Remarks of the Vice President, All States Picnic, Long Beach, CA
Congressman Hosmer, Senator Fong, Senator Kuchel, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform and all of the members of the All States Society, I want you to know how very honored both Pat and I are to be invited to be here with you and also by the fact that some of you have come to give us the chance to meet you and to discuss some of the great problems confronting the United States in this election campaign.
I really feel very much at home before an All States Society group, because I've been seeing plenty of the States in the past few months, I can assure you. I have traveled all the way, as you know, from Hawaii, to Maine, north, east, west, and south, and certainly we in California can well appreciate the fact that this is a nation of many diverse interests, that we come from many States, and more States perhaps are represented in California than in any other State in the Union. In fact, I was thinking of my own mother and my own father and of Pat's mother and father. She was born in Nevada, and her father came from Connecticut, met her mother in South Dakota, they ended up in California. Her mother, incidentally, was born in Germany. She came over to the United States by herself at 12 years of age, then went to South Dakota where she met Pat's father. That's the background of one typical American girl.
I, however, fit the pattern which is well known to Long Beach and to California a little more closely. My parents are both midwesterners. My father was born in Ohio. He left there when he was about 21 years of age and went first to Colorado, where he worked in the wheatfield, and then came on to California, met my mother and here we are.
My mother was born in Indiana - I suppose there are some people here from Indiana - and then came on to California, met my father and here we are. As far as Pat and I are concerned, we have lived in so many States that we feel a part of all. I know that I cannot get by without mentioning Iowa. Well, we can cover that base, too, because the very first assignment that I received when I finished my Navy training was to go to Ottumwa, Iowa. Believe me, I certainly wondered why they were sending somebody trained for the Navy to the heart of the cornland of the United States at Ottumwa, but they had built a naval station there and we spent 5 months at Ottumwa before I went overseas in 1943.
And, so, to all of you, wherever you may come from, from Ohio, Indiana, or Iowa, from South Dakota, from Texas, from Hawaii, from any of the States, I say we appreciate the chance to be here, and we're proud that we Californians, we think, represent the best of all the States of the United States.
Now, you often hear how different the people of the States are, and they are kind of different. Do you know, for example, in North Carolina where I went to school I had to learn to like things like turnip greens and black-eyed peas and hominy grits, and I know, too that as far as our accents are concerned they differ a little. Mine is midwestern and others may have more of the New England type. I'm not thinking of anyone in particular at the moment.
But, in any event, while we do have our differences, I find in traveling over the country that the things that are the same about the people of these States of ours are much more important than those things that are different.
For example, as far as this campaign is concerned, people often say to me, "Mr. Nixon, what are the people thinking about?" Many people draw the conclusion that people in Atlanta, Ga., for example, are thinking about entirely different things than are people up in New York City; that people in Hawaii, way out in the far, far west, are thinking a lot differently about things than are people in Bangor, Maine, where we were just a few days ago. And there are some differences, but, believe me, they are all thinking about the same issue insofar as the one they think is the most important. Do you know what it is? Let me tell you.
The people of this country, north, east, west, and south, are concerned, above everything else, about the future of America.
And what about that future? We want a future of progress, but above all, the people of this country are concerned that our children may grow up in a world in which we can be free and we can live at peace - and that is the most important thing that Americans must think about at this time.
Now, obviously, I know people could say, "Well, now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon, do you mean that peace and developing policies that will keep peace and freedom are more important that jobs, more important than good medical care and more important than housing and education and the like?"
And the answer is that of course all those things are important too. But we can have all those things and it won't do us any good if we're not around to enjoy them. So, therefore, the major responsibility of the next President of the United States is to keep the peace without surrender, without surrender of principle or territory throughout the world.
Now, I want to talk to that point for just a few moments. I'm not going to tell you this is an easy task. I'm not going to tell you if you elect me and Henry Cabot Lodge we're going to guarantee it and you're not going to have to do anything to keep the peace. I'm not going to tell you there are going to be no troubles in the period of the sixties, on which we are embarking. I will tell you today the trouble is going to be very great, not by our choosing, but because we are faced in the world today with ruthless enemies.
May I tell you in connection with these problems, however, that I do not approach the future with discouragement. We Americans certainly need not be concerned about our ability to deal with it. We don't need to sell America short because, as far as this future is concerned, we can be sure that there is a way, a way to keep the peace, a way to do it without surrender.
And what is that way? Well, first of all, I think we can point to the record. There are many things for which the American people will be eternally grateful to Dwight Eisenhower. One of them, incidentally, might I say is the fact that he restored dignity and decency to the conduct of the Government in Washington, D.C., at the White House.
And, without referring to his predecessor, may I simply say this: whoever is the President of this country has great responsibilities to keep the peace, to keep this Nation strong; but he also has a responsibility to the young people of this country, and that is never to indulge in anything that would make them ashamed of the man who is the President of the United States, and I mean gutter language or anything of that soft. I only hope whoever is President will follow in Dwight Eisenhower's shoes in that respect - maintain dignity, so that every American can point to the man in the White House and say, "He's a man who maintains the standards that we want young people in this country to follow."
It will be difficult, because he has set great standards, but certainly they are ones to which we must all aspire.
But, returning to my theme, what about the record of President Eisenhower in this area of peace?
Now you've heard a lot about the things that are wrong with it. I'm going to tell you what's right with it. All the criticism in the world cannot obscure the fact that under Dwight Eisenhower's leadership we got this Nation out of a war we were in; we've kept it out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today.
Now, my colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I are part of that record. For the last 7½ years we have sat in the Cabinet and the Security Council. We have participated in the discussions leading to the great decisions which avoided war on the one side and surrender on the other.
We also are men who have had some unique experience. I don't mean that our experience is in terms of years longer than that of anybody else. I do say that it is significant and unique in this respect: We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We both have had the opportunity to deal with him. We have both sat across the conference table from him. And I can only say, knowing the man, knowing what a ruthless, fanatical man he is, that we will never engage in fuzzy, woolly thinking about what the United States has to do to deal with this man who threatens the peace of the world.
What do I say we will do? Well, first of all, my friends - and this will be particularly understood in this Long Beach area, which has such a great stake in, and has made such great contributions to, our defense installations - we've got to keep the United States the strongest nation in the world militarily. Now this is going to cost money. Some people would like me to say, "Well, can we keep it right where it is and not increase our expenditures?"
And I can't tell you that. I am going to tell you today that it is more likely that we're going to have to increase our expenditures because we're moving into an age when we not only have to develop the weapons to fight wars of the future, missiles and the like, but where we also, until those weapons are fully developed, have to keep strong our weapons of the past.
And so I will say to you that, because we know this man who threatens the peace of the world, because we know that he respects only strength, that we will keep America the strongest nation and we will ask the American people to pay whatever is necessary to maintain that strength because we cannot afford not to be the guardians of peace for our children, for ourselves, and for the whole world.
Well, there's another kind of a competition we are engaged in - not only in the military field - but in what I choose to call the economic field. Let me explain it by an illustration.
When I was in Moscow, Mr. Khrushchev said to me, "Mr. Vice President, we're behind you now as far as our economic progress is concerned. You're ahead of us but,'' he said, ''it won't be for long. We're going to move past you because our system is better than yours. We're moving faster than you are." Then he boasted, "We're going to catch you in 7 years, and we're going to pass you, and," he said, "you know what I'm going to do when we go by you? I'm going to wave and say, 'Here we go; now, come along and follow us and do as we do, or you're going to fall hopelessly behind.'"
That's what he told me. Do you know what I told him? I said, "You're not going to catch us, Mr. Khrushchev, because your system is wrong and ours is right - and never make any mistake about that."
But, in making that statement, may I assure you that America cannot rest on its laurels. We've got to keep this economy of ours expanding. We can't be satisfied with the fact that we have had the greatest growth in the last 7-year period that we've ever had in our history - more schools built, more hospitals built, more highways built, a greater increase in the productivity of our factories in that 7-year period than in any administration in history
But that record isn't something to rest on. We've got to do even better, because, my friends, when you' re in a race you must always remember that to stay ahead you have to move ahead.
And so I say to you today that is why I advocate programs and will stand for programs and will develop programs which will move America ahead.
Let me tell you what some of them are.
One: We are entering a very exciting period of scientific breakthrough. I know that it's been exciting in the past, but the fifties are nothing compared to what the sixties will be, and America and the Federal Government must assume a great part of the responsibility here, must stimulate the activities of all of our people so that we move ahead scientifically and explore to the full our abilities here. In education, for example, we cannot afford to waste the talents of a potential scientist, of a potential leader of our country, of a potential lawyer or doctor or others. That's why I advocate a program under which our young people who ought to go to college and who cannot afford to pay a loan, if they have the ability and are highly qualified, can get scholarships, and under which those good, hard-working people in this country - and there are literally millions of them who save their money, as my mother did. She got up at 5 o'clock in the morning to make pies so that she could help me through college - can take an income tax deduction or an income tax credit for paying the money to send their children to college.
These things I advocate.
Now why do I advocate these things? Because America must move forward, and we must not waste the talents of any of our people. We must all move together. Take, for example, aviation - there's a plane just flying over. You know, aviation in this country today is the first in the world. I remember when we were in Moscow, the Russians looked at our jets with amazement. Those of you who have flown on jets know that we have what we call, not reversible props, but reversible jet engines. You know how they stopped the jet in Russia just a year ago? They had to have a parachute that came out of the back in order to pull it to a stop. And they marveled at how far ahead we were in the development of jets.
But, my friends, in this area, it isn't enough simply to be where we are. We've got to move ahead. The reason that we have been moving so well in aircraft in the past is that we've had tremendous military strength.
Now this military strength at the present time will continue. But it will not continue on the same scale due to the fact that we are moving to missiles. So this means we've got to take a complete new look at what the Government is doing in this field, so that America can move into the supersonic age and continue to be first in the world in air transportation.
That's why I've issued a statement today to the press, a statement indicating what America must do, setting up an air policy commission which will make recommendations as to how in this new area we can see to it that America stays ahead.
I could go on to the others. Let me get one that is, indeed, very close, I am sure, to some people here.
Let's look at medical care for the aged. I feel very strongly on this. As a matter of fact, I introduced one of the first bills providing that all of our older people and others would be able to obtain medical care insurance when I was a Congressman back in the year 1948. One of the reasons I feel strongly about it is that I have seen what it means for our older citizens, when, after having saved their money, they have retired and are living on a very small income, to have tremendous medical expenses hit them.
The year that my father died, in 1956, the doctor bills that we had were over $2,000. My mother the same year had operations and doctor bills which cost $1,500. My mother and father were not rich people. I remember they dug into their savings. They were very proud, and they proceeded to pay the bills, just as you would, if you were able to do so. But I know that in this country there are literally hundreds of thousands of people and also hundreds of thousands of children whose parents are in this situation, who are confronted with catastrophic illnesses and wonder what can be done.
Now what can be done? Here's my answer: I say that in this field we want first to be sure that we maintain what we have today, and you know what it is? The best medical care in the world. We don't want to do anything that reduces the standard of our medical care. We want to be sure that we don't put our doctors, for example, on the Federal payroll. We want to be sure that they have the independence by which means they have provided the fine care that we've got. And there's something else. I believe that Americans should have a choice. I believe that every person over 65 who wants health insurance ought to be able to get it. I believe that every person over 65 who needs it and ought to have it should be encouraged to get it. But in America, I don't believe that anybody who doesn't want it should be forced to have it against his will. This I think is the right approach to this problem.
In this area, as in others, you see the philosophy that I have. Let me just sum it up in a word. We must move ahead economically. We must see that all Americans move together. But may I say to you that in moving ahead economically, we also have to bear in mind the proper role of the Federal Government and the proper role, may I say, is not to take over all these programs, is not to weaken the States and weaken individual responsibility. My friends, the reason America got where it is in the world today is not what government has done but what people have done - and we must never forget that, and we must continue to inspire our people.
And so in every program I say he question is, How can we stimulate our people to greater enterprise?
Let me go a step further. Sometimes people come to me and they say, "Mr. Nixon, we agree; you do have programs for health, for education, for welfare, in all these fields. You say they are better than your opponent's but how can you say that when he is going to spend more money than you are?"
And that's true. He will. He will spend approximately $10 billion a year more for his programs than mine will cost. But I say to you, mine will do a better job and spend less.
Then somebody might say, "But doesn't it prove that he cares more because he will spend more money?" And then, of course, the question comes back again: Whose money? Not mine. Not his, your money. And that's why I say it's the responsibility of whoever is President of this country to see that we don't spend $1 of your money that does not need to be spent.
And let me tell you why this is important. You remember back in the period before President Eisenhower became President? Prices went up 50 percent in those 7 years.
You remember what happened to people living on fixed incomes?
You know you had it planned out so you could just get by, pay the grocery bill, perhaps pay the doctor bill, buy your clothes, and then those prices skyrocketed 50 percent. I say to you that it would be the worst thing that I could think of to have an administration in Washington under which taxes would go up, in which prices would skyrocket and literally millions of people, living on fixed incomes, would find they couldn't make ends meet.
I pledge to you in this next administration I'm going to remember that I am the guardian of the people's dollars. We are going to spend every dollar that is necessary for the people but we are not going to spend one that isn't because everything that we don't spend you can spend - and, believe me, people need it to make both ends meet.
Now, returning to our theme, if we are going to have peace, what else do we need? We need a firm diplomacy. What do I mean by that? I mean by that, very simply, again looking at Mr. Khrushchev, that the way to peace with this man is not through surrendering territory, not through making concessions, not through apologizing or regretting whenever you're right on a particular issue. The only way to peace in dealing with this man, I can assure you, or with his colleagues, and I know from experience, is to stand on principle, never being belligerent, but always standing on principle.
Now why? I know the suggestion has been made - I see a sign out here about Quemoy and Matsu, a couple of little islands way out in the Pacific - and the suggestion has been made: "Mr. Nixon, why is it that we don't just turn over these two little islands to the Communists, as your opponent has suggested, so that we can have peace ?"
My friends, think back a moment. That was what they said when Hitler was asking first for just Danzig and then for a part of Czechoslovakia, and then far a part of something else next. They said, "Turn it over. Don't fight about it, because we'll have peace."
But you know what happens? When a dictator is concerned, and when you feed him by giving him territory or people, it doesn't satisfy his appetite. It only stimulates it and whets it, and he asks for more and more and more, until eventually you've got to stop him, and that means war.
And I say to you, that's how we got into Korea. We said, "We won't defend this because it's possibly indefensible or at least outside our defense zone," but when they marched in, we had to. And I say, my friends, that America's learned its lesson with dictators. We know that the road to war and to surrender is paved with exactly the kind of woolly thinking, the kind of fuzzy thinking which says we can turn something over to a dictator and satisfy him. It doesn't work. It never will work.
I pledge to you, knowing the way to peace, we will never be belligerent but we are not going to make concessions of this type, because eventually this will lead us to what we do not want - either war or surrender.
And now the last point that I make is one that everybody will understand here particularly and one again that cuts across every State line and goes right to the heart of this great country in which we live. This is the most important area of strength if we are going to keep the peace, and I know many of you might say: "Well, Mr. Nixon, what is more important than firm diplomacy and what is more important than a strong economy? What is more important than military strength?"
I'll tell you what. In this world in which we live we've got to believe in the right things. We've got to stand for the right things. Let me give you an example. I recall my visit to Poland, a visit which took place last year, right after the visit that Craig Hosmer described. I recall that visit very well. I remember there was not expected to be a crowd that day because the Polish Government hadn't put out the fact that we were coming. They didn't want to have an unfavorable comparison with the crowd Khrushchev had had just a couple of weeks before, and yet that day, the most exciting day of our lives as far as crowds are concerned, a quarter of a million people in this Communist country were on the streets of Warsaw, shouting at the top of their voices, cheering, completely out of control - you know what they were saying? "Niech zyje America - Long live America." When the car stopped in the middle of the city, I looked into their faces, and I saw them, many of them laughing for joy, but over half of them, older men and women, adults, were crying, with tears streaming down their cheeks. Why? Not because America was strong militarily. Not because we were strong economically but because we have the moral and spiritual strength, and stand for it, that caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago.
What kind of strength is it? It includes our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of every man, woman and child on this earth, and his right to be free, the right of his nation to be independent; the fact that men's rights for freedom belong not only to the people of the United States but to all men; the fact that these rights come not from men but from God and cannot be taken away by men. These things America came into the world to preserve. These things America stands for today.
It is these ideals that we must extend throughout the world, and it is through these ideals, coupled with our military and economic strength, that we will not just hold the line, but win the battle, win it without war, and win it for the forces of freedom throughout the world.
But we need your help to do it, because the kind of strength I refer to cannot come just from a leader talking about it. It comes from the hearts of our people. It comes from the homes, from the churches. It comes from the schools of America.
And so, all of you, see that our young people grow up with a deep patriotism, a feeling of understanding and loyalty for this country. Let them know how fortunate they are to live in America. Let them have faith in God, faith in their country, but also a deep conviction that this Nation of ours came into the world, as I've said, not just to be rich, not just to be selfish for our own ends, but to stand as a symbol of hope and liberty for people everywhere. This is what we must do, and if we do we shall realize America's destiny.
Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, All States Picnic, Long Beach, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273866