Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Rear Train Platform, Johnstown, PA

October 24, 1960

Thank you very much.

I want to say first how much my wife, Pat, and I appreciate this wonderful crowd here in Johnstown. Incidentally, you know, I have visited an awful lot of cities and States, but I always know where I am, anyway.

You know - a funny thing - I really couldn't believe it when somebody said when Mr. Kennedy was here he referred to this place as Johnson City - You know, that's the only time he's mentioned his running mate's name since he has been nominated.

But, first, the fact that some of you would come out in this rather, shall we say, crisp weather, the fact that you would welcome us this way is indeed a very inspiring thing on this whistle-stop tour of Pennsylvania.

However, I remember, John, the great meeting we had in the center of town, you remember, 4 years ago, and I said then that I was hoping I could come back. I didn't know then I would come back as a candidate for the Presidency, but, believe me, you have greatly outdone the crowd there, and I thank all of those who have made this such a wonderful success.

We thank you for coming. I, too, want to express appreciation to all of the bands that are here. You know, the color, as we look around here, certainly indicates the competitive spirit of this city, and let's give them all a hand.

Now, there are a number of subjects that I know you would like to hear discussed. I know many of you had the opportunity to hear our television debates. So, I will not go into the subjects that we were discussing there the last time in any detail, but I thought that since I was here in Johnstown, that what would be of greater interest to you was for me to take up at the outset a couple of points that I understand my opponent made when he was here. John Saylor was telling me a little earlier that he said, "I challenge the Vice President when he comes to Johnson City - I challenge him to discuss the depressed-areas bill. I challenge him to discuss the medical care bill"

Well, I'm going to discuss them, and, believe me, he isn't going to like it, because it's the truth.

Now, as far as the so-called distressed-area bills are concerned, let's set the record straight. President Eisenhower has been trying to get legislation through the Congress for years in this field. The Congress has stopped it. The Congress has passed some bills, which the President has vetoed. Why did he veto them? Because they wouldn't do the job. They would use a shotgun where you want to use a rifle. And using a shotgun, it would have meant instead of a place like Johnstown that needed a good rifle bullet to handle this problem, it would have gotten a little buckshot that wouldn't have done the job at all in a depressed area. What I am trying to say really is this: We need a depressed-area bill. But we need the right kind of bill. We have one which is supported by Senator Scott, John Saylor; one that I support, and that we're going to get through in the next Congress with the support of the American people. And it will do the job where they didn't act, and we're going to act.

In other words, my friends, you will find they always talk a good game, but we produce on their promises, and we've been doing it for years, and we're going to do it again, too.

Now, I want to talk about a subject that is also very close to my heart. I remember the year my father died, in 1956, in the election year. He was 77 years old. That year he had a number of doctor bills, operations. I remember they ran over $2,000. My mother also was ill that year, and together the bills of the doctors ran over $3,000. I want to tell you something about them. It was the best medical care that you could possibly get, and we have the best in the world, and we want to keep it that way; but my mother and father found it difficult to pay those bills. They did. They saved enough that they were able to, but I realize and you realize that for many of our older people, when they get beyond 65 particularly, it's a very difficult problem they are confronted with when a major illness strikes. Now, the question is: What can we do about it? My opponent says when he was here, "Oh, Mr. Nixon is against helping the older people who need medical care." Now, that is just a complete falsehood. It's a falsehood, and I will tell you why.

He's against it, because if he hadn't been against it, he would have supported the bill that would have done something about it in the last Congress, and he didn't do that.

Let me point out what I mean. You see, this problem is one that affects everybody over 65, and the bill that he wanted would have only applied to people who had social security, and that would take care of a lot; but you know there are 3 million older people who don't have social security at all. What are you going to do about them? He would do nothing. And, so, we had a bill that covered all the people over 65. And another thing: His bill was one that would have forced everybody who had social security, including the wealthy as well as those who were not as wealthy, to have compulsory health insurance whether they wanted it or not. Ours was a bill that provided that everybody over 65 who wanted health insurance could get it; that everybody who needed it would be encouraged to get it.

We said that nobody who did not want it should be forced to have it against his will, and that's the American way to handle a problem of this type.

Now, I could go on on these issues, but let me summarize simply in this way. We're going to move forward in America in these next 4 years, but the way to move forward is not to return to the policies we left in 1953, when Eisenhower cleaned up the mess Harry Truman left back here.

The way to move forward is for Government to encourage the American people to develop to the full the tremendous abilities they have - and, believe me, we have the program that will do it. We will produce again in all of these areas, in which America wants progress. But one other point I would make: We will do it not with programs that will raise your taxes, that will raise your prices, and theirs will. And let me say to every housewife here: If you vote for our opponents, the prices of everything you buy in the grocery store will go up because of their farm program, incidentally, that won't help the farmer, either; but it will certainly have that effect, and they know it. Other prices will go up, and I say, my friends, that the American people want higher wages, yes; they want prosperity, yes; but they want it without inflation, and without war, and that's the kind we produce, and that's the kind you want.

Now let me turn to the issue of foreign policy, because it is the most important of all. Why is it most important? Because, my friends, we can have the best jobs and the best medical care in the world, and it isn't going to make any difference if we're not around to enjoy it, and, therefore, the most important qualification of the next President is: Does he have the experience and the background to keep the peace, to keep it without surrender, and to extend freedom throughout the world.

You heard us debate that last Friday. I want to say today that I believe Cabot Lodge and I have some experience the American people should consider.

For 7 years we have participated in the making of and discussing of great decisions. For 7 years we have sat in the Security Council and the Cabinet with the President of the United States - Lebanon, Quemoy, and Matsu - we were there. We know what it means to handle these problems. And one other thing: We have had the experience of dealing with Mr. Khrushchev. We both sat opposite him at the conference table, and whoever is the next President of the United States has to be able to do that. He must not be fooled by him. He must be able to be sure that we're firm, without being belligerent.

My friends, I think we've done a pretty good job, and I think the American people know what we will do, and I think that's why they want us to continue the leadership that Dwight Eisenhower has given.

Now what do our opponents offer in this field? They say we want the same thing. We can't question that. Everybody wants peace and everybody wants it without surrender, but, my friends, look at what he would have done had he been in the position of Commander in Chief these last 7½ years.

In Quemoy and Matsu - you heard him on that television debate say we should have sliced off these islands, given them to the Communists. Why? Not because he was interested, of course, in surrendering anything; but as a matter of principle because he apparently thought this would bring peace, and that's the kind of woolly thinking that got the United States in the Korean war.

The President didn't do it. That's why we kept the peace. And then you remember again my opponent said, "President Eisenhower could have apologized or expressed regrets to Khrushchev," but he couldn't do that, because if he had you see that would have encouraged Khrushchev to do the very thing that we must not have - to blackmail the United States, because whenever you give a dictator an inch that he doesn't deserve, he takes not only a mile, he'll take the whole world. Therefore, we can't give him that inch, and I'm sure I'm not going to give him the inch anyplace in the world.

Now, in the final analysis, then, I say to you that we know what peace demands. We know that what it needs is a strong America, a firm America - one in which we will be firm in our policy toward those who threaten the peace, but one in which we will always remember that it's the responsibility of the President of the United States never to lose his temper, never to shoot from the hip where the whole peace of the world is involved.

Finally, I say to you: If you believe that Cabot Lodge and I are the ones who can give America the leadership it needs, then I want you to go to work. I want you to work hard. I want you to go through this district as it has never been gone through before. Support all of our candidates, because, believe me, they're a fine team, but, as you work and as you vote for us at the Presidential level, at the congressional level, remember: You're not just voting for a man or for a party, but you're voting - and it must be this way in your hearts and in your minds - you're voting for what you think America needs. Only if you believe that we are the men that America needs in this critical period, only then can I ask for your support. But if you believe it, then I ask for all of you to go out and work for us. Go out and vote for us - not for us, but for America, and for America you will also be voting for the cause of freedom throughout the world. Remember, what we do this year, 1960, affects you; affects our children; but it affects the hopes of people throughout the world - the people of Poland whom I saw a year ago, 250,000 of them on the streets shouting "Long live America"; the people even in Russia; the people in all the 50 countries we visited. We have the hopes of the world in our hands; let's be worthy of it. Let's be worthy by being strong at home in our economy; by being strong militarily; but mainly being strong in our faith, never thinking of America as a second-rate country, because she isn't, always thinking of America as the best nation in the world, believing in the right things.

If we think that way, if we believe that way, we will win this struggle, and this will be the greatest century in the history of the world, because of what a great people the American people are.

Thank you very much.

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