Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, City Hall, Oakland, CA

November 05, 1960

Thank you very much.

Senator Knowland, Senator Kuchel, our distinguished guests on this platform, and this magnificent crowd here in Oakland and Alameda County:

This is indeed one of the high points of this whole campaign. To come here on a Saturday at noontime, a very busy day, a day when I know you have other things you could do, and then to see this tremendous outpouring of people is the very inspiration, believe me, which we know is going to be effective here, but also points the way, points the way to carrying California on November the 8th, and that means the Nation. [Cheers and applause.]

As you can note from the coat I am wearing, it is an eastern coat, but I needed it this morning. We had tremendous rain down the line at Hayward, and also at San Jose, but I want you to know that at both Hayward and San Jose they had the biggest crowds they ever had at a political meeting for any candidate in history in the rain. [Cheers and applause.]

And in this whole past week, we have seen a great tide running. For example, you read about the meeting in New York. From there we went to Columbia, S.C., and there in the heart of the southland, speaking from the State House steps, the largest crowd to ever hear either a Republican or a Democratic candidate in that Democratic State of South Carolina. [Cheers and applause.]

After that came Texas, 2 days ago, and there in San Antonio, in Houston, we had crowds which exceeded any that had ever come out for a candidate before. So, Texas is going to go for our ticket in November. [Cheers and applause.]

The same yesterday in Wyoming, in the morning at Fort Worth, in Wyoming, at Casper at noon, and then in the afternoon a little later we were in the State of Washington, at Spokane, last night in Fresno, and each time record crowds, but, my friends, I want to tell you what it means. This is not simply a case of people coming out for curiosity's sake. What I have noticed is the tremendous enthusiasm among these people. The people of the United States in this last week have finally caught up with the promises that have been made by our opponents. They realize that it's a modern medicine man show, a Pied Piper from Boston, and they're not going to go down that way. [Cheers and applause.]

And the choice that we make in California, the choice that we make in the Nation is one that is not a choice between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. This choice, my friends, is bigger than any party. It involves the future of America. It involves the future of the whole world, and I ask each of you, my fellow Californians, today: I could well stand before you and say: I'm a Californian. Vote for me for that reason. I could stand before you and say: I'm a Republican. If you are a Republican, vote for me for that reason. But I say to you: Look into your minds; look into your hearts; think of what is best for America, and you vote on November 8 what is best for America - and that will be what we all want in this Nation. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, what will you decide? You will be deciding, my friends, in effect, between building on and going forward or going back to policies we left in 1953. That's what you will decide, and, you know, I think this whole campaign at home is summed up in the words "standing still." My opponent goes all around the country - even yesterday on television he said America's been standing still for 7½ years and we've got to get her going again. [Cries of "No."]

You know that isn't true. [Cries of "Yes."]

Look around you. My friends, if America, has been standing still, how did Oakland become the All-American city? [Cheers and applause.]

How did you have this tremendous development in this bay area? How did you have the new enterprise, the new shopping centers, the new factories? How did California develop as it has?

No, my friends. Anybody who says America has been standing still hasn't been traveling through America. I've been to 49 States, more than any other candidate has ever been to. By tomorrow I will be in Alaska. That's 50 States, and America has moved in the Eisenhower years, and in our neat 4 years we can move even further because we will be building on the great base that President Eisenhower has left for the American people. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, there's one other point I want to make, however. I make it here in this great community, where we have in this area great universities - California, where you can see the flag in the distance [cheers and applause], and Stanford - don't boo California now - Stanford down the line. [Cheers and applause.]

My friends, I am getting sick and tired of hearing the opposition candidate saying over and over again that American is second in science, second in education, second in space. It's not true. I deny it., and the American people know it isn't true. [Cheers and applause.]

My friends, I have been to the Soviet Union. I know the challenge is a real one. I've had Mr. Khrushchev shake his fist under my chin, and say he's going to catch us. But, my friends, whether it's education, whether it's science, whether it's economic development, you can be sure their society is behind us now, and it will never catch us if we remain true to our principles and don't turn their way, rather than our way. That is what we must do in these years ahead. [Cheers and applause.]

Let's take science for a moment. I was just handed a memo as I got here on the stage by a man who is from the University of California. He pointed out that two people there, two faculty members, were awarded Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics. That's 10 for the University of California alone. [Cheers and applause.]

That's more than any other institution in America, and I believe that it's more than the whole Soviet Union combined. [Cheers and applause.]

What about education? My friends, there are many things about American education that must be improved, and we have a program, a dynamic one, which will improve American education and move it forward, but one which will move American education forward, which will raise the standards of our teachers, which will build the schools that we need, but without having the Federal Government intervene. [Cheers and applause.]

We say, for example, that every young person in America who has the ability to go to school, to college, must have that opportunity.

We can't waste a young scientist, a young engineer, a young lawyer, a young doctor, a young minister, simply because he can't afford to go to college. What do you do about it? Their answer is: Turn it all over to the Federal Government. Our answer is: The Federal Government provides loans when necessary * * * should provide some scholarships, but we say, above everything else, the way to do it is to encourage the people of this country to have self-reliance, as they always have; and, so, that's why we have a program in which I advocate giving tax credits and tag deductions to parents who save their money and send their children to college and the universities. [Cheers and applause.]

One other point I make with regard to standing still: What about civil rights? I have been asked. Well, all I can say is this - and, Bill, you, as a man, Senator Knowland, and Senator Kuchel, have steered through in the Senate some of these great bills. Let me say that in this field of civil rights we have had more progress in our 8 years than we have had in the previous 80 years. They talk and we act, and the American people know that. [Cheers and applause.]

And I would only suggest that we can say something that our opponent does not. I can appear with my running mate in any State of this country - and I'm proud to be with him here, in New York, or any place else. [Cheers and applause.]

We can say something they do not. I can say that in this field I have supported and will continue to support the kind of leadership that America needs. It isn't talk; it's action. And, my friends, we must move forward in this area, move forward because, as I have said over and over again after my trips abroad, America cannot talk one way abroad and act with prejudice or hatred at home - and I pledge to you, - and here again this is bigger than any party - that in our administration, the will make progress, make progress so that all of our people will have that American dream of opportunity, opportunity without regard to the background that they may have.

And finally I turn to the critical issue, an issue that has often been discussed in this campaign, the issue that is the most important of all. I noticed, for example, that in the morning papers my opponent was quoted to the effect that the decision that was to be made in this campaign was whether we were to have war or peace, and I would only suggest that for him to raise that point comes from a man who ought to be talking about something else. I point out there have been nine Presidents in this century, and if he wants to be partisan about it - name one Republican President under which we've had a war. [Cheers and applause.]

My friends this has nothing to do with party, of course. Democrats, Republicans, independents - all are for peace; but when we talk of leadership in this area let us never forget it isn't just enough to be for peace. You've got to know something about it. You've got to have some experience.

And, so, here you have the choice, You have the choice on the one side of our friends, on the other side, who say: We believe that the Eisenhower years have been years of defeat and retreat.

You know, let me say the adjectives are all right, but they've got them on the wrong administration. It was the Truman administration. [Cheers and applause.]

And then may I also suggest that as far as war and peace are concerned that when we look at the record of the Eisenhower years I am immensely proud that Cabot Lodge and I can offer you the fact that for 7 years we have sat in the high councils of this administration, in the Cabinet, in the Security Council, in the decisionmaking bodies, and in those 7 years, whatever the opposition may say, the American people know the truth. We ended the war we were in; we've avoided other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today - and we're going to keep it that way. Cheers and applause.]

I am also able to say that both my colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I know Mr. Khrushchev. We have sat opposite him at the conference table. We have not been fooled by him, and I do not believe we ever will be fooled by him because we know what communism wants. It is not just Quemoy and Matsu. It is not just Formosa. It is the world, and the way to peace in dealing with dictators is to be firm in the right as they are firm in the wrong. Let us never forget that. [Cheers and applause.]

My friends, what about the need for new leadership? they say. And all I can say is this: What do our opponents offer? Untried leadership. Take a chance. Rash, impulsive, shoot from the hip.

Let me tell you why the President has been successful. I have been there when each of the 10 great decisions have been made - at least 10 - that could have avoided war, and you know what his characteristics were? (1) He never shot from the hip; (2) he was always the coolest man in the room; (3) he was always a man never to answer insults with insults where foreign officials were concerned; and (4) he was a man who thought first, last, and always, not only of peace, but of the lessons of history.

That's why when those who said, as my opponent did, against what Senator Knowland and the majority of the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate said in 1955 - when they urged the President to say "draw a line; turn over Quemoy and Matsu to the Communists, the President said, "No." Why? Because he knew that would lead to war, as it did in Korea.

I say we learned our lesson in Korea, and we are never going to make that mistake again, I promise you, under my leadership.

And then, too, what would we have done if he had been the President of the United States at the summit conference in Paris? The President of the United States stood there, Khrushchev insulting him, using language, I learned from the interpreter, so crude that it was not even recorded in the newspapers, and the President of the United States, keeping his dignity, not getting down to the level of the man who was insulting him, but also refusing to apologize and express regrets for flights treat were necessary to defend the security of the United States. This was right, and Senator Kennedy was wrong in suggesting that he do that. [Cheers and applause.]

And then, three, we have the lesson in Cuba, here again the President, with great statesmanship, saying he will contain Mr. Castro; we will contain him economically and politically, Senator Kennedy saying "No'"; we've got to go further, and then shooting from the hip, advocating direct Government intervention, in effect, and it was interpreted that way all over the free world, in the affairs of Cuba.

What would that have done? It would have decimated the people of that island. It would have invited the Communists in. It would have broken every commitment we had, not only to the United Nations, but also to our friends in the Americas.

And, so, what do you say about this? Well, his friends say: But he changed his mind. He' s now for the President on Quemoy and Matsu. He's for the President on the summit conference. He agrees with the President on Cuba.

My answer, my friends, is this: When you're a candidate, you know, you can say something and take it back the next day and nobody's the worse for it, but when you're President of the United States, when you sit there in that lonely, awesome responsibility, when you speak, when you act, it's for keeps - and if you're wrong it will mean war or surrender of peace and freedom.

My friends, I say to you today - I say to you - we cannot afford to use the White House of this country as a training school to give a man experience to be President of the United States. [Cheers and applause.]

My friends, let me tell you what we offer. I would like to tell you that if Cabot Lodge and I are elected you will not have to worry about Mr. Khrushchev or Mr. Mao Tse-tung or the other leaders, but I will not tell you that because I know the truth. I know that these men are fanatics. I know that they are dedicated to conquering the world by any means, and I know that we're going to have trouble but also I know this: I know that we can keep the peace. We can seep the peace if we're strong. We can keep the peace if we're firm. We can keep the peace if we're wise, if we don't lose our tempers in a crisis, and if we constantly strengthen the instruments of peace - the United Nations, the Organization of American States - if we constantly take the initiative for peace.

That's why I intend to send Cabot Lodge, if we win this election, to Geneva to break the stalemate on atomic tests. We have got to take the initiative, take the initiative in seeing to it that the Communists go along in reducing the danger of war - and, my friends, it can be done, but it will not be done if we make the fatal error, the fatal error of retracting the wise policies of Dwight Eisenhower and turning back to the fuzzy-minded, woolly-headed policies that got us into our troubles in 1952. [Cheers and applause.]

And, so, I say to you: Three days are left. I ask you: Consider what I say, what my opponent says - not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans. As you consider it, may I urge you: Think of what America means. Think of what the men offer. Think of nothing else, not the party labels * * * if you think of that, if you vote for what is best for America, this will be a great victory - not just for a man or a party, but a victory for America and the cause of peace and freedom throughout the world.

Thank you very much. [Cheers and applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, City Hall, Oakland, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project