Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President at Herman Park, Miller Memorial Theater, Houston, TX

November 03, 1960

Thank you very much.

My friend, John Tower, Thad Hutcheson, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform and this really great audience here in Houston: I know that you realize how deeply Pat and I have been moved by this tremendous reception, and it can only mean in our hearts one thing. It means that Harris County and Texas are going to vote for the Nixon-Lodge ticket on November 8. [Cheers and applause.]

In fact, when I saw the tremendous crowd at the airport, I didn't believe there could be anybody down here at the rally, and, as I look around me and see all the Nixon girls on the right and the left, as I see this great throng here, as we saw the people as we came in waiting for us on the streets, it really moved us and touched our hearts, and we want you to know how much we appreciate what I understand is a good old-fashioned welcome. [Cheers and applause.]

I was delighted, too, prior to the time of coming on the stage, to hear you welcome enthusiastically my colleagues who are candidates on my party's ticket in this State. I particularly want to mention my friend, John Tower. [Cheers and applause.] You know, I have a pretty good deal of experience in seeing candidates, and I've seen a lot of candidates for the Senate around the country, Democrat and Republican. I will say that there is no candidate that I have seen who, from the standpoint of experience, background and courage, is more qualified to be a U.S. Senator from Texas than John Tower. [Cheers and applause.]

And I use that word "courage" advisedly. He's willing to run for one office alone. He doesn't ask for two. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, my friends, somebody said "pour it on." [Cheers and applause.]

My friends, I want to tell you a little about this day. Some of you saw the rally from New York last night on television, I am sure. [Cheers and applause.]

Well, the President told me on the phone today, he called me while I was at the Alamo. He said, by all means, particularly when you're in Texas, give my best to my home folks in my home State. So, here's the best from President Eisenhower. [Cheers and applause.]

After that rally last night, Pat and I got up very early this morning and we flew to Columbia, S.C. When we got there, in this heart of the South, we drove from the airport into the city, and there on the capitol steps we saw the largest crowd ever gathered in Columbia, S.C., for any meeting, Democrat or Republican, ever held there in that State. [Cheers and applause.]

And I was proud to have a man who not only is a great Democrat, but who is a great American, introduce me to this great throng in Columbia, S.C. [Cheers and applause.] And I was proud, too, to have on the stage with me another great Democrat and a great Texan and a great American and I refer to Alan Shivers, who was there. [Cheers and applause.]

Having mentioned my good Democratic friends, I just want to say this: From what I saw there, from what I saw at the Alamo, where we again had the biggest crowd they've ever had at the Alamo for a political meeting, Democrat or Republican, from what I see here to night, I can only say that this means something. It means something as I indicated a moment ago about November 8. It also means this: That the Democrats of Texas and the South are tired of being considered to be in the bag by the national Democratic leadership. [Cheers and applause.]

And I am proud that here in the State of Texas, we present candidates that give a choice. We present candidates running on a platform that is closer and is truer to the great ideals of the Democratic Party than that - well, I don't know what to call it - that thing adopted in Los Angeles by - you know what I mean. [Cheers and applause.]

Tonight I want to direct my remarks, of course, to the Republicans here. I want to talk also to the Democrats here. I want to talk to the independents. I want to talk to this great television audience in terms not of simply Republican platforms and programs or Democratic platforms and programs, but of the decision we make that is bigger than any party to which we belong, and that's the decision on November 8. Let me say this, my friends: I am convinced that when we go to the polls next Tuesday, we will be making a decision which will mark a historic turning point in the history of America, a historic turning point, because America can take one of two roads, and you will decide it. Those two roads I want to describe tonight, because when the people go to the polls they should know where the roads lead. They must not follow a Pied Piper from Boston down the road to disaster. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, why do I say this decision is bigger than the Republican Party and bigger than the Democratic Party? I say it because this year, 1960, we are electing not only the leader of America, but the leader of the free world. This year, 1960, we elect a man who will determine what will happen in the United States, but also who will determine what will happen in the world, and I say it is not enough simply to vote on the basis of how your father voted or your grandfather voted or the label you may wear. What we must do is to put America first and the party second - and that is best for us and best for America. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, here, then, is your choice. Eight years ago the State of Texas proudly voted for Dwight Eisenhower for President of the United States. [Cheers and applause.] Why did you do it? Not only because he had been born in this State, but because the people of Texas, Democrat and Republican alike, realized there was a mess in Washington. They realized that that mess had to be cleaned up, and they knew that it couldn't be cleaned up by those who had made the mess. So, they elected Dwight Eisenhower to do it, and he did clean it up, and we're thankful for that. [Cheers and applause.]

In 1956 you had another test, and there again the two same candidates were running, and there again Democrats joined with Republicans and by the thousands in Texas, by the millions in America, and gave Dwight Eisenhower the biggest majority in history.

And now comes 1960, and the question is: After 1952 and after 1956, and after 7½ years of leadership by this man, leadership which has brought, peace to America, leadership that has avoided surrender for America, leadership which has brought the greatest progress and prosperity that America has ever had, after 7½ years of this kind of leadership, the question is: Do you repudiate it? Do you say we're going to go back to what we left 8 years ago? [Cries of "No."]

Or do you say: Shall we go forward into the future - forward into the future? [Cries of "Yes."] [Cheers and applause.]

Well, that, in a "nutshell", is your choice. So, now we look at the leadership the other side offers. They say: Repudiate Eisenhower, and may I say I am sick and tired of hearing my opponent run down the President of the United States and his administration. [Cheers and applause.]

I know - after hitting him below the belt, he says, "Oh, I didn't do it. I didn't mean Eisenhower. I meant Nixon." [Laughter.]

But then what did he say? What did he do? Look at what he said about the President in these last 8 years. First, he said these last 7½ years - and I quote him, without notes - These last 7½ years [Laughter, cheers, and applause.] - he said - Now, listen to this: These last 7½ years have been years when America has been standing still, and we've got to get America going again.

Now, look, my friends, he says America is standing still. I'm not going to talk about all of America. I've been in 48 States. How did Houston become the sixth city in the Nation if you've been standing still for 7½ years? [Cheers and applause.]

No. And, so, you see, he can't prove that when he fights with the truth, because we know we have built more schools in these last 7½ years; more hospitals; more progress in social security; more increase in real wages; more jobs; a better life for Americans than in any 7½ year period in our history, and in almost every field tremendously more than we did in the Truman years. And, so, I want to say that on that score, that doesn't stand up. What else does he say? He says the 7½ years of the Eisenhower administration have been, in the field of foreign policy, years - and I quote again - of retreat and defeat and stagnation.

You know, those adjectives sound pretty good. The only trouble is: He's got the wrong administration. He meant Truman's administration. [Cheers and applause.]

You remember? You remember when I was here in 1952 in Texas? You remember what I said? In those 7½ years that President Eisenhower cleaned up afterward - you remember 600 million people were lost to communism in those years. You remember Yalta? You remember Potsdam? You remember the wooly heads and all the rest? [Cheers and applause.]

All right, and you remember, too, what happened. We were in a war in Korea. How did it happen? Oh, a well-meaning Secretary of State drew a line, drew a line like a candidate for the Presidency wants to draw it today, and he said to the Communists: I drew a line leaving out Korea, saying, "Come and get it," and they did, and we had to go in and fight, and 150,000 American boys were casualties. And I want to say this: It was wrong to draw a line surrendering principle or territory to communism then, because it led to war. It would have been wrong to do it on Quemoy and Matsu. It must. never be done again, and I will never make that mistake, I can assure you. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, what else does he say when he criticizes the President? He says under the leadership of this administration, America has become second rate in education; we're second in science; we're second in space - [Cries of "No."] - We have the worst - [Cries of "No."] This is him speaking, not me. We have the worst slums. We have the most crowded schools. Seventeen million Americans go to bed every night, et cetera, ad infinitum on down the line. Listen, you know what the situation is? We don't have, certainly, perfect schools in America. We have just of the best education in the world. That's all. [Cheers and applause.]

No. There are some areas of science where we're not always first, but, overall, it's admitted we're first in the world, and we'll stay that way under our leadership. [Cheers and applause.] And you talk about space, but they should talk about space - the only reason we ever got behind in space was because in Truman's administration they didn't do anything about it, and they left it to Eisenhower to do it - and we caught up. [Cheers and applause.]

And as a result, we find today that we have 28 successful space shots against 8 of theirs, and we find that in the area, for example, of the big boosters, and even there we're going to move ahead and we're going to pass them, and here again I say they better not talk about this because they know they're at fault, and that Eisenhower has closed the gap that they left in this and so many other fields. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, one other point that's made, and then I will go to the foreign policy issue, and this I want to discuss particularly, because I know that many people listening to me will be concerned about this charge. The other day when I was in Detroit, I picked up a paper. I read the headline in that paper, eight-column head, Detroit Free Press, read, "Kennedy Predicts Slump."

Now, you know, that must worry a lot of people, because you know what causes a slump? It's when people in positions of responsibility create lack of confidence in the economy, when people quit buying. You know, right above that very headline in the same paper was an eight-column head. You know what it said? It said, "New Car Sales at Alltime High in the United States." [Cheers and applause.]

Now, my friends, somebody's wrong here. Senator Kennedy predicts a slump. That means he has no faith in the future of our economy, but 180 million Americans are buying more new cars than ever, and they believe that times are going to be good. I say the American people are right and Kennedy is wrong on that particular issue [cheers and applause] because, my friends - I'll just add this - he may have more dollars than you have, but you've got a lot more sense than he has. [Cheers and applause.]

And, you know, the most crowning blow of all, then the next day, in that little-boy manner he has, very innocent, he said: "You know, if I'm elected President, I'll consult - I'll consult with President Eisenhower about how to stop this slump" [laughter] - the slump that he's predicting. You know what that looks like? That's like the little boy in the neighborhood who runs in to see the fire chief and says: "Chief, I want to consult with you about how to put out the fire that I started." [Cheers and applause.] Well, he'll have a chance to consult with Eisenhower, but he'll be a Senator of the United States and not the President of the United States. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, so much for his program. What does he offer? That's his program of criticism. All he offers is going back, going back to the policies we left 7½ years ago, policies that cut the value of the dollar in half, policies of Federal control over our business, over our economy, policies in which labor leaders and bosses - and I mean political bosses - have keys not only to the front door, but the side door and the back door of the White House, policies and I will give you what they are - that are not the policies of the Democratic arty. They are the policies of Schlesinger, the policies of Galbraith and Bowl and Reuther - and I say those are not the policies of Jefferson and Jackson. [Cheers and applause.]

But some of my friends say: "But, Mr. Nixon, it sounds so good. He's going to spend so much money, and isn't this good for us?" It would be if it was his money, but it isn't. It's yours. [Cheers and applause.] And that's the other side of the coin.

My friends - and I want everybody to listen very carefully as I say this - when you vote, you will be voting to determine the prices of everything you buy, because a $15 billion increase in the Federal budget, which his platform will cost - and there's no question about it - means raising taxes, raising prices, or both.

Now, he says: "Oh, no; I'm against raising taxes. I'm for a balanced budget, and I'm for my program." You can't be for all three, my friends. You're an economic ignoramus if you are. [Cheers and applause.]

No, because, you see, if you add $15 billion to this budget, you've got to take it out of the hides of the people - taxes, prices and the like.

Now, I say the American people - I know these problems. I know what the housewife goes through trying to balance a family budget. I know what millions of people on social security and pensions go through. I know how cruel it was to them in the Truman administration to see their life savings eaten in half by a Government that broke faith with them, and I want to tell you that I stand for policies, yes, that that will spend what needs to be spent to move America forward in all these fields; but I also stand against spending any dollar that can be spent better in Texas by the people in Texas than can be spent in Washington, D.C. [Cheers and applause.]

And, so, here is your choice there. Here is the Pied Piper saying "Give me your money, and I will solve your problems."

And here is our program: Move forward, but move forward with the Federal Government recognizing that the greatest way to responsibility and progress in this country is not through taking responsibility away from people, but through encouraging individual initiative of 180 million Americans. [Cheers and applause.]

And that's why our programs will produce the progress that theirs talk about. We'll build the schools and the housing. It means better jobs and higher wages, but it means also keeping our money, the money you work and save for and put in social security or life insurance. It means that the money you earn today will be worth a dollar tomorrow, the neat day and the years afterward.

And, so, in this field I don't think there's much choice. I think you want to go forward and not back to those policies we left. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, let me turn now to the foreign policy field, but briefly, because I'm sure that all of you understand thus issue. It has been greatly discussed in this campaign. Here again the choice is going forward or back. Here again you have the sound, proved leadership of this administration. You know Mr. Lodge and me. We both have been in this administration for 7½ years. We both have participated in the decisions of the President and the Cabinet. We have sat with the President in the great decisions that have avoided war and that have avoided surrender. We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We've never been taken in by him, and we never will be, I can assure you. [Cheers and applause.] And with us we pledge to you that we will keep America strong militarily, that we will be firm at the conference table, but never belligerent, that we will always work to strengthen the instruments of peace, always work, to strengthen them, and that we will work to extend freedom.

This is what we offer.

And what does our opponent offer? Well, he says we need new leadership. We need a change of direction. What is the change? You've had three tests in this campaign. One I've already mentioned - Quemoy and Matsu. Five years ago if he had been President he would have done differently from President Eisenhower. He would have drawn a line and said to the Communists: Come and get these two islands because we don't think they're defensible. We don't want to get in a war about them.

You know what would have happened? They would have come and gotten them and, in my opinion, there would have been a war.

That's why President Eisenhower was right and he was wrong - and we haven't had a war there on that particular issue. [Cheers and applause.]

All right. That's the second point now.

Paris conference. This June. You remember. You remember Khrushchev shaking his fist in Eisenhower's face at the conference. Apologize, he said, for the U-2 flights that the President had ordered for defending the security of the United States. Apologize and express regrets. The President, of course, refused, kept his dignity, but refused, as he should, because no President can ever apologize for defending the United States against anybody. [Cheers and applause.]

Here, what would my opponent have done if he had been President? You've got your answer. He said it in our debates. He said it out in Oregon before that. He said it on the Dave Garroway show. The President could have apologized, could have expressed regrets. Listen, if he had been President and had done that, Khrushchev would have beaten him to a pulp and America's prestige would have really gone down - you can be sure of that. [Cheers and applause.]

And, worse still, it would have meant surrender at the conference table.

And then the third instance, the instance of Cuba - here again shooting from the hip, but not in the Texas fashion, because he missed the mark completely [cheers and applause] shooting from the hip and, rather than following the President, who said we'll

handle this fellow, Castro, within our treaties by quarantining him economically and politically, he said: No; no. We've got to go further than that. We've got to break our treaties - and he didn't say that but that's the way everything was interpreted. He said: We will actually aid the rebel forces in and out of Cuba. He didn't know what he was saying. The next day he had to take it back.

And, now I just want to say one thing, my friends. I want to say, in all fairness, he's taken back all three of these things He says he now supports the President on Quemoy and Matsu. He said he didn't really mean the President did the wrong thing in Paris, and he says : All along I didn't mean what everybody thought I meant about Cuba. I really meant what the President said - we want to give moral support to the cause of freedom.

So, here are three instances where he first said one thing and then said something else. My friends, suppose he had been President. You know what would have happened? I've been there. I've been there when the President made great decisions.

I remember the morning we went into Lebanon. I remember the President pacing the floor of the oval room in the White House. It was a terrible decision for any man to make, even for a man used to great decisions, because the President knew that if he went in it risked war. He knew that if he didn't go in war would probably be sure because the Communists would sweep down through the Middle East. So, finally, he turned to me. He said: "We have got to go in." We went in. That was one of at least 10 decisions made in this administration which could have resulted in war if somebody who was rash, somebody who was impulsive, somebody who was inexperienced had been sitting there in the White House.

Remember this: A candidate can say something one day, take it back the next, and nobody's the worst for it, but a President - when he shoots, it's for keeps - and I say we cannot use the White House as a training school to give experience to a man [cheers and applause].

So, there is your choice - forward or back - forward, building on the great policies of these last years; forward, building a richer and better America; forward, not only holding the line for peace and freedom, but extending it throughout the world, with Cabot Lodge and me working together in that cause, or going back, back not only to policies that were repudiated 8 years ago, but back with leadership that is inexperienced, leadership that is rash, leadership that is impulsive.

My friends, do you wonder that I say this is not a decision that can be made on the basis of how your father voted or your grandfather voted or a party label? America is involved, and I say to you today - I ask the people of Texas - I say: Vote first as Americans and Texans, and I am confident of the result on November the 8th.

Thank you. [Cheers and applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President at Herman Park, Miller Memorial Theater, Houston, TX Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project