600,000 receiving welfare--in New York City, one city, in 1966. There were 1,200,000 in 1970. The cost went up. The number on the rolls went up. And yet, jobs, help wanted ads, went begging.

I determined right then and there that it was necessary to get a new approach to welfare because I say to you that when a program, any program, makes it more profitable for a man not to work than to work, when it encourages him to desert his family rather than stay with his family, it is time to get rid of that program and get another one in its place.

That is why we are asking the Congress to consider a new program which will provide a floor of dignity for all families that need it--that is what we can do and what we should do in this very rich and good country of ours---but on the other hand, which has a work requirement and a work incentive. Because if a man is able to work and if a man is trained for a job, and then if he refuses to work, he should not be paid to loaf by a hardworking taxpayer anyplace in this country.

Other programs could be mentioned, particularly in the field of the environment, where we finally are recognizing that we must leave to our children the heritage that we had, of a beautiful country, not with the air unfit to breathe, the water unfit to drink, and with all the problems of our open spaces being destroyed.

What we must recognize is that if we don't deal with that problem now, it will be too late to deal with it later.

That is why we have submitted a massive program in this field. That is why we appreciate the cooperation we have had from Nobby Tiemann and other Governors, forward-looking ones at the State level.

That is why we have submitted a new program in terms of the relation of the Federal Government to the States. It is called revenue sharing.

I will tell you what it is really about. We have found that for 190 years, power, money, has flown from the people and from the States to Washington, D.C., and it is concentrated there.

And after 190 years, I decided that it was time for power to flow from Washington back to the States and back to the cities, power to the people of the United States. So we will share the revenues if the Congress gives us that approval.

That is why your election of a Governor is so important, because if the revenues are going to be shared with the States, we must have State Governors who will have the foresight, the farsightedness to use those revenues and use them effectively for the benefit of the people of the State.

I have touched briefly these issues to give you an indication of what we are trying to do: to bring peace, lasting peace abroad, peace for a generation, to bring peace at home, peace with law and order and justice and safety for our citizens, a program of reform of our institutions of Government.

All of these things I am sure we want, and we want that with progress and prosperity without war and without inflation. We have made some progress, but a President, as powerful as he is, needs the help of a Congress, of the House and the Senate, to do a job. That is why I am talking in Nebraska.

That is why I am glad to find we are going to have that kind of help from the people of Nebraska and their Senators and their Congressmen from this State.

Now one closing word. I am delighted to see, as I mentioned earlier, such a great number of young people here. And I am also delighted to see a lot of your parents here. I want to say a word to the parents first and then perhaps a word to the young people.

I think that young America has been getting a bad rap. I want to tell you why. Night after night on that television, what you will see is a minority of young Americans. You will see a bombing here, a burning, for example, of a bank, 10 miles from my home in California, near one of the University of California campuses. Or you will see, in some places it doesn't happen here, but in most places where I appear hecklers trying to shout down the President of the United States, four-letter words, what have you, and that sort of thing.

You see them shouting, some of them engaging in violence, night after night.

The impression is created that that is a majority of young Americans. Now, I have traveled across this country. I have been in Ohio, I have been in California, I have been in the East and the West and the North and the South. And I have seen young people by the thousands and the tens of thousands, I should say. I can tell you that that picture that you see of the radical few is inaccurate.

The idea that the radical few is a majority of young Americans today or that they will be the leaders of America tomorrow is not true. They are not the majority and they will not be the leaders of America tomorrow.

I will tell you what young America is. Oh, young America isn't satisfied with the way things are, and they should never be. Young Americans want change, and they should always want it.

It is to the great credit of the younger generation that they care--they care about people that don't have the equal chance that they have.

That is the kind of a system we want. Because we can't fulfill the American dream until every American has a chance, an equal chance, to fulfill his own dream. All of this is good to report about young Americans today.

But, also, they know that in the history of this country, the glory of it is that we have a system that provides a method for peaceful change. And when you have a method peacefully to change a system, there is no cause that justifies resort to violence. For that reason, let's keep our faith in our young Americans.

And may I say to them, to young America: Don't you lose your faith in America. I know sometimes you get an impression from the columns, maybe again from television, radio, and so forth, that the United States is an imperialist power engaged in Fascist activities--oh, I have seen some of the signs and this and that--and hear in this country that everything has become rather a sick society.

Well, that is a distorted picture, too. I know. I have had the great privilege, as President of this country, to travel abroad, to visit countries in Asia, in Europe, all over this word. And hundreds of thousands of people in Communist countries-350,000 the other day in Yugoslavia, stood in the rain for a hours to cheer the President of the United States in Spain, in Ireland, in Italy, every place.

Why does this happen? It happens because they know that the United States is the strongest nation in the world, but they also know that the United States, in this century, has never started a war; that we have never used our strength to break the peace; that the United States will use its strength not to destroy freedom but to defend it, not to break the peace but to keep the peace.

In other words, people abroad know what we in the United States should be proud of: that our strength is for the purpose of keeping the peace and not breaking the peace. Let's stand up and be proud of it.

And there is something else you should know about this country. Oh, there are a lot of things wrong. There are too many people that are poor. There are too many inequities. The air and the water is polluted in some places, and we have got to do something about it.

But never forget this: In the United States of America, there is more freedom; there is more opportunity; there is more progress than in any country in the world. And only in the United States of America could the President of the United States offer to the country a program which would provide a floor for families in need, which is higher than the ceiling than three-fourths of the world could ever hope to achieve. That is what the United States of America is.

So, I say to you, we live in a great country. We are part of a great people. We share a great future. And the way that you can participate in that future on November 3d is to go to the polls, express your views. Naturally, I hope you express them in the way that I urge.

But the most important thing is to express them, because this great country is one that all Americans now should recognize in this time of trouble through which we have passed--we should recognize we are fortunate to be alive at this time. We are fortunate to be living in this the greatest country in the world, because what happens in America will determine whether peace and freedom survive in America and the world.

Let's be worthy of the challenge. I know the people of Nebraska will meet that challenge.

Note: The President spoke at 4:07 p.m. in Ak-sar-ben Coliseum.

Richard Nixon, Remarks in Omaha, Nebraska Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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