Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Rear Train Platform, Kalamazoo, MI

October 27, 1960

Thank you. My friend, Congressman Johansen, and my friends here in Kalamazoo, Mich., I want to apologize first of all, as you notice, my voice is a little hoarse. I want to point out I didn't get this cold in Michigan. I got it yesterday in Ohio riding in the rain, but, believe me, there is no better cure for a candidate's cold than to see a crowd like this in Kalamazoo.

I'm sure some of you may recall my previous visits here - I certainly do; I remember in 1952, 1956, and 1958 - and we went out to Western Michigan University on one occasion, and I think also while I haven't been there, there are some here from Kalamazoo College. Fine.

In any event, this is certainly a great crowd, and of all the crowds I have had in Kalamazoo before, this is twice as big as all of them put together. So, you can see how this campaign is rolling.

There are several things that I would like to talk to you about today. First, I think that it is vitally important that in this campaign we have in mind what I call the principle that you, as voters, must always have uppermost in your mind in this year 1960, and I want to put it this way: I believe that the decision you make for President this year can affect not only America, not only the world, but that it will affect everything, every person in this country, because the time is past in America that what happened in our National Government or, for that matter, in our State government was something very far away. Government now is big. Government has tremendous responsibilities, and you, of course, know that whoever is President of this country is going to make decisions that will affect not only the Federal budget, but the family budget, that will affect also the basic issue of all time, and that is whether we're going to have peace, and have it without surrender, in the years ahead. Now, in talking to those points, I want to first say that certainly there is no issue that is more important than the one that I mentioned last, because we can have the best jobs and the best education; we can have the best medical care that we can possibly imagine, and it isn't going to make any difference if we are not around to enjoy it.

Now, I simply think it's time for us to lay it on the line with regard to what the record is insofar as keeping the peace is concerned, because sometimes our memories are pretty short. I remember when I was here in 1952; you remember, too. Those of you who were here, you remember there was a war in Korea. You remember there was corruption in Washington. You remember we had a record inflation that had eaten up all the wage increases of those 7 years, and in the last 7 years we've done some things, but particularly with regard to this whole matter of peace, the American people will be eternally grateful to President Eisenhower for ending one war, for keeping us out of other wars, and for giving us peace without surrender today.

But now we turn to the future as far as that issue is concerned, and we pick up our morning papers and we read the stories about how everything is going to pot in the United States, how we're losing our prestige around the world, how the people in England and the people in France and the people in other countries don't like us any more, how the Communists are gaining and we're falling behind.

Well, I think it's time also that we recognize this: That we do have troubles in the world, and I can tell you we're going to continue to have them, but the question is not whether you have troubles, but whether you handle them by avoiding war on the one side or surrender on the other.

In that connection I will only say this: Cabot Lodge and I know Mr. Khrushchev. We have sat with the President for 7 years. We have participated in the discussions leading to these great decisions, and as far as the record is concerned, we are part of it; we are proud of it, and I think that the American people know what we will do when a crisis comes. As far as our opponent is concerned, I would only suggest this: We have a pretty good idea what he would do, too, and, based on what he has said in this campaign, how he disagreed with the President on Quemoy and Matsu, how he suggested that the President could have apologized to Khrushchev at Paris, is almost certainly the most irresponsible proposal ever advocated by a Presidential candidate with regard to Cuba - when you consider these things, I say that we cannot afford the inexperience of a man like that as President of the United States.

And, of course, some people may well say, "But, Mr. Nixon, he's changed his mind about Quemoy and Matsu. He's for the President now. He's changed his mind about apologizing to Khrushchev. He says he really didn't mean it that way. He's changed his mind about Cuba. He really didn't mean intervention in Cuba." Let me tell, you this: I have heard the President of the United States make decisions. I have been there when he had to decide. Do you go into Lebanon or not? And when I have been there, I have realized the responsibility he had. If he had made a mistake, there wouldn't have been a chance to change his mind, and I say we cannot take a chance on one who has made three grave mistakes. I say this: That we had better go forward with leadership that does not promise that there will not be errors, but at least you do have this guarantee: We've been through it. We know what responsibility means, and I can tell you that, with the experience we have, and I can pledge to you that, as we move through this critical period, we will deal with the men in the Kremlin and with all of the enemies of peace in the way I think can best avoid the twin dangers of war and surrender, avoid them by moving forward in all areas as well.

Now, I want to turn to one domestic issue, since there are lots of students here. If we are going to move forward in America, there is one thing we must remember above everything else, and that is that all Americans must move forward together. We must leave none behind.

We cannot afford in this country not to develop to the full the potentials of all of our American citizens.

Now, I'm not just talking now about equality of opportunity. That is a must, and I'm proud of the fact that we've made more progress in 8 years than our opponents did in 20 years. They talked about it, and we produced. But, my friends, I'm talking about the young people of America. Let me tell you what was for me the biggest day of my life, except, of course, the day that Pat said "yes." You know what it was? The year was 1934, and I got a letter from Duke University Law School indicating that I was going to get a scholarship. If I hadn't received that scholarship, I wouldn't be here today, because I couldn't have gone to law school without the scholarship.

What I am trying to say is this: There are literally hundreds of thousands, yes, millions of boys and girls in this country finishing high school who don't go on to college. Father Hesburgh, of Notre Dame, told me when I was visiting there last February that they had applications to Notre Dame this year from over 100 valedictorians who couldn't get in because they didn't have enough scholarships.

Now, what am I trying to say? My opponent was here last week, and he said: "My opponent is not doing anything about this." He criticized my loan program. Well, Western Michigan knows you had $650,000 worth of those programs, but there is a better answer than that, and I have it, a better answer which is, my opponent's Congress in that rump session failed to act on aid to higher education.

You know what it is? First of all, we've got to have a loan program, which we presently have, so that those young people who don't have the money, but can borrow it and pay it back can go on to college.

Second, we need a scholarship program, a scholarship program for those young people who couldn't pay back a loan and for those who are tremendously able, because we must not waste the talents of a potential scientist, engineer, lawyer, or leader.

And then there is a third program, and one all of you will understand. I say, in addition to that, we have hundreds of thousands of families in this country that did what my mother and father did - saved money so that they could at least try to contribute to the education that we got. I remember my mother used to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to bake pies that we sold in our store good ones - lemon, apple, cherry - 25 cents then. They're worth a dollar today, I'm sure. But what I am trying to say is this: In order that we can get the most out of our young people and get them into schools, I say we should have tax deductions and tax credits for parents who do pay for the expenditures for their young people to go to college and universities.

You see, this is the very difference in my approach and my opponent's. His answer is, every time: Take the responsibility off the people. We'll let the Federal Government take care of this thing. Big Federal program.

I say the way to progress is: Yes; the Federal Government does its part, loans and scholarships, but also let's remember that the way to progress in America is every time you can have the Federal Government give a chance to people to take care of their own problems and that's what we're doing.

Finally, I want to add this last word: When you look over these tremendous crowds we had in Michigan - and they are among the very biggest we've had in the campaign - I want you to know that it makes us realize what a great responsibility we have not only as a candidate, even as a candidate, certainly, but also in the event that this election should turn our way after that. I want you to know that as I see you we will always remember this group here and the others that we have seen by the thousands in already 47 States that we have visited.

I know in this crowd are people who will vote for me. I know there are some who will vote for the other man. I just want you to know we know, however, that the President of the United States owes an obligation to every person in this country regardless of his party, to every person in this country regardless of what his background is, and in this period I want you to know, that, remembering these crowds, remembering your attention, standing here, waiting an extra three-quarters of an hour, we will always try never to let you down.

Thank you.

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