Richard Nixon photo

Remarks by the Vice President, Plainfield, NJ

October 04, 1960

Senator Case, Congressman Frelinghuysen; I don't know what other Congressmen are here at this time.

Flo Dwyer, are you here?


I want to tell you first how deeply appreciative Pat and I are that you have stood here so long waiting for us. We've had a little difficulty in Union County getting through because there have been tremendous crowds all the way along and we've been stopped several times. So, I'm sure you will agree that if we were stopped that much and if we're that late it's for a good cause.

Also behind me on this bandwagon are, I understand, a great number of people who can't see, but who can hear, and I want them to know as soon as we finish here we'll walk around on the other side and see them. You can hear them.

I also want to thank the chairman for arranging this wonderful tour, all those who have put on the meeting, and my friend, Jackie Robinson, for keeping people entertained until we got here.

You know, I was just thinking if that series coming up, the Yankees and the Pirates - it's predicted to be a close one - Jackie, I wonder if you couldn't help out one of those teams. What do you think? He said not with his weight.

Well, in any event, I do want to say just a word to you while we are here with regard to the great issues we are confronted with in this campaign.

I know that all of you appreciate the fact that a candidate has a tremendous problem in trying to think of those things that will be of greatest interest to a group like this because he has very little time to say it, and I have thought, as I have driven along here today and thinking of this crowd, that there were about three points that I would want you to remember particularly. The first one is this: What should be your test in determining who to vote for for President?

Now, a couple of days ago in Minnesota Senator Kennedy said that the test should be the party. It would be very easy for me in this predominantly Republican area to say: "All of you folks who are Republicans should vote Republican because I am a Republican," as I am, but I'm going to tell you why I don't say that. I happen to think that when we elect a President of the United States, particularly in these times when the President of the United States must not only lead America, but the whole free world, that it isn't enough simply to vote on the basis of a party label. I think that what should come first is not the party but America, and I ask you to vote for America first because of that.

Now, my second point is this: If you're going to vote for America, what are those things America needs?

And that gets down to you. What do you want?

Well, again, there are a number of issues that we are all interested in. As I see all these young people around, you have the same feeling with regard to your children that we have with regard to ours. We want America always to move forward, and we don't want anybody left behind.

We want all of our people to have an opportunity in this country for education, for good jobs, for housing, for health, all the

things that spell progress, all the things that make America today as she is - and never forget this - the strongest and the best country in the world - and we're going to keep her that way in the years ahead.

But, you know, after you consider all these things, we must also remember that the best jobs, the best medical care, the finest social security in the world, all these things we want, aren't going to be worth anything unless we're around to enjoy them.

So, therefore, the first test that you must apply to the candidates for the Presidency of the United States is this one, a very stern one: It's which of the two candidates is better qualified, by experience, by judgment, by background, by program, to keep the peace without surrender for America and the world and to extend freedom throughout the world.

Now, talking to that point for a moment, naturally, you have to assume I'm a little prejudiced on that point, but I want to point out that my colleague, Cabot Lodge and I, begin with a record, and you must hold us accountable for that record. For 7½ years we have been part of the Eisenhower administration. We have sat in the Cabinet, in the Security Council. We have participated in the discussions leading to the great decisions on Lebanon, Quemoy, and Matsu, and others with which you are familiar.

Now, you've heard a lot of criticisms of that record, but I want to say one thing about it today that all of the criticism in the world cannot obscure, and that is: The American people will be eternally grateful to Dwight Eisenhower and his leadership because it got this Nation out of a war it was in; it's kept us out of other wars; and we do have peace without surrender today.

Now, I could just stand on that record. I could say that's good enough. We're part of it. So, elect the men who made it and helped to make it.

But, my friends, it isn't enough to stand still today. We're in a competition. We're in a war for survival with men who are

ruthless, men who are fanatical, men who are unprincipled, who follow no rules of the game, and in order for America not only to keep her own freedom, but to extend freedom, in order for us to keep the peace not only for ourselves, but for others as well, in order for America to stay ahead in this race for survival, we've got to move ahead. This means - and this we pledge you - that we've got to keep ourselves stronger militarily than any potential enemy of peace, and we must ask the American people to pay whatever price is necessary to do that, and we will. It means that this country must move forward economically; move forward, as I have indicated before, with all Americans moving together, and in that connection let me spell it out just a bit.

We're a very rich country, twice as productive as the Soviet Union. We have the best system in the world. But, in order to maintain the advantage that we have we've got to remember that we must move ahead.

I remember when I was talking to Mr. Khrushchev in Moscow, he said, "Mr. Vice President, I know you're ahead of us now, economically, but," he said, "you're not going to stay ahead." he said, "We're moving faster than you are and we're going to catch you and," he said, "when we catch you about 7 years from now I'm going to wave and say, 'come along follow us; do as we do or you're going to fall hopelessly behind.'"'' He believes that. Now, he's wrong. He's wrong because his system is wrong. He's wrong also for a more fundamental reason: Because he underestimates the will and the determination of 180 million free Americans to make our system work and to make it the most productive in the world.

And let me say this: In moving ahead, it gives me an opportunity to say a word about my friend Jackie Robinson. You know, we often hear of this issue of civil rights discussed in terms of what we are doing for those who happen to be Negro Americans. In effect, we are doing this for them, somewhat as if it were a favor. Let's remember something. As we make American ideals live, we're doing it for America. As we make the moral and spiritual fiber of this country stronger, we're strengthening America. We need all Americans working together. We can't afford to waste the talents of any young prospective scientist or engineer or lawyer or leader. We've got to see that everybody has a chance in this country. The world's series starts tomorrow, and I think the best way to state it is this: We all aren't going to be able to hit home runs, but everybody in this country is entitled to his chance at bat. I stand for that, and I'm proud to have the opportunity to say it here after being introduced by a man who has proved that at bat on the baseball field, writing for newspapers, and as an American citizen that he's one of the great Americans of our time - Jackie Robinson.

And, so, we will move America forward. We will keep her strong militarily. We will be firm diplomatically. Why is that important? Because again we're dealing with men who are ruthless and tough, men who don't react like the leaders of the free world. I know Chancellor Adenauer, Mr. Nehru, Mr. De Gaulle, if you were dealing with them, the rules would be different. Your conduct would be different. But when you're concerned with a man like Mr. Khrushchev you must remember that here's a man fanatically dedicated to conquering the world, who will break every rule and, therefore, we have to have people who know him who will be just as firm and as tough as he is who will always be willing to go an extra mile to negotiate, but who will never make a concession without getting one in return, and that's what we will do. This will keep the peace without surrender.

And now the last point that I would make is this: We want progress for all of you here. I know that, as we consider the terms of progress, that many of you would say, "Well, when is he going to start making the promises?"

"I promise to do this and that and the other thing. The Federal Government is going to solve this problem, that problem, and others."

And I want to tell you something: I'm apparently an unusual candidate in that respect. I don't believe that the American

people expect a candidate who tries, in effect, to buy their votes with their own money. And let me put it this way: I have a program for schools, for housing, for medical care, for breakthroughs in science that will produce, in my opinion, the greatest progress we've ever seen. I think they will produce more progress than my opponent's in every one of those fields. I think they will produce a better life than his will. But there's one difference between mine and his, a very grave one, in addition to the one I have just mentioned. His would cost a lot more. They would cost approximately $10 billion more. But my point is, it isn't Jack's money he's spending to keep those promises, but yours, and I say you're entitled to it. And I say the best government is the government that has us doing everything we should do in Washington, and spending every dollar that we should for America's security, but which remembers that the source of our progress is not what government does primarily, but what government gets 180 million free Americans to do, remembers that every dollar we spend comes from you, and, so, I say: I recognize this, and until we have proof that it's needed, and unless we do, we are going to remember that a dollar on that Federal budget is one that comes from the family budget, and as you shop in these stores every housewife here knows exactly what I'm talking about.

And so I say to you: I do promise that in these years ahead we will have the greatest progress America has had, but we're going to have it by what Americans all do, and not by turning over everything to Washington.

I do say we do have the experience, I think, and the background to keep the peace without surrender. But it requires on your part keeping America strong in her ideals. And all that I can say in conclusion is that as you look out over a great crowd like this, as you realize the time and the energy that it took all of you to come, I can only say it makes me and it makes Pat very humble in our responsibility.

We have seen the world due to the fact you gave us the opportunity to serve as Vice President. We've been to 55 countries, and all you have to do to appreciate this country is to go abroad. It's a great country. We believe in it. We have faith in its ideals. But, most of all, we want to see that those ideals are shared with all the world and if I make one pledge to you it is this: We will stand for what is best for America, not only here, but abroad. We will stand for peace without surrender. We will stand for extending freedom and, above all, as we travel throughout this country, we will remember this crowd on this beautiful day in this city ,this crowd of people who are putting their trust in us, and we pledge to you that we won't let you down.

Thank you very much.

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