Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President at the Alamo, San Antonio, TX

November 03, 1960

I have just been informed by officials on the platform that. this is the largest crowd ever gathered for a political meeting at the Alamo. We thank you for coming. We thank you also for waiting - and I want you to know that the reason we were late was not the Texas weather, but the weather where we were before. Believe me, there's nothing that can really give this campaign in Texas the final sendoff that we wanted, more than this tremendous reception right here in San Antonio; and this means that what we do here, what we do at Houston later tonight, and then in our appearance tomorrow at Fort Worth, will carry Texas and the Nation for us on November the 8th.

I have a number of issues that I want to talk to you about today. But before I go into those issues, I want all of my friends here in Texas to know how much I appreciate the opportunity to be on this platform with my fellow candidates - with John Tower, our splendid candidate for the Senate, Ike Kampmann, our candidate for the Senate at the State level, and all of our candidates in this particular State. I want you to know that after what happened at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, I think more and more people in Texas and in the South realize they have to have a choice, so that they won't be taken for granted by their national leaders - and the people of Texas are going to get that choice. I commend these men to you as fine men, as men who can serve Texas and the Nation well in the positions which they seek.

My friends, we have just a few days left, 5 days, until what will be one of the most fateful decisions in the history of the United States, and, of course, the history of Texas. That is the decision you will make as you go, with millions of your fellow citizens, into the polling booths next Tuesday. I want to tell you how I feel you should make that decision. I want to put it in the words that the President of the United States has put it in - words that others who have introduced me today have used, like Gov. Jimmy Byrnes in Columbia S.C., where we, incidentally, had the largest crowd they've ever had for a meeting.

My friends, there are in this audience Republicans - but this is a time when we must think not of our party first, but of America first, and pick the man that's best for America to lead this free world of ours. That is what we did in 1952. That is why Texas went for Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956; because Democrats as well as Republicans said that he was the man to lead America and not his opponent, Adlai Stevenson.

And I say today - I say particularly to those who are Democrats in this great audience, to those of you to whom the charge is often made, that you must vote your party or you will be disloyal to your party - that those who would vote for candidates running on the kind of platform that was adopted in Los Angeles would be disloyal to the true principles of the Democratic Party. I say, my friends - and listen to me on this score - I say again, as I have said over and over, that the party of Schlesinger, the party of Reuther, and the party of Bowles is not the party of Jefferson and Jackson and Wilson, and the party of Democrats in Texas as well.

Now let me tell you why I say that. I say that, my friends, because at Los Angeles there was adopted a platform on which our opponents are running - a platform to which they have pledged their loyalty, which, in terms of the amount of money it would spend - your money - and in terms of the programs it would adopt - programs that would federalize institutions in this country - is the most radical program ever advocated by a political candidate in the United States.

I say that the people of Texas, Democrat or Republican, do not want and will not vote for federalization of basic institutions in this country, as that platform calls for in Los Angeles.

I say that the Democrats in Texas as well as Republicans do not want to send down to Washington their hard-earned dollars and say, "Only the Federal Government can handle our problems," and thereby weaken the States and weaken the local governments. I say you believe as I do. You believe in the true Democratic principle, and it's a Republican principle as well today, and the true Democratic and Republican principle is that the Federal Government should step in only when the States or the local governments can't do the job - that's what I believe in, and that's what you believe in.

Now let's put this in terms that every one of us will appreciate. I'm often asked, "Mr. Nixon, what difference does it make about these promises? Why don't you go out and outpromise your opponents? After all, it's not your money - and if that's what the people want, promise a billion here and a billion there, and then the people will vote for you because you're going to give them what they want."

I'm going to tell you why I don't do that. First, if I made such promises, it wouldn't be good for the country if I kept them; and, second, because I know what it means to meet a budget - I mean a family budget. I know how tough it is, tough not only for my mother and father, but for millions of families in this country to make ends meet at the end of the month, and I know that every time we spend a dollar in Washington that we don't need to spend it makes it tougher for youeverybody in this audience, the housewife, the retired person, the person on social security - to meet your budget. I will not allow one dollar to be spent in Washington that can be spent better back here in San Antonio, Tex., and by the people of Texas.

My friends, my opponent offers programs that will add - and I use this term advisedly - $15 billion a year to the Federal budget. He says, "I'm against raising taxes." He says, "I'm for balancing the budget." But he also says he's for this program.

Now, my friends, you can't be for all three he's got to give up one of the three. If he's for spending $15 billion more, he's either got to raise taxes, or he's got to raise prices through deficit spending - and I say he should tell the American people: Does he want to raise taxes? Does he want to have deficit spending and raise prices, or what part of his program is he going to give up? Let's have the truth from him about this before electron day, so the people can decide.

Let me put it in terms that all of us can understand. You remember when I was here before. You remember the year 1952, going back even 8 years. You remember the situation then? Just think back a minute, particularly those of you who have mothers or fathers that were retired and living on a little social security, or a pension. Do you remember in those 7 Truman years what happened? Your income was cut in half, because the Federal Government was spending more than it was taking in - because it was adopting the same kind of low-interest-rate policies, so-called, the same kind of interest-rate policy: a political control of the Federal Reserve System that my opponent advocates today. It meant that millions of Amerieans - those who were living on pensions, who had a little social security, who had retired - had the cruelest blow of all. And that was for the Government to break faith with them, because the value of the dollar was cut in half during the Truman years.

My friends, I say that was wrong. I say it will never happen again. I will not let it happen again, because I believe when people work hard, when they save their money, when they put it in social security or life insurance or pensions, that those of us in government have a responsibility to see to it that the dollar you earn today brings you a dollar's worth of groceries or food or whatever you want to buy tomorrow, or 5 years from now when you retire; and that's what we're going to do.

In all those fields it adds up to the same thing. If you want bigger Federal Government, more control over your lives, control over your educational system, control over the medical profession - if you want these things, you have a choice. But, my friends, if you believe we had enough of that in 1953 - and I think we had enough of it, believe me - if you think we had enough of that mess in 1953 and you don't want to go back, then let's go forward and build on the Eisenhower policies for a greater America for all of the people of this country.

How do we go forward? What is the way to the future? I'll tell you. It's for the Government to do those things that should be done. Yes, programs in the field of health for the aged, in social security, in education. We have them, but they are programs, my friends, which are built on this sound premise - that the way to greatness in America is not through just what the Federal Government does. The way to greatness in America is what the Government encourages 180 million free Americans to do for themselves - and that's what you believe in Teas, I know, as well as in the rest of the country.

So, here's your choice. Remember 8 years ago. Do you want to go back? Do you want to go forward? We have the way, and we will lead you that way with your votes on November the 8th.

Now I come to my second point - one that I make here in this hallowed ground of the Alamo. I do not consider any statement I've made in this campaign more significant, or more appropriate, than this one. My friends, the major decision you make this November will be about the survival of America. I don't mean just peace; I mean peace without surrender. I don't mean just freedom for us; I mean freedom for the whole world.

You folks understand that down here. You believe in it deeply - the great tradition of Texans, not only at the Alamo, but throughout all of our history. After all, a great Texan is now President of the United States of America.

And the question that you will answer on your ballots is this: Which of the two candidates for the Presidency can best lead America, apart from party, apart from anything else - which can best lead America and keep the peace without surrender, and extend freedom throughout the world?

So, first, we look at our opponent's program and then we look at mine, and you take your choice. What does he say? Now look what he says: First, he says that as far as President Eisenhower is concerned his 8 years as leader of this country in the field of foreign policy were 8 years of retreat and defeat.

Now, my friends, you know the answer. The adjectives are all right, but it's the wrong administration. He meant Truman.

Incidentally, I notice that Mr. Kennedy has been complaining because President Eisenhower is supporting me for the Presidency. Believe me, I would be worried if I were he, with Truman on his side and Eisenhower on mine. Eisenhower doesn't cuss, but he sure says the right words at the right time.

Yes, we had defeat and retreat; 600 million people went behind the Iron Curtain. Do you remember? Do you remember Yalta? Do you remember Potsdam? And do you remember Korea? You remember how it happened? An American Secretary of State drew a line, and he said that Korea won't be defended, in effect. He thought that that meant peace. But it led to war, because the Communists, when he said come and get it, tried, and 150,000 American boys were casualties as a result.

I say that was wrong. I say the American people will be forever grateful to President Eisenhower for ending the Korean war. And I say I will never make that mistake, and no American President should ever make it again by drawing that kind of line.

So what does our opponent offer? Does he offer faith in America? Oh, no. He says America is second in science; America is second in education; America has the worst slums; it has the most crowded people; it has lost its sense of purpose.

All these things he has said. Now, my friends, let me tell you this: A man who wants to be captain of the team shouldn't be selected if he's going to run down the team at home and abroad - and that's what he has been doing.

I'll tell you the truth. There are things wrong with American education, but it's the best education in the world - and make no mistake about that.

There are areas in science where we're not ahead. But overall we're far ahead of the Russians and everybody else, and he knows it, and I know it, and we can be thankful for that.

The Russians got a head start in space. Why? Because they let them get a head start by not doing anything while they had the administration. But we've caught them, and now the space score on the number of shots is 28 to 8, and that's pretty good in football, and it's very good in space as well.

My friends, I say it's time for the candidate to quit running down the United States and start speaking up for the United States.

Now what about his foreign policy ? What would it be? I'll tell you. You've had three examples to prove it. Dwight Eisenhower has kept the peace. He's kept it without surrender for 7 years. How did he do it? By being firm, by being strong, by never being belligerent.

Now look what our opponent would have done. You've heard him in this campaign. On Quemoy and Matsu, he would have made the same mistake as Korea, voting, as he has in many cases, different from his running mate, a distinguished citizen of Texas. He said, no, we're going to slice off a bit of freedom, and we're going to turn it over, in effect, to the Communists, because it's indefensible, and because it's only a few miles from the enemy.

Now, my friends, was he right? No. The President was right, because 5 years ago the decision was made, and we've kept the peace there. So, he was wrong. The President was right.

The second point: You remember the Paris Conference - Khrushchev insulting the President of the United States, Khrushchev saying to the President, "Apologize or express regrets or I'm going to break up this Conference." You remember the President said "No." He kept his dignity, but he did not apologize or express regrets. Then what did Mr. Kennedy do? He shot from the hip, but not like a Texan. He missed the mark, believe me. He shot from the hip and said, the President could have apologized, could have expressed regrets. Was he right? Was the President right?

And the third point, on Cuba. Here again - and here's where belligerency comes in - the President said we're going to quarantine this little pipsqueak Castro, and we quarantined him by putting in effect economic restrictions on our trade.

And then what did our opponent suggest? He shot from the hip again, and he suggested something that caused consternation all over the world. He suggested Government intervention in effect, in the affairs of Cuba. There was so much consternation that the next day he took it back and said, I didn't mean it. I just meant doing what the President was doing. And again he was wrong.

In every one of these three instances, do you see what would have happened if he had been President? In Quemoy and Matsu, it might have meant war or it might have meant surrender. In Cuba, it might have meant war, by inviting the Communists in - civil war, which we couldn't stay out of. And in Paris - the U-2 flights - it would have meant certainly surrender of principle, and it would have encouraged Mr. Khrushchev to beat him to a pulp, because that's the only thing he understands.

So, I say this to you: Consider these factors. Remember, as a candidate, he's taken back all three of these positions. But, you know, when you're President, you can't take them back. When you're President, when you make up your mind, and make a decision, it's for keeps.

So I say to you, my friends, that we cannot afford in these times to have a man who is rash, who is impulsive, who shoots from the hits, who three times would have been wrong in these critical years. We can't afford to use the White House as a training school to give him experience at the expense of the American people and of the free world.

Now may I return to the Alamo. What is the spirit we need today? Well, it's not the whining spirit that we hear from our opponent, and all this second-rate business about America, not the whining spirit about this island or that one being indefensible. What if the men in the Alamo had thought about what was defensible? What if they had been thinking about how close the enemy was?

You know what would have happened. My friends, we need in Texas, we need in America. and we need in the world: the spirit of men of the Alamo, and we will have it under our leadership.

What is that spirit? That spirit is this: That we believe in freedom. We believe in it and we are willing to stand for it in the councils of the world. What will we do for freedom? We will keep America the strongest nation in the world. Why? Because that's the way to keep the peace, unless and until our potential enemies reduce their strength, as we reduce ours.

What else will we dog We will be firm at the conference table, firm without being belligerent. Why? Because that's the way to keep the peace. Because the policy of weakness, the policy of Acheson, the policy of Kennedy, would lead to surrender.

And what else will we do? My friends, above all, we will keep before the people of America and the whole world the spirit of the men in the Alamo, and that spirit is this: Faith - a faith in the rightness of their cause; a faith in their God; a faith in their country; a faith in their ideals. This is what America needs today. We need this above everything else in this conflict.

Listen, I have seen Mr. Khrushchev. I have seen the Communist world, and I know that we can win. But I know that the way to win is not only for us to keep our military strength and economic strength. Above all, we must have faith in the rightness of our cause. We must hold our ideals for peace, for freedom, for justice high before the world.

If we do this, there is no question about the outcome. And, now, my friends I ask you: If you believe that my colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I are the ones to lead America, if you believe that we have this faith, then I say: Give us your support.. Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President at the Alamo, San Antonio, TX Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project