Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Hemming Park, Jacksonville, FL

October 18, 1960

Thank you very much.

Mr. Campbell all of the distinguished guests on the platform, our friends here in Florida, in Jacksonville, we want to thank you for coming out in such great numbers to welcome us on our first trip to Florida since the nominating conventions, and I can only say if this is any indication of the support we have, we're going to carry Florida again in 1960, as we did in 1952 and 1956.

Now, you have been standing here, and I know that certainly jammed in as you are that I should not talk too long, but I have some things I want to say. I want to say them very directly. I want to say them very forcefully, because I couldn't agree more with the man who just introduced me so eloquently as to the tremendous importance of this election.

I am very proud of my party. I am very proud of the candidates of our party in this State who are on this platform with me, but I say to you today, as the man who introduced me said a moment ago, that the requirements for leadership in America at this time are more important than my party or the other party. What must count is what is best for America - and that's the way we should vote in this election this time.

I have noted an increasing tendency on the part of our opponents simply to base their case on one theme, and that is: Vote the party. Vote the party. Vote the party. Vote as your fathers did. Vote as your grandfathers did, but don't think of the man. Think of the party.

My friends, that isn't enough for a Republican to do. That isn't enough for a Democrat to do. I say today that each and every one of us must not vote simply by the patterns of the past. You must not vote by the labels that men wear. You must vote as your own conscience indicates what America needs in the way of leadership today, and I say that at this time that what we stand for, what I stand for, what my colleague, Cabot Lodge, stands for, what our platform stands for is more in accord with the great traditions of the man that this city was named after, Andrew Jackson, than what was adopted in Los Angeles as the Democratic platform - and I think all of you will agree with that.

I know that you will hear over and over again party loyalty requires Democrats to vote only for the Democratic candidate. I say that a man or a woman who is truly loyal to the Democratic Party, to the great principles of Jackson and Jefferson and Wilson cannot vote for that platform or for the men who run on that platform. They will vote for us because we stand for those principles, and they do not.

And, now, if I could put this in terms of the great issue of our time: What is the most important issue? Let me tell you. It is the survival of this Nation. It is the future of these young people as well as ourselves. It is the future of the world, and everything else is insignificant compared to that, because we can have everything else - the better jobs, the best medical care, the best housing in the world - and it won't make any difference if we're not around to enjoy it.

And, so, I say the first test for the next President of the United States is this: Is he qualified, by background, by experience, by judgment, to keep the peace, but, more than that, to keep the peace without surrender, without surrender of principle or territory anywhere in the world.

Now, my friends, obviously I present my case to you, but I also ask you to judge me on my record as you judge my opponent. I ask you to consider what I say as you consider what he says, and then you determine: Which of the two men for President, which of the two men for Vice President, have the kind of experience, have the kind of a program, not that just a party needs - that isn't enough - but the kind of experience and program that America needs, and even that isn't enough - that the cause of freedom needs in this critical period, and I begin with this. You must consider our experience. What is that experience? Well, for 7½ years Cabot Ledge and I have sat with the President in the Security Council, in the Cabinet. We have participated in the making of the great decisions on Quemoy and Matsu and Lebanon, the others during this last 7½ years in the field of foreign policy.

Now, a lot of people will not agree with what I am about to say. I think that record is a good one. Others say that it's a bad one, but I'll say this: That all this political criticism you have been hearing about President Eisenhower's leadership in the field of foreign policy - and you've heard what they have said. Oh, we haven't had the initiative. We've been losing our prestige. He's done this wrong and he's done that wrong, and why doesn't he do this, that, or the other thing? Listen, my friends, the American people aren't dumb. The American people aren't going to be fooled by a lot of double talk. Democrats and Republicans alike who overwhelmingly voted for President Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 know that he produced the goods, and they know that in 1953, when we came in, we were in a war that wasn't being ended and there was no end in it. And what has happened in those 7 years? Well, we got America out of one war. We've kept her out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today, and we want to continue the leadership that brought that peace - and that is what we will do.

But then there are those who will say, "Well, now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon. What about the present? What about America's strength? What about these charges that our economy has been standing still? What about the charges that America has been standing still? We're a second-rate nation," they say, "in the field of economics. We're a second-rate nation and will become so militarily. We're a second-rate nation in the field of science and in education."

All these things you have heard talked up and down the line. Well, just let me say this, my friends: Anybody who says America has been standing still for the last 7½ years hasn't been traveling in America. He's been traveling in some other country, because I've seen America, and you in Florida know how America has grown.

As a matter of fact, I think it really got into its most ridiculous phase the other day. My opponent was speaking up in New York State. I was there just this morning, incidentally, and for you lucky Floridians I want you to know in Buffalo this morning it was a cold 45o - and we're glad to be in this sunshine down here in Jacksonville with you. But in upper New York, my opponent made this amazing statement, one actually that he ought to be ashamed of and he should apologize to the American people for making, and this is what he said: He said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper" - and, incidentally, I'll quote him without notes - he said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing." He said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Castro is doing." He said, "I want to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing."

Let me tell you something, my friends. If he'd just stop talking long enough, and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower has been doing. Now, I'll tell you, he hasn't been doing some of the things that my opponent would ask. He hasn't been apologizing or expressing regrets to Khrushchev, and we don't want him to, and I'm not going to. Also, he hasn't been abandoning at gunpoint some islands of freedom in the Pacific which would invite war and invite attack, and we're proud of President Eisenhower for not following my opponent's advise on that score, too, because America certainly learned its lesson in Korea - that when you draw a line and say we will only defend this particular point, it is not an invitation to peace. It is certainly an invitation and an assurance of war, and, it's the firm policy that we've had that the American people like. It's that firm policy that we will continue.

And it's true that President Eisenhower hasn't been acting like Mr. Khrushchev. But, thank God, he hasn't been making a fool of himself at the United Nations, either, and we don't want him to.

So, I say to all of you today - I say - Yes, there are grave problems in the world. I say, yes, we have not and will not have solved all those problems in my lifetime, but I say this: The question is not when the Communists are on the loose whether you have problems. The question is how you handle them. The question is whether you have the experience and the judgment. The question is whether you're weak, whether you are naive or whether you're firm and strong and know what you're doing.

And now let's look at our qualifications in that respect. Both Cabot Lodge and I know who our enemies are abroad. We know Mr. Khrushchev. We have sat opposite him at the conference table. We have dealt with him, and I say to him: We haven't been fooled by him in the past, and we won't be fooled bv him in the future, and that's what America needs. That's what we need to keep the strength that we need.

Now, what does that mean we will do? And these are the things we will do if you give us the opportunity. First, we will see that America continues to be what she is today - the strongest Nation in the world. We will ask Americans to pay whatever is necessary to maintain that strength, because, my friends, as long as we are the strongest, that means the enemies of peace will no dare start anything any place in the world, and this is what I pledge to you: America will continue to be strong, and we will increase our strength as necessary to meet whatever threat there is abroad.

Second, we will see that our diplomacy is firm, firm oil principle, firm without being belligerent, because - let me say this - you don't have to get down to the level of Mr. Khrushchev. You maintain your dignity as President Eisenhower has, but you also never give in on principle. We stand firmly for the right, as he stands firmly for the wrong, and that is the way to assure peace and to assure the victory of freedom throughout the world.

And then the next point I would make is this: In addition to this firmness, in addition to this strength militarily, America must move forward economically, and by moving forward economically, what I mean is this: Mr. Khrushchev, I remember, when we were in Moscow, made this statement to me. He said, "Mr. Nixon," he said, "I'll admit you're ahead of us economically at the present time, but," he said, "you know, we're moving faster than you are." He said, "Our system is better than yours is, and," he said, "we're going to catch you in 7 years, and" he said, "when we catch you, I'm going to wave to you and say, 'Come along; follow us; do as we do or you will fall hopelessly behind."'

You know what the answer is? The answer is: He won't catch us, not in 7 years, not in 70, if we quit thinking of America as second rate and act like a first-rate country at home and abroad - and that's what we're going to do.

But I'll tell you this. There is a danger that he will catch us if we depart from the principles that have made America great, if we follow the advice of our opponents and say every time there is a problem: "Turn it over to the Federal Government. Weaken the individuals. Weaken the States. The Federal Government is the answer."

There is a danger he will catch us if we adopt huge new programs which will raise our taxes, raise our prices and sap the energies of 180 million Americans. There is danger that he will catch us if in our economic principles we do not follow the policy that the way to greatness in America is not through strengthening the Federal Government, but through strengthening the will and the determination of 180 million free Americans. That's the way to greatness in this country.

And, so, I ask you: You've been listening to me. What's this doctrine that I speak? This is bigger than the Republican Party. It's as big as America, itself These are the words of Jackson. This is the philosophy of Jefferson. This is also the philosophy of Lincoln. This, my friends, is what America needs today, and those apostles of gloom and doom and defeat and retreat who say, "Turn everything over to the Federal Government; weaken the States; weaken the individual" - that's the wrong road, and America is not going to take it. We're not going to go back to what we left in 1953, and that's all they offer, and we're not going to do it. That's why we're going to vote our way this year, in the year 1960.

And, so, I say to you: If you vote for us, we will be firm for the right. We believe that firmness will assure the peace, and we believe weakness would lead to war, weakness militarily or diplomatically. We will also keep America strong at home militarily, keep her strong economically, moving America ahead with all Americans moving together, because none must be left behind, and, in addition to that, above everything else, we will stand in the high councils of this world for the things Americans most deeply believe in, for the ideals that are our great advantage in this struggle, and what are they? These ideals do not come from a leader - he can only talk about them - but they come from people. These are the ideals that caused a quarter of a million Poles a year ago in the streets of Warsaw to greet my wife and me in that Communist country with the greatest demonstration of affection perhaps ever accorded a visitor. They were shouting - they were cheering - "Niech Zyje America" - "Long Live America" - and as they stopped the car, it stopped in the middle of the town time after time - and I looked in their faces, grown men and women, over half of them, crying, tears streaming down their cheeks. Why? Not because America was strong militarily. They knew that. Not because we were rich economically, but because we stand for something more than that.

We stand for ideals, bigger than my party and bigger than yours, if it's the other party, as big as the whole world, itself - our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of men; our belief that the rights that men have to equality come from God and not from men, and, therefore, cannot be taken away from men; our belief that every nation has a right to be independent and all people have a right to be free. These things America came into the world to preserve. These things it is America's destiny now to extend, because it isn't enough to hold the line against communism. We must wage a great offensive for victory without war, and we believe, my colleague and I, that we have the background, that we know the problem, and, with your help, that we can lead America because your help is necessary.

This kind of strength, the strength of our ideals, must come from you. It comes from the homes, from the churches, from the schools of America. And, so, I say: Keep this country strong at home. Keep its ideals strong. See that these young people know what a privilege it is to be an American. See that they're proud of this country. See that they're willing to stand for our system as the Communists, unfortunately, in some instances, are willing to stand for theirs. And if you do that, we will win. We will win this struggle for freedom, and it will be a better world for our children and for ourselves, but also for children and for people all over the world.

This is our mission, and it is this cause that I ask you to work in. Don't work for it just because you like us as men, if that is the case, not just because you like our party, if that's the case; but if you believe that what we stand for is what America needs, if you believe that ours is the leadership that America and the free world needs, then, my friends, 3 weeks remain.

Go out and work for this cause, work for it in this State of Florida. Spread the word throughout this State, and if you work, as you really can, if you believe as deeply as we believe, we will win, and it will be a victory not just for a man, not just for a party, but for America, itself, and that is what we all want.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Hemming Park, Jacksonville, FL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/274003

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