Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President at State House, Columbia, SC

November 03, 1960

Governor Byrnes, Governor Shivers, all of the distinguished guests on this platform, and this great audience in Columbia, S.C.: I will have many moments which will be memorable in this campaign, but none I can assure you, of which I will be more proud than to have been introduced as I have been here by a man who is a great Democrat, but a great American - one who has served this Nation so well. He has well set the theme not only for my remarks to this great audience here in Columbia, not only for my remarks on television, which will be carried throughout the southern part of the United States, but also far this campaign north, east, west, and south - because, as Governor Byrnes has so well stated, the times we live in are so critical that it isn't enough to vote as your father voted, as your grandfather voted. It isn't enough to vote simply as the label you may wear, and the other man may wear. It isn't enough to vote as someone else tells you to vote. This time, America must come first above everything else - and that's what the people of America are going to do.

I want you to know, too, that this is, for my wife, Pat, and me, a very special occasion from a personal standpoint. As you know, I spent 3 years at Duke University in North Carolina. I learned to love those who live in this country, to know those who are working here for a better America, as people throughout this Nation are working for a better America; and also I remember particularly a little trip my wife and I took just before I went into the service in 1942. We got in our car in Washington, D.C., and we drove in the springtime down through Virginia and North Carolina and South Carolina, and I want to say to you, my friends - and this, from a Californian, believe me, is somewhat of an admission - that I have never seen anything so beautiful as the flowers in the spring in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina on that trip in 1942. We have never known hospitality, gracious hospitality, extended to us not because we were then, as we are now, public officials, but extended to us simply because we were citizens visiting from another part of the country - and for that we were grateful, and for this tremendous welcome here today we thank you as well.

Now, if I could turn to the great issues confronting the country, if I could discuss them today not in terms of what the Republican Party stands for or what the Democratic Party stands for, but in terms of what America, needs - what America needs at home, what America needs abroad - because as Governor Byrnes again emphasized, and I repeat it, this we must do. My friends, let me tell you this: all of you make decisions. You make decisions everyday of your life. They're important, but there is no decision that the people of America will make in your whole lives that could be more important than the one you will make on Tuesday of next week. It will affect your lives. It can affect your freedom. It can affect the prices of everything you buy in your stores. It can affect the future of America and the future of your children, and that is why I say: Think of America. Think of America, and vote for America, and that is what we all want and what will be good for America.

I begin by stating this is the 48th State that I have visited, and in this campaign, by next Tuesday, I will have done something that no other candidate has ever done - and never could do - I will have visited every one of the 50 States. I will be the only candidate in this election campaign to visit every State in the South, and I want to say this: My opponent has said that he could win without the South. I want to win with the support of all parts of the country, including the South.

My friends, we have had enough of this attempt to divide America on a regional basis and on a class basis, and I will have none of it as President and none of it as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

What we have to realize is that the issues confronting America today are ones that we must look at not as southerners, not as northerners, not as westerners, not as easterners; but again as Americans - and that's why I also want to say that I hope the time never comes, in the future, when either my party will concede the South or the other party will take the South for granted, as it has been taking it for granted for so many years.

Now, I come to the key question. I recognize that in this great audience are many. who are members of my party.

I recognize that in this great audience are many who, like Governor Byrnes, are members of the other party, and the question that is often asked of me is this: "Mr. Nixon, how can we vote for your ticket and still be loyal to our party?" There's a simple answer: when the national leadership of the other party adopted its platform at Los Angeles, they forfeited their right to ask any Democrat to be loyal, to vote for that ticket and for that platform.

I say to you today that any true Democrat, any true Democrat who loses his party, who believes in the true principles of that party, cannot stomach and will have no part of that platform or its candidate who is running on that platform in this campaign

I say to you today that the party of Jackson, the party of Jefferson, and the party of Wilson is at opposite ends of the poles from the party of Schlesinger and Galbraith and Reuther and Bowles, and we want no part of it in the South or any part of the country.

My friends, let us get specific about why it is that Democrats as well as Republicans are going to support our ticket as they did in 1952, as they did in 1956. I'll tell you why. First, because the people of this country resent - and properly resent - the unconscionable attacks by my opponent on the leadership of one of the greatest Presidents we ever had, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of this country.

Listen to what he has said. He has said, first, "America has stood still for 7 years under Eisenhower, and I will get her going again."

My friends, look at South Carolina. A billion dollars worth of progress in the last 7 years. Anybody who says America, is standing still doesn't know America - and that's what I say today.

In any field that you name, whether it's the building of schools or the building of hospitals, increasing our wages, or in improving social security. We find that the 7 Eisenhower years have been years of the greatest progress of any administration in history. Incidentally, one of the worst lies that has been told in this campaign is that I and my party oppose social security. We have done more to extend social security in this administration than has been done since it was founded, and we're proud of it, and the American people know it, and they're going to vote that way on election day.

What else has he said critical of the President? Well, he has been talking about the fact that under the President's leadership in foreign policy - and I quote him exactly - we have had a period of retreat, defeat, and stagnation.

My friends, the adjectives are all right, but they apply to the wrong administration. It was Harry Truman's administration in which we had that.

And, incidentally, if that administration had followed the leadership of Secretary Byrnes, we would not have had the troubles that we had under that administration. But you remember what happened. Six hundred million people went behind the Iron Curtain in the 7 Truman years.

But you remember what happened. A war in Korea - 150,000 American casualties.

And you remember what happened under Eisenhower. I say this: I say that millions of Americans will be forever grateful to him for restoring dignity and decency and honesty to the conduct of the President of the United States.

I say that millions of Americans will be grateful to him for ending one war, for getting us out of other wars, and for keeping the peace without surrender today.

And I say, further, that as far as the leadership in the field of foreign policy is concerned - and I'll have more to say about that - the American people are proud of a President who has not answered insult with insult, but who has maintained his dignity in the face of the insults of the crude man from the Kremlin, Mr. Nikita Khrushchev.

And what is the other charge my opponent makes against your President? Oh, he says, that under President Eisenhower America has become second, that she's second in education, that our science is second, that we have the worst slums, that we have the most crowded schools, that we're second in space. Listen, my friends: anybody who says that America is second rate like that doesn't deserve to be President of the United States.

May friends, we're not going to choose as captain of the team a man who s running down the team not only at home, but abroad.

The American people resent these attacks on the President and his leadership, and they're going to show their resentment by voting not only against those who make the attacks, but for the ticket that will carry on and build on the great progress we've made in these last 7½ years.

Now if I may turn to some specific policies: Why should true Democrats support our ticket rather than the other?

First, because when you look at that platform, what does it do? It is not a Democratic platform in its best sense because it fails to recognize a fundamental principle of the Democratic Party from the time of its foundation - and that is the principle of individual rights and local and State responsibility. It says: "We turn everything over to the Federal Government."

And we say that we should not turn things over to the Federal Government unless the States cannot do the job. That's what the Democrats of this country want, and that's what the Democrats of the South want.

We find also a spending program. The biggest spending program in history. My friends, let me put it in terms that all of you will understand. Do you realize, those of you who are listening here, that if we put that program into effect, it means raising your taxes; it means raising your prices; it means raising, for example, the prices in the grocery store by 25 percent? Do you realize that this kind of program is one in which a candidate has promised everything to everybody? But he doesn't pay for the programs. You pay for them.

And I say that the American people see that for what it is, and they want no part of it. The American people also see that as far as this particular platform is concerned, and this program, it not only would rob them of their savings through inflating our currency, it not only would increase their taxes, it not only would increase their grocery bills, but it wouldn't do the job. It wouldn't do the job because, my friends, the way to progress in America is not to start with the Federal Government and work down to the people, but to start with the people and work up to the Federal Government.

So, again I say, true Democrats will support our ticket rather than the other, because we stand for the things that you believe in.

And then in the field of foreign policy, what do we find?

Well, my friends, I want to be very direct here. Here is the most critical issue of all, the most critical issue because, as was indicated in Billy Graham's invocation, as was indicated in Governor Byrnes' introduction, we are electing not only a President of the United States; we are electing a leader of the free world. And the man we elect to sit in that lonely job in the White House when he speaks, when he acts, it's for keeps.

In this campaign, what has happened? Three times my opponent shot from the hip. Three times he disagreed with the President. Three times he was wrong, and the President was right.

Let me give you the chapter and verse. Quemoy and Matsu: the President said, "Give me the power to defend these islands, because if I don't have that, I won't be able to defend Formosa."

And my opponent said, "No." He opposed a majority of even his own party and said, "No. We will draw a line. We will surrender these islands. We will say to the Communists: 'Come and get it.'"

And we did that in Korea. It was wrong there. It would have been wrong this time.

The President was right and he was wrong. You can't surrender at the point of a gun to communism any place in the world.

And if that mistake had been made, I can assure you it would have been a mistake that could have led to surrender or to war, or to both.

The second point: the U-2 incident. You remember the President. Khrushchev came to him and insulted him at Paris and said, shaking his fist: "Apologize; express regrets for what you've done."

The President refused. Senator Kennedy disagreed and said he could have. The Senator was wrong. The President was right. Because, if any President - let's assume Mr. Kennedy had been President had apologized to Mr. Khrushchev, Khrushchev, would have beaten him to a pulp, and we can't have a President doing that with Khrushchev or anybody else.

And then in Cuba - again shooting from the hip - advocating a policy that would have broken our treaties, cost us our friends, gotten us probably, possibly certainly, into war.

Of course, his defenders say he didn't mean it. He took it all back. He says he now agrees with the President.

My friends, a candidate can say something and take it back and nobody's the worse for it. But a President makes a decision and then it's war or not war. It's peace or not peace. It's surrender or not surrender.

My friends, I say that we cannot use the White House as a training school for a man who gains experience at the expense of the American people in this critical period.

I recognize that in this audience there are those who do not agree with all of my positions. I recognize, for example, that on the issue of civil rights we will find disagreement with my position. But I do know that as I stand here, you respect me as a man who talks the same in the North and the East and the West and the South and stands for his convictions, as I do today.

And I want to say this: In this great struggle for peace and freedom we're going to win. I'll tell you why we're going to win. Not because we're the strongest nation in the world militarily, and will stay that way - and I pledge it. Not because we're the richest nation economically, and we'll stay that way - and I pledge it.

Do you know why we're going to win, my friends? Because we're on the right side. Do you know what the right side is? It's the side of the ideals of the American people. I'll tell you why I know. I have been to 54 countries with my wife. I have talked to great throngs like this and, whether it's in Asia or Africa or South America or Europe, or Russia or Poland, the people of the world want peace. The people of the world want freedom. The people of the world want to believe in something other than just a man. They want faith - faith in God; faith in the great rights that come not from men, but from God.

What does America stand for? I'll tell you. One hundred and eighty years ago we were not a rich nation. We were not a strong nation militarily. But America caught the imagination of the world because we had faith - faith in ideals that were bigger than America, and they're as big today as they were then.

And, my friends, you must keep these ideals strong in the hearts of our young people, because in the schools, in the churches, in the homes of America we must develop a burning patriotism - the faith in our ideals, in our God - which will enable the next President of the United States to stand for what is right against what is wrong all over the world. And that's what we will do, with your help.

There comes a time in a nation's history when you sense that it has reached a great turning point. I believe that today. The question is: Do we turn away from the policies that have kept the peace? Do we turn away from the policies that have brought us the greatest progress? Do we go to inexperienced leadership? Do we go to policies that we left 7½ years ago that didn't work then and are not better now? Or do we go forward into the future, building on these policies, for greater progress in every field than America, has ever experienced? Do we go forward into the future in which America and her President will stand proudly before the world and say to Mr. Khrushchev : "You say that our grandchildren will live under communism; we say that your grandchildren will live in freedom"?

That is what I want to fight for - and that is what I ask of you today.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President at State House, Columbia, SC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project