Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Norristown, PA

October 22, 1960

Thank you very much.

Mr. Chairman, I think there has been a request that the signs be down so the people in the back can see on this side, if you don't mind.

Thank you

We want to thank you for this wonderful crowd on this Saturday afternoon, particularly in view of the fact we're late and we realize you must have been standing here for some time, and all that we can say is that, seeing this crowd, noting your enthusiasm this county, which has always given our Republican ticket a great majority, is going to roll up the biggest one in history this year, in 1960, and we're going to roll it up because we're. not only going to have Republicans, but Democrats and independents, who are going to vote for our ticket.

There are many issues, which, of course, I could talk about on an occasion like this. The problem is with people jammed in, with many things to do the balance of the day, with you having been here so long, to pick those things that are of greatest interest to you.

You may recall that we discussed some of those issues in a debate we had last night. I imagine some of you heard it. You also may recall that I said at the outset - and I repeat today - that, above everything else, the most important issue before the American people in this campaign is this: which of the two candidates for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency can provide the leadership that will keep the peace without surrender and extend freedom throughout the world?

Now, last night obviously I was talking primarily about my own views. Today, rather than speaking of my own experience at the outset, I want to say something about my running mate. He is a man who, in my opinion, has had more experience and certainly he is a man that I think could not have done a better job in fighting for the cause of peace and freedom in the U.N. in these past 7½ years, and he will make a great Vice President of the United States - and I refer to Henry Cabot Lodge.

Now, I want to tell you why that's important. Because this job of peace, of developing the instruments of peace, is a very big one today. It isn't a job for one man. It isn't a job for two, even, but certainly it's a job in which, if you have a team, a President and a Vice President, working to strengthen the instruments of peace, can do it more effectively than if you do not have such a team - and I pledge to you that Cabot Lodge and I will work in this cause. I pledge to you we will work effectively in it.

Of course, you might ask the question: "Why? How can you?" Well, I can say this about him, as well as about myself: we both have had some experience in dealing with the man on the picture there - Mr. Khrnshchev. We know him.

Now, my opponent has said some remarks in his speeches. He didn't say them when we were face to face, but he rather ridiculed, he said, the debates that Mr. Nixon had with Mr. Khrushchev. Just let me say this: Whoever is the President of this country is going to have to learn how to handle Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagnes, and do it without surrendering freedom or territory any place in the world. I can assure you that Cabot Lodge and I have that background. We know what peace demands. We will always go the extra mile to strengthen peace, the extra mile to work for disarmament, the extra mile to reduce tensions, but we will always remember that the man we are dealing with and his colleagues are ruthless, fanatical aggressors and that they do not follow the rules of the game that we would like them to follow, and that we must treat them the way they are, and this means that we must never make a concession without being sure that we're getting one in return, that we must never agree, for example, to disarmament unless we can be sure that they, too, are disarming.

Why is this necessary for peace? Because, as I said at my last stop, we've got to remember that as long as the United States maintains its present position of being stronger than anyone who threatens the peace of the world we can be the guardians of peace; but the moment that somebody or some nation that does not want peace - in other words, that would use war as an instrument of conquest - is stronger than we are, or thinks they are, then peace is no longer safe. So I say we will never do anything that will reduce American strength below the level that is necessary to maintain the peace that we have maintained in the last 7 years and that we can in the years ahead.

Now, may I turn to one other subject which I know is of great current interest. Peace is important. It's important because we can have all the other good things of life and they don't mean anything if we're not around to enjoy them; but, also, we want other things. We want a good life in this country, better schools and housing and jobs, a better life for our children than we had for ourselves. That's the American dream. America, no matter how good things are, never wants to stand still - and, as I said last night, America has not been standing still under President Eisenhower, and isn't going to be standing still But, my friends, America can move forward, and we need to move forward because again we're in a deadly competition with this man. Again we have to do the right thing by our children in improving the standards of education and housing. Again we've got to see that all Americans move forward together and that none are left behind. We've got to make progress, for example, in the field of human rights. We made a great deal. We've got to make more - not only beeause it's right, but also because America must be an example to all the nations of the world of freedom and equality of opportunity in action. This is what we must do, and this I am sure you know Cabot Lodge and I agree on. We don't have a split personality on this issue as do our opponents.

But let's get down to this whole business. People say: "Mr. Nixon, how can you say that your programs will produce more progress, schools and housing, and jobs, and so forth, than your opponent's when he says he's going to spend more money than you are?" And that's right. I'll concede that right now. He will spend about $10 billion more. But it isn't his money; it's ours that he's spending, and that's the reason the American people have to have - let me put it this way: You see, what we have to have in mind here is this: That it's very easy for a candidate for the Presidency to go around and say: "Look, you don't have to do anything. The Federal Government is going to handle all these problems. We're going to take billions of dollars. We're going to do this, that, and the other thing." But, you see, when you say that, you pay off those promises with the people's money, and that isn't right. I say the only time that you should ever expend money in Washington is when it can be spent better there than it can by the people themselves - and, believe me, that's what the American people want, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, throughout this country.

And, so, I say to you our programs will produce more progress, and I'll tell you why. They will because we know that the real way to progress in this country is not through turning everything over to the Government in Washington, but through the Government that encourages Americans, individual Americans, all over this great land of ours to make a contribution to the growth of this country.

Look, what built America? It wasn't government. We talk about frontiers. Let me tell you about the frontier a moment. After all, my parents went out to the frontier - first to Indiana, then to Ohio, then to California - my grandparents. What conquered the frontiers of America, these new frontiers? It wasn't government. It was a strong, pioneer, individual spirit, and today what is going to build Amenca is a strong, pioneer, individual spirit and not weakening individuals, but strengthening them. That's what we believe in, and that's what we believe America wants and what will move us forward in the years ahead.

The last point that I want to make is this: This election is important. You expect me to say that, "After all," you say, "it's important to that fellow. Sure. He's running." But it's important to you. It's important to these young people, and between now and November 8 I'm going to ask every one of you to work. Pat and I, of course, will be working 14, 16, 18 hours a day, but I ask you to work, and I'm going to tell you why you ought to work - not in our interest, but in yours.

You know, there was a time in the early history of this Republic when it didn't make too much difference to the average person as to what kind of Government we had, it was so far away and the Government had so little power, but today whoever is President will determine whether we have peace; whoever is President will determine whether we win the struggle for freedom; whoever is President will determine, in effect, whether your prices go up in that drugstore, whether your prices go up in that grocery store, whether your taxes go up in your tax bill - and if you vote for our opponents they will go up, because they are bound to, and if you vote for us that's the way to keep them down, because we don't believe in that kind of foolish policy - and that's what America wants.

And, so, I say to you: If you want the kind of Government that will keep America strong at home, that will have progress, but at the same time will not rob you of your savings, rob you of your social security, rob you of your insurance, if you also want the kind of leadership that will keep America strong and will wage peace unceasingly, but will wage it from a position of strength and firmness, then I say do something about it. Don't just vote, but do something. Go out and talk to your neighbors and friends. Talk not only to Republicans, but to Democrats and Independents. Remember the stakes are high for all Americans. And tell them this - tell everybody this: It isn't enough in this eleetion simply to vote as your father did or as your mother did or as the party label. What is important now is to vote for what is best for America - and if it's best for America we believe it will be best for you.

In that connection, may I finally say I am proud of my Republican colleagues running on this platform. I am proud of our candidates for Congress, of our candidate for the assembly. They are a fine group. Look at their qualifications. If you agree, as I do, that we are the men that America and Pennsylvania and this district need, then work it as you never did and, as I said at the outset, let's roll up the biggest majority this great Republican county has ever had in its history.

Thank you very much.

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