Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at a Republican Fund-raising Dinner

May 09, 1973

Mr. Vice President, and all of the distinguished guests, because everyone here is a distinguished guest tonight:

I had been hearing that this would be less than an enthusiastic dinner tonight, and I must say you have proved that perhaps the critics were wrong.

I do know, too, that this is an evening when you have been paying tribute to some who have led our party in the past year, in fact over the past years, to Chairman Bob Dole, Bob Wilson, and Peter Dominick, and I wish to pay tribute to them, too, and also to the new leaders-the new leadership that is up here, George Bush, and Bob Michel, Bill Brock. They are a great team, and they are a team that the Vice President and I will be very proud to work with for the victory that we are going to win in 1974.

Having mentioned the Vice President, I thank him for his indefatigable campaigning in all the years since we have been together in Washington. He has had to carry, as is often the lot of the Vice President, the campaigning load when the President has some other responsibilities to undertake, and he has carried that load with great dedication and great effectiveness, and I am proud to have him as a member of our team.

Now, as is always my custom before speaking before any audience of such a distinguished group as this, I asked the chairman what I should talk about. And it just happened this afternoon I met with the chairman, Chairman Bush, and also his other two colleagues and our new finance chairman, Mr. Wilson from Tennessee, and we had a discussion about this dinner tonight and what you would like to hear about.

You already heard the Vice President praise the accomplishments of the Administration, and so for me to add to that would simply be, of course, adding praise for what he says I have done, but which you have made possible and all of us working together have made possible, and I will have something to say about that as I conclude tonight.

But it has always been my practice before any kind of audience to take on those subjects that some people think you don't want to take on because they are difficult.

Let me say, I didn't get where I am by ducking tough issues. I am keenly aware of the fact that many Americans-everybody in this room, for example--are concerned about the developments that we have been reading about and hearing about in recent weeks and recent months.

I expressed my concern just a few days ago on national television. I will not add to what I said then, except to make some comments that I think are quite appropriate at this time.

In the American political process, one of the most difficult tasks of all comes when charges are made against high officials in an administration. That is a very great test of an administration, and many times in the history of our country, administrations have failed to meet the test of investigating those charges that might be embarrassing to the administration, because they were made against high officials in an administration.

We have had such a situation. We have been confronted with it. We are dealing with it. And I will simply say to you tonight that this Nation--Republicans, Democrats, Independents, all Americans-can have confidence in the fact that the new nominee for Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, and the Special Prosecutor that he will appoint in this case will have the total cooperation of the executive branch of this Government. They will get to the bottom of this thing; they will see to it that all of those who are guilty are prosecuted and are brought to justice. That is a pledge I make tonight and that I think the American people are entitled to.

But I would add that the place where that should happen is in the courts of law. Charges are these days made rather easily, as we know, in our political process, and there is sometimes a tendency for us to convict the innocent in our own mind before they have the opportunity to be heard, before they have the opportunity, even if charges are made, to be tried.

And let us resolve tonight that until we hear the evidence, until those who have been charged have had a chance to present their case in a court of law, let's uphold the great American tradition that an individual, even a government official, is innocent until he is proven guilty.

I also want to add a word with regard to what all this is going to mean to the next 3 1/2 and a bit more years that we have in office as a result of the election last November. I can assure you that we will get to the bottom of this very deplorable incident. We shall do everything that we can to develop new legislative tools which will deal with this kind of abuse and other abuses as practiced too often in many campaigns by both parties over the years

But the most important thing I want to say tonight is this: We are not going to allow this deplorable incident to deter us or deflect us from going forward toward achieving the great goals that an overwhelming majority of the American people elected us to achieve in November of 1972•

We received the greatest popular majority in history for good reasons. The American people had a clear choice, and the same reasons and that same choice exists today as did exist then. And when we look at those goals, some of which the Vice President has referred to so eloquently, when we look at those goals, it is our responsibility at this time to go forward now and achieve them, and that we do intend to do. And I can assure you that whether it is in a Cabinet meeting that we will be having in the morning, or whether it is a meeting with legislative leaders which we will be having next week, that you can be sure the business of your Government is going forward and we are going to make the next 4 years better than the last 4 years, and that is something Americans are entitled to.

As you know, in a few weeks I shall probably be meeting with the leader of the Soviet Union in a return visit that he will be making to the United States. And as the Vice President has indicated, we have had great progress over the past year, particularly in trying to work towards not just ending a war that had gone on much too long--12 years, as a matter of fact--but in building a more peaceful world so that, for example, the leaders of one-fourth of all the people in the world wouldn't be out there isolated from the rest of the world, with the danger of a confrontation 15 to 20 years from now being inherited by our children, and making progress as we have made it with the other great super power, the Soviet Union, progress that does not resolve the basic differences between our various systems of government and our philosophies. They are there; they will remain. But progress towards seeing to it that differences can be resolved around a conference table after a hard bargain, which is what we did last year and what we intend to do as a result of very careful planning that is now going forward this year as well.

What I would like to say to you, my friends, is this: Every individual, I am sure, who occupies the Office of the President, tries to think of one thing he wants more than anything else, and I could name many goals tonight that I would want more than anything else. But more important than anything else for the present President of the United States is the goal of building a new structure of peace in the world.

And the reason that is the most important goal is that unless the President of the United States, backed by the people of the United States and the Congress, takes the leadership in this field, we will not have peace. That is the truth of the matter, because there is no other free nation that is strong enough, and there is no other group of nations that has the will to provide that leadership.

We have tried to meet that responsibility over the past 4 years, and we have made progress. We are going to continue to meet that responsibility over the next 3 1/2 years, as I have indicated.

But in order to meet it, it is essential that we concentrate our minds and our hearts and our souls and our energy toward achieving that goal as well as the others that I have mentioned in my speech a few days ago and that the Vice President referred to in his introduction today.

And that brings me to a personal note referring to everybody here. I have had, as you know, some political ups and downs during my 27 years in politics, and I have known times when I wondered if I had very many friends. And every man or woman who has been in politics knows that when you win, they are all your friends, and when you lose, it is pretty hard to find them, except when you lose and they are still there, they are the real friends.

Let me say, I don't stand here tonight as a loser. We stand here tonight as winners, and we are going to win again. But I shall always remember this group tonight, remember that when the going was tough, you hung in there, remember that when the challenge was greatest, you didn't lose your faith. And if some of you think, "Why does this kind of challenge have to come to us? Why do we have to endure it?," let me remind you that the finest steel has to go through the hottest fire, and I can assure you, my friends, this room is full of fine steel tonight.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:04 p.m. in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel. The dinner was cosponsored by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Republican National Committee.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at a Republican Fund-raising Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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