Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Allen County Court House, Fort Wayne, IN

September 21, 1960

Vice President NIXON. Thank you very much [applause] Ross Adair. I remember that meeting 4 years ago very well, and I remember after we went back to the plane on that day, that many of us remarked that it was one of the most enthusiastic, one of the biggest meetings we had in the 1956 campaign. We didn't see how any could surpass it and few would equal it.

And I want to thank you today for making that crowd seem very small and very unenthusiastic. We thank you for this wonderful welcome which you have given us today. [Applause.] I have just been informed by the sheriff, that this is by far the biggest crowd ever to gather at this area in Fort Wayne and we thank you for making it possible. [Applause.]

I want to apologize, too, for being late. The problem is not the weather on the ground but the weather in the air. We had to circle a bit before coming down. We do thank you so much for waiting, standing here as you are. As a matter of fact, I felt a little embarrassed a moment ago, when I was introduced I turned around and said "Won't you sit down?" and I don't know where you would sit unless you would sit on each other. [Laughter.] But while it isn't raining here, it seems to be snowing from the Lincoln National Bank & Trust Co. [applause] but this kind of weather in a campaign we enjoy and we like and we do appreciate all of those who went to such a great trouble to plan this wonderful rally, and arrange for the music, and for our Singing Nixon Girls over here, and for our wonderful band over here, we thank all of you and we only wish we had more time to spend with you on this occasion.

But you know, we found this a pretty big country and to get to 50 States during the course of 8 weeks is a big job. For example, today, after we leave Fort Wayne, and we just came from Michigan, we go over to Louisville, Ky., for a meeting at noon and then we go over to Springfield, Mo., for a meeting at night, and the next day 3 more States, and the next day 2 more States, and by the end of the week we'll have 7 more States that we will have covered. So that is the reason for the very fast pace and the fast schedule, because I can assure you that coming home to Indiana is always a great pleasure to me. [Applause.]

I was saying to Governor Handley, it seems a long time ago because we have been so far and been to so many meetings, as I was saying to him, in Indianapolis, when we started the formal part of this campaign on Monday, Indiana has a special place in my heart for reasons that all of you are aware. During the years I was growing up, my mother used to talk about "back East" and that meant Indiana, where she was born, on a farm down in Butlerville, down in Jennings County. And during those 12 years that she lived there, it must have made a tremendous impact because while the rest of her 75 years she's lived in California, and you know how Californians feel about California, my mother is still for Indiana, I can assure you. This is her State. [Applause.] And, incidentally, people often ask me, Mr. Nixon, where do you get that fighting quality in a campaign? Well, I can only say that while my mother is a very gentle, and tolerant Quaker lady, that apparently I got a little of that Indiana fight from her as well, because I know out here we take our politics very seriously. You believe very deeply and I particularly appreciate the opportunity to talk to all of you today - Republicans, Democrats, independents - because this is in the great American tradition, where we all gather together to listen to the man that some of us are for, and listen to the man that some of us may be against, but listening because we want to be sure that the decision we make is not made on a purely personal basis, not made simply on the basis of a party label, but made on the basis of what's best for America. And that is the basis on which I talk to you here today. [Applause.]

Before presenting some of the issues at the national level, may I say that I am delighted to run on the same ticket with our fine State ticket here. Lieutenant Governor Parker could not be here, but I can see there is his sign up there and certainly after the splendid administration of Harold Handley, we're going to continue Indiana in the Republican tradition in the State House in Indianapolis by voting for him. [Applause.]

Now, Ross Adair is a man perhaps you know from his newsletters home, has been one of my closest friends and associates in the Congress. He has advised me often on matters before the House of Representatives and I'm so delighted to be able to be here and, in front of his constituents, and to tell you what we think of him in Washington. We like him. We think he is a man who not only represents his district well, but who does a fine job for the Congress and for all the people of the United States and we want him back, and we hope you send him back. [Applause.]

Now, since I left Indianapolis 10 days ago, we have been to many States - east, west, north and south - in California, in Oregon, in Washington, and then in the Mountain Plain States to Idaho, in North Dakota. We have been in the heart of the Midwest - Illinois, to Michigan yesterday. We have been in the East, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey. We have been to the South, in Virginia and Texas - all of this in the space of 10 days. And we have talked to a lot of different crowds, different places. Some in great squares like this. Some in great armories and halls in the evening. We have also talked to different groups of people, to a great group of farmers at a plowing contest out in the heart of Iowa, where the tall corn grows. And incidentally, it grows tall in Indiana, my mother tells me, too, as well as in Iowa. And we have also talked to great groups of those representing the American labor movement at their convention of machinists in St. Louis, and as we have talked to these groups and traveled about the country, there is one thought that has occurred to me that I would like to pass on to you.

You know, we hear a lot in this country about how different we are. The northerners disagree with the southerners and the

mid-Westerners think differently than the easterners, and so on down the line. We also think how Americans are always thinking only of their own special little group. The labor people are thinking of one thing, and management people are thinking of something else, and that their interests are diametrically opposed, that the farm people want one thing and the city people want something else, and that their interests are opposed. You know what I find about this country? And it is one of the most inspiring things to be able to travel over the country as Pat and I have, and to talk to great groups like this. It is, yes, that while there are differences north, east, west, and south in our accents and the food that we eat, while there are differences between our various groups, some of them put more emphasis on one thing than another, may I say that the great ideals that unite Americans are the things that impress you when you travel this country. And I would say, as I have traveled this country, what has impressed me above all else is this.

There is one issue that Americans are thinking about as they vote for President and Vice President. Whatever part of the country they come from, whatever group that they may be a part of, there is one issue that they are thinking of above everything else, and that is which of the two candidates for the Presidency, which of the two candidates for the Vice-Presidency, can best give America and the free world the leadership that will keep the peace without surrender and extend freedom throughout the world. [Applause.]

Now, it is logical - I'm sure you can see why everybody feels this way, all the way from Hawaii in the very Far West to Maine, in the very North, or down East, as they say in Maine. They feel this way because Americans realize that unless we can keep the peace, unless we can keep our freedom, all the other things that we want from government and from life won't be worth anything at all because we won't be around to enjoy them.

We want, in other words, our children to grow up in a land of peace and freedom such as we have had under the leadership of President Eisenhower, who ended one war and has kept America out of another war. [Applause.]

And so, I want to tell you, in just a few words what I think the next President must do to keep the peace without surrender and to extend freedom, not only to defend it, because in order to defend it you must extend it around the world. First, we must have an analysis of the men we are dealing with. And I think it is rather good that Americans are having another opportunity to see Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues in the Communist world as they come to the United States. Because when they are there, we are reminded of the kind of men that they are. I know most of these men. I know Mr. Khrushchev, his other colleagues, some in person, some by reports that I've had the opportunity, of course, to read as some of you have. And I can tell you that knowing them, that if America is to keep the peace, if we are to extend freedom, we must recognize, first of all, that these are men who do not react like the leaders of the free world. You cannot humor them as you deal with Prime Minister de Gaulle, for example, and Chancellor Adenauer, or Prime Minister Nehru of India, or Mr. Macmillan of England, or President Eisenhower of the United States because these are men who have a different view about the world.

First of all, look at us. We Americans have fought three wars in this century. For what? Talk to your legionnaires, your VFW people, they'll tell you. We didn't get an acre of territory. We didn't ask for a concession. We fought why? One, to keep our own freedom. Two, because we were interested in the freedom of others, and we realized that when it was threatened, ours was as well.

And today Americans are not interested, and the British are not interested, and the French, none of the other people in the free world are interested in extending our domination over anybody else. What do we want for the rest of the world? Only what we have for ourselves - the right to choose, the right to be independent, the right to be free, and that's what distinguishes us first from the Communist leaders because they don't say that. Mr. Khrushchev, Mr. Mao Tse-tung, the Chinese leader, say, over and over again, we must rule the world and we will conquer the world, and they say, over and over again, we will accomplish this and without war, if we can, Mr. Khrushchev says, but they also indicate that they are going to accomplish this end by any means, if they can. And so, therefore, you are dealing with men who are determined to conquer the world.

How else do they differ from the men in the free world? That means that these men, because they are determined to conquer the world, respect power and they respect strength, and they have nothing but contempt for weakness, they have nothing but contempt for those who are naive in dealing with them. So, if America is to keep the peace, if we are to extend freedom, we must first start by seeing to it that America remains as she is today, the strongest nation in the world militarily and that we will pay the cost to see that America retains this military strength. [Applause.]

We must combine this military strength, too, with diplomatic policies that are strong and firm, not naive, not naive, for example as some of those who have criticized the President after the recent Paris Conference.

You remember after that conference - Mr. Khrushchev broke it up. He said it was because of the U-2 flights that President Eisenhower had ordered for the purpose of getting information to protect us against surprise attack. He said he broke it up over that, but our information indicates that there were other reasons, but whatever the reason was, you remember that after President Eisenhower came back, there was a chorus of criticism from some quarters. And there were some who said that President Eisenhower made a mistake in one respect. He should have made more of an effort to save the conference, that when Mr. Khrushchev demanded that he express regrets for these flights that possibly President Eisenhower could have done that because it might have saved the conference and then we'd have made progress toward peace.

You know why the President couldn't do that? There were two reasons. First, because in dealing with a man like Mr. Khrushchev, when you make a concession without getting a concession in return, you don't serve the cause of peace. You work against it. You don't serve the cause of freedom. You work toward the cause of surrender, because in dealing with a Communist leader, any dictator, whenever you engage in activities which prove you to be naive, or whenever you make concessions that are not, at the same time, matched by concessions on their part, the inevitable result is that they are not satisfied. They ask for more. They demand more. And so President Eisenhower was right in this respect on that ground, and he was right on another ground.

No President of the United States, be he Democrat or Republican, must ever feel it necessary to apologize or express regrets for defending the United States of America against surprise attack. [Applause.]

Now what else do we need in the way of diplomatic policy? We need, of course, a policy that is not rash, one in which we are not answering insult for insult, tit for tat in the world arena of the war of words that goes on. Here again there is good reason. Oh, it's awfully easy to lose your temper when you are talking to a man like Mr. Khrushchev. I know, but I can tell you this. That the reason the President was correct in not losing his temper and in not getting down and answering Mr. Khrushchev insult for insult in Paris was a very simple one.

One, no President can indulge in the luxury of losing his temper for personal reasons when, by doing so, he would risk heating up the international atmosphere rather than cooling it off. And another reason, when you are confident in your strength, when you know you are right, you don't get down to the level of somebody who calls names and indulges in insults like Mr. Khrushchev. [Applause.]

And now there is another reason. Other reasons which are more current than the ones that I have mentioned, for the kind of diplomatic policies that America must follow if we are to keep the peace without surrender.

Mr. Khrushchev is in the United States at the present time. He is going to say some things, do some things which are designed to irritate and to provoke us, designed to divide Americans, divide us on a party basis, divide us on a group basis or on any basis that he can probably think of.

Now, is this going to hurt ? Is this visit to the United Nations going to hurt the cause of peace and freedom? And my answer is it won't, provided Americans act in a mature, grown-up fashion, and aren't taken in by his efforts to provoke us or divide us and remain united and confident with faith in America's strength. This is what we must do during the time that he is here and afterward, as well.

And might I suggest that there are some things that we should not do while Mr. Khrushchev is here. One, I do not believe that it serves the cause of peace or freedom to talk about America's weaknesses, militarily, to talk about America's falling behind economically, to indicate that America is losing the battle of ideas throughout the world and that our prestige is falling throughout the world. I'll tell you why that shouldn't be done. One, because it isn't true; but, too, there is another reason. At a time when we are pointing up the things that are wrong about the United States and it is a responsibility to do so that we can correct them, let us never forget that when one who is also here pointing up what is wrong about the United States, it is up to us to point out the things that are right about the United States, and that are strong about the United States as well. [Applause.]

This isn't a perfect country - no, but it is just the best country on earth, that's all. [Applause.] We haven't got a military operation as far as our defense strength is concerned, that everybody agrees is the perfect one but it is just the strongest military power in the world ever seen and we are going to keep it that way and let's tell Mr. Khrushchev that. [Applause.]

Now our economy has some weaknesses, and we intend to do something about those weaknesses. We must continue to see that America's economy grows and that no Americans are left behind, that all of them, regardless of their races, creed, or color go along with this great increase in America's productivity. Our farmers, our working people, everybody must move forward. But while America's economy has weaknesses, my friends, travel around the world if you have any doubts about it - it is just the finest economy in the world and Americans have the best life, the richest life, we have the greatest productivity of any nation in the world, and the Communists aren't going to catch us in 7 years as Mr. Khrushchev says. They aren't going to catch us in 70 years because we are going to move forward faster than he is. [Applause.]

And here is another thing they have been saying. Oh, this terrible crying and beating of breasts about the poor prestige of the United States. I remember in 1956, when I spoke here, the other candidate, the one running in 1956 on the other ticket, was saying the same thing - American prestige was at an all-time low. And now the same dd record has been brought up, but it is a little worn, getting a little raspy now and people are getting tired of hearing that America's prestige has gone down all over the world. [Applause.] Let me tell you something about America's prestige. Has everything we have done been right in the field of foreign policy? Of course not. We're going to make mistakes and they're going to make mistakes. The batting average is what counts. And on the batting average, the American batting average is a very good one in this area, and as far as prestige is concerned, I point to a vote in the United Nations which just occurred on the Congo. Now if our prestige were low, the Russians were on one side and we were on the other side, how many votes did they get? None. How many votes did we get? Seventy. Well, 70 to nothing is pretty good in football and it is pretty good in the United Nations. [Applause.]

And for those who talk about our prestige, does Mr. Khrushchev gain in prestige because he breaks up a conference, a conference that is designed to alleviate tensions? And does President Eisenhower lose prestige for America because he maintains dignity and say I will go an extra mile? Of course not. Talk about the situation, for example, in Cuba. Does Mr. Khrushchev gain prestige because he shoots down hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Budapest in Hungary? And does President Eisenhower lose prestige for America because he does not use our great power as he could against Mr. Castro in Cuba and the Cuban people? But he works with other American States in developing the opinions which will keep the Cuban people on our side when eventually they get the right to choose the kind of government they want to. No; we gain; they don't. Does Mr. Khrushchev gain prestige when he runs riots against the Vice President of the United States in Caracas, riots against the President's visit in Tokyo No. Those who engage in this kind of activity, they may gain a temporary advantage, but the people of the world are not dumb, and they realize that the United States stands for freedom, that we stand for peace, that we are strong, that we are not weak, and I say let all Americans have confidence and faith in our strength, in our policy, and in the rightness of our cause.

And my final point. What can you do? I have talked to you about our policies. You know what is the most important ingredient if we are to have peace and friendship and freedom throughout the world? If America is going to give the world the leadership that it needs, it isn't our military strength. That's important and terribly necessary, as I indicated. And it isn't our economic strength. But it is the ideals of America, the moral and spiritual strength of this country, and never forget that when the people of the world are trying to choose between communism and freedom, it is American ideals that are going to be cited, and I say to you, you are the ones that must keep them strong. Oh, we can help at the national level, but what we feel about the dignity of man, what we feel about the respect for God, recognizing that the rights that we have do not come from men but they come from God and must be respected, for that reason what we feel about the universal right of people to be free, what we feel deeply in our hearts about peace, what we feel about loyalty to our country, that must come from you. It must come from the school, it must come from the family, it must come from the hearts of the American people.

And so I say to all of you today, if you believe in America, you can play your part and play your part well by strengthening the moral and spiritual fiber of this country, by striking down prejudices and hatred wherever you see it, by letting America always be a fine example of idealism which has caught the imagination of the world and has held it for 185 years. And so now may I thank you again for welcoming us so well, for being so patient; and may I urge you, if you believe as I believe, if you believe that our ticket can give the leadership that America needs - and may I say with Henry Cabot Lodge coming here tomorrow to Indiana - I'm proud to be on the ticket with him. He will be a partner with me, and while I can't talk about my qualifications, I can about his, and I say no man in the world has done a better job fighting for the cause of freedom and peace in the United Nations than our candidate for Vice President. [Applause.]

That is our case. I've presented it to Republicans. I've presented it to Democrats, and I say that if you think that is the leadership that America needs, won't you go out and not only vote for us, but work for us, working not just for a party, not just for a man, but working for what is best for America and the ideals for which we stand.

Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Allen County Court House, Fort Wayne, IN Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project