Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President of the United States at Natrona County High School Gym, Casper, WY

November 04, 1960

My friend, Keith Thomson, Bill Harrison, Governor Simpson; all of the distinguished guests here on the platform; this great audience here in the auditorium, and the much greater audience, in size, which is listening on television and radio, and those outside who couldn't get in, we want you to know that we're very happy to be in wonderful Wyoming today. As you can tell, I developed a little hoarseness from a long day of campaigning in Texas yesterday. I can only tell you that the reason for it was that our crowds at every place - in Houston, at the Alamo in San Antonio and then in Fort Worth - were the biggest in history. And today, as we move on through Wyoming, we sense a great tide running in our direction that means victory on November the 8th.

I particularly want to pay my respects to, and to urge your support for your candidates here in the State of Wyoming - for Keith Thomson who has rendered splendid service in the House of Representatives, and who will make a great Senator from this State - and from what I have heard, he is going to be your Senator in the U.S. Senate; for Bill Harrison, who, as Governor Simpson indicated, is a man who has superb qualifications, who knows the needs of this State of Wyoming, but who, in addition to that, has an understanding of the problems of the Nation. For him, too, I urge your support, and also for those running for the State legislature as well, and others who are on this platform today.

Now, as we get into the final days of a campaign, some of the issues begin to shape up, and I've learned from my continued appearances here in the State of Wyoming that you are a very straight-talking people. You like to lay it right on the line, and I'm going to do that today.

First of all, I'm going to tell you what the choice is on November the 8th. It's very simple. It's a fateful choice for the American people. It's more important than whether we're Democrats or Republicans. It involves the future of America, and we've got to put America first and party second, as we vote on November the 8th.

I say that, as you make this choice, you're going to determine which road America takes for the next 4 years. You're going to determine whether America goes forward, whether we build on the polices of the last 8 years - the policies that brought peace to America, that kept us out of war, that got us out of the war that we were in, that brought the greatest progress that America has ever had - or whether we turn back to the policies we left 8 years ago, which were a mess then and are worse today.

As a matter of fact, that word "worse" slipped out, because they're worse than the policies of Harry Truman in some respects, as I will point out in just a moment.

Now, my friends, when I say these things, I know that immediately you have in your minds some of the campaign oratory which has been passing through the State of Wyoming other States, and I'd like to nail just a little bit of it right herein Wyoming.

First, I said that we've had the greatest progress in these past 7½ years of any administration in history. But you hear my opponent saying: America has been standing still, and we've got to get her going again. Therefore, this is a time for greatness. Vote for me. I am the great man.

Doesn't he know that President Eisenhower is one of the greatest Presidents we've ever had? Well, the American people do.

I might suggested that to anybody who says that America is standing still - they ought to come to Casper. Look at what has happened here in the last 7½ years.

As I drove in, as I saw all of the oil drilling equipment areas, as I saw the great plants that have been developed, I realized the tremendous progress that has taken place right here in Wyoming during that period. And I say that you want to go forward and don't want to go back now. I say that you want to build on the policies that we have developed, that you don't want to have another chance at the policies that we left before.

Now, let's get down to some specifies. First of all, looking at the economy of this area right here, how did this develop? Why was it that so many people were able to come into this State, discover the oil, the gas deposits that were here, and greatly enrich the State of Wyoming and the Nation in the process? I'll tell you why it happened. It wasn't because Government came in and did it, but it was cause Government adopted policies that encouraged individuals to take a chance and to invest.

My friends, I believe in individual enterprise. My policies will encourage individual enterprise. My opponent by virtually every utterance shows his lack of faith in the American people and the individual enterprise system. And they're going to vote against him, because they have faith in themselves, even if he doesn't have faith in them.

He has shown that lack of faith by wanting to turn over this problem and that one to the Federal Government. He shows that lack of faith by his desire to impose controls on the economy of this country. He shows that lack of faith in his farm program. He shows that lack of faith in his equivocal attitude, for example, on the oil depletion allowance.

Of course, he has running with him his running mate, who has to be for the depletion allowance. He, on the other hand, has to explain the fact that he voted against it - and he also has to be concerned about the fact, as he was in our debates, that there was mixed feeling in this part of the country and in other parts of the country as to what ought to be done. And so - being called on one side or the other, some of his supporters saying, "Mr. Kennedy, you've got to keep doing what you used to do; vote to cut this allowance," and others of his supporters saying, "vote to keep this allowance" Senator Kennedy says, well I'm going to study it.

My friends, he's had plenty of time to study it - 14 years. If he hasn't made up his mind at this point, he won't make up his mind as President, and I say we're going to vote for somebody who has made up his mind, and that is what I have done.

Let me put this in terms, though, that all of us will understand and appreciate. This isn't simply a question of something that lawyers and tag commissioners are concerned about. This isn't a question of what we do to help the rich oil men get richer. This is a question of how we develop the resources of America. And the reason we need this allowance is that we have got to encourage not the big companies, but the individual enterpriser, the wildcatter, and the others, to go out and discover these things.

For you here in Wyoming, it's a question, too, of your jobs. It's a question of the taxes which come from this industry that we're talking about. This is the kind of philosophy that we have, and I don't know of any one issue that greater shows the difference in attitude of the two candidates than this one.

I have confidence in individual enterprise. I want every Government policy to encourage it. My opponent apparently lacks confidence in individuals, and that's why he has programs that would discourage individual enterprise. There's your choice, and I have no doubt about what the individuals of Wyoming are going to do on November the 8th.

Now, let's turn to a second point about which people of Wyoming are concerned. America has been standing still, he says. He specifically says that America has been standing still in reclamation. Now, I've been nailing that all over the West, ever since this campaign began, but I think it's just as well to nail it right here in Wyoming, which knows reclamation, which knows the facts, You know what the truth is, and that's the trouble with my opponent's promises and oratory. The reason he's slipping now in this campaign is that the truth is catching up with him every place around the country.

You know, for example, that in the field of reclamation there have been 30 percent more new starts in this administration than in the previous administration. You know, for example, that in the field of reclamation one dollar out of three that have been invested in reclamation in this Nation's history, has been invested by this administration. You know, also, if you study the record, that the greatest reclamation project in history, the Upper Colorado, was initiated and approved by this administration. And, if you will also study the record, you will find that my opponent was recorded against that particular project. So, I say this Pied Piper from Boston shouldn't come out here to the West and say who is for or against reclamation.

My friends, the people of the West know that I have always supported these projects. They know that I have led the fight within the administration in these particular areas, and I think they know who their friends are - and they're not going to have a Jackie-come-lately come in here and say he's for reclamation now, and he's changed his mind.

We're going to build on that record. That's why we're going to have a program of new starts. Why do we need them? Because America's got to continue to grow. We've got to build this great West of ours, and the way that we build it is through developing its natural resources as well as its human resources, and I pledge to you that under our leadership we will build them. Under their leadership, you'll go back again to the kind of stagnation that we got rid of in 1953.

Now, let's take another point: the farm program. A lot of folks out here are interested in farming. A lot of you are interested in ranching, particularly cattle ranching, and some of you in wheat or sugar beets. I know something about the economy. There's a tremendous interest. What kind of farm program are we going to have? I think that this campaign reached its height in the use of language that was nondescriptive when my opponent said that I was using blackmail tactics as far as my discussion of the farm program was concerned. The trouble was that he was describing his own farm program, rather than mine when he used the word "blackmail."

Let me tell you what it would do, how it would blackmail the farmers and ranchers of America.

At the present time, as you know there are certain crops that are covered by mandatory supports. At the present time as you also know, the problem, in this whole area, is that of surplus. As long as you have got these surpluses overhanging the market, on the farmer's back, you're going to have prices and farm income depressed. So, the key to the problem - and this is my program - is to lift the surpluses off the farmer's back, off the Nation's back, off the taxpayer's back.

And what is that key ? That key is not a program of scarcity, not one of cutting down markets, but one of expanding them, expanding them abroad, expanding them at home, expanding uses of farm products. And I have a program, Operation Consume, which I announced in my farm speech in South Dakota, which will do exactly that.

Now what does my opponent say? Again he shows a lack of faith in the future of America. He shows a lack of faith in what individual farmers can do. He says this problem is too big for the farmers; not only too big for the farmers who are already under controls, but also for those growing the other 250 products that are not controlled.

So, he said - now, get this - that we will set up a program in which every crop that is grown in the United States, whether it's wheat or corn or tomatoes or chickens, or anything of that sort, is controlled. How ? By the Federal Government. The Federal Government of course, will have to hire some people - 50,000 new inspectors. And what will they do? They're the ones who come in and they'll tell the farmers, the ranchers, the growers of America, when they can grow things, where they can grow them, how much they can grow, what they can sell them for and when they can sell them.

That is his program. But here's the catch. The blackmail, the Pied Piper tactic here, is to say: "Look, come along with me, because, if you do, I'm going to raise your farm prices." But the catch - and here's what all the farmers and ranchers of America, are going to know - is the price. The price is, (1) these Federal inspectors controlling, the lives of our farmers; and (2) they say we'll raise your prices if you will let us cut your production.

You know what they would do to cattle production? First they would impose controls. Second, they'd fix the prices. And then they would cut cattle distribution as far as markets are concerned by 20 percent. They would cut wheat acreage by 35 to 40 percent, and you could go right on dawn the line.

My friends, they would drive, through this program, a million farmers and farmworkers off the farms of America.

Let me tell you one other thing. These figures that I'm giving are not mine. These are figures that my opponent himself said he would rely on, because in his own farm speech he said that the career employees of the Department of Agriculture could figure out the cost of his program, and its consequences. And, so, they have announced this. They have announced what it would require. And I say to you the farmers and ranchers of America don't want any part of a program that's going to cut their acreage and impose controls on them worse than in any country in the world that we have at the present time.

Now, some of you might say: "Well, that goes pretty far, Mr. Vice President." They're not my words. They're Henry Wallace's. He's not particularly conservative, as you know. And what did he say about it? He said that this farm program was one that would impose controls that in some respects were more rigid than those even in Communist countries.

My friends, this we cannot have. This is turning back. It's turning the wrong way. The way to greatness in America is not to turn toward totalitarian methods, but to turn toward freedom and a program of productivity for America.

I could give other examples, but this proves the point. This shows you what you're up against, and I think can best summarize the programs of our opponents by saying that they would cost, in dollars $15 billion a year more annually of Federal money. Federal money, did I say? That's your money. And may I say in that respect, that if you pay for the promises that this man has been making, it means higher taxes and higher prices for all of the American people.

Now, I know the suggestion has been made : "Well, we won't take it from the poor people - we'll take it from the rich." For example, they will fool around with the depletion allowance, except when they are talking in Texas - then they won't say that - or when they are talking in Wyoming, they say, "Oh, we'll get it out of the rich here by closing tax loopholes." Let me tell you something. If we were to confiscate - get this - very dollar of income in excess of $10,000 from everybody earning over $10,000 a year - that is, take everybody who earns $10,000, and take every dollar they made over $10,000 - and turn it over to the Federal Government, and then try to apply it to pay for these promises, it would still mean that you would only pay about 30 percent of the bill. You would have to go to the people earning less than $10,000 for 70 percent of this $15 billion.

My friends, I know what it means to meet family budgets. I grew up in a family where my father and my mother really had to work to put us through school, to pay the doctor bills, to pay the grocery bills. I know what it means for retired people living on pensions and social security to have their Government break faith with them, as the previous administration did, and cut the value of the dollar in half when their income stays the same. I know this, and I will be for spending every Federal dollar that's necessary, but I'm against spending one nickel at Washington that can be better spent back here in Wyoming or in any other State in the country.

And let me just suggest this: there is not a group that would suffer as much as, and none perhaps more than, the farmers in this respect - because the farmers have a cost-price squeeze, as you know. Farm prices go up, but also the prices of the things you buy go up; and as far as the farmers are concerned nobody should be in a government that does what it should, but spends no more than is necessary, than the farmers, because as farm costs and taxes and prices go up it means that squeeze gets worse and worse.

So, here again the choice is clear, and I think I know what the farmers of Wyoming and the rest of this Nation will do in that respect.

The final point I want to make involves the future of this country. It involves the future of all nations in the world. There's nothing more important than this point. I will not discuss it at length, because we have discussed it so much in this campaign. My friends, the most fateful choice you will make is: which of the two candidates can best lead America and the free world, keep the peace without surrender, and extend freedom without war? All that I can say in this respect is that the choice is between our ticket - our ticket, which has been trained by and under President Eisenhower; our ticket, which has worked for 7½ years in an administration that has been successful in keeping America out of war and avoiding surrender; our ticket, both of whom know Khrushchev, have never been taken in by him, always been firm, never belligerent - or their ticket - their ticket, which says that our foreign policy has failed; their ticket, which says that America in so many fields is second rate; their ticket, which says, in effect, that President Eisenhower's leadership has been one of retreat and defeat in the field of foreign policy; their ticket, whose leader disagreed with the President on Quemoy and Matsu. He would have made the wrong decision; he would have surrendered some islands of freedom and invited war - and again suggested to the President that he could have apologized or expressed regrets to Khrushchev; and then finally, he would have made a fatal error on Cuba which would have lost us all of our friends in the Americas and most of them in the rest of the world.

My friends, it's a choice between the men that you know, men who have had experience, and men who are inexperienced - and particularly one who has shown a tendency to shoot from the hip, who has been wrong three times on great decisions in these past 5 years.

My friends, your choice, I think, is clear.

Of course, in all fairness, I've got to admit that those who support the Senator say, "But, Mr. Nixon a he has changed his mind." They say he now agrees with the President on Quemoy and Matsu, that he doesn't mean he wanted to give up those islands. He now agrees with the President on the summit conference - he doesn't believe he could have apologized.

He now agrees with the President on Cuba - he didn't mean Federal intervention in Cuba.

But, my friends, remember this: I've been in the Office of the President when he's made great decisions. I was there the day he went into Lebanon. It's a very lonely decision a man has to make, because he doesn't get a second chance. A candidate can say something one day, take it back the next, and the country is no worse for it. A President has to decide, and when he decides, if it's wrong, it can mean war or disaster. If he's right, it can mean peace with honor - and that's what it has been with President Eisenhower.

And I say to you, my friends, that whatever the good intentions are, however many mistakes have been made and corrected by my opponent in this campaign, that in this critical period we cannot afford to use the White House as a training school to give a man experience at the expense of the American people.

There is your choice, the choice at home of going forward or back, of building on the great progress that we have made - building toward better schools, better hospitals, better medical care for our older people - of providing all the good things of life, but doing it through allowing Americans to do everything they can for themselves and Government doing everything that people will not do for themselves; and in the foreign field, a choice between experience and known qualities, and inexperience and the chance that a mistake, out of the best of intentions, could set off the disaster that we do not want.

My friends, I think you know what the answer is. This is bigger, as I said, than whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. A Nation is at stake. The cause of freedom is at stake. The peace of the world is at stake. And I say, if you believe that, then whatever you are - Republicans or Democrats - let's vote for what is best for America; and that will be best for Wyoming.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President of the United States at Natrona County High School Gym, Casper, WY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project