Richard Nixon photo

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

October 26, 1960

Thank you very much.

My friend, Paul Schenck, and all of our friends here in Middletown, Ohio: I want to say the wonderful reception you've given us at this hour in the morning is really an inspiration and we thank you for coming out.

And the little girl who just presented the beautiful flowers to Pat - her name is Becky - and she's 8 years old. How about a hand for her.

I'm rather partial to girls - little girls, I mean - because, as you know, ours are 12 and 14. At least they were that old the last time I saw them. I haven't seen them for a little while. But certainly as we look over this crowd, as we see so many people in it, and particularly as we see so many of our students from all the schools in this particular area - say, how many classes are you getting out of over there?

I wondered why you were so enthusiastic. I see now.

Now, as you know, on November the 8th, less than 2 weeks from row, you're going to go to the polls and vote. At least on that day, as I said last night on television, I believe this is the most important decision to the voters that you will be making possibly in your lives. I'll tell you why I say that. I say that because at the present time what the President of the United States, what the Congess, does in Washington, D.C., can affect the futures of everybody here, and I want to say at this point, my friends, that the issues in this campaign are bigger than any party. They're as big as America itself, because what is involved is the future not just of Republicans or Democrats, but of all Americans, and, so, I say to you first of all: Let's think of the country first. Let's think of what leadership America needs and let's vote that way on November the 8th, and will you do that?

Now, the second point that I want to make is this: I have just been introduced by a man who is your Congressman, who knows what America needs. He is one of my close friends and associates in the House. He is one who has served you for 10 years, and he is the kind of a man who can represent not only this district, but represent a nation in the U.S. Congress. And remember this: When you elect a Congressman or a Senator, let's not think only of just our own little problems, but remember what happens to America is going to affect you.

Now, let me put it very bluntly; let's think for a moment, if I may, of those boys over there on that platform.

How did that one girl get over there?

Now, my friends, think of those boys and those girls. Think of the millions of boys and girls in the United States. Think of the millions of boys and girls all over the world, if you will, and if you think of them, think of their future - and I say to you today that whoever is the next President of the United States, by what he does, by the mistakes he makes or does not make, may determine the future of these people, not only their fortunes, but their lives, and that's why I feel so deeply about this election campaign. I have seen the world. I have been on both sides of the Iron Curtain. I have sat in the Kremlin. I have sat there with Khrushchev, pounding the table, as he did at the United Nations, shaking his fist at me, as you have seen him on television at the United Nations. I know what the problem is. I know, too, my friends, that the greatest responsibility of the next President is to respond to Mr. Khrushchev and the Communists is not by pounding the table, which might heat up the international atmosphere so that we would have a world war, not by answering insult by insult, but, by the same token, that the way to respond to him is to be just as firm for the right as he is for the wrong - and this we must do.

I know, my friends, too, and remember this, if you forget everything else that I say, that in dealing with these men, that the greatest mistake you can make - and listen to this carefully - is to give them an idea that you're going to be inconsistent.

Let me put it this way: What caused the Korean war?

These young people will not even remember it too well, but there are many mothers and others who will remember the Korean war. What caused it? The Korean war was brought about because American foreign policy at that time left uncertainty in the minds of the Communist leaders as to what we would do in response to their aggressive tactics. As a matter of fact, the Secretary of State drew a line, in effect, this side of Korea, indicating that we thought it was outside our defense zone. The result, because they thought then that America would not respond to attack, that America would not stand up for what was right - it invited the very attack that made us go in: and I say to you at this time America cannot afford in the White House a man who jumps from one position to another and who, if he did that as President, would lead to this very miscalculation, in my opinion, which we must avoid in dealing with the Communist leaders.

Let's put it another way: How has President Eisenhower been able to keep the peace in these last 7 years? I'll tell you how. I have been there when he has made the great decisions, and the thing that the President has done is that he has always been firm. He has never shot from the hip. He has always made it clear that the United States is not going to surrender principle or territory any place in the world.

It's that kind of firm leadership that America needs in the future, and it's that kind of leadership that Cabot Lodge and I, both of us know Mr. Khrushchev; we're going to give you, if you give us the chance on November the 8th.

And, so, I say to you here: I see a sign here: "Democrat for Nixon." I say here to you: I say, my friends, again this is not a time to think solely in terms of party labels. This is not a time when the people of America should say "I'm just going to vote as my grandfather did, as my father did. I'm going to vote as the label is."

This is not a time when Americans should think only in terms of how somebody else tells you to vote. This is a time to think of the two men who may be President, to look at their backgrounds, to look at their experience and think: Which one do you think should be sitting in the high councils of the world, talking to Khrushchev, talking to Adenauer, talking to De Gaulle, talking to the others? And I submit to you, my friends, you know what we will do. I submit to you that we do have the understanding of this problem which America needs.

Now, if I could add one other point: We not only are concerned here about the future of the people here as far as war and peace are concerned, but we want a better life for all of our citizens, a better life for all of these young people, and I say to you that under our leadership we will move America forward; we will move her forward to the greatest progress we've ever had. We will move her forward so that all of our young people in this country can have an even better life than we have enjoyed in the United States.

The last point that I want to make is one that I make particularly for those who are students here. I picked up the morning paper this morning and I saw a news report to me that is, frankly, reaching the disgraceful stage as far as American campaigning is concerned. Apparently our opponents, running out of issues, with nothing else to talk about, are now conducting a campaign on this basis: That American prestige has fallen to a new low, an all-time low. As a matter of fact, this isn't a new program. This is what Mr. Stevenson said in 1956. This is what our opponent is saying now.

Now, just let me say something. All of you, I know, know something about what happens in sports. This is the area, I know, of Jerry Lucas, the great basketball player, and he sure helped us in those Olympics. Now, when we have a team, we all play on the team and we put the interest of the team first, don't we? Let's suppose you have a team and you're up against a tough opponent and then one who is a member of the team, who wants to be captain, goes out and tells everybody on the other side: "Look, our team's no good. We made this mistake. We made that mistake. We're no good, and you're going to lick us." Do you think that guy ought to be captain? I say: no. I say, my friends, this is a time to speak up for America, not to run America down. And I say that this is a time that all of us can speak up for America with pride, because again, my friends, I have seen the world, and to all of you who have not had the opportunity to travel, believe me, you go to the Soviet Union and come back here and see which country you prefer. You go to any other country and come back to America and, my friends, you will understand why we love this country. Never forget it. Every young person here remembers America has its faults, yes, and we're going to do everything we can to correct them, to move her forward, but America, too, is the greatest country in the world - and let's stand for that, and let's tell the whole world that. This is what certainly we do believe, and this kind of faith is what we need if we're going to build the kind of world and the kind of nation we want.

And, so, with that, may I again thank you for coming out, and I want to make one pledge to you: In the years ahead we will remember, my wife and me, these crowds that we have seen, that you have come out in weather that is a little, shall we say, uncertain, that you would come out here and stand here on these railroad tracks and listen to us, as you have, that you would come from your other duties and listen. We will remember that you are the people to whom we owe an obligation. I cannot tell you that I can solve all of your problems. I cannot tell you that life is going to be easy. I cannot tell you that we're not going to have troubles in the world. But I will tell you this: I will always remember that we have a tremendous responsibility to the people of this country, to the Republicans, to the Democrats, to all Americans, a responsibility to keep America strong militarily, to keep her strong economically, but, above all, a responsibility to see that this Nation of ours moves forward, leaving none behind, to see that this Nation of ours leads the whole world, leads the people of all the world to the time when we can live in peace and freedom with all people.

And, so, with that again, my appreciation to you - and remember: go to the polls next November the 8th. All of you go. This is the most important decision of your life. And work for our team, if you believe we are the ones, as hard as you ever worked for anything in your life.

Thank you very much.

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