Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, L. C. Walker Memorial Sports Arena, Muskegon, MI

October 27, 1960

Thank you very much.

My friend, Congressman Al Bentley, Bob Griffin, all the distinguished guests here on the platform, and this great---

Somebody has suggested if you will pull the signs down the people could see a little better in the back. Would you do that, please?

Thank you.

Would you pull your signs down?

Thank you.

As you know, we have been whistlestopping through the State of Michigan today and we have had many great meetings, but I want you to know here in Muskegon that this reception - first, the meeting inside and now the one outside - will go down in my memory and my wife, Pat's memory, as one of the greatest we've ever had in all of our years of campaigning, and we thank you for it.

Now, incidentally here, just so we can keep the record straight, I appreciate the fact that some of our friends here support my opponent, and I just want them to know that I expect them to give me the same attention that my people give him when he comes to this town. I know that they will.

And I would also suggest, while I am talking about manners, incidentally, that I have been heckled by experts. So, don't try anything on me or we'll take care of you. All you do is to show your own bad manners when you do that.

Now, boys, go on around. I didn't hire you. So, stay right out of here. OK?

Now, if I may bring my message to you very quickly, first, I am proud to have been introduced by Al Bentley because I think he will make a splendid Senator not, only for Michigan, but for the whole United States and the free world - and I urge his election as I appear here with him in Muskegon, Mich.

Second, I am also happy to be in the home district of Bob Griffin. Bob Griffin has what we call in politics something called guts, and that means he has the courage of his convictions. He has the courage to go down to Washington and to stand for what's right. Those who disagree with him recognize it. Those who agree with him appreciate it. You and the people in this district, I know, are going to send him back with the biggest majority ever, with Al Bentley as your Senator as well.

And, third, I want to say a word about Paul Bagwell. He couldn't be here tonight, but after the kind of government Michigan's had for the last 10 years let's get a real change and good government here in the statehouse in Michigan.

If you want to get jobs in this State, if you want to draw industry in this State, if you want to quit driving it out, elect a real State government rather than the kind you've been having for the past few years. I can tell you that's the way to do it.

Now, I want to talk tonight particularly on a headline that I saw in the Detroit Free Press this morning. It was an eight-column head. It said, in effect: "Kennedy Predicts Recession." Now, let me just set the record straight. Let's talk about this. I say that anybody who is a presidential candidate and who goes about predicting a recession is doing one of the most despicable, irresponsible things that I have ever seen in my career as a politician.

Now, let's look at the facts. He knows, as well as I do, that at the present time we have 68 million employed in this country, at the highest wages in history.

He knows, as well as I do, that the number of unemployed people in this country went down more than usual the last month.

He knows, as well as I do, that as far as our predecessors are concerned for 20 years they were never able to solve the employment-prosperity problem except in war or as a result of war - and we've had prosperity without war.

And I say the American people like the kind of leadership that got us out of the Korean war, has kept us out of other wars and has kept peace without surrender today - and they don't want to take a chance on other leadership in the future.

Now, why is this statement so irresponsible? In this same Detroit paper there was an eight-column head right above that said: "New Car Sales at Alltime High." All right. Now, Mr. Kennedy better make up his mind. Doesn't he think that is a sign that we're moving ahead? Well, I do, and the American people do, too.

But let me say this: Michigan depends on car sales. Michigan depends on it, and you know that when a top official talks about recession - you know what effect that's going to have if he continues it? It's going to have the effect of discouraging people from buying, of talking our way into the very recession, and the responsibility will be right on him for doing it - and I demand him to retract that kind of talk, and retract it tonight.

And let me say this: America, my friends, can move forward, and we're moving forward, and we're going to move forward under our leadership.

There are many things to be done, things which we can do, which we can do if you give us the opportunity to do them. We can, for example, make progress in giving all of our citizens an equal chance at the starting line, and we have done more in 8 years than they did in 20 years, and we have produced on the promises they have made in this field, as in so many others.

Also, we will find we can move forward in the field of moving on the depressed areas of this country if we can get our opponents to quit playing politics with this and start thinking of the people, which is what we're trying to do to deal with this problem.

My friends, we can move to more employment in Michigan and in the United States if we have the kind of government that encourages Americans to invest in this country - and that's the kind of government we're going to give it, and it's the kind of government that Paul Bagwell will give it here. in the State of Michigan.

And, so, I say to you tonight, my friends, as I look at this future, I point out some facts that we Americans should not forget. We've heard so much talk about America being second in education, second in science, second in space, in this field and that. We have heard so much talk about our prestige falling around the world. Well, my friends, we're in a great battle. We're in a great game - we can call it that - a competition.

Have you ever seen a team in a game that won when it thought it was a second-rater?

We're not a second-rate country. We're a first-rate country, and it's time for us to say it and think that way.

And I say today America is first in education; we're first in science, and in all of these areas we can move forward and stay first, but we're not going to do it if we keep talking gloom and doom and second-ratism as our opponents seem to do.

One other point: Here in this great audience are members of my party, members of the other party and independent voters. I want to say this: that in this particular year, 1960, what happens to me is not particularly important. What happens to my opponent is not particularly important. What happens to America is important - and I say that all of you, whatever your party is - I ask you - I ask you to consider us not just as men, not just according to party labels, not according to what somebody tells you how to vote down at Detroit or someplace else. I say, my friends, search your own conscience. Listen to the candidates. Think of what's best for America, and if you believe that Cabot Lodge and I can give the leadership that will keep the peace, that will be firm without being belligerent, that will extend freedom throughout the world, that will bring progress, but bring it without inflation, that will bring prosperity without war - these are the things we stand for - if you believe these things, then will you go out and work for us and carry Michigan this November.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, L. C. Walker Memorial Sports Arena, Muskegon, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project