Richard Nixon photo

Remarks by the Vice President, Hospital Baseball Field, West Memphis, AR

September 27, 1960

Thank you very much. May I say that it is always a very great honor and privilege to he introduced by a Rockefeller. As you recall, when I accepted the nomination for President, the man who introduced me so generously a moment ago - his brother introduced me then, Governor Rockefeller, the Governor of the State of New York, and certainly it is with great pleasure, and I want to take this opportunity to tell you how much we appreciate the support we have had from not only Governor Rockefeller in the State of New York and around the country, where he's doing a magnificent job for our cause, but also from Winthrop Rockefeller, on whom we're counting, on him and his many friends, to carry the State of Arkansas for us in the campaign.

As a matter of fact, I had talked to the Governor about the visit to Arkansas, and we had a very tight schedule. He suggested that since West Memphis was so conveniently handy to Memphis that this would be an excellent opportunity, and I so appreciate your inviting us, and I deeply appreciate, and I want to express that appreciation on behalf of Pat, my wife, and all of our party, your coming out today in this rather unusual weather.

I know, too, that Pat would want me to thank you for this beautiful bouquet of flowers which was presented to her. I noted an interesting thing about it: It is traditional, I think all of you would know. I think all of the schoolchildren here kind of wonder how it is to be the wife of the Vice President and travel around the world and visit all these cities in the United States. Well, I can tell you that it is traditional for a bouquet to he presented to the wife, always, and they're different. Sometimes the bouquets are the flowers of the particular State which you are visiting. Carnations, for example, are sometimes the flowers in Colorado, and black-eyed susans in the State of Maryland, and so on. Usually, however, it's red roses. Well, now, Arkansas - and, as a matter of fact, Memphis, Tenn., also - had red roses; but you had, it seemed to me, a very nice touch, and one that I do want to mention. You had cotton with the roses, and we do appreciate it so much.

I think from now on Pat and I will always remember our visit to these two cities. We'll remember it for the courtesy of the crowds, for your graciousness in coming out even when the weather is bad, but we will remember it because here your bouquets of roses were different, and they had the red and white as well because of the cotton which is so typical of this area and which plays such an important part in the economy, not only of these States, but of all the South and of America, itself.

I'd like to say, incidentally, too, that coming into this area, recognizing that there is a tremendous production of cotton in this particular part of the country, realizing that there are farmers in this audience and many who will be listening to my voice, it really is, I can assure you, a great pleasure to be in a farming area where the farmers, themselves, acting on their own initiative, working in cooperation with the Government, have worked out a solution for their part of the farm problem.

I think one of the most exciting stories about this whole farm problem is what has happened in the cotton program, and, while it's a technical matter which many of you who are not concerned about this particular thing from a personal standpoint will not be interested in, I know from having studied it that here the farmers on their own initiative have worked out a program in which they have gotten the production in line with supply, in which they have reduced the surpluses which have hung over the market, in which they have maintained farm income.

This is certainly acting in the great American tradition of not simply waiting for Uncle Sam to do something for you, and certainly the farmers in this area are to be congratulated - and all over the country, for that matter - for what they have done in working out this decision as it has existed.

Now, in the time that I have today there are a great number of issues that I would like to discuss with you. I would like to say, first of all, that I recognize that, coming into a State like Arkansas, there are not as many Republicans here as there are Democrats. We're glad to have some. We realize that the Democrats are in the majority. Your Governor is a Democrat. Your two Senators are Democrats. All of your Congressmen are Democrats. However, I think that all of you in this audience would say that the States like Arkansas, in which, for too many years, you have had simply, in effect, one party to choose from, need a change. You need it. I would say even if you were Democrats you would say this, because the best government is one in which the people do have a choice. I am glad forth at reason in this State my Republican friends, although they are in the minority, are attempting to give the people a chance to have a choice in an election.

That's good for the Democrats, too. It keeps them on their toes. It is not good for the Republicans, for example, to be in power without any significant competition, and that's why in this particular State I'm glad to pay my respects to those Republicans who are here, and to those who are candidates as well.

But I do realize that, as we look at this election, it will depend, in this State, as it will in many of the Southern States - as a matter of fact, as it will in my State of California where there are a million more Democrats than there are Republicans - the outcome of this election will depend not only on our getting Republican votes but on getting Democratic votes as well, and the point I would like for all of you to consider with me for just a moment, if you will, is: Why is it that any person who was a Democrat would leave his party and vote for a Republican candidate for the Presidency?

And some people, for example, have put it another way. They have said, well, anybody who would vote for a Republican candidate for the Presidency would he disloyal to his own party if he were a Democrat. I just want to put it exactly as it is. President Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 got millions of Democratic votes throughout the country.

Why? Because those people who were voting for him, Democratic and Republican, were thinking of America first and the party second, and that's what we ask you to do today.

We say to all the Democrats and to all the Republicans here that the issues in this campaign, the question of what leadership America is to have in these difficult times is too big for an individual to simply go into that polling booth and, simply because his father and his grandfather and his great grandfather had voted the party line, put his stamp there without thinking who the man is or what he stands for.

This time the people of America are going to look at the records of the candidates, not ]ust at their party labels. This time they're going to look beneath the party labels and see whether or not the label covers the real thing or whether or not the label may indicate something that isn't beneath it. And in that connection I would like to say this: I believe that as far as the Democrats in this State and many throughout the Nation are concerned, if they study the philosophy of the great Democratic Presidents, Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, they will find that those men stood for principles which are reflected - where? - not in the Democratic platform as adopted in Los Angeles, but more in our platform as adopted in Chicago.

Putting it another way, I believe that by what they did in Los Angeles, the national leaders of the Democratic Party forfeited the right to ask Democrats who were standing for the principles of their party to support their ticket in this election campaign.

I think that by what they did in Los Angeles we have a right to come to Democrats as well as Republicans and say, "Listen to what we have to say. See whether or not our views are more in accord with your views and those of the other party and the other candidate; and if you believe this, then support us."

That's the way I present the case to you today. Does this mean that I agree, that our platform agrees, with everything that everybody in this State, that all the Democrats and Republicans agree with? Of course not. You know, as I know, that as far as our platform is concerned, as well as the Democratic platform, we take positions that some of you may not approve of.

I mentioned, as I was speaking at Memphis, the issue of civil rights. It's a terribly difficult issue, a complex issue. I attended school in the South for 3 years. I know how difficult the issue is. I know, too, that it isn't just a southern issue. I know that its an issue in the West where I come from. I know it's a problem in the North. It's a problem in the East as well. It's a problem of all Americans, and it's one we've all got to work together to solve. It's one in which I have very deep convictions, convictions which are carried out in our platform, and it is one which I want the people of this State to know where I stand. I know that you will respect me for my convictions. You will respect me even though you may not agree with them. I express them today particularly because a man, Mr. Khrushchev, is visiting the United States, and here this man, this man who has enslaved millions of people, who has slaughtered thousands of them in the streets of Budapest, comes to the United States - and what does he do? He points the finger to us and says we are the people who enslave people; we are the people who deny opportunity.

Now, progress has been made in this field, but more needs to he made. It needs to be made for reasons that all of us can understand, but one of the major reasons it needs to be made is this: I say, as Americans, let's all move forward together, leaving none behind, so that we can take away any arguments that the real enemy of freedom, Mr. Khrushchev, can have against the United States and what we stand for around the world.

Now, what about these issues in which our platform is more in accord with your thinking, those of you who are Democrats, as well as my Republican friends here?

I'm just thinking of these children down here. I'm thinking of what you want for them, what I want for my two girls. It's all pretty much the same thing.

I remember my dad used to say when we were growing up that he never wanted to go back to the good old times. He said, "I remember those good old times," when he used to work for a dollar a day, and sometimes less, and 14 hours a day, with not even Sundays off. He said, "In America nobody must ever want to go back. We always want to go forward. We never want to he satisfied with things as they are, no matter how good they are."

This is a great country, and all you have to do to appreciate how great it is is to go somewhere else, to 55 countries, as Pat and I have, then come back to America to realize what a wonderful country it is. It has some faults and some weaknesses, but, my friends, let's never emphasize those weaknesses without emphasizing the things that are right about the United States as well because they outweigh them tremendously.

But, great as America is, we want a better life for our children than we had for ourselves. We want better schools, better housing, better medical care. We want progress, which means, for them, better jobs with more income. We want to see that all the areas of this country expand. We want to see our agriculture come forward with our farmers throughout the country getting a better share, a fair share, of America's increasing prosperity. In speaking on some of the other crops in my recent talks in Iowa and in South Dakota I touched these points. I reiterate them here again today.

The question is: How do we build a better America? How do we make progress in schools and all these things?

Well, here's where we have the great difference in philosophy and approach between the Democrats on the one side - I mean not the Democrats who are in this audience, not the millions who are going to vote Republican this time at the presidential level, but I mean those who left the principles of their party and wrote a platform in Los Angeles - we have a great difference between that platform and what you stand for and what we stand for.

They say the way to progress, to get the schools and the housing and the better jobs and everything, is for the Federal Government to take the primary responsibility. Send the job to Washington. Spend millions of dollars more. Hire thousands of more people to tell the people back in the States and the local communities what to do.

Now, here is what we say. We say that it is tremendously important, tremendously important in this country, for government to do what needs to be done. We say, for example, that great projects like TVA, Grand Coulee and others in the western part of the United States can't be done by individuals and by the States and by the local governments and that the Federal Government must, therefore, take the leadership in building these projects because America must move ahead.

But we also say this: When there's a job to be done, the place to start to see who should do it is not to start with Washington and work down, but to start with the people and work up to Washington and get there last.

In other words, look at your Arkansas development plan. Look at what Winthrop Rockefeller and his people have done here. They have not simply said, "Washington, please come help us," but they said, "We're going to help ourselves."

And, so at the local level, individual enterprise, working with the States and the local government, and then asking the Federal Government for help when the job is too big to be done at the local or the State level - that's the difference.

We believe the answer to progress, in other words, is to expand opportunities for a hundred and eighty million Americans. We believe the way to greatest progress in America is not to weaken the States and the local government, but to strengthen the States and the local government. Whenever the job can be done at the State or the local government level, it ought to be done there and not sent over to Washington.

Now, I ask the Democrats who are listening to me: What does this sound like?

This is what you believe, and yet your party or at least those who control it at the national level completely repudiate all this.

They no longer believe in this. They have given up on individual enterprise in many fields. They have lost faith in what the States and local government and the people can do, and they say that we have to take these problems to Washington to tell the people what to do.

I don't think that's the way to progress in America. I think the way to progress is, as I have explained, through getting the most out of all our various government facilities, but primarily by getting the most out of the tremendous power that resides in our people.

Now, the last issue I would like to discuss is the most important of all. It's the future of these young boys down here, and the girls as well. I know some of you may say, "Now, look, what's more important than jobs and schools and cotton?"

My answer is: Being around to enjoy the good jobs and the good schools and the income from the cotton.

On that all that I can say is that I present to you our record. I present to you our experience and our program, and I ask for your support on that basis.

First, for the record: There has been a lot of criticism of President Eisenhower's leadership in the field of foreign affairs, but, my friends, they pay off on the results, and in 7½ years this is what he has done: He's ended one war; he's kept us out of other wars, and we have peace without surrender today - and I think the American people want that and they like it.

Second, as far as the future is concerned, I would say that we can look at our experience, I cannot talk about mine. That is your prerogative to judge that, but I can talk about my running mate's, and I say there's no man in the world today who has had more experience, who has done a better job of representing the cause of peace and freedom than Henry Cabot Lodge, our candidate for Vice President, at the United Nations.

We will work together in this cause, work together as partners, in keeping the peace without surrender, extending freedom throughout the world.

How will we do it?

We will do it, first, because both he and I know Mr. Khrushchev. We know the Communists. We have dealt with them. We know that you can't treat with them from a position of weakness, whether it's military or economic or diplomatic. That means America must continue to be the strongest nation in the world militarily; our economy must continue to grow so that we are always ahead of them economically. We also must see that as far as our diplomacy is concerned. we never make a concession without getting a concession in return.

In that connection, may I say, knowing these men, the time must never come when any President would consider apologizing or expressing regrets for attempting to defend the security of the United States against surprise attack.

We will negotiate, yes, but in negotiating we will always remember that the men on the other side of the conference table are not like the other leaders of the free world. These men are men who understand power. They understand firmness. They have nothing but contempt for weakness or for gullibility, and this is the kind of leadership we offer to you in this field.

So, I say to you, finally, today: Judge us not on the basis of the labels we wear, but on the basis of what's behind the label. I say look behind the label, be it Republican or Democrat. See if it is the kind of goods you want to buy. See if it's the kind of good you think America needs. If you believe it is what America needs, then I say: Go out and work for us, Democrat, Republican, independent, go out and work for us as you have never worked before, and we will do something that Arkansas hasn't done for many, many years. We will see to it that Arkansas this year joins with other States throughout the Nation in putting America first, in putting principle first in supporting our ticket because we stand for those great principles which the majority of the people in this State and the Nation believe in.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks by the Vice President, Hospital Baseball Field, West Memphis, AR Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project