Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Downtown Parking Lot, Lancaster, PA

November 01, 1960

Congressman Paul Dague, and this great crowd here in Lancaster, and, I understand, from Lebanon, we want you to know how much we appreciate this tremendous welcome.

When I looked at the population chart coming in here to Lancaster, it said 60,000 people. Well, I think all 60,000 are right here at this meeting today, and the ones who aren't here were on the streets and out at the airport. Certainly this is one of the great rallies of the campaign.

One week from today you are going to make a decision with regard to the future of America. That decision is one that is tremendously important to every person in this audience, to every one of the 180 million people in this country. My friends, the question is: Are we going to go forward or are we going to go back? Are we going to go back to the policies we left 7½ years ago, as Senator Kennedy asks us to do, or are we going to build on the policies that have kept the peace, that have brought us the greatest progress in the history of this country, and build for a better America and peace without surrender in the years ahead?

I say we must go forward and not back, as Senator Kennedy suggests. I say that for a number of reasons. First, because the people of America know what they left behind in 1953. They know that they were in a war in Korea. They know that for 20 years we had never had prosperity without war or as a result of war. They know that in the 7 Truman years we had seen our savings, our social security, our insurance eaten away by a 50-percent reduction in the value of our money. They know that there was corruption in Washington because the big bosses had a key not just to the front door, but to the back door and the side door of the White House. And I say they're not going to have a key to any door to the White House if we are elected. You can be sure of that.

And the American people now know that they come to a great crossroads, a crossroads in which they see before them promises. Promises for what? Promises that would go back. Promises that would restore in this country policies that reduced the value of our dollars; promises that would bring back in this country policies which discouraged business investment, policies which resulted in unemployment, policies which stagnated the American economy.

I just want to say in that connection that, as you consider the promises that have been made in this campaign, we all must remember that we pay for them, and as far as my opponent is concerned all that he offers is - what? He offers promises; promises that would add $15 billion a year to our Federal spending in Washington. And now what does he say about them? He says, "Oh, don't move." My friends, he says, "Don't move the American people. It isn't going to cost you anything." He says, "We are against raising taxes. Don't worry about that. I am for a balanced budget. Don't worry about that."

Now let me say something. If he is for a balanced budget, if he's against raising taxes, and if he is for his promises and his platform, and if he believes he can be for all those three things, he shows an ignorance economically which disqualifies him from even being considered for President of the United States. My friends, in order to spend $15 billion a year more, he has to raise your taxes and he has to have deficit spending.

I see some older people in this audience. Do you remember what happened in the 7 Truman years? Do you remember your pension or your social security? Do you remember what happened to it? Cut in half.

I see some wage earners here. You remember what happened in those years. You remember that we had wage increases that at the end of 7 years meant nothing at all, because it was all eaten up by inflation.

My friends, we can go forward in America. We can go forward in the fields of education and housing. We can attack the problems of depressed areas. We can move against them.

We can do all these things. But, I say let's go forward without inflation, rather than have progress with inflation. That is the choice the American people have to make in this campaign.

I say to you the policies that would lead to disaster are policies the American people cannot buy. And, remember, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent, when you vote November the 8th, one week from today, you are voting to raise your taxes, raise your prices, or both, unless you vote for our ticket, because we offer the kind of progress that all Americans want - not progress that says turn everything over to the Federal Government, but progress that says the Federal Government does what it ought to do, but its main function is to give individuals a chance, an opportunity to do what they can for themselves and for America. That's the way to progress in this great country of ours.

Now I want to lay to rest one story that has been floating around in this area and other parts of the country. I understand that the charge has been made - and this is one of the cruelest, one of the most despicable things that has been said by my opponent in this campaign. It's vicious; and I use these words and adjectives advisedly. He says, "Don't vote for Mr. Nixon, because, if you do, you're going to lose your social security."

My friends, you know what the record is. This administration has seen more progress in social security than any administration in history. Twelve million people have been added to the rolls. We've had almost a 50-percent increase, in many categories, in benefits. And I say to you that if you elect my opponent, that will ruin social security, because the money that you invest and save in social security will be cut in half by his extravagant spending at home which he has offered to the American people. I say that if you want social security, we offer the way, not his way, and the American people are entitled to know that in this campaign.

Now let me turn to the other great issue. We want to move forward in this country. We want prosperity and progress without inflation and that's what we offer. But also, my friends, we want peace without surrender. You remember the situation in 1952 - a war in Korea, a war that would not have happened unless we had had naive people making decisions in the State Department of the United States. My opponent makes and falls into that same naive error. I say we had enough of that kind of foolish diplomacy in 1952. We want no part of it in 1960, and we're not going to vote for it in the year 1960.

Look at the record here, the record of the Eisenhower years, 7 years in which we got rid of one war, kept the Nation out of other wars, 7 years in which we have kept the peace without surrender, 7 years in which the President of the United States has been a champion of peace, but has never given an inch to those who oppose freedom around the world.

And what does our opponent offer in this field? Three times he's disagreed with the President. At Quemoy and Matsu, if he had been President, he would have made a fatal error of doing exactly the thing that was done in Korea, of inviting the Communists to take a portion of the free world, and that would have led to war.

Take the situation at the summit conference. The President refused to apologize to Khrushchev. Why? Because he was doing what was necessary to defend the security of the United States, and could not have apologized or expressed regrets. If Kennedy had been President and had done that at the Paris Conference, Khrushchev would have run over him like a truck running over a little boy. We cannot have that kind of situation.

And then in Cuba. Here again we see the President taking the line that we will quarantine Castro, and we're doing it economically and politically, and that will have the effect that everybody wants to see, that the Cuban people have the opportunity to have freedom. And yet here again my opponent made a suggestion which throughout the world, in every paper supporting him in this campaign, even in the United States, was interpreted as meaning advocating Government intervention in Cuba. What would that have meant? It would have meant an open invitation for civil war, an open invitation for the Communists to come in.

But then others say to me, "But, Mr. Nixon, he didn't mean it. He says he didn't mean it on Quemoy and Matsu. Now he's for the President. He didn't really mean to use the words 'apologize' and 'regrets'. He was only talking about theory. And as far as Cuba was concerned, he really meant to say the same thing we've been doing all the time, to give moral support to freedom throughout the world."

Let me say this: you can forgive a candidate for his mistakes, because when he makes them, he can take them back, as Senator Kennedy did on these three issues. But when you're President, you get only one shot. You've got to be right.

I remember when the President made the decision to go into Lebanon. I remember his pacing the floor at the White House. And I remember finally he turned to me and he said, "We've got to go in." It risked war. He knew that. But he knew that if we didn't go in, there was certainty that we would have either war or surrender. He was right. His critics who did not want him to go in were wrong. And, my friends, I say we cannot afford either Senator Kennedy's extravagance at home, or his inexperience abroad in this critical period in the Nation's history. Because, my friends, when a President makes mistakes, it means it's for keeps.

So, what do we offer in this field? Oh, we don't suggest that things are going to be perfect in foreign policy. But we know, both my colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I know, the Communists. We know Mr. Khrushchev. We know their tactics, and we will not be pushed around by them any place in the world - and that's what the American people want.

I know that some friends will say, "But, Mr. Nixon, wouldn't it be better to take a little push here, a little push there? Why can't we be more flexible? Why don't we give up those little islands out there? Who wants to get in a war about those?"

And the answer is: Who wants to get in a war about anything?

My friends, the point is, when you're dealing with ruthless dictators - we learned it with Hitler; we're now learning it with Communist leaders - the road to war is paved with well-intentioned ideas that you can surrender freedom and then have peace as a result. We learned our mistakes from the past, and, with our leadership, we will not make those mistakes in the future.

And, so, here is your choice. Your choice at home is to move forward, to move forward to the greatest progress that America, has ever had, to move forward to better schools and better housing, to move forward in an attack on our farm problems, and all the others that exist in this country, but to move forward in freedom, not attacking the frontiers of freedom, to move forward in the way that Americans want to move, to move forward without inflation.

And then you have the choice, on the other side, of going backward, going backward on a road paved with glittering promises, but a road that leads to economic disaster for the American people and the American economy.

My friends, were a go-ahead people. We're not going to go back. We're going to go forward. And the same is true in the foreign policy area. Here again we have the suggestion that our policies have failed, a suggestion that we ought to apologize to Khrushchev, that we should have done something different in Quemoy and Matsu, that we didn't do the right thing in Cuba.

Well, my friends, they pay off on the results, and I say the American people are not going to take a chance on inexperience when we can go forward with men who know the world problems and who will not have to practice their mistakes on the American people.

Finally, we need your help. I speak now not of this campaign alone, but I speak of this great conflict in the world for freedom. We need it because, my friends, when you hear about the strength of America, militarily and economically, never forget that what really is going to count in these years ahead is whether we believe in the right things, and believe in them deeply enough and strongly enough and vigorously enough so that we can fight the enemies of truth, the enemies of God, the enemies of freedom all over the world.

And I say to you in the homes, in the churches, in the schools of America: strengthen the moral fiber of this country. Let young Americans realize that what really makes America a great country is not that we're the richest country or the strongest country, but that we are the country which believes in ideals that are bigger than America, as big as the whole world itself; and that we will fight for those ideals, fight for them throughout the world; and that we are fighting to win a victory for freedom without war.

We can win this victory, I know. I have seen the world. I know the Iron Curtain countries. I know the countries of Asia and Africa, of South America. And, my friends, the world, the people of the world, are waiting to be led, to be led in the paths of peace and freedom. We have been moving in that direction. But I pledge to you that Cabot Lodge and I, knowing these problems, knowing what America stands for, will launch a great offensive for freedom, an offensive which will win, and win without war, and it will win because you're going to help us by making America strong at home, morally and spiritually. That's how we're going to do it.

We also need your help in this campaign. And I put this on the basis not of any partisanship, not of any personality, but on the basis of what America needs and freedom needs.

If you believe, my friends, that ours is the way to the future that America wants, if you believe that America should not turn back economically, if you believe that America should not take the deadly risk in the field of foreign policy that I pointed out, of inexperience and immaturity and rashness and impulsiveness, then, I say, this is something to fight for. This is something to work for. This is something to go and work for every day between now and election day. Let's do it - and if you do it here, if we do it all over the State of Pennsylvania, we will carry Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania will carry the Nation.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Downtown Parking Lot, Lancaster, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project