Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, State Capitol, Columbus, OH

October 26, 1960

Thank you very much.

Congressman, my good friend, Sam Devine, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform and this great audience in Columbus, there comes a time in each campaign when the candidate knows that the tide has turned and that it is moving up to victory. I think that one of the greatest thrills of my life is that time in this campaign when I entered Ohio, my father's home State, yesterday, when I went to Cincinnati, Bob Taft's home city, yesterday evening, and when we come now to Columbus, Ohio, the home of John Bricker, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and all this great audience here.

All day today we have had some of the greatest campaign crowds in history. We have also had tremendous enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, I must say that certainly nothing could exceed the welcome we have gotten here in Columbus. And my only regret is that my father, who, as you may recall, died in 1956, just before the last election, couldn't be here. Because - I know that Pres Wolfe had this story in the Columbus papers, but I will repeat it - before he came to California, he lived first in Vinton County and then came to Columbus. Those were the days before you had that new-fangled kind of a car without the tracks. He was a motorman on the old Columbus Street Railway, and from here he went to California, married my mother, who, of course, was also a middle westerner - as most Californians were in the beginning - and then that's how I came back to Ohio as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

Certainly, one of the particular privileges that is mine today is to tell you how proud I am to be on the platform with my fellow candidates on the Republican ticket; with am Devine, who has introduced me; and I'm also glad to have seen his predecessor, John Vorys over here, for the first time in a few months; and with Jim Rhodes, whose office I just used in the State Capitol for a few minutes before we came out here. For all of our splendid candidates, how about a real hand, right now.

I want to talk to you today about two issues of tremendous importance. They are issues that I have been discussing throughout this campaign, but particularly as we enter these last, critical 2 weeks. I want to begin by saying this: That the decisions that you will make on November the 8th are decisions that are so important to you individually, so important to America as a nation, that I ask you to make them on the basis of the country first rather than the party, rather than the man, because America today cannot settle for anything less than the best. We've got to have the best leadership that America can produce, and that is what we offer to the American people, we believe, in our program.

When I speak of the best leadership, I am not so presumptuous to stand here and tell you that I have all the answers to the problems of America and of the world. I do say this, however, and I say it with pride: my colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I for 7½ years have served under one of the greatest Presidents this country has ever had, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

And we're proud of the record we've made in these last 7½ years.

Oh, I know you've been hearing everything that's wrong with it. But I think the time has come to nail some of those things, and I've been doing it. I'm going to do more of it today right here in Columbus, Ohio.

You've been hearing, for example, that America has been standing still for the last 7½ years, you know, and that we've got to get her going again. Well, you know better than that, because you have seen America and you know that, whether it's progress in building schools or hospitals, whether it's progress in creating more factories and more jobs for the American people, we've seen more in this period than in any period in our history. Whether it's progress in the field of civil rights or in any field, in this administration we've moved ahead.

I tell you today that I am proud to be standing with my colleague and running on a platform where we will move America ahead in the years to come, move her ahead from this great base which we have already reached.

I also want to tell you this: that, as I read some of the speeches, as I read some of the charges that are being made about this administration, about our progress domestically and about our foreign policy, that I, frankly, think that the American people, whether they're Republicans or Democrats, are getting tired of being told they're a second-rate bunch of people in a second-rate country. I think they are tired of reading in the papers, as you do this morning, that all day yesterday all my opponent had to say to the American people was "our prestige is at all alltime low" - and he attacks me because I say it isn't true.

Well, I believe in speaking up for America, particularly when what he says is not true, and he knows it, because American prestige is high.

Let's think for just a moment about some of these charges that have been made before I turn to prestige, one in particular. He says that I and my party don't care. We don't care for the fact that there are people that are unemployed. We don't care about education in this country. We just want to keep it as it is. We don't care about medical care for the aged. He says, as far as we are concerned, we have no programs, nothing to offer, except standing where we are.

And you know what the answer is to that? Well, first, it's the record I have spoken about. But second, I resent that as an individual. Listen, I know what it means. I know what it means to grow up in a family where we had to care whether we had a job or not. I know what it means. I know what it means to have to worry about the family budget. That's why I am not for huge Government spending programs, as he is, that would make it hard for you to balance your family budget. And frankly I am getting tired of somebody running around the country and saying, "Oh, I care for the people because I will spend more of the people's money than my opponent will spend."

Well, I ask you - I ask you - after all, it's not Jack's money, but yours, and you know it, and he knows it, too. And I say this: I am proud of the fact that in education, in health, in welfare, in all of these areas we will move America forward, but at the same time that I, as the President of the United States, if I have the opportunity, will see to it, I can assure you, that not one dollar is spent in Washington that I know you can spend better right back here in Columbus, Ohio.

I say that somebody who is concerned about how your money is spent, that he care - he cares - and that the other fellow who just goes around buying votes with your money doesn't care for the people. That's the truth of the matter, and the American people know it.

But let's go to this whole field of foreign policy, if I could, for a moment. Now, you've been hearing a lot about what's wrong with our foreign policy. You know, the only trouble with all these statements about it is that the American people are pretty smart and they know what's happened. Let's look at the record for a moment.

You remember back in 1952 when I opened my campaign in Columbus, Ohio. Many in this field will remember. The first speech I made was here in Columbus. You remember the situation then - a war in Korea, corruption in Washington, D.C., because of boss rule. We found that inflation had eaten up all the earnings of the people in that 7½ years. It was so bad that the Democratic candidate said it was a mess. He was right, and so they defeated him and elected somebody to clean it up, Dwight Eisenhower, and he's done it.

Now, that was the situation then. In the field of foreign policy what's happened? Think, my friends. We got this Nation out of war. We've kept it out of other wars. And we do have peace, and we have it without surrender of principle or territory today.

I ask you, isn't that the answer to those who say that America has had bad leadership, that our prestige is low, that we've been doing the wrong things? I say it is, and I say the American people, by the millions, Democrat and Republican, are going to say, yes, they like that kind of leadership, and they're not going to take a chance on inexperienced, rash, immature leadership such as our opponent offers the American people in the field of foreign policy.

Look at my colleague and me. We know Mr. Khrushchev. I don't say that we're not going to have troubles in the world, because I'll tell you this: Because I do know him, I'm going to tell you that troubles will occur in the world in the years ahead, whoever is President. But, my friends, the question is not whether you have troubles when you have men like that on the loose in the world. The question is how you handle them. Do you handle the situation with determination? Do you handle it with coolness, under great pressure? Do you handle it in the way that you avoid surrender on the one side and war on the other? Or do you shoot from the hip? Do you make the immature, the rash statement that you can't take back if you're President of the United States and that the country is stuck with if you make a mistake?

And all that I can say in that respect is this: My colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I know this problem. We have sat across the table from Khrushchev. We known the Communists, and I tell you that I am convinced that we can keep the peace, that we can keep it without surrender, and that we can extend freedom without war, and we ask for your support in giving us that chance in these next 4 years.

I think the very best description of my opponent that I have seen was one that I noticed in the New York Post the other day. Here I quote. This was: "Senator Kennedy has a quick mind, but I would say that he might tend to arrive at judgments almost too quickly." You remember what he said about Cuba. If he had said that when he was President of the United States, the trouble that would have been caused simply couldn't be imagined. Do you remember his statement that the President should apologize to Khrushchev? He changed his mind later, apparently, but if he had felt that way in Paris it would have been a disastrous mistake for the United States.

"A quick mind, that might tend to arrive at judgments almost too quickly." But I want to tell you who said that. That wasn't John Bricker. That wasn't Thruston Morton. That's Eleanor Roosevelt who said that, just this year, after the convention.

Well, she was right, and the American people know she's right, and that's why they're going to remember that on election day.

Now, one other point I want to make. Some people have come to me troubled and they have said, "Well, now, Mr. Nixon, we know this. We do have peace. We believe that we're a strong Nation, but we're concerned because we read the charges by Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Stevenson that America is falling behind, that we're beginning to deteriorate." And I quote him again as I quoted him in debate - and, incidentally, I was right and he was wrong, because he had said it and forgotten it apparently, and that's something else he's got to remember. But, be that as it may, when he said we had the worst slums, when he said our education was second and our science was second, all these things do worry the American people unless they think for a moment.

It reminds me, incidentally, of a little story written by a very famous Ohio author, James Thurber. You all, I am sure, have read it at one time or another. It was a fantasy, presumably set in Columbus, Ohio, and Mr. Thurber called the story "The Day the Dam Broke," and the story went something like this: A panicky citizen in Columbus, Ohio, one day many years ago, started a rumor, the dam is broken, and quite a few people got terribly excited and they were nervous. They packed up all their clothes and they got into their wagons and their buggies and they went out of town. They were 'way out of town before some sensible person said, "Well, wait, just a minute. You know, we've forgotten. There isn't any dam in Columbus, Ohio."

You know, that's about the way this campaign has gone. My opponent's soundings of alarm - America second, America standing still, America's prestige at an alltime low - have got a few people to leave town. But now that the American people have had a chance to think it over, I tell you they're all coming back to town and they're going to vote for us on election day on November 8.

So, my last word to you is this: We have troubles in the world, yes. But America is the strongest nation not only in her military strength, and her economic strength, but, above all, my friends, we are strong where it counts, in the things in which we believe - in our faith in God; in our belief in the rights of all men to be free; in our belief that these rights come from God and not just from men, and therefore, cannot be taken away by any man; in our belief in peace, and practicing it, as we also certainly preach it. These are the great ideals that America stands for. And it is these ideals that will win this struggle for peace and freedom. It is these ideals that I ask today for the support of the people of Ohio, and the people of this Nation to work for in the next 4 years - to work for peace, to work for progress; but, above all, to work for the extension of freedom, this wonderful life that we have here, to the people of all the world.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, State Capitol, Columbus, OH Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project