Richard Nixon photo

Remarks by the Vice President and Mrs. Nixon, Washington National Airport, Washington, DC

October 03, 1960

Mrs. NIXON. Madam Chairman and friends, it certainly is a wonderful honor for me to be here today and hear all these women tell me what they are going to do this week. When Clare Williams first told me about the enthusiastic reception to her idea of "Pat Nixon Week," I felt very humble and proud. Of course, I realize that all of us are working for a cause which is bigger than ourselves. We are devoted to our country. Along with all the other women, I will be out working from now until the last vote is counted because I feel it is so important to the Campaign to get the best leadership, experienced leadership, and leadership with a program, and I know that you share that same feeling. I do want to close by saying that Dick joins me in appreciation of all of you wonderful volunteers who are doing such a magnificent job in this campaign.

The VICE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be the only man to speak on this women's program. I am in somewhat of a predicament I must admit. The predicament is that whenever I talk about Pat, she always gives it to me afterward and says: "You shouldn't have said those things." And consequently, I'm going to violate her rule and admonition and say a word about her if I might on this occasion.

I will begin with one of my favorite stories, which came out of the campaign in Nebraska. Some of you have heard it, but it is worth repeating. A farmer came through the receiving line and said he had driven 200 miles to the meeting. As he shook hands with Pat and me, he turned to me and said, "Young fellow," he said, "my wife is going to vote for you, but I'm going to vote for Pat." Now, if you can just multiply that by several million, we have it made as you can well see. Certainly one of the most inspiring things about this campaign is to have this group of * * * [roar of planes cut off a few words here]

Leading women in the United States pay their tribute to Pat and also to indicate their support of our campaign. This is a hard campaign. There are still 5 weeks to go, but we intend to win it and when the campaign is won, I am sure that a maximum part of the credit will go to the women on this stage, including Pat Nixon.

I have been trying to think of what I could say about Pat that hasn't already been said. What occurred to me was, as Bertha Adkins agreed in those "Ten Reasons to Vote for the Vice President," was to transpose those to Pat. For example, she pointed out that I worked my way through school. Well, I did work my way through school, but my parents were able to help me to an extent. My mother used to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, I remember, and bake pies and sell them in our store, and the savings from that came into my college and law school education. Pat, on the other hand, worked her way through school, too, but she did it in a far more difficult situation. Her mother died when she was 13 and she had to take care of the whole family at that point because she was the only girl in the family at home. Her father died when she was 17 and from the time she finished high school, Pat earned every cent to send her through college where she graduated with honors from Southern California. As

you well see, she ought to be running for President rather than I.

[Plane roars overhead again] * * * and then Bertha Adkins referred very kindly to my experience in traveling abroad and I have been to 55 countries, but with the exception of 1, Austria, Pat has been to all of them, too. People think of the speeches I have made and the meetings I have had and the effect of them, but they are really nothing compared to what she did. While I would be meeting all the dignitaries, as was my responsibility, and discussing matters of state, Pat was out visiting literally hundreds and hundreds of hospitals and children's homes. She was bringing to the people abroad the heart of America, and I can tell you that while many people underestimate what they call so-called good will - they sneer at it, they say you can't build a policy on it - let me say this, that you can certainly negotiate much more effectively when there is a feeling in the hearts of people of good will for the United States than when there is none. And Pat Nixon has done more for that than anybody that I know in these last few years.

If I could personalize it a bit. When we were in Panama, a country where we need good will at the present time, Pat was the first individual who had gone through the leper colony and greeted the lepers there, also to the extent of shaking hands with them. In countries abroad, as for example in Korea, where it was very cold at that time. I remember that she went through the hospitals where the Korean soldiers were. I saw newspaper reports from Korea that were translated afterward. She made an impact on the Korean people for good that I am sure was greater than anything I could have said. For what I am really trying to bring home to you with regard to her is not that in itself such visits as this settle the affairs of state. It is not that we do not have problems in the world, but it is that the women of America have done and will continue to do a great deal in bringing to all the people of the world our true feelings toward them, because the women of America are for peace and they want leadership that will bring peace. The women have a feeling in their hearts for all the unfortunates not only in this country but in other countries and the very fact that they get this across; that they let the people of these countries know that we help them, not just because we are fighting communism, but because we would be concerned about misery and disease, be concerned about want even if there were no communism - because the women can convey that and do convey it better than the men - this, believe me, helps us abroad and Pat, certainly, I say with pardonable pride, has done that for all the women of America, has helped to convey that true picture better than we men have been able to convey it.

And so in the years ahead, if I might just close with this, I can only say that I think we have been fortunate to have in the past 8 years one of the most gracious First Ladies that the world has ever seen, in Mamie Eisenhower.

Now, it would be presumptuous for me to say anything about who ought to be the next President. It would be presumptuous for me to say anything about myself. I have often thought this about my running mate. I certainly think he's got it all over his opponent, but I can say something in regard to Pat, and this has nothing to do with regard to her opponent, because the ladies are not running against each other. I will say this, whatever people may think of me, Pat would make a wonderful First Lady.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks by the Vice President and Mrs. Nixon, Washington National Airport, Washington, DC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project