Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at Rockford, Illinois

October 29, 1970

Governor Ogilvie, Senator Smith, Congressman Anderson, Congressman Sehadeberg from Wisconsin, and Congresswoman-to-be Phyllis Schlafly:

I want you to know how very grateful I am for this enormous crowd, for this wonderful reception. I think that all of you inside the hangar should know that there are at least twice as many outside the hangar, and I understand, if they can hear on the public address system, I have delayed our flight to our next stop so that we can come out and say hello to you in just a few moments.

I particularly want to express appreciation to those that have been entertaining you before we got here. I understand we have a number of high school bands: the Gilford High School Band, the Jefferson High School Band, the Auburn High School Band, the East Rockford High School Band, the West Rockford High School Band. Any rally that will bring East Rockford and West Rockford together has got to be quite a rally, believe me.

As I speak here in this State, I wish first to say that I am very proud to be in the State in which the chief executive, Dick Ogilvie, has made an outstanding record, one of the finest Governors in this Nation. I look forward to working with him in the future, as I have in the past, for the better progress of this State and of this Nation.

I welcome the opportunity to endorse, not only the national candidates about whom I will be talking in a moment, but also the State ticket--men like Ray Page, who is one of the best commissioners of education in the whole United States. I am glad to endorse him here in Rockford. And, also, while he is not on the ticket this year, I wish to express my appreciation for the fact that we have in Illinois a team--a team in Governor Ogilvie and Senator Percy, all of the others working together, because they know, as I know, that Illinois is the key State in this Nation.

I want to talk about the role of Illinois. I want to talk about the role you can play and how important it is to you, to Illinois, and to America.

Now, all of you are aware of the fact that there used to be an old saying in politics that, "As Maine goes, so goes the Nation." That doesn't happen to be true now.

I think it could be said, however, as Illinois goes, so goes the Nation. In 1960, in a very close election, I did not carry Illinois.

In 1968, in another close election, I carried Illinois. That is why I am here as President of the United States today, because of the people of Rockford.

As I stand here in this city, in this airport, I remember the great welcomes we have had over the years past. I recall a meeting in the rain in 1956--you remember?---down in the armory, where people came by the thousands.

But when you come to the airport and stand like this, this means something is happening. It means in this strong area of the State people are thinking about the issues. They want to hear about them directly. They want to know what their votes mean. And I want to talk to you about that for just a moment.

First, in the United States Senate today, we have a contest in Illinois that will affect not only your Senator but will affect the votes in that Senate over the next 2 years.

In the past 2 years, in vote after vote, a change of one vote would have made the difference--one vote as to whether or not the President of the United States would either be backed or not be backed on his program for peace abroad, for a strong America, for peace at home.

And as I look back on that record, I realize that it is vitally important for the people of Illinois to know that in the United States Senate, the election of Ralph Smith means something, of course, to him--I believe it is in the best interests of the people of Illinois. But Ralph Smith may be the one that will make the difference. We need him in Washington, D.C.

Now let me describe how that one vote can affect you, how it can affect your family, your children, the future of this State, and the future of America.

In the campaign of 1968, I made some promises to the people of Illinois and to the people of America. I have been trying to keep those promises. We have made some progress and we are going to make Some more.

I can also tell you, however, that while the President of the United States, because of the wealth of this country and the strength of this country, is the strongest man, perhaps, in the world, in terms of power, the President of the United States cannot do it alone. He cannot do the job that the people of the United States elected him to do unless he has a Congress that will work with him rather than against him. And Ralph Smith will work with me and not against me for these great goals.

Your own Congressman John Anderson can tell you how it works. Week after week I meet with him as one of the leaders of our Congress, in the White House. And he will tell you that in week after week as we count the votes it is a question of one vote that will determine whether the President, not as an individual, but because he is trying to keep his promises to the people of America, the promises that the people elected him to carry out; whether he is going to have the support in the House and the Senate.

My friends, we have had some support. We have had not enough. But let me say the vote that we have in this case, of Ralph Smith, along with Chuck Percy, these are the votes that can make the difference on these issues.

First, above everything else, in 1968 I recognized that the American people wanted leadership that would end the war and bring us a lasting peace.

Look what we have done: We found 500,000 men in Vietnam with no plans to bring them back. And we have been bringing them home by the thousands and more of them will be coming home.

Second, instead of casualties going up at the rate of 300 a week, they are the lowest in 4½ years because of our strong action to deal with the problems in Vietnam.

Third, we have a peace plan on the conference table calling for a cease-fire, calling for a political settlement, calling for an exchange of prisoners.

Now let me come to the key point. I realize that there are those who disagree with our policies here. I realize that there are those--and in this Senate campaign you have a pretty good choice in this respect-who honestly believe that we should either bring the boys home now or 6 months or 12 months from now without regard to what happens.

Let me say ending the war is not the problem. America has ended three wars in this century. You know. We ended World War I. We ended World War II. We ended Korea.

And we have yet to have a generation of peace. I just want to say to these young men that are calling "Peace now" out here, that our men in Vietnam are fighting in Vietnam for a lasting peace so that they won't have to fight in Vietnam, or someplace else in the future.

You see, I pledged to the American people that our goal will be to end this war in a way that will discourage the warmakers, to end this war, that will bring us what we have not had in this century: a generation of peace.

Now, that is something to be for, it is something Ralph Smith is for. We need him in the United States Senate to work for that policy. And I thank you for sending him there as you have, and as you will on November 3d.

I can give many other examples. Quickly, one that I discussed in the campaign of '68: We saw prices going up. I pointed out that we had to get at the cause of it.

One of the major causes of your prices going up at home for groceries, for clothing, and everything else, is that your Government has been spending far more in taxes over the past 10 years than it has been taking in, far more in expenditures than it has been taking in in taxes.

I pledged that we do something about that. It has required some hard decisions. But what we need, you see, are men in the House and men in the Senate who will have the courage to vote against a spending program, spending not their money but yours, that might benefit some of the people but that would raise prices for all the people. That is the kind of man that you have in Ralph Smith, and it is the kind of man that we need.

My friends, what we want, in other words, as we move from a wartime to a peacetime economy, as a million men have been let out of the armed services and out of defense work, what our goal is--and this is what we are working for and we are making progress toward is progress without inflation, and prosperity and full employment without war. That is something to be for. And it is something that we are accomplishing on behalf of the American people.

And that majority of one can make a difference in another area: I know that you are concerned not only about peace abroad but peace at home. I talked about that in 1968. I pointed to the fact that we have seen crime go up by 158 percent over the past 8 years before we came into office, and I said we would do something about it.

I pledged stronger judges. I pledged a stronger Attorney General. I pledged to submit new laws. I have done all those things.

We have made some progress, but it took the Congress 18 months to send the law down that I asked for 18 months ago to deal with organized crime, to deal with pornography, to deal with the problem of narcotics, and to deal with the problem of drugs.

My friends, let me say I pledged to the American people in 1968 that we would have the strong action to deal with the criminal elements in this country in a way that would see that the wave of crime is not the wave of the future in America.

I will keep that pledge. But in order to keep that pledge, my friends, I will tell you what I need: We need in the United States Senate a man like Ralph Smith who will not only vote for the laws that we need, but will speak for those laws and vote for them and speak for them, not just in election time, but all year around. He is that kind of a man, and that is why we need him there.

And then, of course, we need support for our programs of reform. Many of you are concerned, as I am, about our welfare program. I have found, for example, that in the city of New York, from 1966 to 1970, a period of 5 years, welfare rolls went up from 600,000 to 1,200,000.

And yet, in that same city, the want ads for help wanted--there were scores of pages in the Sunday papers week after week.

I want to tell you what we propose to do about that and where we need some help. I say that when a program, like the present welfare program, makes it more profitable for a man not to work than to work, when it rewards him for deserting his family rather than to stay with his family, we ought to get rid of that program and get another one in its place.

I say that in this great, rich country-and I have submitted a program which will do this--we should provide for all of those who are in need. But, my friends, I say that if a man is able to work, and if he is trained for a job and then if he is offered a job and he refuses to work, he shouldn't be paid to loaf by a hard-working taxpayer in the State of Illinois or anyplace else in this country.

And now I would like to report to this audience, as I have to all of those in these last 2 days, as I have traveled from Florida and now on to California later in the day, about what I have found across America on an issue of great concern to you.

Over here are a lot of television cameras, and tonight you will have an opportunity, perhaps, to see this rally on television or parts of it. Over the past few months, you have seen on television, night after night after night, what purports to be young America. And you know what you have seen: a bombing here, or a building burned down, or people trying to shout down a speaker, some of them shouting obscenities, others engaging in discourtesies. And you get the impression that the radical few are a majority of young Americans or are the leaders of the future.

Just let me say this: The radical few in this country that you see on your television screen night after night, they are not a majority of young Americans, and they are not going to be the leaders of America in the future of this country.

And to the young Americans here, and particularly to your fathers and your mothers, I say I am proud of young America. I am proud of your idealism. I am proud of the fact that you want peace. I am proud of the fact that you care-care about the people that don't have as good a chance as you have.

But also, I am proud of the fact that the great majority of young Americans, while they want change, they recognize that in a system that provides for peaceful change, there is no cause that justifies violence. That is the kind of young Americans we are proud of.

And to young Americans, may I bring you a message?

Sometimes you may get an impression that this is a sick country, that we have policies that are held up in disrespect in other nations of the world.

Don't you believe it. I have traveled to Communist countries in recent weeks, and to non-Communist countries. I have found that every place I go, hundreds of thousands of people come out to cheer the President of the United States. Why? Because they know that this country, the strongest in the world, does not threaten the peace; it does not threaten the freedom of any other country. They realize that a strong America is necessary if we are going to have peace in the world. You can be proud of that.

They also are aware that in America, whatever we may see of its faults, there is more freedom, there is more opportunity, there is more chance for progress than in any country in the history of the world.

So, I say to you today, let's look at what is wrong with America, let's correct it, but as we talk about what is wrong, let's stand up and speak up about what is right about the United States of America. It is time for the great silent majority. You can speak up. You don't have to speak out in obscenities. You don't have to try to shout down the other side.

I will tell you the way you speak. The most powerful weapon ever devised in a free nation--November 3d you go into a quiet place for a moment and you vote. You are the most powerful person in the world at that moment. Your vote can make the difference about that majority of one in the Senate. Your vote can make the difference as to whether the President of the United States in his efforts to bring lasting peace abroad, to bring peace at home, to have prosperity and progress without war--your vote will determine whether you are going to have, in the Senate, a man that is going to work with the President or against him.

I ask you, give me a man, Ralph Smith, who will work with the President for the good of America and the good of Illinois.

I wanted you to be sure to see Mrs. Smith, because the wives are the unsung heroines of this campaign. My wife, Pat, is not with me on this trip, because she is off campaigning in another State in the West and we will join up in California tonight. My daughter, Tricia, I think, is in New Jersey today. My daughter, Julie, is going to be in another State another day. They care a great deal, not just about their father, but about this country. And so does Mrs. Smith.

Note: The President spoke at 11:07 a.m. at Rockford Airport.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at Rockford, Illinois Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives