Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Rear Train Platform, Athens, OH

October 25, 1960

I have a special reason that I have been looking forward to this meeting other than the ones I have mentioned. It happens that this is the home congressional district of my father. He was born, as some of you have probably heard, in the State of Ohio, not in Athens, but over in Vinton County, on a farm, apparently not a very rich farm, because he left it quite early, his mother having died, and he went on to Columbus, Ohio, worked there on the street railway, went on to California, and met my mother, and that's how I got here, finally back to Vinton County, but I want to say insofar as this particular area is concerned, I remember all the years I was growing up, hearing the names like Athens, Chillicothe, and MacArthur, all of those that are perhaps well known to you here in this area, and I want to say, coming here, therefore, has a special personal meaning to me, and for that reason, in talking to you, I would like to talk to you not in terms simply of the issues which sometimes seem so far away from us, but rather in terms of our Government in Washington, in what it means to every person individually.

The first thing I would like to mention is that I recall my father in the years we were growing up - there were five boys in the family - he never used that phrase that sometimes you may hear: "Boy, I remember the good old days." He used to say, "Well, now, I remember those good old days, too and," he said, "things are a lot better now than they were then. He also never said, "Look, we're going to be well satisfied with things the way they are. Good as they are," he said, "what we want is a better life for our children than we have for ourselves."

This is true of all of us. We want to see this country move forward. We want to see it move forward, because this country will never grow old. This country has always been filled with a great spirit, a spirit of conquering new frontiers, a spirit in which we are always moving into the future, never satisfied with either the past or the present.

Now in this connection, I've been very interested to note a few Kennedy signs here, and I'm always glad to have them, because it gives us a few people to convert. So, we're glad they came here.

Now the question is, and I particularly speak to those here from the university: How do you move into these new frontiers? How do you cross the frontiers? And I want to tell you: One thing you have to bear in mind, if you're going to cross a new frontier, you can't do it in an old broken-down jalopy that we abandoned in 1953, when we left Mr. Truman behind.

And all that our opponent offers in this campaign: "Go back; to the rear march; to the rear march to the policies we left in 1953." That's all they offer us. Whether it's monetary policy, whether it's government spending, whether it's government controls, whether it's school policy, whatever it is, we think we should go back to those policies. Well, my friends let me tell you this: America had ground to a standstill in 1953. We had found in that period, if you will recall - and I ask every housewife here to remember. Do you remember it? Wages went up in the 7 Truman years, but do you remember you didn't have any more at the end of the month, because prices went up 50 percent? Do you remember that? Ate it all up.

All right. We stopped that kind of business, so that in the Eisenhower years wages have gone up and we have held prices in line. And we want to continue that kind of leadership.

My friends, there is one choice you have to make in this campaign as far as that issue is concerned. Just remember this: My opponent says he's going to spend more, and that's right. But it isn't his money; it's your money he's going to spend.

And I'll tell you why his spending isn't going to bring the progress. Because the way to progress in this country, the way to cross frontiers, is not through simply building a huge government bureaucracy in Washington. Look, how did we cross the frontiers in the past? By strengthening individuals. By recognizing and having faith in individual enterprise, and that's what we do, and that's what he would not do, and that 5 why we will progress and that's why he won't - and the American people know it.

And if I could just say a word about spending. Remember this: I know many times many people say, "Mr. Nixon, why should we bother coming out to a meeting, all just jampacked in like this? Why should we bother working in a campaign like this in these last 2 weeks?"

I'll tell you why. As you vote on November the 8th, you will be affecting the prices of everything you buy in the store; you will be affecting the taxes you will pay in the years to come; you will be affecting the future of your children, your grandchildren, as far as peace is concerned, as far as prices and taxes are concerned. Our opponent's policies cannot be put into effect, and I know that, and he knows it, without raising taxes or prices or both; either that or he's got to abandon his platform.

I say America can move forward without taking from the people more in prices and taxes than we are taking at the present time, and I think that's what you want, and that's the choice that we give you in this campaign.

Now let us turn to the other point I want to make. What about the future? What about the future insofar as keeping peace in the world is concerned?

I see a sign back there, and I want to talk about it just a moment. It says: "Push disarming programs. Halt the arms race."

Let me tell you about disarmament. When people say, "I'm for disarmament," and when some people write to me and say "Why, when Mr. Khrushchev comes over and says he's for total disarmament - why do we have to insist on inspection? Why," they say, "couldn't we just do it? Wouldn't that be real leadership in the world? Wouldn't that be bold and imaginative?"

Yes, it would; but do you know what would happen? The moment the United States ever enters into an agreement for disarmament, which would result in increasing his strength as against ours, we don't help the cause of peace. We hurt it, because - why is America the guardian of peace today? Because we're the strongest nation in the world, and the difference is: We don't want to use our strength for anything except to keep the peace. We don't want anything from anybody else, but remember this: The moment the men in the Kremlin ever have more strength than we have, the moment we ever enter into a disarmament agreement, which would not have ironclad inspection, in which they would gain strength against us, we find that the enemies of peace then, the men in the Kremlin, are in a position where they can do what they want, and that is: They would use their strength to start war. They would use it because their aim is to conquer the world.

So, my friends, let me say this: We will work for disarmament, yes. We will work to stop tests and get an agreement, yes; but we will never agree to anything unless we are sure they are going to keep the bargain because that's how America has got into trouble in the past, and we are not going to make that mistake in the future. And I think all of you want us to do that.

Let me give you one other example. What about this whole problem of how you keep the peace in the world. What about this whole problem of what kind of leadership will do it? And here again people say, "Mr. Nixon, why is it that the President was so rigid when we were defending the islands of Quemoy and Matsu? Why was it that in 1955 - why didn't he go along with Senator Kennedy and the other 11 Senators who opposed his policy and said, 'What we ought to do is to cut off these islands'?"

I'll tell you why. Again because the President knew history. He knew that when you're dealing with a dictator the moment you make a concession to him that says, "Look, we'll give you this little bit, and then we'll have peace," it never satisfies him. It encourages him to have more. It was that way with Hitler. It was that way with Korea. You remember Dean Acheson in 1950 saying we won't defend Korea? It didn't bring peace. It brought war. My friends, the President was right; Senator Kennedy was wrong, in 1955, and the proof of it is we've kept the peace without surrender. Let's continue the President's policies and not turn to his.

And, incidentally, in that connection, this is clearly above any partisan consideration, it is significant to note that Senator Lausche supports the President's policies in this connection, as do many Democrats in the Senate, as well as Republicans. In fact, a majority of the Democrats supported the President and opposed his position. But, let's get it right down to what really is the consideration you must have in mind. You have two men to choose from here. In my case, in the case of my colleague, Cabot Lodge, we know the men in the Kremlin. We have talked to them. We have had discussions with them, and you know how we will react, too.

In the case of our opponents, you have an idea as to how they will react, but in instance after instance, in Quemoy and Matsu, with regard to the summit conference, and again on the Cuban situation, you have seen, I think, a pattern of conduct which indicates certainly a tendency to rash and impulsive action, which would be, in my opinion, very dangerous in this period, and I'll tell you why. In dealing with these men, you must remember what kind of men they are, and these are men determined to conquer the world. They understand strength. They understand firmness. They understand consistency.

One thing that always plays into their hands is inconsistency, jumping from one position to another. This is what creates mis-calculations.

So, I say to you : America should not take a chance on inexperienced leadership, however well intentioned it is, when you have experienced leadership that know these men and will deal with them effectively in the years ahead.

And, now, if I may turn to one final point, and I mention this particularly to this group here, because there are some students here: Necessarily, in a campaign we have to discuss what we term the so-called hard issues in terms of foreign policy, specific issues like Cuba, Quemoy and Matsu, Lebanon, et cetera, and there is a tendency for Americans to forget the really important asset that we have in this great struggle in which we're engaged.

You know what it is? It isn't our great military strength, and it isn't our great economic strength, and these are both tremendously significant and necessary; but the strength of America is in what we believe. You will hear this in the college classrooms and you will tend perhaps sometimes to think that it's old hat; but remember this: I have seen the world, and in 55 countries, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, America is respected and America stands high to the extent that we stand for the right.

What is the right? It means our faith, the faith that we inherited, our faith in God, our faith in the rights of men, our belief that men and their rights to freedom come from God and cannot be taken away from men, our belief that every nation has a right to be independent and that it is the American destiny, and it is, not simply to keep freedom for ourselves, but to extend it to all men. This is what we must believe. This is what the young people of America, whatever your partisan affiliation, must believe, because as America is strong at home in its faith, our President, whoever he is, will be willing and able and effective to lead the world to victory in this fight for freedom, and victory without war.

It is this that we want. It is this that I stand for, and it is this support that we ask today.

So, I say to you: If you believe this is the kind of leadership you want, it is only on that basis that we ask for it.

And may I also say in that connection that I am proud to be here with my fellow candidates on the Republican ticket, and I would certainly like to see the district that my father lived in, the district that he grew up in and that he talked about - I'd like to see it represented by the fine Republican who stands on my side here, Oakley Collins.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Rear Train Platform, Athens, OH Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project