Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Memorial Hall, Canton, OH

October 01, 1960

Vice President NIXON. * * * Thank you very much.

My friend Congressman Frank Bow, Mrs. Bow, all of the distinguished guests on the platform behind me, and this great audience here in the hall before me, and all of those on the outside whom Pat and I hope to come out and say "Hello" to after this meeting, we can't tell you how overwhelmed we are by this wonderful reception. Particularly, incidentally, it's 10 minutes to 3; you could be listening to a football game on television. But, certainly, to have this kind of a reception today, to have you give your time on a Saturday afternoon to come out and give us a chance to meet you, to talk to you, is a great experience for us, and we deeply appreciate it. This will go down as one of the great rallies of this campaign, coming at this time in the afternoon - we're sorry we're late, but the reason is that we've had big crowds. And I'm sure you're glad that we've been having big crowds. [Cheers and applause.]

You know, before I talk on some of the issues that I want to discuss today, there are some personal matters that I wish to mention as I speak in this city. I remember one of the first speeches that I made after I became a U.S. Senator. It was in this area. And, on that occasion you were celebrating the birthday of William McKinley. Now, you know, for many, many years there used to he a great deal of talk about what a terrible President William McKinley was. I note that here we have students from Mount Union College [cheers], and also Malone College [cheers]. I suggest [an offside comment] and Wooster College [cheers]. I suggest that all of the college students alike, just to put history in perspective, read Margaret Leech's biography of William McKinley. I think you will get a new perspective of one of Ohio's great citizens, a Governor, and then President of the United States. So much for that.

The second point that a I want to make is this: I'd like to say something about each of these colleges, but I have a special reason to mention Mount Union. [Cheers.] Now, I suppose you folks here wonder, now, how does a fellow from California know anything about Mount Union, one of the colleges in Ohio. And the reason is that I roomed in law school with one of your distinguished graduates, Lyman Brown - I field. And I had great respect for the education he got. I did reasonably well in law school, but I was third in class; he was second. So that means that he's a pretty smart fellow when he came from Mount Union, Ohio. [Cheers and applause.]

I'd like to say, too, that the opportunity has also presented, to mention something which will be appreciated. I understand that there may be some people from Sebring, Ohio, here. Is that right? Somewhere in the audience? Back there in the back? Well, I mention Sebring because one of the most important people on my whole staff came from Sebring. Frank knows her well - Rosemary Wood, my secretary, who is back on the plane, incidentally, doing some work. So, to the people of Sebring, I bring special greetings from her, and thank you for coming over to our meeting. [Applause.]

And then, the last point that I would like to mention of a personal nature, I think you will already guess. I'm always delighted to be on a program with Frank Bow. We have been colleagues together, worked together on many projects in Government, and I think that one of the things that pleased me most about the 1958 elections - and there were many things that weren't particularly pleasing - was that Frank Bow was one of the few Congressmen in the country who did better in 1958 than he did in 1956. That proves what you think of him. Let's get him the biggest vote ever in 1960. [Applause and cheers.]

One other thing I'd like to mention. You know, we see these wonderful crowds during the campaign. People, I suppose, in many instances, come out because the contest for the Presidency is so exciting. But let me tell you that for all of you who are voting this November remember: The contest for Congress, for the State legislature, for State office, for local office, are just as important to you. It takes all of them to provide the kind of government that America needs, and that your city, and your community needs. And so, for that reason I am glad to be on the platform with my fellow candidates here. I commend them all to you. Remember: Don't just work for the can-didate for the Presidency, but work for all of them, because it's that kind of team operation that makes responsible government and a two-party system possible. [Applause.]

Now, let me tell you about the last 2 days of campaigning that I have experienced. We were in Boston, Mass., 2 days ago. Now we didn't expect too much of a crowd there because, after all, that was the home State of our opponent. It was raining. And yet, a quarter of a million people were on the streets of Boston 2 days ago to welcome us. [Cheers and applause.] We were in upper New York State yesterday. It wasn't raining - it was pouring. The rain was coming down in sheets. We were an hour late because the plane had been delayed. And yet, after dark, between the hours of 7 and 9 o'clock as we were driving from the airport into the cities of Troy and Schenectady we found that literally thousands and thousands of people were standing there - the rain coming down - to greet us.

Now, why is it? Why this tremendous outpouring of people? Why this great crowd today, on a Saturday afternoon - a beautiful day when I know many of you would have other things you'd like to do? Why this tremendous interest that we've found from Maine to Hawaii, from California to Georgia, North, East, West, and South - because the crowds have been tremendous, the enthusiasm, also. I think something's going on in America today. In this campaign, it's a healthy thing. There's a tremendous interest in the people about the decision they're going to make this November the 8th. You're not going to be satisfied this year just to put a mark by the party label. You're not going to be satisfied this year just to vote the way somebody else told you to vote. You are going to vote the way you think it ought to be. You're going to vote the way you feel after you have heard the two candidates for the Presidency.

Why is it that Americans are so concerned? Because you know that this election is terribly important, important to you, important to your city, to your State, to the Nation. The leadership that America selects this November will determine the course of the future for America. True. But it may well determine the course of the future for the whole world. And I find that people everywhere for that reason are looking more carefully at the candidates than they ever have before. They're looking beyond the labels. They're not voting in blocs and all that sort of thing as is sometimes the custom. And may I tell you today that on presenting my case to you, I want you to do that. I'm not saying to the Republicans here, "Look, vote for me, I'm a Republican." I am telling everybody here, whatever you are, Republican or Democrat or Independent, that when you're electing a President in this year 1960, America needs whoever is best, whether he's Democrat or Republican. We need the best leadership we have. And that's the basis we present our case to you today. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, obviously I'm a bit prejudiced on that point. I'm a bit prejudiced, but on the other hand, I want to present my case, and to present the case also for my colleague, Cabot Lodge. And I want to present it in terms, first, of the most important issue. The one that cuts across all the rest. The one that everybody's interested in, wherever they come from. You know, lots of times you in college I'm sure hear how different Americans are: that the northerners don't agree with the southerners on this or that; and that the people in the labor unions don't agree with the people in management, and so forth. There are lots of differences, true. But one thing I found from talking to all kinds of groups in all States in this Nation is that everybody believes the most important thing for the United States to do is to have a President who can provide leadership that will keep the peace without surrender for America and for the world. [Applause.]

More important than a job, more important than good schools, more important than health, and all these things. More important, why? Because we can have all the other things that spell progress, and all these other things that we are for, that I have programs that I will discuss today. But, we aren't going to be able to enjoy our good jobs our good health, or our good schools, unless we do preserve peace in the world, preserve it without surrender. Unless we do develop programs that will extend freedom, not just hold the line, but extend it throughout the world. And it's to that point that I want to talk first.

And I know that I don't need to whet your interest on it. You've been looking at the United Nations, I am sure. You've seen Mr. Khrushchev upon television. You've seen President Eisenhower, Prime Minister Macmillan; perhaps Mr. Castro. You've heard the criticisms of our policies. You've heard the things that are wrong, as well as hearing some of us declare those things that are right.

Let me say a word about criticism at this point. Criticism in an election campaign or out of an election campaign is one of the strengths of a free country. It is essential that our political opponents point out those things that are wrong with America in order that we can correct them. It is essential, however, that they be absolutely responsible in doing so, and not distort the record. That they tell the truth about America, whether it's wrong, or right. That in telling those things that are wrong, they also mention and keep in perspective the great strength of America. I want to make this clear at the outset as I discuss the issues of this particular matter, this matter of keeping peace, developing programs that will extend freedom.

But as we look at this issue, how do you test our candidates? How do you test me? How do you test my opponent? How do you test the vice presidential candidates? The first test, of course, is our record. And I'm proud of that record in the field of foreign policy, as well as in other fields. I'm proud of it. I know that there are criticisms of it. But I say to you today that whether you're Democrat, or Republican, or Independent, every American will be forever grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for getting this Nation out of one war, keeping it out of others, and giving us peace without surrender today. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, let's look at the critics a moment. They say "an uneasy peace." They say, "the Communists are causing trouble all over the world - blocked the President's visit to Tokyo; stoned the Vice President and his wife in Caracas." They say, "the United States has been standing still for 7½ years." They say, "the Communists have the initiative." They say, Senator Kennedy did, just 2 days ago in New York this: he said, 'I am tired of reading in the paper of what Mr. Khrushchev does. I am tired of reading in tire paper what Mr. Castro does. I want to read in the paper what President Eisenhower does." All that I can say is that he ought to quit talking and start reading the papers, and he'll see what President Eisenhower is doing. [Cheers and applause.] Oh, he isn't doing the same things Mr. Khrushchev is. No. He isn't trying to muscle into the Congo and take that newly independent country over as the Communists are trying to take it. He is working through the United Nations, working through the United Nations and supporting them, so that this newly independent country with such great hopes can keep its freedom, and keep its independence. And we can be proud that we're doing the right thing, and that the Communists are doing the wrong thing.

Oh, he isn't doing like Mr. Khrushchev. No, we're not running riots in the world. We're not running riots against enemies in New York as he ran them, and he directed them, of course, from the Communist international movement against me in South America, and the President in Japan. No, we don't do that. But I say to you, have the sense of values of our world and of the American people changed that those who engage in putting on riots against an American Vice President, and an American President, gain prestige, and those of us that act like decent people lose it? Of course not. I say that the American people applaud President Eisenhower for his dignity, and they contrast it with the crudeness of Mr. Khrushchev as he has exemplified it at the United Nations. [Cheers and applause.]

No, it's true you don't read in the paper that President Eisenhower has ordered marines to go in and shoot down the hundreds of thousands of innocent Cuban citizens, who at the present time are being misled by a demagogue - as Khrushchev went into Hungary and slaughtered thousands and thousands of Hungarians. But did Khrushchev gain by that? And do we lose because we are trying through the Organization of American States to get the Cuban people a chance to have a free choice to choose the kind of government they want, and to keep their freedom?

Let's look at the facts. Let's be honest about it. No, my friends. All that I can say is this with regard to the criticism of the President and his record, and with regard to this whole field of foreign policy. First, we should not blame ourselves for what the Communists do abroad. Second, we've got to expect troubles in the world. And I'm not going to promise you today that if Cabot Lodge and I are elected we're going to solve them all, and that all the sailing's going to be smooth, because it isn't.

And I'll tell you why it isn't going to be smooth, and why we can't promise it's going to be smooth, why we can't tell you some brave new leadership is going to change everything, and it's going to change Mr. Khrushchev, and change his attitudes. I'll tell you why. Because we know him. We know the Communists. We sat opposite the table with them. We know what they're trying to do. Here are fanatical, ruthless men who are determined to conquer the world, determined to conquer it by any means, if necessary. But when we consider them, then, we've got to recognize that they're going to cause us trouble - they're going to cause us trouble every time they can. They're not going to cause us trouble only if we do what they want us to do. And that means turn over the world to them.

Oh, we can give in on Berlin, as we could have. And Mr. Khrushchev would have gone to the Paris Conference. He wouldn't have used a phony reason to blow it up. We can give in on these other subjects. But let me say this, let's be proud that the United States under President Eisenhower's leadership has been firm and nonbelligerent, that we have stood with our friends throughout the world, and have not allowed them to push us around. Let us remember that. [Applause.]

And, so, there are some things, in other words, that President Eisenhower has done, and that our administration has done that are subject to criticism. There are other things that I think are not. But in any event, to keep in perspective, let us get just one thing straight. The record is one in which we have avoided the twin dangers of war on the one side, and surrender on the other. And it is to that objective that I pledge the next administration as well.

Now how else must you judge us? Well, you've got to look at our experience. Well, as far as that experience is concerned, my colleague and I have been in this administration. For 7½ years we sat on the high councils of the Security Council and the Cabinet. We have participated in the decisions, giving advice when asked by the President on these matters involving Quemoy, and Matsu, and Lebanon, and others. We have had this experience over 7½ years. And this you must take into account.

Now, in evaluating experience I don't need to say anything about my own. That's for other people to evaluate. But I can certainly say something about my running mate's. And I will say this: that I don't think any man in the world today could have done a better job. I don't think anybody has had more experience than he has in fighting for the cause of peace and freedom as our Ambassador to the United Nations, Henry Cabot Lodge, our vice presidential candidate. [Cheers and applause.]

Why is that important? It's important because the character of the Vice Presidency has changed. And it will continue to change and grow. And he and I will work together in strengthening the United Nations, in strengthening the Organization of American States, in strengthening the instruments of peace, in strengthening the instruments that will extend freedom. And it is this that we present: two men. Two men who have been part of a record. Two men who know the men with whom we are dealing. Two men who recognize that in dealing with those who are on the other side of the conference table, we must base policies on the kind of men they are.

And now I turn to policies. What must America do, what must we ask America to do, if we are to keep the peace without surrender? First, we've got to begin with the greatest military strength in the world. Why? Not because America ever wants to use its strength against anybody else. I say this, speaking from my own Quaker background, because I know that there are many who are concerned because American maintains military strength. Because we do not, as they say, take a more liberal attitude as some suggest in the field of disarmament.

Let me just make this one point. We will always go the extra mile to negotiate, We will always make over every proposal and take every initiative, as President Eisenhower did, on disarmament, on open skies, on the use of outer space for peaceful purposes in his U.N. speech. But, on the other hand, if we really want peace, my friends, the way to destroy our hopes is for the United States ever to agree to disarm when the Russians aren't also doing it. Because the moment we become weaker than they are, then the danger of war is increased. That's why we insist that there must be inspection if we are to have disarmament. [Applause.]

And so, as you consider us, we will be men of peace, men who believe in it as you believe in it. But we will be men who recognize that peace does not come easy. Who recognize that in the world in which we live, when you are confronted with ruthless men who will use power to destroy the peace, that we must be the guardians of peace. And that means strength. Military first. It means a second kind of strength. Economic strength.

What do we mean by this? It means America must move forward economically. Move forward leaving none behind. Why do I say leaving none behind? Because, this Nation strong as it is economically, and we're the most productive nation in the world with over twice the gross national product of the Soviet Union, strong as it is we're in a race. And they are determined to catch us. And in order to stay ahead, America must move ahead. And that is why I have submitted proposals. Proposals in the field of health, in the field of education which will see to it that we give more and more of our young people the opportunity to develop their potentialities to the full. So that none of our young Americans who have the ability to go to college are denied the right to go there, and to become great scientists, or great lawyers, or great doctors if they have these abilities, simply because of the circumstances under which they were born. These are programs for which I stand.

Also, we believe in programs which would deal with the problems of unemployment more effectively. Programs which will deal with the problems of the depressed areas. All of these. If you could read our platform, my speeches in detail, you would see those things we stand for.

Now, how do we differ from our opponents here? Don't they believe in these things? Of course. There isn't any question about goals here. All Americans, Democrats and Republicans, want the country to move forward. All Americans, Democrats and Republicans, want better education, better housing, better health, better jobs for our people. What's the difference, then? Well, putting it in a nutshell, we can produce, and they can't. And that's it in a nutshell. [Cheers and applause.] Putting it in a nutshell, they promise more, but they will do less. [Applause.]

Promise more? I know somebody suggested to me the other day. They said, now, Mr. Nixon just a minute. How possibly can you ever win on issues like health, and education, and jobs, and the like, when your opponent goes around and advocates programs that will cost billions of dollars more than yours? And my answer is, well, the people aren't dumb. They know that he isn't going to pay for those programs with his money, but with their money. And they want to see that they get their money's worth. [Applause and cheers.]

And, so, as you evaluate a program, remember: it isn't the question in determining whether a program is going to produce the schools, and the houses, and everything else that we want, of how much the Federal Government spends, it's a question of what the whole country does.

Let me point something up. In the last 7½ years we've built more schools, built more hospitals, more dams, more in all of the areas that spelled progress than of any period in our history. Is this because the Federal Government did all these things? No. It was because the Federal Government did what it should, but it was because the Federal Government at the same time, stimulated and encouraged the real source of power and growth in our economy. You know what it is? And this is the secret of America's strength. The secret of strength in America, the key to growth, is not what Government does, but what 180 million free Americans are encouraged to do by their Government. [Cheers and applause.]

And it is because our programs, our programs are designed always to encourage individual enterprise, never to encourage it [Vice President obviously meant to say "discourage it"]; always to strengthen the responsibilities of State and local government, not to discourage it; always to have the Federal Government taking the initiative, moving forward in these periods, but never doing anything that would sap the energies of our people, or discourage them from contributing what they can to America's progress.

And, so, in a nutshell, again, I say: our programs will produce, while theirs will not.

Now, a third area of strength that I should mention. We need, also, strength in our diplomacy. By strength in diplomacy, as I mentioned a moment ago, we need firmness without belligerence. Now, I say "without belligerence" for this reason: I know that there were those who had thought the President at times, particularly after the last Paris conference, might have talked back to Mr. Khrushchev more than he did. All that I can say is this: Whoever is President of this country can't enjoy the luxury of ever losing his temper when engaging in a war of words might heat up the international atmosphere to where we have a nuclear explosion. President Eisenhower for that reason was right in holding his temper. It isn't easy. I had the experience of talking to Mr. Khrushchev. I held my temper too, but it's hard. But let me say this: In dealing with him, or dealing with anybody, remember this - not only must we not engage in a war of words, we can be firm without engaging in insults. And I would only say that if we consider the President, his conduct at the U.N.,. his conduct at the Paris conference, remember that when a nation is strong, when you know that you're right, you never get down to the level of somebody who engages in the kind of talk that Mr. Khrushchev does. You keep your dignity. [Cheers and applause.]

There's another point that should be made. When American policy is right, when it is one that has been supported by the Congress, when you are doing things which are in the interests of defending the whole free world, then America must stand firm for those policies. And I want to say that in indicating the things that we will and we won't do, that it is essential that whoever is President of this country never apologize or express regrets for doing whatever is necessary to defend the security of the United States against surprise attack. [Cheers and applause.]

And, so, there is the line. Firmness but not belligerence. Firmness because if you have a program in which you make concessions without getting concessions in return, it whets the appetite of the dictator, it is the road to war, not the road to peace. And this is the road we pledge to follow.

The other point that I would make is the most essential element of power of all. It is one that I would like to tell you your next President and the Vice President will provide. But he can only help, whoever he is. This is the power of our ideas.

I know that people often say to me, "Now, Mr. Nixon, as somebody who recognizes, and who has dealt with the Communist leaders through the years, how can you possibly put so much stress on moral and spiritual values and strengths? What good are they against the missiles, and the rockets that Mr. Khrushchev has? What good are they against the tremendous productivity which he claims he is going to have for his economy?" And my answer is this: The tyrants, through civilization, the materialists, and the militarists have always made a major error. They have underestimated the power of moral and spiritual strength. They have underestimated the power of ideas.

Pat and I saw it. We saw it in Poland a year ago. We have seen it in other countries around the world. But in Poland, particularly, we saw it. On a Sunday afternoon, when the Polish Government didn't even print the parade route with which we were going to ride in the city. They didn't want to have a big demonstration. It might have been embarrassing, with Khrushchev having been there 2 weeks before. But there were people there - because in a Communist country the word gets around by word of mouth. People, not a few, a quarter of a million on the streets of Warsaw, on that Sunday afternoon. Shouting, yes, as you are. Shouting, cheering, throwing hundreds of bouquets into our cars as they went down through the streets of Warsaw, jamming around and stopping them in the middle of the city. Shouting "Niech Zyje, America," long live, America. And as I looked into their faces, grown men, grown women crying with tears coming down their cheeks. Why? Not because America was strong militarily, as we are. Not because we're the richest country in the world, as we are. But because we stood for something else: Belief in the dignity of men. [Applause.] Belief that the rights that men have for freedom, the rights that nations have to independence, that these rights belong to all nations, and all peoples, that they cannot be taken away by man. These things, may I say to you, these are the things that count. [Applause.]

And this idealism, call it what you will, this moral and spiritual strength of America cannot come just from its leaders. It must come from the people. This is built where? It is built in the homes. It is built in the schools. It is built in the churches of this land of ours. And so I say to you, keep America strong in her idealism, with a burning faith in the rightness of our cause. Keep her strong, and see that the young people in this country appreciate the privilege of living in this country, a privilege which they are able to use by voting in election campaign. Because, if you do that, the American President will then not only have military strength, and economic strength, which the Communists have, but he will have moral and spiritual power which they do not have. And that will be decisive. That will be decisive. [Cheers and applause.]

My time is up. May I just say in conclusion. Again, that the decision on November 8th is too big to be made on the basis of party labels. Look beyond the labels. It is too big to he made on the basis of a personality. Look beyond that. It should be made on the basis of this Nation, what is best for America. And if you believe, my friends, if you believe that our team is the one that can provide the leadership that America needs; if you believe that this is the best leadership that this Nation can provide for this period, then I ask you to do something. I ask you to go out and not only vote for it, but work for it. I ask you to work for it, having in mind that you're objective is not just only working for a man, and it isn't just working for a party. Work, having in mind the fact that you will be working for what is best for America, for the ideals for which America has always stood.

If you do that, the decision America makes on November the 8th will be best for America, for you, and for the whole world.

Thank you, very much. [Cheers and applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Memorial Hall, Canton, OH Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project