Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Natrona County Courthouse, Casper, Wyoming

October 12, 1964

Senator McGee; Teno Roncalio; my old friend, former Senator Joe Hickey; my dose and able assistant, Mike Manatos, from Rock Springs; ladies and gentlemen; boys and girls:

This looks to me like it is Democratic country. I know now how we are going to win the West--right here.

I have come out here today to discuss our economy and to satisfy my wife.

She came out here last month--and she hasn't stopped talking about it ever since.

But Wyoming is familiar territory. As Gale told you, I visited here 6 years ago. I asked you to give us your help, give us your hand, give us your heart, send a young man to Washington that was young enough to do the job and able enough to get it done. You did it. I want you to send him back.

Today Gale McGee holds 6 years' seniority on the most powerful committee in the Congress, the Appropriations Committee. And I don't believe you people want to change horses after you have one that is reliable, you have one that gets the job done, you have one that loves your State, and you have one that your President needs to help him keep peace in the world.

Today Gale McGee holds a place as my trusted friend and confidant.

Today Gale McGee is one of the most able Senators in Washington.

When beef prices went into a slump, we had a drought all over the country, our cattle prices started going down, Gale McGee went into action. Instead of just beefing about it, and being a crybaby, he did something for beef.

He started the biggest promotion of beef ever done in this country, and he has not only done it in this country, he has done it all over the world where we are now shipping some of our cattle. Yes, he pushed beef exports. He got us to buy more beef for our soldiers, more for our schools and more for our people in need.

He started to work reducing imports. We set up a Presidential commission to study the marketing practices of food chains, and he is a member of that commission and a very able one.

Today, for the first time in 2 years, imports are down and prices of fat beef are going up. This rising trend will reach the feeder cattle people and we do not intend to stop until it does. I am proud of what Gale McGee has done to help the cowmen of America.

This is the kind of responsible government your President believes in.

Responsible government means prudent government. And that is why, as your President, I have waged an all-out attack against waste in government. That is why the first day I went in as your President, I said I will say to the taxpayers of this country I am going to give you a dollar's value for every dollar spent. That means spending your tax dollars only where they need to be spent.

Some people laughed when I started saving on light bulbs around the White House and turning out a few lights and chandeliers. But they quit laughing at me when the Defense Department savings reached $2,800 million. They didn't laugh at me.

They quit laughing when other departments managed to save more than $400 million this year, and the year is not over yet. They didn't laugh so hard when we cut this year's budget nearly $1 billion under last year's budget.

They didn't laugh so much when this July we had 25,000 fewer employees working for the Federal Government than we had July a year ago.

So prudent government, careful government, businessman government has tightened its belt. We have streamlined its operations. We have begun to do a better job for less money.

But responsibility means more than that. And that is why Gale McGee and I have been working to build Wyoming's prosperity.

We passed the wilderness bill to help preserve nature's wealth in Wyoming and the West.

You know how Gale McGee voted, and you know how my opponent voted. My opponent voted "no."

We passed the biggest tax cut, a $12 billion tax cut, in the history of the Nation.

You know how Gale McGee voted, and you know how my opponent voted. He voted "no."

We passed a bill for higher education to help meet the needs of our children, needs which have doubled in the last 10 years.

You know how Gale McGee voted. You know how my opponent voted. Well, I guess you guessed it--he voted "no."

I believe this kind of spending that we have done has been responsible spending.

I think it was prudent when we spent $11 million during the last 3 1/2 years to help Wyoming's small businessmen, when we spent $975,000 to develop Jackson Hole as a great recreation center; when we spent $80 million, this past year alone, to help build Wyoming's highways.

And there is a final responsibility.

The war on waste has a third front. For the world's greatest waste would be the waste of human lives in a nuclear holocaust. I think that you know that as one of the products of Oak Ridge today we hold in our hand the most awesome, the mightiest, the most frightening power that was ever held in the hand of man.

I think that you know just a few months back when President Kennedy sat with his Security Council for 37 meetings when Mr. Khrushchev had brought his missiles into Cuba, I think you knew that your Commander in Chief, day and night, got the best advice that he could get in this Nation, and you had selected his thumb to be the thumb that went on the button if it had to go there.

But his caution and his care and his good judgment resulted in these two men looking at each other, eyeball to eyeball, and both of them deciding that it was not wise, that it was not just, that it was not right to put their thumb on that button and automatically wipe out the lives of 300 million people.

You have 3 weeks to make your choice of what thumb you want controlling that button. You will select one of two parties. You will select one of two persons. You will select one of two leaders to conduct the relations of America with other nations.

The most important single thing in your life is peace, peace at home, peace in the world. In the 10 months since I have been President, I have conferred with 85 of the world's leaders. I have tried to reason with them. I have tried to plan with them. I have tried to submit to them proposals for consideration that would bring about disarmament.

As long as I am your President, I am not going to rattle our rockets, I am not going to bluff with our bombs. I am going to keep our guard up at all times and our hand out.

But I am going to be willing to go anywhere, see anyone, talk any time to try to bring peace to this world so these mothers will not have to give up their boys and have them wiped out in a nuclear holocaust.

We are the mightiest nation in the world. We have more bombers, we have more missiles, we have well trained men. But if we do not have peace in the world, everything else fades into insignificance.

So I hope that you people will realize that in the next 3 weeks you are going to make a choice. You are going to make a selection, you are going to determine who you want to represent you in the next 4 years. You are going to determine what kind of an economic policy this country has, whether we go backwards or whether we go forward.

Today, wholesale prices are 1 percent down from what they were a year ago. Today 72 million men are working. Today corporations are making $12 billion more after taxes than they made 4 years ago when Mr. Kennedy came in. Today the workers of America are getting $60 billion more after taxes than they got in 1961. Today our farm income is $12 billion, and you pull down all of our programs and all of our plans and you will cut that income overnight the first year to $6 billion.

Well, you want to think that over. A fellow down in my country the other day said the traveling salesmen kept bothering him, coming in wanting to know who he would vote for, for President. He said he finally went out and got 15 Kennedy half dollars and put them in his britches pocket. He said every time one of them came in and asked him, he started rattling those half dollars and said, "This sounds pretty good to me. I like it the way it is."

The future of this Nation lies here in the West, but you must have leadership. You must have vision. You must have progressive men to carry forward your plans. You have that in Teno, if you send him to Congress; you have that in Gale, already with 6 years' experience in the United States Senate. I need them both. I plead with you to go out, in the next 3 weeks, and help elect them as representatives of the State of Wyoming.

I have been to Wyoming a number of times. I like your white-faced Herefords. I like your cowmen. I know your oilmen. I know something about the economy of this State and the problems of this State. I think I have been your friend and I just want to repeat to you today what I said that awesome afternoon when tragedy befell us and our great President was taken from us, and on a moment's notice I had to assume the awesome responsibilities of the Presidency.

I said then with God's help and with your help, and with your prayers, I would do the best I could. I have done the best I could. I have represented all the people of this Nation. I have been President of all the States.

If you think I should be turned out after 11 months, you have that privilege and that right, and that is your duty to do it November 3d.

But if you think we should go forward with a program of peace in the world, of trying to love thy neighbor as thyself, trying to live with other nations instead of destroying them, if you think we should continue to move this Nation forward, that we should have vision, we should have plans, we should have programs, we should have education for our children, we should have highways to transport our people, we should have a good, sound agricultural program, we should have business and labor trying to work together, instead of spending all their time fighting--in short, we ought to have peace in the world and peace at home--if you think that, I will appreciate your voting the Democratic ticket November 3d.

This has been a delightful day. We visited many States. We yet have to go to Denver and then to Boise, Idaho, and then into Washington tonight.

I want to thank all of you. Wyoming is one of the smaller States in the country. This is one of the largest crowds I have seen. I expect per capita-wise you have just about bested all the other States, and I want to tell you that I consider it a great tribute to your people. I am deeply thankful to you for coming out.

Goodby and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m. at the Natrona County Courthouse in Casper, Wyo. In his opening words he referred to Senator Gale W. McGee, Teno Roncalio, U.S. Chairman of the International Joint Commission-United States and Canada and Democratic candidate for Representative, and former Senator J. J. Hickey, all of Wyoming, and Mike N. Manatos, Administrative Assistant to the President.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Natrona County Courthouse, Casper, Wyoming Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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