Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Rally in San Bernardino

October 28, 1964

Governor Brown, my friends in San Bernardino:

I am glad to be back home tonight. I enjoyed riding that elevator tonight more than I have ever enjoyed it before. The last time I was here was 40 years ago. I came in a T-model Ford. The only reception committee that greeted me was the boy that ran the elevator, and I am happy that my friends have increased and we have got a larger reception committee out here tonight.

This is a sentimental visit for me, and I am not going to talk long, and I am not going to talk too political. I want to first of all thank you people of San Bernardino for sending to Congress a most competent and able colleague of mine and my friend for many years, Harry Sheppard. Harry is a very young man and was probably playing marbles when I was here but I remember Phil Swing used to represent this district. Do any of you remember that?

The last Congress was one of the most productive in history, and I think this was because the responsible leaders of both parties worked together. The next Congress that starts in January is going to be productive, too. We are all going forward together, Republicans and Democrats alike, because all good Americans want to do what is best for their country before they do what is best for their party.

We are going to build a bigger and a better America. We are going to build it in the broad and vital center of the American political landscape, and we are not going to build it on the shaky, quaking fringes.

California and San Bernardino are a growing State and a growing city--and a growing population needs a growing economy. That is exactly what we have in the United States today. For the first time in all of our history, 72 million Americans have jobs, 5 million more than had jobs when President Kennedy took the oath of office 4 years ago. Personal income has risen by $80 billion after taxes, and corporate profits after taxes have already increased over $12 billion.

In the stock market today, the value of stocks on the exchange is worth more than $100 billion more than they were worth when I took office November 22d, 11 months ago. And in this great surge forward, California has led the way. Right here in the San Bernardino-Riverside-Ontario area, the number of jobs increased by 27,000 between 1960 and 1964. And I am here tonight to pledge you that we are going to keep on increasing them, we are going to keep on moving ahead.

You and I believe in thinking ahead about our country's future. We believe that social security benefits should be extended. I was just talking to my friend Mrs. Platt, of the Platt Building, down there before I came up here, and I told her that I believe that our eider citizens have a right to decent medical care under social security after long lives of service to this country.

We believe that every child has a right to the best education he can use.

I am told that this is the largest county in the United States. I have a little special favor I would like to ask of you, and if you have already made up your mind and you can't do what I want you to do, I won't get mad at you, I will forget it, but if you can, I will appreciate it.

I would like to see the biggest county in the United States deliver the biggest plurality for economic and social progress in the election next Tuesday. I would like to see the biggest county give the biggest vote to Pierre Salinger for United States Senator. I would like to see the biggest county give the biggest vote to Ken Dyal for Congressman to succeed Harry Sheppard.

And if you haven't worn out your lead pencil, or if the voting machine lever is still there and you are still in a good humor, I would like for you to vote for Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, too.

Economic and social progress are only a part of a President's job, because more important than anything else is the President's inescapable and awesome responsibility to keep peace in the world. Every mother here is more concerned with peace and keeping her boys from going to war than she is with her own life.

There are great and there are troubling changes that are going on in the world today. In the space of 24 hours, Mr. Khrushchev has toppled in the Soviet Union. In a space of 24 hours, 700 million Chinese, more than 3 1/2 times our population, have exploded a new nuclear bomb, and the government in Great Britain has a sudden change and only has a majority of four. When such changes come upon the world, then that is the time for the United States to be prudent, to be stable, to be sound, to be sure, and to act. But before we act we must think. We just can't guess.

In the nuclear age, the President does not get a chance to make a second guess. We cannot make a foreign policy, we cannot keep the peace by ultimatum, by rattling our rockets, or by bluffing with our bombs.

We can keep the peace, and we can only keep the peace, by two methods: first, by a strong defense; and second, by reason and responsibility and negotiation.

Strong defense comes first. As your Commander in Chief--and Harry Sheppard had a lot to do with this--I can tell you tonight that the United States is the strongest and the mightiest nation in the world--the United States is stronger than all the other nations of the world combined.

You good Americans out there in that audience that are interested in your Government by coming down here after dark, you helped us to make it this way. And I am here as your President to tell you that I intend to keep it that way.

In World War II California was the first State in the Union in aircraft production and in shipbuilding. And tonight, California is responsible for 23.1 percent of our defense effort in the United States, more than twice as much as any other State in the Union. Fifty percent of our entire space effort is carried out in the great State of California, and this is up from 40 percent when President Kennedy took office in 1961.

This growth has come because America needs what California has to offer. It has come here strictly on merit. And so long as I am your President, it will continue to come here strictly on merit, and so long as I am your President, the Department of Defense stands ready to help any community, any industry, any individual that may suffer temporary dislocation because of changes in technology.

You can count on that. And I think that I know that you are patriotic enough that I can count on you to help me keep America strong and mighty.

But it is not enough to be powerful. Power alone is not enough. America must also be wise. We must be strong, but we must be sensible. We must be resolute, but we must be responsible. The stakes in the 20th century are too high to be reckless.

It is not easy to keep the peace in the world, but for 20 years we have kept the peace. We have turned back Communist aggression more than once. We will continue to stand guard at freedom's gate. This Nation is respected because we use our strength with restraint, and we use our responsibility with judgment.

So tonight I come here to ask you to affirm our dedication to responsibility and restraint on November 3d by voting for the only old San Bernardino resident on the national ticket this year.

We must run along now. People are waiting for us in San Diego, and then we have to go to Salt Lake City tonight. But before I leave, let me ask you, you just have 1 week: Talk to your kinfolks, talk to your neighbors, talk to your church workers, talk to them about peace in the world and prosperity at home, and tell them that you want the biggest county in the United States to give the biggest majority to the biggest effort that will ever be made to keep peace in the world and prosperity at home on November 3d.

Now I want to tell you how good it is to come back here and to have you be so warm and kind and generous. I want to tell you how good your Governor and his lovely wife have been to me. I want to tell you how nice your new Congressman, Ken Dyal, has been, and how wonderful Harry Sheppard has been through the years. I want to tell you that Pierre Salinger is doing a bang-up job in Washington. Now I want to introduce you to the President's boss.

[At this point Mrs. Johnson spoke briefly. She said that she had been hearing about the President's "adventures in California and in San Bernardino for just about all of the 30 years that we have been married .... When he came out here on that adventure, age 15 and just right out of a little, smalltown high school, nothing like this loomed before him. It was the farthest thing from his thoughts or from any of those who knew him. One of the things that made the difference," she said, "was the fact that he finally went back home and went to college and got a good education." The President then resumed speaking.]

Lady Bird is wrong about one thing, and I want to clear up the record before we leave. I got plenty of vocational education in there on that elevator!

Note: The President spoke at 5:50 p.m. in the Plait Building in San Bernardino, Calif. His opening words "Governor Brown" referred to Governor Edmund G. Brown of California. Later in his remarks he referred to, among others, Representative Harry R. Sheppard, former Representative Philip D. Swing, Senator Pierre E.G. Salinger, and Ken W. Dyal, Democratic candidate for Representative, all of California.

In 1964 a bronze plaque was placed in the lobby of the Platt Building to commemorate the President's brief residence in San Bernardino in 1925. Following is the legend which appears on the plaque:


As a youth he ran this elevator in 1925.

As an attorney's clerk he began the study of law in this building the same year.

(Placed by readers of The Sun-Telegram in 1964.)

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Rally in San Bernardino Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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