Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at Salem, Virginia

October 28, 1969

Ladies and gentlemen:

All I can say is that that is quite a welcome for an outside agitator.

On this visit to the Roanoke Valley-and I know I am in Salem, incidentally, and not in Roanoke--I can assure you that it is a great honor to be here, to have this wonderful welcome, to remember the time that I was here in 1960 with one of the largest--according to Dick Poff, the largest--political crowd that had ever been gathered in this part of the State, either before or since.

Tonight as I stand before you, I realize that you are here because not only would you like to hear from the President of the United States, but because you are vitally concerned in the election of your next Governor and his campaign team.

Just so I can lay to rest--I know of very friendly comments of some of the opposition with regard to outsiders. I want you to know something: I don't think the President of the United States is an outsider in any country or any State in this Nation.

I can particularly say that in the State of Virginia, because when I happened to have the privilege to be on the ticket in 1952 and 1956, that ticket carried Virginia, and in 1960 and 1968 we carried Virginia.

Also, for those of you who would like a little historical reference, you might be interested to know that except for my native State of California, and for Washington, D.C., I have lived in the State of Virginia longer than any other State of the Union, because my wife and I were very proud and happy to live in Arlington, Virginia, in the year 1942 before I went into the Navy, and then for 5 years during the years I was a Congressman, and for 1 year when I was a Senator we also lived in Arlington.

So I speak to you as a former Virginian speaking for the next Governor of the State of Virginia.

I also want you to know that it has been a very great privilege for me to come here in the company of my colleagues--I call them my colleagues, because having started in the House of Representatives all Congressmen are really, I feel, my colleagues--who are here from the House. They came down on the plane with me. They are going back with me to continue the Nation's business in the Halls of Congress.

They have been introduced already. Most of them are from districts other than this one, of course: Bill Whitehurst, Bill Scott, Bill Wampler--Joel Broyhill would be here except that he is making a speech in another part of the State. I could speak about all of them. They are a fine team.

But I do want to say in his home county and in his own area, that among the leaders of the Congress on the Republican and Democrat side, there is not a man who has a higher standing and higher respect from his colleagues than your own Congressman, Dick Poff, of the State of Virginia, and particularly in that great field of law enforcement which is such an important objective for this administration, a field in which all we need from this Congress are the laws to be passed, laws that deal with narcotics, laws that deal with obscenity, laws that deal with organized crime, particularly in this field he is one of the real experts.

If the Congress follows his leadership, the Congress will give your new administration the laws that it needs to deal with those problems, and I am sure that is what all Virginians and all Americans want at this time in our history.

I am proud also to be here because not only do I speak for Lin Holton, but for the whole ticket, for Buz Dawbarn,1 for Dick Obenshain.2 I have spoken with them before. This is a fine team, and later on when I finish, I want them all to come up here so you can show that you are for the whole team, from the top to the bottom, just as I am. I am happy also to speak here because

I like the distaff side of the Holton team. I think that Jinks [Mrs. A. Linwood] Holton is one of the best campaigners that I have ever seen on the campaign trail. She will make a great first lady of the State of Virginia.

Also I am happy to be here because of some personal matters that have already been referred to in the press, and that I would like to speak to you just briefly about this evening.

This is the first time since becoming President that I have gone into any State or into any district speaking specifically for a candidate. I think you wonder why I came to Virginia.

Well, first I was invited; second I have a great respect for the man who is running for Governor. I have respect for him first as a man. He ran once before in 1965. It was a hard race. There was very little chance for him to win. He knew it, but he ran. He ran well, and he came back to run again, and I know what it means to lose and then to win, and he is going to win, too. It is that kind of comeback spirit that the people of Virginia like in their political leaders, and that kind of spirit he has.

Also, I remember that when I became a candidate for the Presidency, then for the nomination, he was one of the first to support me, and of course I appreciated that. And I suppose that that is enough reason to come into a State for a man, the fact that he has been your friend, the fact that you do happen to admire him.

But my support for him goes to much more important issues than those, important as those are. It goes to something else that he has referred to. It goes to the philosophy of the man. I like the way he talks. I like what he stands for. I like the fact that Lin Holton is not a man of the past, but a man for the future of Virginia, and that is what the people of Virginia want. Because, my friends, there is a new era beginning in national politics.

We are going to provide the leadership in Washington, D.C., for that new era, for a new relationship between the States and the Federal Government, for a relationship which this State and the people of this State have always believed in and which they deeply want, I am sure, now.

It is called the New Federalism. Lin Holton has referred to it; Dick Poff has referred to it. Let me put it to you quite directly. During the campaign some of you may have heard me say right in this State that after 40 years of power going from the people and from the States to Washington, D.C., it was time to have it turn around and have the power come from Washington back to the States and back to the people of the United States of America.

Now, the fact that I said that was not an unusual thing, because I want to tell you something--for 50 years politicians in both parties have been talking that way, saying that we had to decentralize government, saying that power should go back to the States, but for 50 years nobody has really done anything about it until this administration came to power, and we are doing something about it.

We have offered the most revolutionary legislation in the history of the Republic in this respect. Too much power is in Washington. Governors today, in order to get what they need for their States have to go hat in hand to the Halls of Congress or to the West Wing of the White House. This should stop. That is why we say that a portion of the Federal revenues, because the Federal Government has the greatest tax base, should now be shared with the States without strings, so that the people of the States and the Governors of the States can do and spend the money the way the States want it rather than the way the people in Washington, D.C., want it.

Also, that is why in this program for the first time since power began to flow to Washington we have through our manpower training program--we have asked the Congress to provide the means whereby a billion dollar program for the training of manpower, training people for jobs, a billion dollars which is now spent by the Federal Government will be distributed to the States so that they can make those decisions and do that training because, believe me, the States know better how to train manpower than does the Federal Government in Washington, D.C.

I could give other examples. Whether it is in the field of water pollution, whether it is in the field of the environment, and all of the others you have been hearing about, a new relationship is developing.

This administration is for it in Washington and what we need in the States are men, men with new ideas, men with progressive ideas, men who will recognize as Dick Poff said a moment ago, not only States rights, but States responsibilities, men who will look to the future and who, as they get the funds that will be made available to them over the next years, will use those funds wisely and effectively for the people of those States.

That is the way this country began. That was certainly the dream of the Founding Fathers, and it is that dream now that is necessary if this country is going to be able to govern itself effectively in the future because government in Washington is too big, I know. Government in Washington is too inefficient and there is only one way to cure it, through redistributing that power by sending from Washington to the States the funds and those powers which can better be handled by the States.

Let me say in that connection, in Lin Holton you have a man who believes in this program. I believe in it at the Federal level. You have a man who will know what to do with it as we work together in years ahead, and you have a man who in my opinion will lead this State among the first ranks of all the States of the Union with the new programs, as the State of Virginia should be an example with its great political tradition, an example to all the other States.

Now, my friends, could I also leave one other thought with you? I noted the reference tonight to the two-party system. I noted the reference tonight to the fact that all the people of Virginia should have a chance to participate in politics. I recognize the tradition in this State that goes back for many years of one-party government. I recognize, too, that under that tradition this State has produced some fine political leaders. But I know this: Whether it is in business, or whether it is in the athletic field or whether it is in politics, it is better to have competition because the better the competition, the better the man who wins and that is what you are going to have with Lin Holton and the two-party government.

For Virginia, which has provided for this whole Nation this great heritage of democracy, for it to set the example for the whole Southland, for it to set the example of a real two-party system and two-party responsibility, this will serve Virginia well, but it will also serve the Nation well.

Finally, one other thought that impresses me as I speak to this great crowd here--and speaking of a great crowd, when we stopped in at the airport, I thought that was where the rally was, there were as many there as there are here. After we got in the car Lin Holton took me down a bit. He said they were just there to see Air Force One, to see whether it would make it or not. But in any event we made it. I don't know whether it will get off or not, but we got in.

I was going to say that one of the things that impressed me at that airport, one of the things that impresses me about this crowd tonight, is the great number of young people who are here. That is one of the reasons that I think Lin Holton will win, and deserves to win.

His wife told me that the campaign headquarters is primarily staffed by volunteers from 20 to 30 years of age. This means that a vote for Holton is a vote for the future.

It reminds me of one of my favorite stories about the two-party system and how it developed in the neighboring State of Tennessee where they have always had, as you have in Virginia now, some Republicans, but where it has not been particularly an asset to have that party label.

Howard Baker, the fine young Republican Senator, said that after a very stirring speech to an audience in one of his campaigns a very old man came up to him and said: "Son, for all my life up to this time I have voted the straight Democratic ticket because that is the way my grandfather would have wanted me to vote. But," he said, "this year I am voting Republican because that is the way my grandson wants me to vote."

My friends, I say to you tonight, I do not put the case for Lin Holton on the basis of my personal friendship or on the basis of my partisan affiliation and his. I put it it on the basis of the man. He is the best man for the job.

Democrats or Republicans will vote for the best man for the job. I am convinced that measuring the man, measuring the times and the need of the times, the people of Virginia will be convinced that here is the man who will provide the new look, the new leadership, the new strength that Virginia should have. That is what you want. That is why his campaign is rolling and that is why it will roll on, in my opinion, to victory on next Tuesday.

I say to you finally on a personal note that I am most grateful for your very warm welcome this evening, for this great demonstration of support for a fine candidate and for also the personal welcome you have given to me.

I only regret that my wife could not have been with me. She unfortunately is a victim of the flu bug. She went to New York on Sunday to dedicate the final wing of the Juilliard School of Music at the Lincoln Center--I am not blaming the flu bug on New York, incidentally--but nevertheless she has been in bed since. She sends her best to all of you.

My daughter Tricia will be in Friday to campaign in northern Virginia.

I just leave this final thought. I am convinced as I stand here that we are at a watershed period in the history of this Nation, in the Federal-State relationship and at a watershed time in the history of Virginia. Something is happening in this State. I can feel it in this room. I sensed it at that airport. I can feel it in the enthusiasm of these candidates. Something is happening, and you are going to help make it happen.

I say to you: Go out and work for these men. Vote for them because as you work and vote for them you can be proud of your vote. You can be proud of Virginia and believe me, I will be proud to work as President of the United States with Lin Holton, the next Governor of the State of Virginia.

1 H. Dunlop "Buz" Dawbarn, Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

2 Richard Obenshain, Republican candidate for Attorney General.

Note: The President spoke at 8:35 p.m. at the Salem-Roanoke Valley Civic Center, Salem, Va.

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

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