Richard Nixon photo

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

October 26, 1960

I was scheduled to speak here for a little longer than usual, for what we call one of our midtown stops. But when I see the umbrellas, when I realize that you're standing there under rather difficult circumstances, I will bring my message to you as quickly as I can, so that certainly we don't have any of our voters catching pneumonia. We need all of you On November the 8th.

My friends, there is one issue, one issue that is more important than all the rest in this campaign, and that issue is the future of America. It is the future not only of our children and our grandchildren, but the future of people throughout the world. And I want to say this: that as you vote on November the 8th - and I say this to all of you, whether you're Democrats or Republicans or independents, because this campaign is so important - the decision you will make is so critical, that I say what you should do is not to think of the party first, but of America first, and vote for whatever is best for America.

I am proud of my party. I am proud of the candidates who are on this platform with me, but, my friends, as we elect a President in this year 1960, it isn't enough simply to vote as somebody tells you to vote. It isn't enough to vote simply as your grandfathers and your fathers did. I say to you: consider my record; consider my opponent's, and ask yourself this question - which of the candidates for the Presidency can best provide the leadership that will keep the peace without surrender for America and the world?

I have discussed that issue, as you know, on several occasions in our debates. I discussed it again last night on national television. There are just two or three points that I want to add today.

I don't know whether you have seen your morning papers, but if you have, you will see what I think is the intensification of one of the most irresponsible campaigns that I have ever seen as far as a presidential campaign is concerned, I refer to the comment of my opponent in which he is trying to convince the people of America and at the same time, apparently, trying to convince the people abroad, that American prestige is at an all-time low.

My friends, this is irresponsible because it's wrong, and I say it's wrong today, and he has to retract it in the course of this campaign.

Listen, I'm quoting now not from what papers in the United States say about this campaign. I'm quoting from Pravda. This is what they're saying in Moscow. Listen, two columns devoted day before yesterday to a TV statement by Senator Kennedy and a speech by Adlai Stevenson saying American prestige is at a new low. The Democratic nominees of this campaign and the last were quoted as saying American prestige is low in Africa; is low in Asia; is low in South America, and Stevenson was also quoted as saying the Communist world looks more dynamic, and we look static.

Now, what is the truth? Well, I have been in Russia, I have seen what they have, and anybody who thinks that Mr. Khrushchev is going to catch up with us in 7 or 70 years is just talking through the top of his hat, or his umbrella, whichever you want to say. I have seen this system, and I say that free men can always outproduce those who are driven as slaves, and we will do it in America. We're doing it today, and we will continue to do it. And you ask about prestige. What do our opponents think? Do they think that Mr. Khrushchev gains prestige for the Communists when he takes off his shoe at the United Nations and pounds the table with it?

I say no. I say that President Eisenhower gained prestige for America when with great dignity and great responsibility, he stood for peace, for disarmament, for all the things that Americans believe in.

No, my friends, the real test of prestige, if our prestige was low, I can assure you, would occur in the United Nations, and there what do we find? In every instance where we've had a test vote - and listen to this - in the last 7 years, with the Soviet Union on one side and the United States on the other, we have won; and in the vote on the Congo we won, 70 to nothing. My friends, that's a pretty good score in football. It's a tremendous score in international relations, and I say that it's time that our opponents quit trying to run America down not only at home, but abroad.

It's time to stand up for America. And I would also give to my opponent who, for the first time, is running for the Presidency, a little free advice. Adlai Stevenson tried this same thing in 1956. You heard him speak here. Do you remember what he said? American prestige is at an all-time low. And by a 9 million majority, the American people said "No" to Adlai, and "Yes" to Dwight Eisenhower. And they're going to say "No" again, because the American people are not a second-rate country. We do not have a second-rate education. We do not have a second-rate scientific system. Yes, we have our problems, problems of which all of you are aware. Yes, America must move forward, and I tell you I am going to move her forward. We're going to have progress in education, greater even than we've had in this past administration. We're going to have progress in housing. We're going to move this economy forward because I know we must, in order to stay ahead in the race in which we are engaged. We're going to see that all Americans move forward together that no one is left behind, because we need to be sure that all of our citizens, regardless of their backgrounds, have an equal chance at the starting line. They've got to have a chance at their time at bat, even though we all can't hit home runs.

So, I say to you: this is what I stand for. But, my friends, we're not going to move America forward by running America down - and that's what I'm trying to say here to this great audience in Dayton today.

Let us see, then, in a nutshell, what your choice is as far as the two candidates for the Presidency on this issue are concerned. Your choice is between two men who know Mr. Khrushchev, two men, Cabot Lodge and myself, who have sat opposite the conference table from him, and between our opponent, Mr. Kennedy, who asks the American people to make him captain of the team when he, himself, says the team is no good.

Well, let me say this: first of all, as far as we are concerned, knowing the Communists, these are the things I pledge to you we will do: one, above everything else, my friends, to begin with, we have to keep America the strongest nation in the world. And to the people in this great area of Dayton which has contributed so much to our defense - the home of Orville and Wilbur Wright - let me say that there is no question but that America must move forward militarily, and we will. I want to tell you why we have to do this.

I know Mr. Khrushchev, and I know the time must never come when an American President sits at the conference table faced by a man who says, "I am stronger than you are." And so I pledge to you that we will do whatever is necessary to keep America strong militarily.

Second, I pledge to you that we will keep this economy growing, as I have indicated, moving forward on all fronts, as it has not moved forward ever in our history. But make no mistake about it, when we talk about America standing still, let's just look around America and we will see that we've made more progress in this administration than we ever made in the Truman administration. We don't want to go back to those policies.

The other point I would make is this: if America is to win, we must have a President and others who lead us who know our opponents, who won't be taken in by them and who will not make the mistake of saying one thing and meaning something else.

Take my opponent, for example. He says on the Cuban situation that he did not intend to suggest that the American Government should intervene in the internal affairs of Cuba. And yet the words he used, "the U.S. Government should support the anti-Castro forces in Cuba" have been interpreted by his friends among the press, by all the people abroad, by all of the allies of the United States, as meaning exactly that. I say we cannot have as President of this country a man who doesn't know what he's talking about when he says something affecting the security of the United States. Because the words that man speaks as President must be carefully weighed. They are heard all over the world, and in this instance, may I say, we cannot afford these mistakes, because if he had been President - think of that - and had made this mistake, it would have been disastrous for the United States, in my opinion. He might not have the opportunity, as he is now trying to do, apparently, to correct it. And, so I say to you that my colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I offer to this country, first the knowledge of who are enemies are. We offer to this country, second, a pledge to keep America strong diplomatically, economically, and militarily. But, my friends, above all else, I want to tell you we offer to America something that every American - Democrat, Republican, and independent - would agree with, something I am sure that the man who is so well known in Dayton, a great candidate on the Democratic ticket, James Cox, would stand for. We offer complete faith in America and in her ideals, Let me tell you why I have that faith. I have seen not only the Soviet Union, I have seen 55 countries abroad, and I have seen the United States, and, my friends, whatever they say here at home, I can tell you that the people of the world respect America. They respect us not because we are militarily strong or economically rich, as we are. Do you know why they respect us? Because we believe in the right things. Because of our faith in God; because of our faith and our belief in the rights of all men; because of our conviction that men's rights to freedom and nations' rights to independence should be extended to all the world. And it is this conviction, my friends, that makes America stand high in the world - and I can tell you that if you give us the opportunity we will speak up for America abroad. We will present to all the world the true picture of America, not that of a nation that is looking only to its own selfish interest, not of a nation that is concerned only about fighting communism, but of a nation that cares, of a people that are concerned about poverty and misery and disease and tyranny any place in the world.

That is what America stands for. These are the things I believe in. These are the things that have always made America the hope, the wonder of the world. So, I say to you today again, consider our qualifications. Consider what you want for America. And if you believe that Cabot Lodge and I can speak for America, that we represent your deepest and your innermost thoughts for America, then I say: come and join this crusade, not just for a party ,not just for a couple of men, but a crusade for America and for all of those great ideals which we believe in and for which we've stood throughout our history.

Thank you very much.

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