Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, Coliseum, Spokane, WA

November 04, 1960

Thank you very much.

This is certainly a very great welcome as we arrive here on our last western swing of the campaign, and I can only tell you, as I see this packed coliseum here in the heart of the inland empire, that this can mean only that we are on the way to a great victory in the State of Washington.

I mean not only victory for our team at the national level, our candidates for President and Vice President, but also for the reelection of your Congressman Walt Horan in this district, of Catherine May in the next district and for the new Governor of the State of Washington, a great governor, Lloyd Andrews.

For those in our television audience and for those in this hall who wondered why we had two introductions, I want you to know that was my fault. We were a little late arriving at the airport due to some technical difficulties getting off at our last stop, Casper, Wyo. As a result, we arrived at different times in the hall here. But I want to say this: I don't know when I enjoyed being introduced twice, more than I did today right here in this great city.

As we enter the last days of this campaign, of course, the issues that will decide it are becoming clearer and clearer. It seems that in this campaign it has taken more time than usual for those issues to get home to the American people. But you know that our people, while they sometimes will come rather late to a realization of what they are deciding in a political campaign, generally reach conclusions and make very, very good conclusions in the end, before the campaign reaches the voting stage.

Today, as I bring this campaign to the great Northwest, I welcome the opportunity before this tremendous audience and before this audience on television and radio, to delineate, to sell out the issues - the choice that you will have on November 8, a choice which I think is one that must be made not on the basis of whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, not on the basis of how your father or your grandfather voted, or how somebody else tells you to vote, but on one test only. I say, my friends, that the need for leadership in America and the world is such, today, that America and the American people must make the decision on the basis of which of the two candidates for the Presidency and which of the two candidates for the Vice Presidency can best provide the leadership which will serve America and the cause of peace without surrender in the world.

I say that because this, I find, is the mood of the country. I have now been in 49 States, more States than have ever been visited by a presidential candidate. As you know, I will go to Alaska which will make 50 States since this convention and I want you to know that in every State in which I go I find the same mood. I find people not thinking in terms of simply voting a party label. I find people looking at the candidates and listening to what they have to say, sometimes waiting to make up their minds, because the people realize that this decision is such an important one. Therefore, let me now indicate to you the roads that I think America has offered to it, in this particular phase of the campaign.

Let me indicate to you the choice you will make when you cast your votes on November the 8th.

First, basically, what we have to recognize is that for the last 7½ years Cabot Lodge and I have been part of the present administration. I'm proud of the record of that administration. I'm proud of the President of the United States and the leadership he has given to this country.

I believe that we should take that record and not stand on it, but build on it. I believe that we can take that record and, from the base which it has provided, build a better America at home, and that we can build a new world abroad. I think this is possible.

I believe that my colleague and I have had some experience that is worth considering - experience which enables us to tell the American people: We will follow President Eisenhower but we will go forward from this position, go forward in the way that the great progressive American people always want to go. That is one choice, and then there is another choice. There is the choice that is offered by our opponents. They say that this record is one on which we should not build. They say that this record is one that has been disastrous for the American people. To quote them exactly, in the field of foreign policy, they say that the 7½ Eisenhower years have been - and I quote - years of "defeat and retreat and stagnation."

They say at home that as far as the Eisenhower years are concerned, they have been - and I again quote - years of "standing still" for America.

My friends, if those two charges are true, I do not deserve - my colleague does not deserve, Walt Horan, Catherine May do not deserve - your support; but if those two charges are not true, then we believe we do deserve your support.

And now let's look at the charges.

One: Has America been standing still? Do we have to get her going again.

Well, the answer, my friends, is not to listen to me, not to listen to my opponent, but to listen to your own commonsense and look around you at the development in the State of Washington - look around you at the development in this community. America has had the greatest progress in the last 7½ years of any period in our history - and we're proud of that progress.

Have this in mind. Education: Three times as many classrooms built in this administration as in the previous administration.

Health: We have found a greater improvement in medical care in this administration than in any administration in history - more hospitals built, for example, than in any period before.

Highways: The greatest highway program in history.

Wages: We find the greatest increase in real wages in this last period of any increase in history, and we remember that in the previous 7 years of the Truman administration there was no increase in the real wages of Americans. Why? Because inflation ate up every bit of the increase.

What do we find, then, in other fields? We find that in addition we have had progress in the kind of fields in which we, in the Pacific Northwest, and the Far West are particularly interested.

I refer, for example, to reclamation; and with the Secretary of the Interior sitting right here on the stage - Fred Seaton, a man who has given tremendous leadership to his country and to this administration - I am glad to nail one of the worst fabrications, falsehoods, lies that you can name in this campaign, and that is that this administration has been a period of standing still in reclamation.

I tell you, my friends, that is the exact opposite of the truth. We have had more progress in reclamation in this administration than in any administration in history - and we're proud of it.

You say, prove it. You know, you hear about new starts and we've had new starts - 30 percent more during the Eisenhower years than in the previous 7 years.

What about the future? A program of development which will be greater than any in the history of our country. Where do the candidates stand on it? Well, my friends, look at my record. Compare it with my opponent's. He has opposed these projects because he came, of course, from New England. Now he's changed his mind. But I'm not a Johnny-come-lately on this. I have been for these projects, and I think that you can be sure that we will move forward in reclamation under our leadership.

So the charge that America has been standing still simply doesn't stand up.

Let's look at the period as far as foreign policy is concerned. Retreat and defeat and stagnation for America? Why, my friends, those adjectives are all right. The only trouble is that Mr. Kennedy's applying them to the wrong administration. He was thinking of Harry Truman's administration.

You remember when I was here. You remember that right here in Spokane, when I spoke out in the outdoor meeting, I pointed to the record of the 7 Truman years. Do you recall ? Six hundred million people went behind the Iron Curtain during those years. Do you recall the policies that led to the war in Korea? Because of foolishness in the State Department, because an American Secretary of State did what Mr. Kennedy would do today - draw a line and say to the Communists, "come and get it," draw a line in the name of peace, but draw it and invite war.

My friends, we had enough of that kind of foolishness in 1953. And I say we don't want any part of it in 1980.

But now you have the choice. You have the choice and I ask you to consider it - consider it in your own minds, and consider it on the basis of the records. If you believe the charge that we have been standing still; if you believe the charge that our foreign policy has failed, then your choice is clear. But my friends, if you know the truth - and the truth is that we have been moving forward - if you know the truth, that under this administration we have given the United States peace, ended one war, and kept out of other wars, if you like what you've had, and if you want leadership that till build on it, then that is what we offer, and that is what we will give you, if you give us the opportunity on November the 8th.

But let us move from here. Where do we go? What kind of a future does America face? What kind of future does the world face?

At home, my friends, we can have the greatest progress that the world has ever known - even greater than we've had in the last 8 years, greater because we have a bigger base on which to build, greeter because we have within our people and within ourselves the ability to move forward; but, my friends, we want to move forward by relying on what is the real motive power for growth in this country.

Let me put it this way: You've heard a lot about new frontiers in this campaign. Believe me, all Americans want to cross new frontiers. That's the spirit that made America great - that's the spirit that developed the West. But, my friends, if we've going to develop new frontiers, if we're going to move across them, we can't move across them in an old jalopy with a new paint job, I can assure you of that.

New frontiers! How has the West developed? It was not developed by a group of Americans saying we're weak, that we can't take care of our own problems, that we're going to send all the problems to the Government. Government didn't develop the West. It helped, but how? It helped by allowing and inspiring individuals, and it was the individual pioneer spirit that developed the West and developed America - and that's what we need in the United States today, if were going to develop the new frontiers.

So, in these fields, in the field of education, in the field of housing, in the field of health, in the field of better jobs for more Americans and higher wages, we offer progress - but progress in which the Federal Government, recognizing its responsibility, does not take responsibility from individuals, but encourages maximum participation by individuals and by the States where they can do the job.

What is the other choice? Well, the other choice is one that you've been hearing a great deal about. It's one that sounded very good for a while. It's one, however, where the very wise American people finally caught up with what the truth was.

You recall it started with this kind of reasoning: One: We were standing still;

Two: We have to get going again ;

Three: There are some new frontiers;

Four: I will lead you over these new frontiers. But, there was a catch - and the catch was that in order to lead you, you've got to give me your money - only $15 billion of it - but $15 billion of your money, I've got to have.

Now, with this $15 billion - and that is what the programs of my opponent's platform - that is what his promises - will cost at a minimum, in my opinion; $15 billion, because he's even added to the platform by promises since then - $15 billion a year more spent by Government in Washington.

For what? In the name of progress. Will it produce progress? The answer is: "No." The answer is "No," because it fails to take advantage of, and fails to use, what I indicated a moment ago was the real basis for progress - and that is the creative genius of 180 million free individual Americans. It puts the emphasis on what the Government does.

But let's go further. Here's this $15 billion, and my opponent goes on to say to the American people through these past few weeks: "I will give you this progress by sending this money." But then he says: I'm against raising taxes.' And then he says: "I'm for balancing the budget, and against deficit spending."

So, what's this package that is offered? "I'm going to give you programs that will cost $15 billion, but I'm not going to raise your taxes, and I'm not ping to unbalance the budget."

This is the best medicine-man show that ever came to town.

But my friends, you remember those old medicine men who used to come to town? They used to come in and, boy, they really sold that medicine for a while. It would cure anything, cure anything you imagined - snake bite, bronchitis, pneumonia, anything you wanted - same medicine; just a different label every time.

And the medicine man got away with it for awhile, but finally the truth began to catch up with him. The truth began to catch up, as the people found out that what he was selling didn't cure. In some instances it was a deadly poison and believe me, that's exactly what my opponent's program is. It won't cure. It's a poison to the economic system of America.

Now, why do I say it's a poison? My friends, do you know what paying for the promises that have been offered in this campaign would do to you, to the housewives who try to balance the family budget, to the retired people - people living on pensions and social security! You know what it would do to you? Go back to the 7 Truman years. We forget so quickly, but you'll remember this. I remember what happened. I remember, and you remember. People who lived on pensions and social security were driven to the wall, because their Government broke faith with them and cut the value of the dollar in half.

You remember what happened to your wages. Wages went up in those 7 years, but did it help you? No, because prices went up 50 percent - they ate up everything. My friends, this is what we have here. You cannot spend $15 billion a year more paying for the promises my opponent has made - you cannot do that and balance the budget; and you cannot do it without raising taxes. You can't do those three things at the same time. Anybody who says you can is an economic ignoramus, and there's no question about it.

What does it mean, then? It means that these promises, which sound so good, mean higher taxes and higher prices for the American people.

Now, if this means progress, that would be one thing; but here's the catch - it does not mean progress. It will stifle individual initiative. It will stifle that kind of new invention and new investment which creates more jobs for America if that kind of program were put into effect. It would result, in my opinion, in the very kind of economic downturn and recession that my opponent so glibly and irresponsibly has predicted.

Let me say this: There will be no recession if we are elected because our programs are built on a sound foundation; but there could be if they are, because their programs will discourage the faith that Americans have in their own economic system. It's just as simple as that.

So, those are the two roads to the future. I think it's pretty clear which road you want to take. Build but build on a sound basis. Build on the basis where the Government spends every dollar that is necessary for progress in this country, but build on the basis where the Government, in spending that money, still recognizes that you must never break faith with the people - still recognizes that the cruelest hoax of all, the cruelest thing you can do to people, is to take their money and destroy any value of what they earn, what they save, what they have saved for their old age, for their security. I promise you - all of you who are saving for pensions, all of you who are saving for social security - I promise you that never again will the Government of the United States break faith with you, and that when you earn a dollar today you will be able to get a dollar's worth tomorrow or 5 years or 10 years from now when you retire - and you want that certainty for your future.

Now, let us talk about the other roads that they offer, the roads in the field of foreign policy. Here we find another choice, our opponents again saying that our policies have been policies of defeat and retreat, and we saying and pointing to the record of what we have done. My friends, what do they offer? You know what we will do. We have been part of this administration. We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We both, I think, have proved that we can handle him and not be fooled by him, and that means something in today's world, I can assure you.

What is your choice on the other side? Your choice on the other side is a man who three times in the course of this campaign has disagreed with the President. Three times he's shot from the hip, rashly and impulsively, and three times if he had been President he would have made errors that would have been disastrous to America, and the cause of freedom and peace

The first one was on Quemoy and Matsu - you remember that one - drawing the line, and that would have invited Communist attack, the very same thing that brought on the Korean war. The President was right. He was wrong.

The second one was with regard to the President's conduct at the Paris conference. You recall what he said then. He said the President could have apologized, could have expressed regrets to Khrushchev for the U-2 flights. He was wrong. The President was right, right because no President can ever apologize for defending the security of the United States against surprise attack.

And then, my friends, the third point you will recall if you heard our last debate, was on Cuba where he said the President wasn't going far enough, and where he, in effect, advocated policies that were universally interpreted as meaning intervention in the affairs of Cuba. And what would that have meant? It would have invited the very kind of intervention from abroad that could have brought war to this hemisphere and to the world.

Three times up; three times down. How many tests does he get? All that I can say is this, my friends: I realize that he and his apologists and defenders say, "But, Mr. Nixon, he's changed his mind. He says now he supports the President on Quemoy and Matsu." That's right - he says now he didn't really mean "apologize and express regrets." That's right - he says now that on Cuba he's been misinterpreted, but that actually he's changed his mind perhaps, and now supports the President. Maybe he did, but my friends, remember this: When you're a candidate, you can say things - you can make mistakes and take them back the next day and nobody is the worse for it. But when you're President - sitting there in that oval room in the White House - when you make a mistake, it's for keeps: When you make a decision, you don't get a chance to take it back.

I've seen the President make decisions. I remember the day we went into Lebanon, and I remember that on that day he knew the decision involved war or peace; and he took a risk, but he knew that there was a greater risk if we didn't go in. He was right. What if he had been wrong?

My friends, I say to you today you have the test - the test, and the men who have been through the fire of decision, men who have had the experience of these last 7 years; men who will not guarantee you perfection, because nobody can do that, but who will reduce mistakes to a minimum.

And then you have the choice, on the other side, of a man who has been rash, who has been impulsive.

What is the answer? I say that we cannot use the White House in these critical periods as a training school to give experience to a man at the expense of the American people.

And now, if I could make my last point, this is one that I particularly feel very strongly about, as this campaign nears its close, seeing a great audience like this, having seen the tumultuous reception that we had in the center of the city, having had a change to visit with some of those who were at the airport, I recognize the tremendous responsibilities that I will have or that my opponent will haves, whoever is the next President of the United States I just want to say to all of you here today that in this political campaign you will hear of much that is wrong about America. You will hear predictions about what is going to happen abroad and at home that will be terrifying. I would not want to conclude without concluding on a note of faith.

My friends, have no doubt about it. America is not only the strongest country in the world militarily and the strongest country in the world economically; but, more than that, America, is honored in the world - and I'll tell you why.

I have been to 54 countries. We are honored not because we're strong, but because we stand for and believe in the right things. You know what they are? Our faith in God; our belief in the rights of men; our believe that the rights men have to freedom and to equality of opportunity do not come from men, but that they come from God and, therefore, cannot be taken away by men; our belief that nations have a right to be independent, that men have a right to be free.

Oh, those things, you say - those are just words. What can they mean in a great world struggle in which the Communists have missiles and productivity ?

My answer is this: My friends; the militarists and the materialists throughout history have underestimated the strength of ideals:

One hundred and eighty years ago America was a weak country militarily. We were not a rich country, but we were one of the strongest countries in the world because the believed in ideals that were greater than America - and today I tell you we will win this struggle for the peace of the world. The reason we will win is because we're on the right side. I have seen it in the faces of people in 54 countries around the world. I have seen it in the faces of people in the heart of Russia, itself, in Siberia. I have seen it in the faces of 250,000 people in Poland on a Sunday afternoon, in Warsaw. I know - I have faith - that the great American people will remember that the real source of their strength is their faith in what we believe, and that this comes not from your Government, not from a leader, but from you - it comes from the schools; it comes from the churches; it comes from the homes of America.

And so, my last plea to you is this: keep America strong at home. Keep the young people of America instilled with a burning faith in our country's future, and also with a recognition of those ideals that have made us great. If you do that, then the next President of the United States will be able to lead America and the free world to a great victory over the forces of slavery, over the forces of injustice, and to victory without war.

That's what we want. That's what we must have - and, with your help, we will have it.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, Coliseum, Spokane, WA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project