Remarks of the Vice President, University of Toledo Fieldhouse, Toledo, OH
Mr. Chairman, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform, and this great audience here in the fieldhouse at Toledo, I want you to know that this is the end of a day of campaigning in Ohio, but it isn't only that. I think you should also know that I have done a lot of campaigning in my relatively brief life, but of all the days I have campaigned - and there have been many great days - in terms of the size of the crowds, the number of people, the enthusiasm of the people, this has been the greatest day of campaigning in my life - and I thank you for it.
I say that, and I say it also indicates that something very significant is happening as we enter the homestretch of this campaign. I am so glad to see so many students here who may be thinking of a political career. To those who may be students of politics and may be thinking of that kind of career, I can assure you that there comes a time in a campaign when the chips are down, when the people begin to make up their minds. And that time usually comes sometime in the last 3 weeks before election. And I have sensed that since we began to travel by train through Pennsylvania and Ohio, a great tide has been running in favor of our ticket. I want to tell you why I think it's happening. I think it's happening because the American people - I say the American people, not just Republicans, but the Democrats, the Independents, the Republicans alike - have now finally caught up with the campaign of our opponent, and they don't like it, and they like ours, and they're going to support us on November the 8th.
Now let me make one thing very clear. It is the responsibility of whoever is the opposition candidate in a campaign to indicate those areas where he believes an administration has failed to do its job, because that's the way we build a greater country here - by self-criticism in elections and out of elections as well. But it is also the responsibility of whoever is the candidate for the Presidency, particularly, where he does engage in such criticisms, for him to be accurate, for him to be sure in his criticisms that he states the facts as they are and does not misstate them. That is particularly necessary today because we are engaged in a great struggle, a struggle for the survival of everything we believe in and everything we stand for, a struggle in which it is important that America do the very best that it can and that all Americans do their best for America so that America can do its best for the world. And in this kind of struggle we have got to be careful of what we say, to be sure that we're accurate, so that we do not repeat those things that are untrue and those things that might downgrade America not only at home, but abroad.
My opponent has made the mistake in this campaign, in my opinion, particularly the last 2 or 3 weeks, of emphasizing over and over again not only those things that he believes are wrong with America, but restating things that are inaccurate. I am referring to several of them tonight, and I want to talk on those particular points before I go on to the very great issues with which you are concerned.
It has been said that America is second in education. It has been said that America is second in science. It has been said that we have the worst slums. It has been said that we have the most crowded schools. It has been said that 17 million Americans go to bed hungry every night. It has been said that our prestige has reached an alltime low. These things have been said. They have been repeated not only here but they have been repeated abroad. They have been repeated abroad by those who are not friends of America. By those who want to believe these things, who know they are not true, but who delight in hearing them said in an American political campaign Every one of these things that I have just pointed out is not true.
Let me just point out what the truth is about America today, because when we mention the things that are wrong, let's not forget there are a lot of things right about the United States of America - and let's tell the world about them.
Let's start with education. I've been to the Soviet Union. I've seen their schools. I know something about what they have and what they claim to have. America today offers to its young people - and to more of them - better education than any young people in the world can get. It's the best education in the world. It isn't perfect and there are some things that ought to be done about it, some things that Arthur Flemming from Ohio and I have worked together on - and I'm going to talk about some of them tonight. But it's the best education in the world - and I will not have anybody run down American education and say it's second best, because it isn't.
Now let's turn to this charge that 17 million Americans go to bed hungry every night. There are people in America who do not have as much to eat as they would like to have or as they should have. There are people in America who are hungry. But I have been around the world. I have been to 55 countries. I know what the situation is in the world, and let's set the record straight. We in America can be proud of the fact, as I told Mr. Khrushchev at the American Exhibition that in this country we have come closest of all the civilizations in history to reaching what he says is his ideal of prosperity for all in a classless society. Americans are better fed, better housed, better clothed than any people in the world - and I will not have anybody say that is not the case.
Now I want to talk about science. I've just heard about the magnificent new science building you have at the University of Toledo and I only wish that I could see it. I was never particularly good at science. That's the reason, I suppose, I became a lawyer instead. But whatever the reason, I just want to say this: that I know something about it, and if you talk to any scientists as I have talked to great numbers of them in the past few years, you will find that new discoveries in science are not something that are indigenous to our people. We will find, for example, that when we consider the atom and the breakthrough that was made there, that Italians contributed to it and Germans contributed to it and Americans and people all over the world. You will find in this field America will not always be the first to break through in science. But here again, just because in one area or another we find a Soviet scientist may get there first with something, this doesn't mean that American science has gone to pot. This doesn't mean that America in the field of science is second. Today, when we consider the number of Nobel Prize winners, when we consider science in all of its broadest aspects, when we consider, for example, in medicine and in all the other areas which benefit mankind, we're not only first in the world, we're way ahead. And we are going to stay ahead unless we copy the Soviet Union.
Now I want to say a word about our economy. We hear a great deal about the competition that we're in with the Soviet Union, and I say this particularly because there are so many students here of government, as indicated by your interest. I want to say that with regard to the competition that we're in, it is a deadly one.
I remember Mr. Khrushchev standing there with me at the American Exhibition, shaking his fist in my face and he said: "Mr. Nixon, we're behind you now economically. But you know something? We're moving faster than you are." He said, "We're going to catch up with you in about 7 years and when we go by I'm going to wave, and then I'm going to say, 'Come along; follow us; do as we do or you're going to fall hopelessly behind.'" Harold Buschenstein was there with me. He also heard him say it. But he also went with me around the Soviet Union, and he would tell you what I am going to tell you - that Khrushchev is not going to catch us in 7 or 70 years if we remain true to the principles that have made America the most productive nation in the world.
Yes, they are moving forward in one area or another, but we must remember they have a very primitive economy. You can't compare their rate of growth with ours percentagewise and say that because their percentage is greater than ours, that that means they have a better system. This proves nothing at all. It only proves they are in the primitive stage of development. Of course, when they are building their railroads and their steel mills and all their industrial that we already have, that growth percentagewise is inevitable. But let us make one thing very clear in this respect: when we consider the absolute gap, what America has done compared with them, it is the same now as it was 20 years ago. We're still over two times as strong as they are economically.
Am I suggesting that this is enough? Not at all, because I know what a race is. I know how determined they are. I also believe that free men can defeat slaves if both work. But let me say this: America can't rest on her laurels, and that's why in all of these fields we have programs, programs that will move America forward, but programs that will move her forward in the way that we want to go forward and not in a way that would destroy the very values that we have lived for in this country and died for through the years.
Now, if I could turn for just a moment to the difference in approach that we have here. The difference is a very simple one. I think it can be stated in what we think of individuals and their abilities and what we think of government and its responsibilities. I, frankly, believe in people. As I look at the American people and the American history and the American story, it's the most exciting story in the history of mankind. And you know why it's exciting? Because we've always conquered new frontiers. After all, "new frontiers" is not a new phrase coined out of this year's campaign. We have always conquered new frontiers. But do you know how we did it? We didn't do it by saying individuals can't do this; we're very weak, and we don't know how to handle our problems. So we'll have a great, big government bureaucracy do it. The way we did it was through a pioneer spirit in which individuals were given the responsibility, they were given a chance, and when they had a chance they went out and did the job - and that's what I want to do for America and individuals today.
My friends, the easy solution to every problem is to throw up your hands and say: "The individual simply can't do this. The States can't do it; the local government can't do it. We've got to have the Federal Government step in and take over." That's my opponent's answer to everything. I guess it's the one that comes logically to him. If there's any problem, spend more money.
Well, I've never looked at things that way - I've never been able to afford to. I don't look at them that way and do them that way, and I particularly don't look at them that way and do them that way when I realize I am spending more money. It's not mine, but yours you're spending. It's not his either.
And so, in every field, let's make one thing clear: in education, in the scientific breakthroughs which we are supporting; in the field of health, to which I have referred; in the field of economic development, you will find that we have programs, programs, that will really move America forward. Why? Because we tap all the energies of this great Nation. We don't say the individuals can't do this or that. We say we've got to get everything we can out of the individual, everything we can out of local and State government, where it's responsible, and that the Federal Government then leads, directs, coordinates and supplements, but does not supplant what the others do. That's the secret to progress. That is really the philosophy of my program.
And now, if I could spell it out in two or three directions. First, let's take this problem of medical care for the aged. It's one that is very close to my heart. It's one that all of us who have had parents who have had illnesses in their later years, know what a terrible problem it can be to have a great illness and then not to have the funds to take care of it. So, we must do something here, because you can't say, "Well, we'll wait for the time when all of these people can be able to have health insurance" - as eventually that time will come - " on a private basis," because that time will be too late. So, there must be a Government program. The question is, what kind of program? Now, here we see the difference in approach. My opponent says, "Well, private insurance hasn't done the job up to this point. So, we won't have it do its part of the job. The States haven't done a good job. So, we'll leave them out. We'll just turn the whole thing over to the Federal Government." And the way he does it is that he forces everybody who is on social security to contribute to such a program, raises their social security taxes to pay for it, whether they want it or not or whether they need it or not, but he leaves out 3 million people over 65 years of age who don't have social security, and they are the ones, in most instances, who need this protection most. They have no coverage at all.
Now, what is our answer? Our answer is this: We believe the Federal Government has a responsibility. But we believe that the best way to meet this responsibility traditionally is by the Federal Government working with the States so we've got this program as close to the people as possible, with State and local control.
That's point one.
Second, we also believe that Americans should have a choice. We believe that as far as private health insurance is concerned, if an individual wants health insurance and he prefers private health insurance, he ought to be able to get that. And, so, overall, what have we developed? We have developed a program - and get this - in which every individual over the age of 65 years will be able to get health insurance, private or Government, by his own choice, if he wants it; where every individual who wants to have insurance of this type is encouraged to get it. But here is the main point: No American is forced to have health insurance against his will. And this we believe is the American way to meet this problem. In other words, we have here, you see, a program which covers all of our older citizens, including the 3 million not covered by our opponent's, which forces nobody into the program who doesn't want it, and yet which provides more benefits, and a greater choice of benefits than does our opponent. And I'm getting tired of having him go around the country and say that we, my party and I, and my running mate, are against medical care for the aged, when it is he who has an inadequate program. We're for it, and he's against it, if we really want to lay it on the line.
My friends, I could go on, but I think I have outlined the difference in our domestic philosophy. In a nutshell, it's this: America will move. We will move forward economically, and we must, but the way to move is for Government, through its tax policies, its credit policies, and all its other policies, to encourage inventive and creative genius of 180 million free Americans. That's the way to go, and that's the way we're going to go, if we're given the opportunity. And I say, my friends, that my opponent, on the other hand, offers a program which is not new. He goes back to policies that we left in 1953, policies that didn't work then, policies that produced only one-half the growth in the Truman years that we have had in the 7½ Eisenhower years, policies that resulted in tremendous inflation, that ate up every bit of the wage increases in those years, policies which led also to what we call the mess in Washington. Well, I think the American people have had enough of those policies now and they
don't want a retread today, and it's just as simple as that.
Now, I want to turn to the major problem that should concern you young people here, as well as your elders, and that is: Are we going to be around to enjoy the solutions for these problems that we have been talking about in this campaign? My friends, nothing is more important, as I said on television last night, than that the next President of the United States have the background, the experience and the judgment to do what President Eisenhower has been able to do, and for which the American people will be forever grateful to him, and that is: To keep the peace, keep it without surrender - and that's what we want to do and what we will do if we are given the chance.
Now, this is not a question of who is for peace and who is against it. We're all for it. It isn't a question of who is for communism and who is against it. We're all against it. The question is: Who has the experience; who has the judgment; who will avoid the mistakes that must be avoided if we are to avoid war on the one side and surrender on the other?
And, as I pointed out in my remarks last night, we have seen three instances, glaring instances: First, in the Formosa Strait approach: second, on the U-2 flights and in the insistence of Mr. Khrushchev that President Eisenhower apologize; and, third, on the Cuban problem, where my opponent has indicated that, when faced with a great decision of this type, he would have made a mistake, made if with the best of intentions, but good intentions don't matter, made it because of inexperience, made it and then tried to correct it. But, my friends, if he had been President of the United States and if he is in that position, you may not have the chance to have a second guess. Once you make the decision, that may be the last time that decision can be made, the decision between peace and war or surrender or freedom, as the case might be.
And I simply want to say this: At home my opponent's programs would add approximately $15 billion a year over what mine would cost to our Federal budget. We see this inexperience, this mistake after mistake, that he has exemplified in this campaign, and I will sum it up in this way:
I do not think that Americans in this critical year, 1960, can afford my opponent's inexperience abroad or his extravagance at home - and that's why they're going to vote for us on November 8.
And now, how does America move? How do we move in these critical years to keep the peace? How do we move to extend freedom? It is to that point particularly that I wish to devote my closing remarks.
My friends, above everything else, we must remember that America has a mission in the world tonight. It's a great mission. It's the mission which we came into this world to carry out 180 years ago, and it's the mission which now we have the responsibility and the world power to finally culminate. And may I say in that connection that, as we consider this mission, it must be considered by Americans with the greatest devotion, with the greatest dedication that his people of ours has ever had. Let me explain it. The easy thing in talking to the American people in these critical times is to say, all we have to do is be strong so that the Communists will not attack us. All we have to do is be strong so that they will not start a war and we can keep the peace. All we have to do is defend our own freedom. We do not have to worry about other peoples around the world. My friends, if we take that position, it will save us for a while, but I say to you: Communism, with all of its evil and with all of its faults, attempts at the present time to be on the march. They offer to the peoples of the world a change. Oh, it's a change for the wrong, and it would be enough as far as these people were concerned, certainly, if simply communism were defeated, because communism would be worse than what they presently have. But, my friends, I have been to Asia, I have been to Africa, I have been to Latin America, I have been to these other countries, and I can assure you - I can assure you - as I have seen these countries that as you look there you will find that, as these particular nations and these peoples look to America and to the Communist world, they do not want simply to be pawns in this struggle. They want a better life, and they're entitled to it. They want freedom, and they want it on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
So, I say to you tonight that we Americans will be worthy of our destiny. I pledge to you that Cabot Lodge and I will keep America strong militarily, that we will keep her strong economically, but above all, I pledge to you that we will not stop there. We will lead this Nation, if you give us the opportunity, in the paths of peace and in paths of freedom. We will see to it that the people of Poland, for example - which Pat and I saw a year ago, a quarter of a million of them shouting "Long live America," that they will still have hope as a result of what we stand for. We will see to it that the people of Asia and Africa will look to America and say, 'This is the way we want to turn, not the Communist way." We will see to it that America has a concern, a concern for people abroad, not simply because we are attempting to fight communism or are afraid of communism, but because we would care even if there were not communism in the world. This is what we must do if we are to win this struggle. This is what we will do and I say to you that this is a crusade worth working for, worth fighting for. If you believe that it is, will you go
out and work and fight for us in the election on November the 8th? Thank you.
Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, University of Toledo Fieldhouse, Toledo, OH Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273878