Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President at Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY

November 01, 1960

Thank you, Senator Hughes. You know, I wish she could make this speech.

Senator Hughes, Governor Rockefeller, Senator Keating, Congressman Riehlman, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform and this great audience here in Syracuse: I don't know of a better way to start our last campaign trip in the great State of New York than with this tremendous rally in Syracuse, and we thank you for coming out, as you have. [Cheers and applause.]

It occurred to me as we were flying in that this was a very difficult time for a rally, right in the dusk of the evening, at a time when you were finishing your shopping or your jobs and on the way home to supper, but certainly to see this great turnout indicates your enthusiasm, your interest and that you're going to fight through to victory in this county and in this State in November. [Cheers and applause.]

And before I go into some of the issues, I wish to discuss today, I want to say, first, that it is always a pleasure to be in this city, but particularly it gives me an opportunity to speak for those running for office from this area on our ticket.

They are a splendid group of candidates, and Walter Riehlman, who has served in the Congress with me for so many years and his colleagues on the State ticket are men who certainly justify your every support, and I am happy to give it, whatever my support is worth to them, on this occasion. [Cheers and applause.]

Governor, while you and Ken Keating are not running, I'm always delighted to appear on the platform here in New York, and we're going to travel through this State as we work for victory this November. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, I want to tell you just a word about this day today, because it is a tremendously important day.

This is a day when we are 1 week away from the election. This is the day when we are beginning to get down in that homestretch when the undecided voters are making up their minds as to how they will vote on November the 8th, and this is a day, therefore, that's tremendously important in terms of public sentiment, crowds and the like, and I can tell you that up to this time, and including this time, we've never had a better day of campaigning than we have had today in Pennsylvania and in New York. [Cheers and applause.]

A record crowd in Lancaster, in the city square; a record crowd at Erie Airport, where it was twice as large as our opponent had there just 2 weeks ago; and now a great [cheers and applause] - and now a great crowd here. And there's a reason for all of this. The reason is that a great tide has been running, running our way for the past 10 days. It's been running our way because the people of America are beginning to understand what the choice is. They are beginning to understand what they will be deciding on election day. They are beginning to understand whether we are going to move forward, expanding on the tremendous progress we've had in the past 8 years, whether we're going to move forward, not only keeping the peace, but extending freedom throughout the world; or whether we're going to turn back to policies that we left in 1953 and left them for good, I hope, and I think the American people [cheers and applause]

And, my friends, every place I have been, traveling on the train through Pennsylvania and Ohio, in Michigan and in Illinois, the heartland of this country, traveling through Pennsylvania again today, and New Jersey yesterday, I see these tremendous crowds. I see this great enthusiasm, and I know why it is. It is not for me, as an individual, or for my running mate, Cabot Lodge. It is not, just simply for the party which we are proud to be representing, but it is for the principles for which we stand. It's for the kind of leadership which we give, and it's also because people are not only for what we are for, but they are against what our opponents are trying to foist off on the American people as new programs for the American people: [Cheers and applause.]

Now, what is that choice? And I turn first to their program, and then I turn to ours.

And in theirs, there is one I want to nail here, as I have nailed it in Erie and in Lancaster. I noted on my information sheet as I came to each of these three cities that when my opponent was traveling through these areas, he said, and I quote - he said, "The Republicans have always opposed social security." He knows that's a barefaced lie, and I say it right here today. [Cheers and applause.]

He knows, as a Member of the House and the Senate, that he has voted, voted for the very proposals in the field of social security that have added 12 million to the rolls under President Eisenhower, that have expanded the coverage, that have raised the amounts of social security. He knows that social security has never had a better friend than the Eisenhower administration, and it will never have a better friend than the Nixon administration in the next 4 years as well. You can be sure of that. [Cheers and applause.]

And to hold up to the people of this country on social security this specter that we oppose it and, therefore, would take it away - this is irresponsible, it's despicable, and the American people are going to show what they think of it on election day, as this kind of lie is nailed, as it should be, where it was made right here in this city of Syracuse. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, let me turn to a problem very close to the hearts of every one in this audience. Incidentally, before I go on, the suggestion was made that your signs go down so the people could see in back. Just pull your signs down, please, so the people in the back can see. Thank you.

Now, the second point that I want to make: In this great crowd are literally thousands of people who have been shopping today. What will you be deciding on election day, among many other things? I'm going to tell you, and this is going to be hard for you to believe, but it is the truth - the truth, mark my word - and look at the record to back it up. You will be voting as to what your prices are going to be in the years ahead, and if you should vote or if this election should turn out that our opponent will win, it will mean you will have voted to raise your food prices 25 percent here in Syracuse. What does that mean? It means, for example - and I grew up in a grocery store - I know what I'm talking about on this subject - it means that the price of a quart of milk will have to go ap 4 cents. It means the price of a loaf of bread will go up 2 cents. It means the price of a dozen eggs will go up 22 cents. It means the price of a pound of butter will go up 28 cents, and the same for a chicken.

Now, why do I mention these things which seem so mundane in the midst of a great presidential campaign? Because there is a farm program, a farm program which is the most radical one which even Henry Wallace said was so radical that it was turned down during the administration in which he was a part, a farm program which will not help the farmer, because it will cut his acreage and, thereby, in the end, drive a million farmers from the farm, but it is one which not I, but the career employees of the Department of Agriculture have priced out and, my friends, can you afford - do you want to vote for - a 25-percent increase in your grocery bill? [Cries of "No."]

And I say that is the answer of millions of Americans, including the farmers of America, because they, too, go to the grocery store. They, too, know that this is simply trying to buy their votes, and buy them at the same time of putting money in one pocket and taking more out of the other. This is an example of the kind of programs we have, and let me go further. You also are voting to raise your taxes and to raise your prices in another way. Fifteen billion dollars a year will be added to the Federal budget each year if my opponent is elected and keeps his platform promises - $15 billion a year.

Now, in that connection, just to be completely fair, I want to point out that when he was in the State of New York a couple of days ago, he said that he was for a balanced budget and that he was against raising taxes, and he was for his program as far as it was adopted as the Democratic platform.

Now, my friends, anybody who says he's for a platform that will add $15 billion a year to the Federal budget, is against raising taxes to pay for it, and is for a balanced budget - these three things at the same time - isn't certainly qualified to be President, because he doesn't understand simple high school economics. [Cheers and applause.]

So, the question is: What part of the platform does he give up? Is he going to give up his farm program or his veterans' program or his education program or his health program, or he should tell the American people what taxes he's going to add.

Why do I mention these things? I mention them, my friends, so you can see the choice. The choice is this, and I know whereof I speak: This is the most radical increase in spending ever offered by a candidate for the Presidency in history - $15 billion a year. It means higher taxes. It means higher prices. There isn't anyway you can do it with mirrors. I know this. He knows it, and the American people are going to show they know it by voting against that kind of a program and for a program that will produce real progress, but produce it without inflation - and that's what we offer to the American people in this election campaign. [Cheers and applause.]

And what is our program? A program that will build more schools, a program that will build more hospitals, a program that will expand this economy and job opportunities for America, a program in all the fields of social welfare, as I have enunciated them one after another during the course of this campaign, a program which will move America forward, but, my friends, which will move America forward without robbing the people on pensions, without robbing the people who are on social security, without robbing the housewives who are trying to make the budget balance. This is the way to progress, and this is what America wants, and I can assure you this is what we will provide, and this is what we ask for in this campaign - the greatest progress that America can produce, but progress that is real, not unreal, progress that is responsible, progress in which we don't try to fool the people by saying, Look, we promise you this, but you don't have to pay for it, because, remember, it's not my money or his money, but yours. I know this, and our programs - why will they do the job, and do them with less of your money than his? And I'll tell you why. Because, my friends, we don't say that the answer to a problem every time is simply to lose faith in the people, not to leave the job to the individual, turn it over to the Federal Government, spend more money. We say the Federal Government has a responsibility to do those things that the States and individuals won't do, but we say the way to progress in this country primarily is for the Federal Government to encourage every individual to do whatever he can do to increase the productivity of this country, and that's what our programs do. [Cheers and applause.]

And now, if I might turn to one other point, I've been talking about domestic issues up to this point. I now want to talk about the issue which Governor Rockefeller and Ken Keating will tell you, as they have told the people of New York many times in introducing me in my trips to this State, is more important than all the rest. It is the issue of survival of the Nation. It is the issue of peace without surrender. It is the issue of the survival of freedom. It's the issue of the survival of freedom not only for us, but the extension of freedom throughout the world.

All these things sound so far away sometimes, here in Syracuse, or in Erie or in Lancaster, but, my friends, we can have the best social security and the best housing and the best jobs and it will make no difference if statesmanship fails to avoid the next war.

It must not happen. It will not happen, and Cabot Lodge and I believe we have the kind of leadership that will avoid it happening, ass President Eisenhower has avoided it happening. [Cheers and applause.]

Do I say it's going to be easy? Certainly not. It's going to mean that we're going to have to keep this country of ours strong. It seems that we're going to have to spend more for defense than we've been spending to meet the critical period that we have ahead of us. It means that we're going to have to be firm in our diplomacy. It seems that we're not going to be knocked off balance every time the Communists try to provoke us any place around the world. It means, in addition to that, that we not try just to hold the line, but that we try to extend freedom throughout the world, that we launch a great offensive for freedom, launch it not only through the United Nations, through the Organization of American States, but through developing new instruments of freedom in which freemen will sit down and work together, work together to resist communism; but, more than that, work together to produce progress and produce freedom for all the world.

This is what we ask to work for - and I say we have something to offer in the way of credentials. For 7 years we have sat in the high councils of this administration. We have been through the fire of decision. We have participated in the discussions on Lebanon and Quemoy and Matsu and Trieste and all the rest, discussions that did avoid war on the one side and surrender on the other. We believe that at least we know what the problem is. We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We have never been fooled by him, and, knowing him, we can assure you that we will see to it that America will avoid, on the one side, the belligerency that could lead to war, and, on the other side, the weakness diplomatically that could lead to surrender.

These are the things we offer to the American people on our side. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, let's take a quick look at what are the credentials of our opponent. He says we need a new program. He says this has been a period of retreat and defeat, these last 7 years. He's just wrong about the administration. That's all. He meant the Truman administration, when we had the greatest defeat and retreat [cheers and applause] - an administration in which 600 million people went behind the Iron Curtain, an administration in which we became involved in a war which President Eisenhower ended.

No. I can say we know we have moved forward, and now the question is: Are we going to change direction? Are we going to risk the peace which we have earned? Are we going to risk the freedom which we have maintained? Are we going to risk it in the hands of one who three times in this very campaign has indicated that he would have made decisions during the hour of decision that would have been wrong for America, disastrous for the cause of peace and freedom - Quemoy and Matsu, the decision the President made in 1955 was right, right because he avoided the error that led to Korea, avoided taking the advice of men like Senator Kennedy who said, "Cut of a little freedom; give it to the Communists, and then we won't have a war." But the President knew that's what we tried with Korea, and it led to war, and we didn't do it, and I assure you we will never try to buy that kind of - certainly that kind of support in the event that we are dealing with the Communists, because we know that the moment that you make a concession without getting one in return, it does not lead to peace; it leads to surrender or war.

And then again at the summit conference - what would he have done if he were there? Well, you know what he said. He criticized the President. The President refused to apologize and express regrets to Khrushchev. He said he could have. My friends this isn't Just a moot question. What if he had been President and done this

And then Cuba, where all the newspapers in this country and in this continent, interpreted his remarks on Cuba to indicate intervention by the Government in that country, which would have brought disastrous consequences, lose our friends in America, lose our friends throughout the world, and invited the very Communists to come into this country that we do not want - all these things.

My friends, three times he's had a chance. Three times he's shot from the hip. Three times he's been wrong.

But somebody says, "But, Mr. Nixon, he's changed his mind. He now says he's for the President. He now says he agrees with the President on Quemoy, that he didn't really mean the President should have apologized, and that as far as Cuba was concerned, he always meant all the time he was really for what the President was, and that is standing morally for the right of people to be free." But, my friends, just let me say this one last thing: When you're a candidate, you can make a mistake and you can correct it the neat day. When you're President and you make a mistake, it's for keeps.

I was there when we went into Lebanon. I remember the President pacing the floor. He knew that if he sent the troops in, it might risk war; but he knew if he didn't act that it would mean that communism would sweep through the Middle East and that it would not only risk war, it would inevitably bring it. And, so, he decided, he turned, he said, in the early hours of Monday morning. We've got to go in. The decision was right, just like so many he has made. But it was made after he thought. It was not made on the basis of simply shooting from the hip, and I say today that in this critical period we cannot afford to use the White House as a training school for a man who's trying to gain experience at the expense of the American people. [Cheers and applause.]

There is your choice - experienced leadership, leadership that does not promise you, and I would never promise that life is going to be easy, that there are going to be no problems, but leadership that welcomes the challenge of these great times, leadership that says that America now comes into its period of its greatest destiny, and that we're going to meet it, and that we're going to lead the world to peace, without surrender, to freedom, without war.

This is the true crusade we ask you to join, and this is what we ask you to support, and we thank you for coming out and starting us as you have tonight.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President at Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project