Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Municipal-Baldwin Airport, Quincy, IL

October 28, 1960

Thank you very much.

My friend, Governor Stratton, Senator Schloginhoff, Congresswoman Simpson, all of the distinguished guests on the platform, and our friends here in Quincy - incidentally, I understand you must have come from all over the country to be here in this tremendous crowd, and we thank you for making it such a success. [Cheers and applause.]

I can still see people coming from over there, and I only regret that the situation was such that we couldn't have gone into the city and had our meeting there, but in order to make all the stops we want, we had to come here and you came to the airport - and, believe me, that means a lot. As a matter of fact, as we were circling up above, we could see how far away the cars were parked, and I can tell you there's nothing that gives us more inspiration, both Pat and myself, than to come to an airport and see people who have parked blocks and blocks away and take the time to walk down to an airport and stand all jammed in like this just to hear somebody talk about some of the affairs of the country. This proves this country's in pretty good shape when this many people care about it and come out to see it. [Cheers and applause.]

I want to say, too, that I'm always proud to appear with our fellow candidates on the platform here, and I can echo completely what has been said about Bill Stratton. I've been in some States. I just came from one, Michigan, where the State government has been so bad that they're going to elect a Republican Governor so they can get business coming back in the State up there. [Cheers and applause.]

And Illinois can be thankful you've had government that is so bad that all you have to do is to reelect the one you presently have - Bill Stratton. [Cheers and applause.]

Also, I want to say that I share the sentiments about Sam Witwer. We are old friends, and he will make a splendid Senator for us in Washington, D.C., to work with our minority leader, Everett Dirksen, who's also from Illinois - a great team from Illinois and I recommend it highly to you here in Quincy. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, I have one matter of a personal nature which I want to mention. I suppose one of my closest friends and advisers, when I came to Congress in 1947, a man who, from the standpoint of wisdom politically, had no peer in Congress, was a Congressman from this district, Sid Simpson, and I know the opportunity to be here on the platform with his widow, Edna, who served so splendidly after he passed away, is one I've been looking forward to, and I just want to pay him a tribute and her a tribute, and let's all thank them for the wonderful service they have given. [Cheers and applause.]

And I can only add that you can show your appreciation by electing Paul Findley to the Congress to continue in that wonderful tradition that this district has had in representation in the House of Representatives. [Cheers and applause.]

One of the problems a man running for the Presidency of the United States has when he sees a wonderful audience like this, knowing how long you have been waiting, knowing how much trouble it too you to get here, is to determine what he can talk about. You have just a little time, so much to say, and today as I have been traveling by train through southern Illinois and have seen these great crowds at the railroad stations, as we see this crowd today here at Quincy, I realize what a tremendous responsibility that the President of the United States has, what great responsibility he bears, because it is on his shoulders that rests the future of this country and the responsibility for the lives, really, of our people.

There was a time when we could elect a President and these things went on in Washington. Oh, they could affect us to an extent. Our taxes might change some, and we recognize that this policy or that one could have some effect out here in Illinois. The time now, of course, has come when the President of the United States makes decisions every day, decisions that affect every home in America.

I want you to know that there isn't a decision you're going to make this year on November 8 that is more important than that one. No decision is going to be more important than that one, because you're going to decide what your taxes are going to be. You're going to decide what the prices are going to be in the stores of the things you buy. You're going to decide what kind of jobs you're going to have. You're going to decide whether you're going to have jobs in which all your earnings are eaten up by inflation or whether as they continue to go up in this field you can keep them. All of you who are trying to save your money from pensions, from social security and life insurance, trying to plan for the future - you're going to find out - you're going to be able to decide - whether you're going to be able to have a future or whether you're going to see your savings melt away - not because of any fault of yours, but because irresponsible people down in Washington didn't take care of the fiscal affairs of this country and allowed the dollar to go down.

You're going to decide also the future of young Americans, these little tots down here dressed in their Halloween costumes, also older ones, because if war comes, it's going to come to all of America this time, and w e must not have it come.

So, I want to say to you today that I realize what these problems are. As far as the problems of the American family are concerned, I know them because I have lived through them. I recall when I was growing up how difficult it was for my mother and father to raise five boys on the income from, first a little citrus ranch, and later a country store, put us through school, get enough at the end of the month to take care of our shoes and our clothing, have a little left over for life insurance, not very much, and also I remember how difficult it was when we had much illness in my younger years and how difficult it was to pay those bills. All these things I know, and, consequently, I can assure you, as I think of these things today, that I realize that the major responsibility of the next President is never to forget the problems of the average family, to remember that they are the ones to whom he owes his duty, not to some boss who says he is running this organization or that one, not to this fellow who says he commands this many votes, or that one, and can deliver this or that, but to millions of Americans like yourselves, to farmers, to workers, to small business people, the teachers, to retired people. These are the people that I will always have in my heart, always in my mind, in the years ahead.

Now, what can we do? Well, first, one thing that occurred to me is this: What is your choice? Let's consider, for example, this whole matter of what we spend in Washington. It would be mighty easy for me to come to a crowd like this and say, "Got a problem? Tell me what it is." Tell me the problem, and I'd say, "I'll take care of it. I'll spend so many billion dollars in Washington, D.C. You don't have to worry any more. I will take care of it."

It's very easy to go around to every district and say, "You got a problem? Come over here. I'm going to take care of it; spend some money down in Washington."

Some people have come to me and said, "Mr. Nixon, why are you not outpromising your opponent, as far as promising the amount of money you're going to spend? After all, don't you want to get elected?"

I want to get elected, but also I realize that when I make a promise, I'm not going to pay it off with my money, but with yours, and it's not going to be Jack's money, either, if he's elected. It's going to be yours. [Cheers and applause.]

Therefore, I say that it is my responsibility to see to it that this Government in Washington spends every dollar that it should for defense, for education, for health, for all these things that we want to produce progress and a better life, but also it's my responsibility to stand up against the special-interest group, the pressure groups and all the rest that would mean in the end that we would be robbing widows, for example, of their pensions, that we would be making it more difficult for the average person to meet his bills at the end of the month.

All these things I know, and I want to tell you that I will never forget, because I've been through it, that a primary responsibility of a President of the United States is to recognize, in a sense, that he's the head of a very great family.

I told a little story down the way. I remember when I was growing up at one point my older brother, who was kind of the favorite in the family - he died when I was young, but my older brother one year wanted a pony very, very much. It wasn't very expensive, actually. As I recall it only cost - not expensive by today's terms - $75 to $100 - something like that. He wanted it more than anything in the world, and it was very difficult for my mother and father to tell him he couldn't have it. It would have been very easy for them to say, "Yes; you can have it," to have given him what he wanted, but they had a little family council, and I remember what they said. They said, "You know, we could get this pony, but if we do, then we're not going to have enough money to buy the groceries, take care of all the other things we have to for the other boys, to get the shoes that my other brothers needed, and so on down the line."

So, there is the responsibility of the head of the family. Sometimes you have to tell people things - they can't have this or that or the other thing - because you've got to think of the whole family, and that's the responsibility of the President of the United States. It's easier to promise and then to pay off these promises with your money, but the right thing to do is for a President to remember that he's President of all the people, and of all of the American family, and to stand up for them against any special groups, whoever they may be, throughout this country. [Cheers and applause.]

So, I say: Yes, my opponent will spend more money, about $15 billion a year more, and, yes,, if he's elected it will mean that your prices will go up and your pensions are going to be worth far less.

It will mean also that you're going to find taxes going up, because, my friends, looking at their platform and their promises, they cannot pay it off without taking it out of the hides of the American people, and right out of your budgets, and I know you can't stand it, and for that reason I say, yes, let's have progress, and let's have it without inflation. Let's have prosperity, but let's have it without war. And that's the second point that I want to make today. [Cheers and applause.]

We've heard a lot of chatter recently about everything that's been wrong; about what's going on in the last 7½ years. America's been standing still, they say. Well, if America has been standing still, incidentally, whoever says that hasn't been looking around America, because I've been to 47 States, and there's been tremendous progress in this country. [Cheers and applause.]

And then, of course, we hear a lot of talk to the effect that we need to get going again. Well, let me say this: If we want to move forward, the way to move forward is not to go and get an old jalopy that we left behind in 1953 that was no good then and is no better now even though it's got a new paint job. [Cheers and applause.]

Because, you see, that's all my opponent offers. He says, "Let me go in and I'll take you back to the policies of good old Harry." We had enough of good old Harry then, and we don't want any more of him now. [Cheers and applause.]

"High-tax Harry - we want to go back to him. High-price Harry" - Oh, yes, we could go back to that. My friends, just let me ask you this: All of you who are wage earners - and that's about all of us - 68 million - remember what happened to wages in the 7 years of Harry Truman. They went up, but do you remember what happened to prices? They went up 50 percent, so that at the end of 7 years you didn't have a thing left that you didn't have before. What happened to your pensions? The folks who didn't get any raise in wages? Those are the people who suffer. And I say the cruelest thing that could happen was that kind of leadership.

And what else happened? Look at our foreign policy. They've been criticizing President Eisenhower for his foreign policy. Well, let me say they're the last ones who should criticize. Look at what the situation was when we took over. They had a war in Korea, a war which cost us 35,000 lives, a war which we had to go into, and the decision to go in was right at the time, but a war which was brought on by foolish policies in the State Department - and let me say this: We had enough of that kind of foolish thinking then, and we don't want any part of it now. We like the fact that President Eisenhower got us out of one war, has kept us out of others, and Cabot Lodge and I believe we can continue that kind of leadership in the years ahead for America. [Cheers and applause.]

I don't tell you that it's easy. I'd like to say: Elect us. You will have no more problems in the world. Mr. Khrushchev will quit acting up. He won't be taking his shoes off and banging them on the table at the United Nations. He won't be shaking his fist in my face, as he was when I was in Moscow, insulting the United States.

But he's going to go on just as he is. He's going to go on. The Communists are still going to want the world. But, my friends, we can have peace - we can have it without surrender - if we keep our strength and keep our nerve and keep our faith in ourselves.

Let me just say one last thing in that respect. I am tired of people running down the United States of America. I'm tired of people saying--- [Cheers and applause.]

I am tired of this talk that America has a second-rate education, second at least to the Soviet Union, that we're second in science and second in space. If these things were true, that would be one thing; but they're not true. They're not true, and they are never going to be true, unless, I might say, we begin to get a second-rate psychology.

I am tired of reading in the papers, as I did the other day, just yesterday - you saw it "Senator Kennedy Predicts Recession". My friends, in that same paper, a Detroit paper, there was another headline: "Auto Sales at an Alltime High". What does that mean? Well, it means that the American people are not predicting a recession or they wouldn't be buying cars at an alltime high.

And I say the American people may not have as many dollars as Mr. Kennedy, but they've got a lot more sense then he has as far as the future of this country is concerned, because - you're right - you're not going to have a recession. [Cheers and applause.]

We're moving up. We're going to continue moving up. More Americans are earning more, saving more, spending more, investing more than at any time in our history, and we're going to move further from here if we continue to have faith in America and quit running her down - and that's what we're going to do if you give us that opportunity.

My last point is this: I suppose when you see me up here talking - I've got a little cold, as you noticed; that's why I'm wearing this overcoat, not just because I'm from California - you say, "Well, that fellow - he obviously is going to tell us this is a mighty important election," and I have told you that, and some of you might well think: "Well, he would think that. After all, it's important to him." It is important, of course, to the individuals running, to all of us on this stage, but what happens to me, what happens to Senator Kennedy, is not what really is going to be important. What happens to America, to the cause of freedom, to the cause of peace, is vitally important.

My friends, you get a sense of history when you travel, as Pat and I have, around the world. You get a sense almost of destiny when you see what I have seen - the great flash of ideas going on in the heart of Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. You get a sense that there comes a time in the history of men when great decisions have to be made, and they must be made right.

I have such a sense today. I feel that it is vital that America in this period lead the free world, lead it wisely, lead it courageously, and lead it in the paths of freedom and the paths of peace and the paths of justice.

I am convinced that the people of the world on both sides of the Iron Curtain want peace, want freedom, and they want justice. I am convinced, too, that if America is true to its ideals the American President in the next 4 years can make a great contribution, with our people, toward that end - and it is for that reason that I ask for your support today. I do not say that Cabot Lodge and I have all the answers. I do say we've been through the fire. We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We both participated in these decisions, and we both pledge to you that, with your support, we will try to be worthy of the greatest country, the greatest people, that has ever lived on the face of the earth, the American people.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Municipal-Baldwin Airport, Quincy, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project