Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Airport, Reno, NV

August 02, 1960

Lt. Gov. BELL. * * * truly with great pride that I have this opportunity to present to this audience - of all political creeds - the Honorable Richard M. Nixon, Vice President of the United States and the Republican nominee for the Presidency of our beloved country. [Applause.] He is a neighbor of ours from California, but he selected Nevada as the spot from which to inaugurate his campaign in honor of his wife, Patricia Nixon, whose day we celebrate today in this great State.

I present to you Richard Milhous Nixon, the next President of the United States. [Applause.]

Vice President NIXON. Well, thank you very much, Rex Bell, for a gracious introduction and for handling this meeting in such a superb fashion as master of ceremonies.

May I say, too, that to the Governor of the State of Nevada and his wife, to the mayors that are here, to all of you from all over the State who have come here to welcome Pat, that I am deeply appreciative of your being here, and whatever your political persuasion and however you vote in November, we're very proud that Pat comes from the State of Nevada where the people are so friendly as they are. [Applause.]

Down here in front of us are some of the Washington press corps who are traveling with us on this first campaign swing. And as we were riding on a plane out to Nevada today, several of them were asking: "Well, why do you start the campaign in Nevada?" I can give several reasons and several good ones. First, because it's my neighboring State; it's a State that I've often visited in the past and, like Pat, it is a land of enchantment, because Nevada still has the feel of the West about it, the feel of the frontier, not only the "new" frontier but the "old" frontier as well. [Applause.]

And we will never forget that day at Virginia City when our daughters were with us, how we rode down the streets and got the real feel of the West, which before we'd only been able to experience through television. But, in any event, that could be a reason, the fact that Nevada is our friendly neighbor to those of us who live in California.

Another reason I could give for starting this campaign in Nevada is that I cherish the friendships that we have here, friendships including Rex Bell, whom we of course think of as a Californian in a way, but who incidentally is a supersalesman of Nevada, I want to tell you that, all over this country - the mayors who introduced us and, speaking of friends, even though they represent the other political party, the Governor and his very charming wife. We are glad that they are our friends, too, on this occasion. [Applause.]

And then, I could give of course other reasons, but Nevada is, according to the Governor, the second fastest growing State in America; according to the Lieutenant Governor, the first fastest growing State in America. Now, I'm not going to get into that, but as I told Grant before we came in, and Rex, I wasn't going to be in Florida for a while, so we'll say Nevada's first today, at least, in being the fastest growing State in the country. [Applause.]

But as all of you know, the real reason is something much more significant than what I have mentioned, something more deep and more moving than that. I wanted to open this campaign in Nevada because it is the birthplace of Pat, and because I wanted first to come to this State where she was born and, if I could say some things about her that she cannot say about herself and I know you'd like to know - let me tell you what she has meant to me, to the work that I have done in the years that I have been in Government and even before that.

And first, a bit about her and her life. You know, you've all read, I know, about me - don't believe everything you hear, incidentally - but I was going to say you've read everything about me, about my early life, and I've noted some stories that have said the Vice President is a man who came up the hard way, that he worked his way through school. I want to tell you the truth about it today, and in telling you the truth about myself I can tell you something very important about Pat.

I did work when I went to school. I worked in a service station and a grocery store when I was going through college, and then I worked in a library when I was going through law school. But my mother and father were able to help me some. I remember my mother used to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to bake apple and cherry and lemon pies to sell at 25 cents apiece to help me get through college, so don't give me all the credit; she and Dad helped.

But let me tell you the story of Pat. She moved to California at an early age with her father and her mother, and her mother died when she was 12 and she helped take care of her family of three brothers and her father after that. And her father died when she was 17, and she worked her way completely through college and university so the credit goes to her for that; she had no help whatever and I want to pay that tribute to her. [Applause.]

You know, I'm glad you clapped then, because I'm going to catch it for telling this to you when I get back in the plane, I'm sure of that.

But then let me tell you what happened after that. You know, when I was in law school studying law - as some of the people up here on this platform have studied it - I remember one of my first teachers on the first day of school said: "Ladies and gentlemen (when we were coming in all bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to be great lawyers and be great successes), I want to give you a little advice: marry for money and practice law for love." Well, that's what I did. Because as a young struggling lawyer in Whittier, Calif., in the late thirties I wasn't making too much, and so I found a schoolteacher who was making more than I was and I married her and she helped buy the engagement ring, that's how we were able to do it. [Applause.]

And ever since it's been that way. When we campaigned for the House and the Senate, Pat was the one who never wore out. I'd get tired in the evenings, but she was still as bright and as charming at the end of the day as she was at the beginning.

When we took our trips around the world, you've heard about what I did, I'm sure - read about it - but Pat visited hospitals and children's homes and orphanages, a leper colony in Panama, the first lady ever to go there and greet the inmates, things of this sort around the world, and may I say that whatever I may have said and done, I'm sure that she left behind a feeling of good will and affection for America that I could never have created by anything that I said. [Applause.]

And then, of course, a lot of you people have heard about our visit to the Soviet Union and, as you know, and I'll have to admit, Mr. Khrushchev didn't seem to think much of me but he liked Pat, that's for sure. [Applause.]

And so it was. And then, of course, we came to this campaign and the pattern still continued. We went through the period before the convention and we traveled considerably through the country. Pat always by my side. And I remember when we were out in Nebraska, Fred, your home State, you remember that day, and we were standing in the receiving line and people were shaking hands, and one farmer from the west of Nebraska - and I looked down on those farms down there, they need a little of the rain they had here in Nevada a couple of days ago - as one farmer came through the line he shook hands with me, shook hands with Pat, came back around to me and he said, "Young fellow, my wife's going to vote for you, but I'm going to vote for Pat."

So you see, that's how important she is. And then at the convention itself - and maybe some of you didn't know it - you know, it was Nevada's votes that put us over the top for the 666 votes. [Wild applause.] And up until the time that that happened I was really worried. [Laughter.] In any event, may I say to you seriously today that as we think of the place of men in American public life, let us never overlook the fact that our wives play a tremendously important part. And what I have said about Pat today - partly in jest and all in great seriousness as well - could be said about the wives of men who have served our country, your States, your cities throughout this country, and I just wanted to pay that tribute to all the ladies that are here; in paying it to Pat, I pay it to you, too. [Applause.]

Now this today I know is a civic welcome. We have participating representatives of the Democratic Party and representatives of the Republican Party. And I am not going on this occasion - which very appropriately honors Pat as graciously as it does - I am not going to talk to you in a partisan sense. I have nothing to say which is derogatory about my Democratic opponents, what I would like to say to you today is to talk to you only about America. And let us think for just a

few minutes in the time that we have remaining - and I know you've stood here a long time and I will not hold you long - but let us think for just a few minutes of this country of ours, and let us think not as Republicans and not as Democrats, but as Americans, and what we want America to be - what we want America to be insofar as our children are concerned; what we want America to be insofar as its leadership in the world is concerned. And in speaking of America, may I first say that we must never forget what a great and a good country this is. [Applause.]

In a political campaign there is naturally a tendency to point up those things that are wrong - not only about the administration, but sometimes to let it slop over a bit on the country itself. Now I only want to say that when you hear that America is a second-class country militarily, when you hear that our economy is second rate, when you hear that our scientists are inferior, that our education is inferior, just let me say this: There are some things wrong with the United States and true patriotism criticizes those things that are wrong and tries to correct them. But never let the things that are wrong obscure the things that are right. Let us never forget that America today - and I know whereof I speak - is the strongest Nation militarily, the strongest Nation ideologically, the strongest Nation economically in the world today, and let's be proud of it and let's not run America down. [Applause.]

Does that mean that we stay where we are? And the answer is: Of course not. And you, here in the West, can particularly understand this because we're a progressive people. The reason you folks came west, or your parents came west, or your grandparents came west, or your grandparents were the first, the reason you did was that you wanted to build a better life for your children, you wanted progress. That should be the theme of America today. We are strong militarily and economically and in spiritual and moral faith with all of our weaknesses we are still very strong. But we want America to be stronger; we want to build a better life for our children than even we have had for ourselves. Let that be the theme for both of our great major parties.

And there's another reason that that must be the way we think about America. We're in a race today. As I said in my acceptance speech the other day from Chicago, it's a race for our survival. And I have seen those that are racing against us - their hard faces, their eyes filled with fanaticism. They're behind, yes, but they're running hard, they're determined to catch up, and the battle today is whether or not our children and our grandchildren will grow up in a world or freedom, as we have been privileged to grow up in, or a world of slavery. And I say it shall and it will be a world of freedom, but it will be only if we do our job for America so that America can do its job for the world in its position of world leadership. [Applause.] [Note: Tape changed here.] * * * and make it stronger than ever. It means to the west, as Fred Seaton so eloquently said in his visits here, developing our great natural resources, developing them not only to meet the needs of our increasing population, but because America is going to have to continue to grow in order to resist those who threaten us abroad. It means also dealing with the problems we have, the problems of juvenile delinquency that affect our young people; the problem of our older citizens, who do not have adequate care for old age, particularly where heavy medical expenses are involved; it means doing a better job and developing equality of opportunity for all of our people so that every American will have an equal start, an equal chance at the starting line. Because we just can't afford not to have each young American - whatever he may be, whatever his race or his color or his creed - each American must have an opportunity to develop to the full his abilities so that he can contribute as a scientist or as a servant of government or in business, the very best that he knows how. In all this we can help to do at home.

And then abroad it means something, too. It means that we in this country must recognize that our leadership will determine whether freedom lives in the world, whether it continues to expand in the world, or whether it is doomed to die in the world. And in that connection, let me say this: It is not enough for freedom to hold what it has; freedom to live must grow, because those who stand against freedom are attempting to expand and there is only one thing about this world that all of us must realize - we in the West understand it - we are living in a world of change and, therefore, if all that we stand for is to keep what we have, to be sure that nothing changes, then we can be sure that those who are not satisfied with what they have and who are attempting to change the world and make it over in their way, that they will win and we will lose.

And that is why I say today Americans need a revitalization of their faith in the great ideals of the American Revolution, ideals that caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago, ideals in which we do not try to impose our system of government on anybody else, but in which we say that every person in this world, every people in this world, should have the right to choose the kind of government it wants - as President Eisenhower said so eloquently in his speech in Chicago a few days ago. [Applause.]

And so, if I may bring to a conclusion my thoughts to you today, they are, very simply stated, this: It would be easy for me to say that the solution to our problems in the world - the building the kind of world so that these young girls and boys can grow up in a world of peace and not war - to build the kind of a world so that they can grow up in a world of freedom and not of want and not of tyranny, we must remember that it would be easy to say that somebody over in Washington is going to do all that - just elect the right man, elect one man or the other and he's going to do it. But remember, it would work that way in the Soviet Union, but it doesn't work that way in America. In America we have to do it - 180 million Americans - all rededicated to the great ideals that have been responsible for our progress in the past and that are the hope, the wonder of the world today.

And so I ask each of you today, whatever you do this November I say go back to your homes, to your schools, to your students, do the best that you can for your country, because as you do your best you're doing the best not only for yourself but for your country as well. For you and your jobs, do the best that you can, because you're competing not only with the man down the street but with faceless men many, many miles, a half the world away. And I say to all of you in this political campaign: Don't let it be just a case where you go to the polls to vote; don't let it be just a contest between a couple of personalities; don't let it be just a case where you go down and stamp your ticket for one party or the other - mine or the other party, if you belong to it. But let it be a case where you listen to what we have to say and where you see that this election represents the very best judgment that the American voters can give, the best judgment as to the kind of leadership that we need. I'll do my best to tell you where I stand, and I know that my opponent will do his best. But it isn't going to be enough for us to do our best unless you do your best.

And so I say: Don't just vote on election day. Work for the man of your choice, listen to what we have to say, and help to make the American political system, which is the source of our greatness, help to make it work.

And, in conclusion, may I say again: We'll have many meetings in the next few months and many times we're going to be very tired, I can assure you, at the end of a long day. And Pat, I know you will agree with me when I say that there is none we will remember like this one - both because it was a beautiful day, because there were so many of you who took the time to come from many miles to this meeting as well as some nearby, but because, too, and I'm speaking personally now, because you have been so gracious and so kind to honor someone who, whatever may happen in November, is my "first lady." Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Airport, Reno, NV Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project