Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of the Vice President, Wheaton College Field, Wheaton, IL

October 29, 1960

I want to say there are many issues of concern to our people today as we go into the final week of this campaign. I hope that many of you had the chance to hear President Eisenhower discuss those issues last night. [Cheers and applause.]

I heard, incidentally, that some of our opponents' friends were complaining that he'd taken on Mr. Kennedy. All that I can say is: After the lies Harry Truman's told about me, it's about time President Eisenhower told the truth about Senator Kennedy. [Cheers and applause.]

And may I also add: In this campaign, as he indicated in his speech last night, the future not only of America is involved, but the future of the whole world, because the man who is elected President of this country will lead America, and America must lead the world, and for that reason I would like to begin today by talking about America's strength at home, and then by talking about how that strength at home can help America realize its destiny as the leader of the forces of freedom and peace throughout the world.

Here at home the most important thing that we have to recognize is the lesson of American history. This is the greatest country in the world, as the President said last night. This is --- [Cheers and applause.]

This is the strongest country in the world, and, my friends, how did it get that way? I want to tell you how. It got that way not by a bunch of American citizens considering themselves incapable of going out and doing their own jobs, creating their own business, building this country. It got that way not by turning over everything to the Federal Government in Washington, D.C., to do. America is a great country today not because of what Government has done, but because of what 180 million Americans have been allowed and encouraged to do for themselves. [Cheers and applause.]

And, my friends, that is why I will fight for the balance of this campaign, and I will fight for the rest of my public life against those schemes, however good they might sound, that would take responsibility from people and send all of our dollars down to Washington to let a bunch of bureaucrats run the people of the United States of America. [Cheers and applause.]

That's why I will fight against those schemes, those schemes that would weaken America. Oh, they say they would strengthen it. But they would weaken America, by having our education, in effect, controlled from Washington, D.C., by turning over our health programs to federalization, federalization which would bring first the end of the great medical service that we have in this country.

My friends, when we talk about the future of America, remember: The easy thing whenever you have a problem is for a public official to come in and say, "Well, that's good. You have a problem. I'll make a promise to you. I'll take care of it." But, you know, there's a catch to it. You know that "trick or treat" you do around Halloween time? Well, this time there's a trick, but there's no treat. [Cheers and applause.]

But what happens? Whenever somebody comes in and says, "Look, I'll take care of your problem," what he does is say, "Give me your money, and I'll take it over to Washington and take care of it."

Well, now there are a lot of things that have to be done in Washington. There are things that have to be done to strengthen our education, to strengthen our economic system, but, my friends, just remember this: Whenever a dollar can be spent better here in Wheaton, Ill., than it can be in Washington, I am for spending it right here, and that's why I oppose --- [Cheers and applause.]

Let me tell you one of the reasons I feel that way. I grew up in a grocery store. Saturday was always the shopping day. That was the big day. It was a little country store, and my dad always said we did more business on a Saturday than all the other days of the week. We used to open very early, 7:30 in the morning, that day, and we stayed open as long as anybody would come in. Sometimes it was midnight. And remember on Saturdays that that was the day we had the specials, and I remember the thrifty housewives coming in, those who had to think of paying the grocery bill and then paying for the clothing, and then paying the doctor bills, and then having enough left over for maybe a little insurance or maybe to take care of some education for the children, and I remember that, as they came in the store, they would go down the line looking at those prices, wondering what to buy, wondering how much they could pay.

My friends, I know from experience what it means to people to have to meet a family budget, and I know that if the opponents' programs were to go into effect, they would cost $15 billion a year more than the programs that I offer to the American people.

I know that as far as these programs are concerned, they cannot be defined except by higher taxes or higher prices, or both, and I'm against higher prices or higher taxes. [Cheers and applause.]

My friends, certainly we're going to pay whatever is necessary to strengthen our defenses, but when it comes to programs which, as I say, would result in higher prices for the American people, the kind of extravagance that I'm talking about, then I say it's time for the American people to think. Remember - and I say this to every person listening, Democrat, Independent; Republican - remember, as you vote on November 8, you're voting for the prices you pay in the grocery store next year. Let's take the farm program. Why would I talk about the farm program here in Wheaton, Ill ? Not many farmers around here. But I'll tell you what it would do. It would raise the prices of hamburger, of bread, of all the other items in the grocery store, by an average of 25 percent, and I don't think the families of America can afford it. I also don't think the farmers can afford it, because it wouldn't help them, as I pointed out in Iowa yesterday. It would cut back their acreage. It would hire a bunch of employees in Washington to tell them how much to grow, when they could sell it, where they could sell it, how much they are going to get out of it. That isn't the American way to handle the program. We've got a program of abundance, not through managed scarcity, and we're not going to have it in the United States. [Cheers and applause.]

And, so, your cause is clear on this instance. For a strong America, Government must be strong in those areas and do those things that need to be done, but for a strong America we must remember that individuals must be made strong. That's what makes America great.

Let me tell you one thing. We've heard a lot of talk about new frontiers, and, you know, one of the great things about America is that we're always looking to the future, always trying to conquer the new frontiers, and I may say' in that connection however, that if we're going to conquer new frontiers again - we look to our history and what do we find. How was the West - how did they come through the Midwest here, the great Northwest Territory and then on to the Pacific coast? Well, I'll tell you. Individuals did it, individuals with a pioneer spirit, not government.

And if we're going to conquer the great new frontiers of science and space in the future, Government must play its part; but it must encourage the best of individual enterprise in this country, and there again --- [Cheers and applause.]

Now, one other point on that score and I will pass to my second point and last one: A lot of people say to me, "Well, Mr. Nixon, we agree that under President Eisenhower, we've had more progress than we've had under the previous administration. We recognize that in the Truman administration our prices went up 50 percent, and that we found as a result of that, the pensions and the social security and everything else we had was cut in half. We recognize that in this administration we have kept down the cost of living to one-fifth of what it went up in that period. We know that our wages have gone up and that it's been real increases rather than fictional ones, but, Mr. Nixon, we notice that your opponent said a couple of days ago we're going to have a recession."

And he did say that, but you know what I saw in the paper the same day? It was in Detroit when I read this story, and it was a big eight-column head: "Kennedy Predicts Recession." But you know the eight-column head right underneath it - you know what it said? "New Car Sales at Alltime High in America." [Cheers and applause.]

Now, what does that mean? You know, you're going to have a recession in this country only if the people lack confidence, and the people of America obviously have the greatest confidence in history, because they're buying more cars than ever in history.

Now, somebody's wrong, and I say it isn't the American people. I say it's Senator Kennedy. The American people know [Cheers and applause.]

The American people know we're moving forward. They know that we're moving forward economically. After all, he may have more dollars than you have, but you've got more sense than he has. [Cheers and applause.]

I want to turn now to my last and a very deadly serious subject-the future of our children, our grandchildren, of our whole civilization.

You heard the President describe the responsibilities of the next President - Commander in Chief, the man who makes the decisions that determine whether we have war or peace. I would like to tell you today that I and my colleague, Cabot Lodge, have the experience, that we're not going to have any troubles if you elect us. I don't tell you that because I know differently. I know Mr. Khrushchev. I have sat opposite the conference table from him. I have seen him shake his fist right in my face and say, "We're going to catch you in 7 years and pass you." I have heard him say: "The world is going to be Communist." Oh, I heard him say also, "We're not going to use war for this purpose, because we're going to outstrip you economically," but I have looked into his eyes, and I have seen the fanaticism and the hatred for everything we stand for - and I know, my friends, that because we have men like that in the world, leaders, not the Russian people, because they want peace as much as you do, but the leaders, the Communist leaders, the 6 million or so elite in the Soviet Union, and the leaders in the other countries, that they are determined to continue their efforts to disrupt, to dismay the people in the free world until they conquer the world.

And, so, I only say today: We need the best leadership we can get, the most experienced leadership we can get, and I will tell you that certainly in these years ahead, knowing him, having participated in great decisions, that I realize there are certain principles to assure peace. The first one is strength. As long as we are the strongest nation in the world, we can be the guardians of peace, and anything that reduces our strength as opposed to his increases the risk of war, because he will use his strength for war; we never.

So, America must be the strongest nation. She is today. I'll keep her that way, and I assure you that will be the first [Cheers and applause.]

Second, we also have to see to it that America's diplomacy is firm. Now, that doesn't mean that we won't always go the extra mile - and Cabot Lodge and I have some ideas for strengthening the United Nations, for setting up new organizations which can strengthen the cause of peace and freedom throughout the world.

But, my friends, I can assure you of this: We are not, under any circumstances, going to enter into any agreements with the Soviet leaders which would surrender freedom any place in the world, because that leads to war and not to peace. [Cheers and applause.]

President Eisenhower has shown that. That's why he took the position he did on Quemoy and Matsu and on the other great decisions.

Now, how does our opponent compare in this field? All I can say is this: On three great issues - the Formosa Straits, the President's conduct at the summit conference, when he refused to apologize to Khrushchev, as he should have refused to apologize to him --- [Cheers and applause.]

And then on Cuba - Senator Kennedy has said one thing, President Eisenhower has said another - President Eisenhower has been right, Senator Kennedy has been wrong - and the American people know it. [Cheers and applause.]

However, people may say, "But, Mr. Kennedy changes his mind. He doesn't say the same thing on Cuba now. He says he supports the President in these other two areas now."

My friends, when you're President, you get only one chance. You've got to be right, because if you're wrong, the world may blow up.

I'm not saying, may I say, that anybody can go in who is not going to make any mistakes, but I say we cannot afford the White House as a training ground for an inexperienced, impulsive man. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, my friends, America must be strong militarily, economically. Her diplomacy must be wise. We must always go the extra mile working for peace, for disarmament, but, above everything else, we must recognize our purpose, our mission in the world.

I say this particularly, because this is a college town. I say it because of the kind of college that is here. You know what makes America great? What makes her great is not our military strength, not our economic richness, but the fact that we believe in the right things - our faith - our faith in God, our faith in the rights of men; that those rights to freedom, to independence, don't come from men, but come from God, and, therefore, can never be taken away by any man; our belief that America came into the world 180 years ago not just to have freedom for ourselves, but to carry it to the whole world.

We came into the world, in other words, not to enslave men, but to free men. And it is this faith, it is this faith, that the neat President of the United States must keep before the whole world. It is this belief, this idealism of the American people, and it's a shining idealism that I see on your faces and on the faces of millions throughout America, that the people of this country - it is this kind of idealism that the next President must exemplify in every act, in every word, in every deed.

And I want to say to you today that I only hope I can be worthy of that. I hope I can be worthy of that kind of trust; but, above everything else, may I ask you: Strengthen the faith of America. See that our young people grow up with faith in God, recognizing that this is a great country, recognizing that the ideals that we have belong not just to us, but to the whole world, recognizing that America has a mission, and that mission is to keep the peace. That mission is to stand for freedom for ourselves and for others as well. That mission is to lead the world to a world in which all men can live together in friendship, in which all men can have he right to worship God, in which all men can have freedom.

This is what I believe. These are the things I want to fight for. This is the crusade I ask you to join and work for from now until November 8. Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, Wheaton College Field, Wheaton, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project