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Remarks of the Vice President, Hendrick Hudson Hotel Reception, Troy, NY

September 30, 1960

Vice President NIXON. Congressman Taylor, Mrs. Taylor, I am breaking a protocol because they are the guests of honor tonight; Senator Keating, Lieutenant Governor Wilson, Mr. Mayor and all friends of Dean Taylor. [Applause.]

As you know, it's the responsibility of the candidate for the Presidency to make lots of speeches. He makes them at unusual hours and on occasions many times unexpected. As a matter of fact, we had three or four on the way in from the airport today. I didn't dream that people would come out in the rain and stand there completely soaked. I know they got soaked because I did, too (I mean the rain, incidentally). [Applause and laughter.] That reminds me that when I went to Caracas, somebody said, "The Vice President got stoned when he was in Caracas." [Laughter.]

Well, at any event, we had several unexpected meetings and always, no matter how long the day is, no matter how unusual the situation is, some way the words come, maybe they aren't the best words, but always the candidate is trying to do his best to bring to the audience concerned the message that will be of interest to them and one that comes from his heart.

Tonight I find that task easier than usual - not the task of finding words - but from the standpoint of expressing, at least, my affection for and respect for Dean Taylor, for his wife, and all that he stands for. I say that because he completes 18 years of service in the Congress, and what I say about him now is directed to him not as Mr. Republican of this area and not as a Republican Congressman, but what I say is said about Congressmen and Senators generally, and about the State legislators generally, about all people who run for elective office, Democrat and Republican, and who serve a number of years in a distinguished way.

You know, I don't suppose anybody takes a worse beating from the cartoonists, from the columnists, from the editorial writers, than people who are in the House of Representatives or the Senate or the State legislature. I don't suppose that more caricatures that are inaccurate are painted of people than of them: they're fair game. Oh, you see always the pictures in the papers, particularly the cartoonists have fun with them, showing them either to he senile or stupid, or both; showing them to be usually not responsible, always concerned only with politics, never concerned about the people. You know what is the amazing thing? That this country has been run so well by people through the years! That's all that I can say.

It's so easy to be a columnist or a commentator and I don't want to get into any fights with them. I need all the friends I can get. [Laughter.] But it's so easy to sit on the sidelines and say: Why didn't this Congressman do this or that Senator do that? Why does he make all these mistakes?

Put yourself for the moment in a position of a man like Dean Taylor. Eighteen years in Washington! And his wife - 18 years in Washington. You think, well, it's pretty nice, going down there, running up and down the Potomac in a yacht and having the chance to hear the President make state-of-the-Union messages and the like, making great speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives with the galleries hushed and all the members applauding (I don't know that I've ever seen one of those) - but be that as it may - it's supposed to be that way. And yet, when you look at the work of a Congressman or a Senator, believe me, it's a lot different. So much of that work is really doing things for people. I don't mean things that oughtn't to be done, but doing things that ought to be done. You know, the word "Congressman" is not correct; it's "Representative." And Dean Taylor has been a representative of his people.

It doesn't make any difference who has written to him over these 18 years, Republican or Democrat, whoever it is, if somebody writes and says, "My boy is in the service and he isn't getting the kind of a deal he should," his office goes to work, and sometimes he personally goes to work to see that that situation is rectified. And I could perhaps multiply that by literally tens of thousands of letters and personal calls that he over 18 years has handled for which he has received very little credit from people at large, but for whom individuals in this district will be eternally grateful to him for.

And so to all the men who have served this country and the Congress and the House of Representatives and the Senate, to all of those who serve in positions of trust like this and who serve honorably as Dean Taylor has, who work in the interests of their constituents as he has, who puts the Nation first (even when it may cost him politically) as he has, to all of them I say the Nation is grateful tonight. And I as a candidate for the Presidency, who happens to have been once a Congressman and also a Senator, and who knows something of the sacrifices many of them make to serve there, who knows something of the hard work, hours and hours of work that they put in in their offices, who knows also what their wives do, how they entertain the constituents when they come down, even when they're bone tired and they have probably been in that House restaurant so many times and still wonder how they can go again and give the proper courtesies and the like, yet they always do it.

So, believe me, this is a moment I've been looking forward to - to pay my respects to Dean as an individual, as one who has been a close personal friend of mine from the time I came to the House 14 years ago; one who I always considered to be a "dean" to a certain extent, he always seemed older to me some way, but as I get older he seems younger. [Laughter and applause.] And now, as I see him retiring, it makes me wonder - 14 years? I don't know. But I'm not thinking of retiring right now! [Applause.]

I'm not going to use this occasion to talk on the issues of the campaign. This room is crowded, you've been a long time, you're tired, I will only say this has been an exciting campaign. I often thought when I ran for Congress that nothing could be harder, until I ran for the Senate and then that was harder; then we ran for Vice President and that was harder. But, believe me, when you wrap it all up in a presidential campaign, you really have something.

I say "harder." I'm speaking now in terms of the number of people you see, the number of speeches you make, the number of miles you travel, the amount of brain power and energy you have to put into it - but not harder from the standpoint of inspiration you get from it. Because all of the work we've put in is made worthwhile by a day like this. To close with an evening like this of a man's friends, a Congressman, being saluted as he should - not only by his Republican friends but by his Democratic friends as well, by the friends of his community - to have gone through the day with the rain pouring down torrents and people by the thousands on the streets, this makes you feel very humble; it makes one realize what a tremendous responsibility it is to run for the highest office of this land and how very important it is to do as effective a job as you can as a candidate, and also that you should succeed - never to let down the people that have spent those hours, and have done so much to inspire you along the way.

And so for your inspiration that you have given to Pat and me in this district and in the surrounding districts, we will be forever grateful. We will he grateful to you for reminding all of America today that Congressmen are good people, that Congressmen are worthwhile, that all the Congressmen aren't the caricatures they're painted in the cartoons and the like, but they are the fine people that have given America the best government that the world has ever seen.

You know, we talk about the genius of America. Do you know what it is? Some say that the genius of America is in its productivity economically and, of course, that's one of the wonders of the world. And others will point to other things which point up the greatness of America: our great natural resources, for example. But the genius of America is primarily political. For 180 years, 170 years actually since the Constitution, going back to 180 years to the time of the Declaration of Independence, we Americans have learned to change governments without riots and revolutions, to abide by the decisions, we've learned to govern ourselves, to effect these changes of government and still maintain stability. And it's a tribute to men like Dean Taylor, thousands of them through the years, who have given America the government it wants.

Now one last point - we shouldn't end on such a serious note. I've mentioned Dean's wife. I mentioned outside the importance I attach to wives in campaigns. I called attention to the fact that my law school professor in contracts the first day of law school said: "Young men, the best advice I can give you is to marry for money and practice law for love." Well, I did that. [Laughter.] In any event, I want to say that the wives are tremendously loyal in these campaigns (they have to be). They have to sit there and hear you make that same speech and look as if it's for the first time they ever heard it each time. [Laughter.]

Also, the wives are loyal in the way they give up so much of their homelife in order to be with their husbands on the campaign trail. And believe me, too, they can help you. Let me give you a couple of examples.

I recall out in Nebraska, 2 or 3 months ago, we were standing in a receiving line and a great long line it was, and finally an old farmer came through the line, he was chewing a toothpick and he said: "You know, young fellow, I came here from 200 miles away." He shook hands with me, shook hands with Pat, came back to me and he said: "My wife's going to vote for you, but I'm going to vote for Pat." [Laughter and applause.] So lots of people here have voted for Dean's wife, I'm sure.

Another point that I should make. When we were invited to this, I understood it was going to be a small reception of Dean's friends. Then they couldn't get Dean's friends even into this room, and now I understand the fire chief out there is saying we're breaking all the ordinances by having as many of you in here as there is. But we thought the party would be small enough that Pat and I could greet each and every one of you individually. That apparently is not possible, there are too many here, because we have to leave early in the morning for a day of campaigning in Ohio and that will bring us back to Washington at 1 o'clock in the morning Sunday.

So, since we can't shake hands, I must share with you one of my favorite recollections of a long handshaking session in Florida. This one occurred earlier this year and, believe me, incidentally, we're on the march down there; that's one State we're going to carry. [Applause.] We shook hands with over 3,500 people in 3 hours, and that's moving. But they came through the line and came through the line. Finally one lady came through the line at the last and she looked so tired, because the people had been crowded and jammed in (but we just invited anybody to come, as you've been invited tonight), and this lady came through the line and she got up here and said: "You know, Mr. Nixon, I'm so glad to get here. I didn't think I was going to get here in time to vote for you." [Laughter and applause.]

Well, an occasion like this in which everything goes, of course, can't finish without a Texas story. So I'll tell you my favorite Texas story (also about campaigning and also involving a receiving line). This occurred in Dallas, Tex., about 2 years ago.

I was standing in line alone on this occasion because Pat had not been able to come. I had attended a big VFW convention and they said they were going to have a little reception afterwards for the local Republicans - about 2,000 came out - and we shook hands, on and on and on, and I apparently looked a bit tired at the end. A couple of ladies came through, one a little older, one a little younger. The older one looked at me, obviously a very considerate, compassionate type, and she said: "Mr. Nixon, you look so tired, I feel so sorry for you." The younger one took my hand, she said: "Well, I don't feel sorry for you. I've been standing here just as long as you have and I have high heels on!" [Applause.]

So, you see, that puts it all in perspective. We think we get tired, but the ladies are wearing high heels, so let's do what Pat does - take 'em off sometimes.

And so with that, may I again thank you for coming to honor Dean Taylor and to let us be here to honor him with you. You honor the institution which he represents and of which he's been a member, and this little interlude in the campaign is one that we will always remember, and we will remember your friendship, we will remember your patriotism, we will remember your honor for the office of Congressman, of Representative of the United States. And remember there's no more honorable office in the world than that.

Thank you. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Hendrick Hudson Hotel Reception, Troy, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project