Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Market Square, Harrisburg, PA

October 24, 1960

I want to say first how much Pat and I appreciate your welcoming us, your standing here in this rather brisk weather today and also how very happy and proud I am to be back in Harrisburg, to have the opportunity to be on the same platform with the Republican candidates who have been introduced to you - with Walt Mumma, my friend running for reelection to the Congress of the United States, and with all the rest. I say, let's go Republican all the way in this county again, as you have in year after year in Harrisburg and this area.

Now, the second point that I want to make is one that already has been referred to by Harv Taylor, who introduced me. Why is it that a great crowd like this will come out in cold weather at this hour in the morning to hear a man who is running for President of the United States? I'll tell you why. Because you realize that this election and the decision you make on November 8 may be the most important decision of your life. You know why? It will affect the future of this country. It will affect the future of every young person here who is thinking, as you are thinking, of whether he's going to grow up in a world of peace or a world of war. It also is going to affect, may I say - it's going to affect the prices of everything you buy in the stores on this square. It's going to affect your taxes. It's going to affect your jobs. That's what this election is all about.

Let me spell it out in just a few words. Why do I say this is an election that is the most important election in your lifetime? Because today the man who is elected President of the United States must lead not only this country, but the whole free world.

It is necessary for us, therefore, to look at the candidates for President and to look at the candidates for Vice President, in terms not of what they say they want to do, but in terms of what we know they will do in handling these problems. All that I can say with regard to Cabot Lodge and me is this: We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We have sat across the conference table with him. We have not been fooled by him, and we need nothing less than that kind of experienced leadership if we are going to keep the peace that President Eisenhower has brought to us in these last 8 years.

Now, I am sure many of you heard the debate Senator Kennedy and I had last Friday. I am sure, too, you've had an opportunity to hear some of the other discussions. I think it's only accurate to point out this: that in this period you have a choice between one man - two men, Cabot Lodge and I, who had the opportunity of dealing with these problems, and another man who, on occasion after occasion, has indicated that when the chips were down that he would have made the mistake, the mistake that could have led, in my opinion, either to war or to surrender of territory.

Let me give you just three quick examples. In 1955, and I was there when the decision was made, President Eisenhower had to meet the threat of communism in the Pacific, as presented in the Formosa Straits. He asked for the right to defend that area. Senator Kennedy was one of those who said then, who said again in 1959, who said again on our second and third debates, "We're going to cut off a couple of islands here. We will not defend these because if we do, it may lead to war."

He was wrong. The President was right. I say let's stick with the President's policies and not turn to his policies at this point.

The second point, already referred to - the summit conference in Paris - the President of the United States standing there, Khrushchev insulting him in the most vulgar language, insulting him - why? Because the President of the United States had done what was necessary, getting information to protect this country from surprise attack.

Khrushchev saying, "You apologize, or express regrets."

The President of the United States saying, with dignity, in effect, "We will do no such thing."

Senator Kennedy saying, "He could have done it."

Who was right. Eisenhower, not Kennedy - and that's the kind of policy--

Point 3: and this most recently, and certainly one of the greatest mistakes ever made by a presidential candidate in the history of this country, indicating that he would directly intervene in Cuba, the Government of the United States moving into that situation. What would that have done? Lose us all our friends in Latin America, lose us our influence in the United Nations, because we would have broken every treaty if we had done what he wanted us to do. It would have invited the Soviet Union to come into Cuba, something they would need an excuse for, and this would have been the excuse. The President, of course, has refused to do that. The Senator recommended it. Who was right? Eisenhower not Kennedy - and we're sticking with the Eisenhower policy.

My friends, this is what I am saying, Harv Taylor, my good friend, said a moment ago that my opponent had no experience. Let me correct him to this extent. He has had experience, but on every occasion when the chips were down, if he had been President and made the decision, it would have been disastrous for the United States, and we can't take a chance now on that kind of inexperienced leadership. That's the issue in this campaign.

So, I say we will keep this country strong. We will keep the economy of this country progressing. We will keep it moving forward, and we will be firm at the conference table, working for the cause of peace.

Now, the other point that I make: I said your taxes are going to be affected, your prices, everything that you buy. Those of you who heard our debates will remember that on several occasions I said, "Senator, tell us how you're going to pay for all these promises you have been making around the country," because, after all, my friends, when he promises this or that or the other thing, it isn't Jack's money - he's got a lot - but it's your money that's going to buy all those promises.

And I charge again today that his programs would add $15 billion to the budget of this country. He says no. But he refuses to say what he's going to give up. He's got to do one of two things. He's got to give up his campaign promises that he has been making, or he's got to take it out of the hides of the people. What does that mean? It means if you vote that way, it means going back to the policies we left 8 years ago. It means higher taxes or higher prices, or both; or it means pie in the sky, and that means not delivering on the promises, because it simply can't be done unless you do it.

I say the American people today want to move forward. They have been moving forward. They will move forward with us, but there is a way to move forward without doing what our opponents would do, and that is raise your taxes, raise your prices. America says "No" to that, and "Yes" to the leadership that we offer in continuing in the great traditions of Dwight Eisenhower. And, so, again I say to you: The choice is clear. America has been moving forward. America can move forward even more in the years ahead, but, my friends, we won't do it by going back to the policies of Harry Truman that we left in 1953 - and that's all that our opponent offers.

So, here's your choice. Your choice is clear. Between now and election day, you have the responsibility to determine your lives, the lives of your children.

I say it's time for Americans to wake up. It's time for them to wake up that there is nothing more important that you can do in these next 2 weeks, than to get out and work as you have never worked before in an election. If you want higher prices, if you want to take a chance on inexperienced leadership in dealing with the greatest threat to the peace the world has ever seen, then just sit at home. Just do nothing about it. But, my friends, if you want experienced leadership, if you want two men who know the men in the Kremlin and know how to deal with them, if you want to move forward in the traditions that we have been following and move even more in the years ahead, then I say you have a choice, and we offer it to you.

And my last point is one that I know all of you will understand and appreciate. I would not want to come to this great city which is the capital of Pennsylvania, which just celebrated its centennial, which has in it also some great traditions and ideals of America - I would not want to come here without pointing up the fact that my colleague and I realize that in this great struggle for the world, it isn't just a question of economics. It isn't just a question of our military strength; but it is a question of the things we believe in - our faith. And I want you to know in these next 4 years, if we get the opportunity that we ask for, we're not going to present America just as a strong country militarily, as a rich country economically; but we're going to present America as a country and a people who believe in the right things, who have our faith in God, faith in our ideals, faith and belief in the rights of all men to be free, in the rights of all people to live in peace. It's this that the world needs. It's this that will win the struggle for the world. It's this that I deeply believe, and it's because I believe these things that I ask for your support today.

I do not claim that I will make it easy for all of you. I do not claim that I have all the solutions. I do not claim certainly that we're not going to have troubles in the world, but, my friends, I have seen the world. We have visited 55 countries in the last 8 years. I have seen the men in the Kremlin. I know the enemies that confront us, and there is nothing that is more important, nothing believe me, than that America have firm, strong, courageous leadership to deal with this. I think we can provide it, and with the help of my colleague, Cabot Lodge, we will lead America to victory without war. We will lead the causes of freedom to victory without war.

And this is what you want, I am sure, and if you do, let's go out and work for that victory here in this county and in this State of Pennsylvania.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Market Square, Harrisburg, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project