Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Port Erie Airport, Erie, PA

November 01, 1960

Thank you very much.

Congressman Kearns, this great crowd here at the airport in Erie, we thank you for making this one of the great rallies of the campaign here in Erie, Pa.

I want to say, first, that this is, for me, a special occasion from a personal standpoint, and I know you won't mind the personal reference in the last week of this campaign. Fourteen years ago Pat and I came to Washington as freshmen, and I met there a Congressman from this district, Carroll Kearns. For 14 years I have worked with him. We were both members of the Education and Labor Committee. You have been sending him back for seven terms. I just want to say this one thing about him: Among his friends and neighbors, and constituents here, the thing that always impresses you about Carroll is that he has such a deep affection for people. He's a man of great heart. Whether it was working on education, whether it was working in the field of health, whether it was working in the field of labor legislation, he was a fair man. But, above all, he was thinking of his people at home - and I am proud to be associated with him. I'm proud of the splendid work he did on the Labor-Management Act of 1959, which has been a fair act, protecting the interests of union members, as well as the interests of the general public.

So, with that, I am proud to be here, and I ask for the biggest majority Carroll Kearns has ever had in the district of Erie in this election campaign.

Now I realize that you folks up here in this country are pretty hardy, and when that breeze comes off Lake Erie, it doesn't bother you too much. But certainly the fact that some of you have come, the fact that you would be standing here, jammed in like this, indicates that you know here in Erie what a tremendous decision, a tremendously important decision, you will be making on November the 8th, just 1 week from today.

I realize that in this audience are members of my party. I realize there are members of the other party. I realize that there are people who have not yet made up their minds as to how to vote. And I want to ask you today, my friends, to do this: only 1 week remains before you make the most important decision of your life.

I ask you, as you listen to me talk, to think not in terms of your party. Think in terms of what we need for America, and that will be best for you and best for all the people of this country.

Because, my friends, what I stand for is bigger than my party. It's the cause of peace and freedom for the world. It's the cause of progress without war here at home. What I stand for, I believe, commands and will have the support not only of my Republican friends, but of millions of Democrats and independents who realize that what we stand for and not what my opponent stands for, is what America needs in this critical period.

Now let me put it directly in terms which all of us will understand and appreciate. First at home: Did you realize that when you cast your vote next Tuesday you're casting a vote for the prices you will pay for everything you buy; you're casting a vote for the taxes you'll pay, whether you want them increased or whether you want them held in check; you're casting a vote for the foreign policy of this country, whether you want to continue the kind of leadership that got America out of one war and has kept it out of others, and has given us peace without surrender today, or whether you want to turn this country over to untried, inexperienced, impulsive, rash leadership, such as our opponent offers.

Now let me be specific. Let's take prices. I know something about prices. Let me put it in terms I understand. I grew up in a grocery store. I remember how the housewives used to come in, how they would shop for the bargains - and they had to, because when they could get hamburger rather than the beef roast they would have preferred, it might have made the difference in balancing the budget that week.

I remember how the thrifty housewives had to make those decisions every day, and I know the prices you pay for your groceries can make or break the family budget of millions of Americans, including thousands right here in this audience today.

Now what has this got to do with electing a President of the United States? Simply this: my opponent offers a farm program, which is the most radical farm program from the standpoint of the farmers and from the standpoint of the consumers ever offered to the American people. It's even more radical than anything Harry Truman ever thought of - and, believe me, that's going some, if you know what I mean.

Now what will that farm program do? As far as the farmers are concerned, it will put a million of them out of business by cutting acreage. It will put 50,000 new Federal police inspectors on the farms of this country to see that the farmer grows what he's told, sells it at the amount he's told, does nothing unless he's told to do it by the Government. But you know what it does to you? It harms the farmer, because the farmer will find that he grows less, even though he will get more for that less. But as far as the people are concerned, let me tell you what it does. It will raise the price of every quart of milk by 4 cents. It will raise the price of every dozen of eggs by 28 cents. It will raise the price of every pound of butter by 25 cents.

I could go on and on and on. And you say, "Well, Mr. Nixon, it couldn't." Listen, I am a candidate for President. I have studied this thing through. These are not my figures. They are the figures of the career employees of the Department of Agriculture, not the political appointees. They have studied this plan and they say the Kennedy farm plan, if it goes into effect, will raise the prices in the grocery store of everything you buy by 25 percent - and I say: do you want that? Can you afford it?

Well, I'll tell you, you're not going to get it, because he's not going to win. We're going to win on November the 8th.

Now let me go further. I've been talking about prices in the grocery store. There are also other kinds of prices you will be voting for with your vote on November the 8th.

My friends, you know, people sometimes come to me and they say, "Mr. Nixon, why is it that you don't outpromise your opponent? Why is it that you don't do what he does? He goes all around the country and promises this and that, and says, 'I'll spend so many billions for this and so many billions for that.' After all, if that's what the people want, maybe that's the way to get elected"

You know why I don't do it? Because I know it's wrong. You know why I don't do it? Because I know that when I make a promise, I'm not going to pay for it, but you're going to pay for it. And that's true of his promises, too. It's your money that's going to be paying for those promises.

Let me put it right down in terms again that I understand and that you understand, and, believe me, I have a feeling for these problems, because I've been through them. I've grown up with them. I know my mother and my father, how they had to save and put five boys through school and to pay for all the illnesses we had, because we had many when we were growing up, particularly my older brother. And I know that under the circumstances, it is the duty of the President of the United States to do everything that he can, to spend in Washington those things that are necessary to move us forward, but not to spend a dollar that the people can better spend at home.

So, what do we find? My opponent has programs that would cost you - now, listen to this - $15 billion a year more each year. You know how much money that is? That's almost the entire gold reserve of the United States.

Let's put it in terms we can better understand. You know what that means? That means higher taxes, higher prices for all the American people; one or the other - or both.

"Now, just a minute," some of you say. "Didn't I read in the paper where Senator Kennedy said a couple of days ago that he was against highertaxes?"

Yes, you read that.

"Didn't I read in the paper a couple of days ago where he said that he was for a balanced budget?"

Yes; you read that. But, my friends let's get it down in simple economics. You can't be for programs that would add $15 billion to our budget and also be for keeping the budget balanced in Washington without raising taxes.

In other words, you can't be against raising taxes, for a balanced budget, and for spending $15 billion a year, all at the same time; and anybody who says you can do all those things shows a lack of understanding of economics so low that he is disqualified from being President of the United States in my opinion.

Let me put it this way. You know, I suppose for Senator Kennedy this is not a difficult problem. He's never had to worry about where the money was going to come from. But I know money doesn't grow on trees, and he should know it, too. And I say to him today, and I challenge him: tell the American people what taxes he is going to raise, what prices are going to be raised, or tell them what part of his program and his promises he's going to give up, because, my friends, this pie in the sky has got to be paid for.

Now, what is our alternative? I'll tell you what it is. We offer the greatest program of progress ever offered in an American campaign. And it's the greatest because we can keep our promises, keep them without raising. prices, without raising taxes, keep, them with all Americans movng forward together, with none being left behind.

Let me give you some examples. There has been a lot of talk about depressed areas, and I am glad to have an opportunity to lay to rest and lay out cold here today some disgraceful charges which have been made with regard to our program.

Do you know what happened? Five different times the President has tried to get the Democratic Congress to pass a bill that would deal with these problems. Five different times they have acted, but when they have acted, they have acted irresponsibly. And you say, "prove it." You know, they've been talking about the bill the President vetoed. I'll tell you why he vetoed it - because it wouldn't have helped Erie. I'll tell you why. The bill the President wants would have provided twice as much money for Erie, a real depressed area, and the other depressed areas we are speaking of, than the bills the Democrats, the Democratic Congress and Senator Kennedy, have suggested.

Let me go on to one other subject. I have been speaking of domestic problems. There's another one. It is more important than all the rest.

Carroll, you remember when I was here in 1952. You were just remarking about it. Do you remember the situation then? Let's think back a moment. A war in Korea - 160,000 casualties. You remember the situation then. Now, they've been talking about the foreign policy of this administration. And they say it's been a policy of defeat and retreat.

My friends, if they're talking about a policy of defeat and retreat, the only thing wrong is that Senator Kennedy is talking about the wrong administration. He meant Truman, not Eisenhower.

You remember what happened? Six hundred million people lost to communism in the Truman years.

You remember what happened. A war in Korea brought about by a foolish, naive lack of understanding of dictators, of communism, inviting the very attack which came. And may I say that we're not going to go back to that kind of policy. We're going to go forward with the kind of leadership that President Eisenhower has given - firmness, strength, and never surrendering freedom any place in the world at the point of a gun. And I say to you, my friends, that is the road to peace.

You know, it's so easy for somebody to get up and say, "Oh, Mr. Nixon, why don't we give this away to the Communists? Why don't we give them this, because we don't want a war?"

My friends, we learned in dealing with Hitler; we've learned in dealing with Stalin. We're learning now in dealing with Khrushchev, with Mao Tse-tung, that when you deal with a dictator the way to war is paved with that kind of wishful, woolly thinking, with the kind of thinking which surrenders territory to them. Why? Because they don't want just a couple of islands. They don't want just Korea or Formosa. They want the world. And, wanting the world, every time you turn something over, it whets their appetite and they would demand more - and Americans will die for that kind of policy.

Cabot Lodge and I, I can assure you, know the Communists. We know Mr. Khrushchev. We would never make the mistake that was made in Korea. We will keep America strong, and we will keep the peace without surrender, and that's what we ask for in this campaign - the opportunity to do exactly that.

My final point: What is your choice, then, in the field of foreign policy ?

You know us. You know the experience we have, and you also have an idea what our opponent would do. He disagreed with the President on the Formosa Straits. He disagreed with the President on the summit conference, saying he could have apologized or expressed regrets to Khrushchev. You know what Khrushchev would have done had the President or Senator Kennedy done that? If Senator Kennedy had been President and had gone up and apologized for those flights, he would have run over him like a steam roller. I know this man. He's tough. He's resourceful. He is ruthless, and the last thing you must do is to make a concession without getting one in return. That's the way to peace with him - peace through strength, peace through firmness, not through the kind of woolly, wishful thinking that Senator Kennedy has indicated.

And then the Cuban situation. Do you recall that, where he advocated a policy which all the papers in the country, including those which endorsed him, said amounted to intervention in Cuba? What would that have meant? A civil war there. What would that have meant? Inviting the Communists in - and all of this, of course, in violation of treaties we have.

Of course, I realize there are those who say: "Just a minute. Didn't he take back all those things?" That's right. He's tried to. But, you know, when you're President, you don't have the chance to take it back. When you're a candidate, you can make a statement and change it tomorrow. But when you're President and you make a decision, it's done. It's for keeps.

My friends, can we afford to use the White House as a training school for a man who wants to learn how to be President at the expense of the United States of America?

Well, there is your choice. I do not suggest, as I conclude, that all of the problems of this world are going to be easy if we're elected, but I do say this: We know these problems. We have dealt with them, and we pledge to you that America will move forward at home, as she has never moved before. We pledge to you that America will move forward abroad without war, extending freedom, extending it to the people behind the Iron Curtain, giving hope to the people in Poland and all the slave countries. And we, above everything else, pledge to you, if you will give us a chance, that we will try to be worthy of America.

On that count, just let me state my view about America. . We've been hearing a lot of things wrong about this country - our science is second-rate; our education is second-rate; we have the worst slums; we have the most crowded people; our people lack a sense of purpose; we're only interested in tailfins and deodorants and the materialistic things.

Listen, I have seen the people of America. My campaign will have been the most intensive in history. I will have visited every one of the 50 States by the end of this week, and I've looked into the faces of thousands of people like this all over America. I have seen the churches of America, the schools of America, the homes of America. And, my friends, we're a great, people - a great people because we believe in the right things, not because we're rich, not because we're strong, but because we stand for peace and don't want anything from anybody else except independence for them and for us; because we believe in God, because we have faith in the rights of men and belief that those rights belong to all people.

We're a great people, and I only hope that we, Cabot Lodge and I, can be worthy of the great American people in these years ahead.

Thank you.

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

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