Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Breakfast Meeting, Kansas City, KS
Vice President NIXON. Thank you very much. Pat and I are very honored to be here at this breakfast of candidates and party officials this morning. I suppose that many of you must wonder that after most of you, I assume, were present last night
and heard me talk for about 30 minutes, well, what's left to say? And that is, of course, always the problem when you have two or three meetings with the same group of people sometime coming to attend them all.
I did, however, have some things to say to this group that were particularly concerned about your problems and about our party. And I would like to say just a word now, if I could, in regard to the prospects for the party, not only here in Kansas, but also across the line in Missouri and all over the country for that matter.
First of all, I have a very strong feeling about the responsibility of the national leaders of the party to build a party up and down the line. It is very easy, in a national campaign, to fail to recognize that you can't have, in the final analysis, a strong national party without having a strong local party. [Applause.]
Now I think we Republicans have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately as to what has happened to our party at the local and the State levels. It depends on the State if we are to analyze it accurately, but I would say as we look at the situation all over the country, if we were to find general features to comment upon, they would go along these lines.
After we won our great victory in 1952, there was a tendency at the local and the State level to coast, to an extent. To coast in the sense that we had a tremendously popular President in the White House and it was, I think, rather thought that in the
congressional elections and in the various elections with that President at the top of that ticket, that we would do reasonably well.
Our Democratic opponents, on the other hand, after that shattering defeat for them in 1952, proceeded to emphasize, not the national, but the local. And so they began to - and I've looked at this State by State and studied it - they began to organize right down at the local level the offices for the State legislature, particularly they concentrated on, then for the Congress, then for the Senate, then for the governorship, and now, finally, they are shooting for the big prize itself.
Let me give you an example. The first real warning signs for us Republicans occurred in 1954. In 1954, we did not suffer a defeat that was too significant except from the fact that the small balance that we had as a majority in the Senate and the House shifted to minority, but it was not too significant a defeat in that year. We came out of that election with about 200 Congressmen. We came out of it only with a minority of one or two in the Senate. But, when you look beneath those figures to the local level, what do you find? You found that that year, 1954, the Democrats picked up 505 seats for State legislatures around the country; we picked up 5. And so that was the thing that certainly should have warned us to what was coming.
Now the reason I am encouraged about the future of our party now is that the situation, after the 1958 election, is reversed. All over the country, I find party leaders concentrating not simply on finding good candidates for the House and the Senate, which they naturally would in supporting the candidate for President, but recognizing that we simply have to put emphasis on the State legislature and whenever, of course, there are partisan races for country and city and the like, to put emphasis there as well. And so, my word to you is this: One of appreciation for doing that here in the State of Kansas and, too, the suggestion that nationally this is what we must do up and down the line.
It's a question of candidates, it's a question of organization, and it's a question of emphasis up and down the line. Its a question of doing what I saw last night in that meeting. And, incidentally, I have seen it all over the country, but certainly no place better than in Kansas. The way that you brought in these future candidates and party leaders right down there in front - these college students and high school students - giving them the opportunity to participate because as we bring these people in and give them the opportunity, they, of course, provide the people who will be candidates for these offices which some other people, who are older, cannot afford the risk of running for office because of their other responsibilities at that point, they can be candidates and, also, they can be very effective party workers.
So I congratulate the people in the State of Kansas in your leadership for what you've done, for the fact that you've got such a splendid group of people here as candidates supporting your national ticket, supporting Andy Schoeppel running for the Senate, and the fact that you also have - you are going all out for the governorship and for the State legislature as well. This is the key to the future as far as we are concerned.
Now, there is one other point that I would make and it's this. When we look at what happened to the Republican Party in this period of 1954, 1956, and 1958 in those elections, we found a considerable erosion in the farm belt. In every one of those elections, not only in the vote for the House and the Senate, but also in the vote for State legislatures and for Governors, we found Republican support going down. Why was this?
Well, I think looking at it very realistically, it was the case of the traditionally oriented Republican farmer looking at this insoluble, or apparently insoluble farm problem, and naturally voting, as is the tendency of an individual when he sees a problem without an immediate solution, simply voting against whoever is in.
Now, on the farm problem, I just want to say this. I think that this time, this year, and I make this prediction to this group, we're going to see a tremendous resurgence of Republican strength among the farmers throughout this country and we want you to work on it. [Applause.] And I say that for a number of reasons, but I say that first, because when you compare the farm programs that I announced in two speeches, one at Guthrie's center, the other yesterday in Sioux Falls, with the farm program that our opponents announced at Sioux Falls, believe me the American farmers aren't going to be fooled. They are not going to be fooled because if I can describe their farm program in a nutshell, it is this.
They are, in effect, saying to the American farmer, they are saying to him: Sell us your birthright for a mess of pottage. And what I mean by that is that they promise everything insofar as what they are going to do for the farmer, but in essence the net result of their program would be that in order to keep their farmers, they would have to cut his acreage to the bone, they would have to impose upon him iron control and that not on a temporary basis, but on a long-range basis, and as the farmer looks at it, he will know what it is and as he sees our program he will see an alternative.
I haven't the time to describe ours but I would just like to say a word about it. It is different from the present administration program. It is different because I have given a tremendous amount of study to this problem, I've got some very good people working with me. It is different in the means that we use to reach goals that I think all Americans want - what the American farmer wants, what the American people want. Of course, the ideal situation would be to work toward the time when farmers can have freedom to plant, and to sell, to market their products without interference from Washington, D.C.
On the other hand, the American farmers are very well aware of the fact that if we jump immediately to that point when tremendous surpluses overhang the markets, we are going to go there at the cost of bankrupting literally thousands of American farmers.
Now, it has been my theory for a long time, and it is my theory now, and it is the one that is the very heart of my farm program, that the reason we have farm surpluses today where we do have them is not the fault of the farmer. The farmer was only doing what his Government told him to do. During the war, we had programs that stimulated the farmer to bring in extra acreage, stimulated him to be more productive so that we could have the products that we need. And then we continued these same programs after the war. My point is that if the Government was responsible, primarily, for these surpluses which are on the farmers back which depress the prices, if the Government was responsible for putting the farmer where he is, the Government must bear the primary responsibility for getting him out of the hole that he is in, and until the burden of surpluses is taken off the back of the farmer, until the burden of the surpluses is taken off the back of the market, until that is achieved we cannot say
to the farmer: Look, you go out and sink or swim without any assistance from the Government to keep your income from falling.
So, my program in a nutshell is this - twofold. One, we're going to make an attack on the surplus problem which is designed to get it off the back of the farmers and the taxpayers and the economy of this country. It is a program I won't analyze in detail, but I can tell you that it has several new features. I think it will work. I think that we can set and reach the goal that I have set - a period of 4 years in which to achieve that objective. Now during that 4-year period, the other side of the program which I announced in South Dakota was one in which we will have Government policies which will see to it that farm income in that period does not fall.
Now, let's look at this. Some people say: Well, isn't this going to cost some money? The answer is yes. It's going to cost money particularly during the period that we're getting these surpluses down to manageable proportions, but in the long range it costs less because the trouble is that as long as we have the surpluses, we have storage costs, we have everything else and the point is, I say, let's get rid of them and get rid of these costs so that we can eventually reach the point, and the quicker the better, where we are not putting out these tremendous amounts of money in order to handle them.
Now, this, of course, is not a farm audience, but you talk to farm people. I wanted to summarize it to this extent. I want to say that I honestly believe our program will work, where theirs won't. I believe that our program gives the farmer hope, which he feels in many instances he has not had and with that hope, the hope of seeing an end to his problems a chance to move up with the rest of the economy in America's increasing prosperity - and, incidentally, this isn't the case of all farmers, some have done reasonably well - but I'm speaking of those where the prices have been depressed, giving him the hope that he is going to move up, that the Government is going to do the things that need to be done to help him to move up. In fact, making it clear to the American farmer that the Republican Party through the years and is now, the best friend the farmer has. As we get this point across, we're going to bring the farmers back into our party in Kansas and Missouri, in all this great Farm Belt, and that could mean the election this year in 1960. [Applause.]
Well, here I've gone and made another farm speech [laughter], but I just want to say, finally, this: As I look around the room and see so many people that are candidates, I know that you will be going through the same problems that Pat and I have gone through in many years. Campaigning is not easy; it's particularly hard on the wives. They have to hear you make that same speech all the time and look as if it is new [laughter], and campaigning is certainly something that takes a lot out of you physically, a lot out of you mentally, as well, and when you are through you are completely, exhausted, as you know, and you are so exhausted that you were looking forward to relaxing and then you're not able to do it. But be that as it may, there is also something very inspiring about it, and there is also something very humbling about it. To go into cities like this; to see, literally, thousands of people who are placing, in effect, their trust in your judgment, their hopes in the future for themselves and their children in you, it makes you realize what a tremendous responsibility you have.
I would be the last to be so presumptuous to say that I could fulfill that responsibility, but when people sometimes say: Why can't we get rid of this campaigning? Why can't we do it all by television so we can save our candidates the physical and the mental stress - and it could be done by television? I could make a speech from Washington and hit 40 million people in a half hour with preparation for 3 or 4 days, which is more than I would talk to in the course of a period of 8 weeks, live, in the course of this campaign. The answer is this:
A campaign is good for the country but it also is good for the candidate. He gets the feel of the country. He gets the feel of the people. He sees farmers and wage earners and children and teachers and religious leaders and others. He knows the fiber of America as he moves around and also he realizes, over and over again, what a tremendous responsibility we have. Our National leaders, our State leaders, our Senators, our Congressmen, our legislature members, city councilmen, the thing they must avoid above everything else is to get too big for the people, to get away from people [applause] and that's one of the reasons why, even when I'm pretty tired at night, or a little grouchy in the morning when I get up after too little sleep, that I know that a campaign is necessary, that it serves a good purpose and I particularly feel so as I look out here and see all those Kansas sunflowers, shining on Missouri, as well as Kansas, with the hope that we're going to pick up both of these States in this election. [Applause.] Thank you.
Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Breakfast Meeting, Kansas City, KS Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/274163