Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Bushnell Memorial Auditorium, Hartford, CT
Senator Bush, all the distinguished guests here on the platform, and this wonderful audience inside the auditorium, incidentally, I think you should know there are more outside the auditorium than in but we just don't have enough room. [Cheers.] I don't know whether the public address system is carrying out there or not, but if it is, I want the people outside to know that I will try to get out afterward and speak to them as well so that we can have an opportunity to meet all those who have taken the time to come out for this meeting. [Cheers and applause.]
Normally when we come to Hartford we've had this great meeting outside in the square but this year because we were having the meeting a little earlier and weather problems, they thought we ought to move it in. I can only say that with this beautiful California day we should have been outside. [Cheers.]
There are so many reasons that I have looked forward to this particular meeting and this weekend. As you know I've spent the weekend in Hartford. I came here to get a little sleep. [Laughter.] I didn't get much the first night because the airplane arrived about I o'clock, as you recall, and half of Hartford was at the airport. [Cheers.] I should say half of Connecticut because there were people. So that was somewhat of a surprise.
So I went into the hotel and got up early the next morning because we had a number of strategy meetings with our major campaign people. And then the day went on. So last night I said well this is the night I'm going to sleep. Apparently we had some very enthusiastic drum and bugle and fife and drum corps outside all night long. So I just want to thank them for their enthusiasm. But if I look a little sleepy today, that's the reason. But we thank you for that reason. [Applause and cheers.]
Whatever the reason I want to say this. In all the States we have been, I have seen no State in which there has been more enthusiasm day and night than in Hartford, Conn. [Applause.]
My only regret is that Pat, my wife, could not be with me to come in last night and she isn't here this morning at this meeting. As you know, she's a granddaughter of Connecticut. If we win Connecticut, Pat's the one that's getting the votes, I can assure you, rather than me [Applause]. Somebody back here said if, of course, we're going to win Connecticut. [Cheers.] But Pat went down to Washington from our last stop in Springfield, as I explained to the crowd at the airport. She will join us, however, right toward the end of this meeting and will be in the motorcade down through New Haven and Hartford. So those of you who would like to see her, I'm sure some of you will, will have that opportunity then.
But certainly that reason, a very personal one which I know you'll understand, is one reason that I wanted to come back here. Another one, incidentally, were the three men that just stood by me on this platform. [Applause and cheers.] I am proud to run with all of our Republican candidates.
You know one thing about election returns is this. The returns for Congress from Connecticut come in first. I don't know whether you know that but I have listened to the returns many years, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1958. And those six in Connecticut usually go all one way, all the other. Now we're going to be listening to the returns from Connecticut. We're not only going to be listening to what happens to the electoral votes at the top of the ticket, we're going to be listening to what happens to those six Congressmen from Connecticut. In 1958 we knew when the returns from Connecticut came in that it was going to be a bad year for the Republicans. This year with the party, spirit, with the candidates we have, with fellows like Tony Sadlak, and Seeley-Brown, and Tom Brennan, and Al Cretella and others, that I will meet later on today, we've got to get and we will get these six Congressmen from Connecticut and you work for all of them. [Cheers and applause.]
Also, I would like to say that one of the highlights of our campaign was the opportunity yesterday to visit Trinity College. [Cheers.] I hear even some girls cheering. I always enjoy going to a college campus, and that magnificent gem of a chapel there was one that I think is a replica of one I saw at Oxford when I was there on my trip to Britain last year. But apart from the chapel, it was a wonderful experience. So this day in Hartford will be long remembered, not mostly for that but mostly for your welcome, for the fact so many of you would come to the airport and so many of you would come out this morning and for this enthusiasm.
Now why is this important right now? I want to tell you what day this is. This is the day the campaign really begins. I'll tell you why. In every campaign, they begin of course when the Speeches begin. And sometimes they go on for many years. Sometimes they go on and start at the convention as ours did. Except for any lapses that occur, a visit to the hospital or the like, you just keep going all the time. But in this instance, and I would say as I judge political campaigns, there isn't any question but that when in a close campaign the time that counts the most are the last 3 weeks. And if you ask any of the experienced men on this platform who have been in campaigns, these three fellows for Congress, Ed May, Pres Bush, Alcorn, Bill Purtell, they will tell you that in a close campaign, the whole situation is decided by who has the greatest lift and the greatest drive in the last 3 weeks.
This is Monday, the first of the last 3 weeks. This is the time that the campaign really begins to move. This is the time that we ask our volunteer workers, whatever they have done before, to step it up because between now and the first - 8th of November is when the undecided voters make up their minds.
Now everything that we have read up to this point indicates that the number of undecided voters this year is perhaps greater than ever before at this time in the campaign. So we think in this election we've got the best ticket. We think we've got the best case. But how this election will be determined in these last 3 weeks is who will work the hardest and fight the hardest.
From what I have seen here in Connecticut, everything indicates it's close. Everything indicates that certainly it's a horse race at this point. But I am certainly convinced that we are not going to be out-fought or outworked and you're going to go out and carry this campaign these next 3 weeks and that's--- [Cheers.]
Now if I could give you just a little ammunition. First, what should your arguments be? What do we have to offer? What should the people of the United States, the people of Connecticut, be thinking about particularly as they vote for President and Vice President in this year 1960?
You recall on our first television debate - the second one I mean - the question was raised toward the end of the debate as to whether the party or the man should be the most important consideration in determining how people voted. Senator Kennedy suggested that the party was what was most important. And I answer today as I did then. In this year 1960 the people of this country will not only be electing the President of this country, we will be electing a man who will have the responsibility of leading the forces of freedom. We will be electing a man whose decisions may make the difference between war or peace, may make the difference between whether or not freedom is extended or whether freedom retreats.
All that I can say is this, because the next President of the United States will have such great responsibilities to America, to the cause of freedom, to the whole world, it isn't enough just to vote as your grandfather did. It isn't enough just to vote as your father did. It isn't enough just to vote as somebody in an organization to which you may belong tells you to vote. It isn't enough just to vote a party label if your label happens to be the same as mine, or for that matter if it happens to be the same as the other fellow to vote for him.
I say that in this year 1960, and this is the way we ought to present our case, we go before the people and we say we believe that you should support our ticket because we believe in this year that what should come first is not the party, nothing else but America. Let's vote for what's best for America and we will win. [Cheers.]
What does America need? What does America want from its next President?
We want a great number of things. There's no question about that. I think if we were to begin we would probably think of the most obvious things. If you were to ask the housewives here, and the fathers and mothers, and the rest, I'm sure that most of them would say, well, in America we want a better life for our children than we had for ourselves. We want government under which we can have progress. We want to have continually improving economic conditions so that we can have better jobs, higher wages, and also we want to be sure that we have policies under which the prices of the things we buy don't skyrocket so they don't eat up the paycheck. We want all these things. These are natural things that come to our minds.
We also want better schools because certainly we think of our children and as good as our opportunities have been, we want theirs to be better. We want better hospitals, better medical care.
As a matter of fact, I remember my father always used to say to the five of us when we were growing up, he never wanted to go back to the good old days. You often hear that said, but he never said it. He said, "I never want to go back to the good old days; I don't want you to either." He said, "We're never satisfied with things as they are. In America we want to move forward. We want to look to the future."
And so I say that all of us in America, if we were to say what kind of a government do we want, we would say first, that, well, we want government in which we can have progress, better schools, housing, all these things which spell progress. Let me say in that connection, too, I am proud to represent today a program, a platform that was issued, which will bring progress to America, which will bring the greatest progress this Nation has ever had. [Applause.]
I want to say right at the outset that of course there are others that disagree. For example, when you hear by suggestion we will stand for progress, some of you may have heard the stories that have been going around a great deal to the effect, particularly in speeches by our opponents, that America has been standing still for the last 7½ years. [No !] We haven't been moving. Oh we're not moving. We've got to get going again and the way to get going again, they say give us the reins and we will cross the new frontiers. Just let me say this. You're not going to cross any new frontiers in an old jalopy that is a retread of what we left in 1953. [Cheers.]
There is nothing new in the program offered by our opponents that hasn't been tried and found wanting before. Look at their programs. Whether it's in the case of the interest rates, a very complicated problem which they have been trying to talk about, whether it is the case of their other programs, it's a return to the kind of philosophy that America left in 1953. And what happened in that 7-year period?
Listen, anybody that says America has been standing still for the last 7 years hasn't been traveling in America. He's been traveling someplace else or he's got blinders on, one of the two. [Cheers.] I ask you to judge for yourself. Travel around this country. Look it the new developments. Look at the new schools, the new highways. Listen! There have been more schools built, more hospitals built, more highways built, greater improvement in jobs, more improvement in real wages, we have had inflation in check better. In everything you want to name, when you compare our 7 years with the Truman 7 years, Americans are doing better and they don't want to return to the policies we left behind in 1953 and we're not going to. [Cheers.]
Now let me get more specific. Why will we produce progress while they will not? Why is our philosophy one that Americans should support? There isn't time to go into all of it in detail. Let me give you two or three examples.
First, because we know the secret of progress in America. We know from studying American history. We know from actual practice of our philosophy and also seeing theirs in effect. What is the secret of progress?
The secret of progress in this country is not what government does but what individuals do. Let me put it another way. Every time they see a problem, whether it's schools, or housing, or medical care or anything else, they have an automatic reaction. Oh they say we have no confidence in the people. They can't do this. We have no confidence in the States. They can't do this. We have no confidence in local responsibility. We've got to run over to Washington to Federal Government. Take the money from the people, send it to Washington, and they'll take care of the people.
So the result is that their formula is in every instance, if you have a problem, start with the Federal Government and work down to the people. We say that if you want real progress in America, that's exactly the wrong place to start. If you want progress the way to do is to start with the American people and work up to the Federal Government. [Cheers.]
Now why will ours work where theirs won't? Well look at it. Look at the situation. What is the motive power in this country? A hundred and eighty million free Americans. In other words, we tap all the resources of America. We have confidence in individuals. We want to put responsibility on them rather than take it off. So we say if individual enterprise can do it, they should do it. That's better than sending it to Washington. If the States can do it, they should do it. That's better than sending it to Washington. Washington should step in and should lead, yes, and Washington must supplement. But Washington should not do things which people would rather do themselves. Washington shouldn't spend a dollar that the people would rather spend themselves at the local level to accomplish their own ends. [Cheers.]
Let's take an example that everybody in Hartford will understand. I've noticed there are a few insurance companies around here. [Laughter.] And as you've noticed, there's been a great argument about medical care in the Congress of the United States, an argument in which Mr. Kennedy is on one side and I'm on the other. Let me just state it in a word first how I feel about it.
I remember the year my father died in the last election year - 1956. He had very, very serious doctor bills running over $2,000. My mother the same year had an operation. All together their doctor bills ran over $3,000. Now, they were people of modest means. It was very difficult for them to pay those bills. They did. But certainly I have seen firsthand what it means for people, older people, to have a catastrophic illness hit and then not have the insurance or the coverage that they need so that they can take care of it.
So I say in this field we need a program, a program in which our older citizens are not faced with this problem, particularly those people who are not on relief, but those people who have saved their money, who are trying to take care of themselves, and then - bang - they get this terrible jolt and they are confronted with a situation where they either have to go on relief or if they could, they would like to be able to handle it another way.
So I say here is a place where government has to do something. What should government do? And here's the problem.
Our opponents say, "Terrible problem." We all agree on that. But they say what we'll do, we'll set up a huge government program. States will have nothing to do with it, just the Federal Government. We will compel all the people who have social security to have compulsory health insurance whether they want or not. They leave out, of course, 3 million people who need it the most over 65 who don't have social security. But they'll compel everybody, whether they want it or not, to take compulsory health insurance. And they say this is the solution. It's easy. Don't have to worry about the States. Don't have to worry about the individuals. Just take the money; set up a program.
What is our answer? Our answer is to start the other way. Our answer is to start with the basic assumption that in this country, first, we've got the best medical care in the world. Let's never forget that. [Applause.]
Now, second, one of the reasons we've got the best medical care in the world is that our medical profession is free and independent and it isn't working for the government. [Applause.]
Third, we want to keep it the best medical care in the world. We want to give to our people. Certainly we want them to have the opportunity to have this protection but we don't want to reduce the standard of medical care. So how do wo do it?
We set up a State-Federal program. We set up one which in a nutshell can be summed up this way. Where those who want health insurance and who need it are afforded the opportunity to get it, but that they can get either government insurance if they want it or private insurance if they prefer it.
Second, we go further. We also say where those above 65 who ought to have health insurance, all of those are encouraged to get it. But then here's where we depart completely from our opponents. We say that if we're going to retain the high standard of medical care in this country that we want, we say we're going to do this the American way, that no one in America who does not want health insurance should be forced to have it against his will. [Cheers.] That's the difference between our programs. So you see, in every instance I could use that example.
One other one. I know people say, "Well Mr. Nixon, how can you say that your programs will produce this progress and theirs won't when they're going to spend more?" And that's true. They'll spend $10 billion a year more for their programs than would ours. But you know, the American people aren't fooled by this. It's very easy for us to make promises - me, my opponent - but all the people know that we're going to pay for their promises. It isn't going to be my money and not even his money. It's going to be yours. And since it is yours, as far as the people are concerned they realize that it isn't a question of how much money you spend of your money but how you spend it. And I want to say I don't think the American people are going to buy a program that would raise their taxes and raise their prices when they can have the real progress that we will provide with the kind of programs that we have on the other side.
This is the choice. And so in this whole field of progress, move with us. Move with us and there is no question but what we will not only move forward, leaving none behind, but there is also no question but that here is the way to move without buy ------ in to all of the problems of the sum of which I have described.
Now there is one other point I want to discuss. We've been talking about what Americans want from government. They also want - more important even than the jobs and the medical care, all these things which we're interested in - they want to be around to enjoy it. I mean by that, as I inferred at the beginning, that the most important qualification the next President must have - is he qualified by experience, by judgment, by background, to keep the peace without surrender and to extend freedom throughout the world?
Obviously I am a bit prejudiced on this. I'm going to say, however, that here today as we look at the world situation and as we look at the two tickets, there are some things that my colleague Cabot Lodge and I have to offer that the American people should consider.
First, our experience. [Applause.] Now as far as that experience is concerned, we've been part of the Eisenhower administration for the last 7½ years. We've sat in the Security Council. We've sat in the Cabinet. We have participated in the discussions leading to the great decisions on Quemoy and Matsu and Lebanon and the rest. And I know people say, "Well that experience, Mr. Nixon, you better watch out for that. After all, haven't you been seeing what your opponent's been saying about the record where our prestige is following? We've made mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. We've got to change our policies. We've got to move in different directions."
Just let me say this. Yes, they've been criticizing the Eisenhower record and the record of this administration in the field of foreign policy. But all the criticism in the world doesn't fool the American people. The American people know what the fact is. They know that in 1953 we were at a war and they know that under the leadership of President Eisenhower we got rid of one war, we've kept out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today. [Applause.] And they want to continue that kind of leadership.
Now, however, that's the past. That's experience. What about the future?
Here again we see various silent criticisms coming up from our opponents. Now this is their right to say those things they think are wrong with our administration but they also have a responsibility to be correct. When they're not correct, we have a responsibility to "nail" them and that's what we're going to do. [Applause.]
I think the whole attitude of our opponents toward the future was summed up the other day in New York by a statement Mr. Kennedy made on President Eisenhower, or at least referring to him. And I'll quote the statement exactly, incidentally, from his speech I'll quote it without notes. [Applause.] This is what he said.
He said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing. I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro is doing, I want to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing."
You know if he'd quit talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower is doing. [Cheers.]
Now he isn't doing some of the foolish things, the immature things that Mr. Kennedy has suggested. He didn't, for example, express regrets or apologize to Khrushchev for defending the United States against surprise attack. [Cheers.] He didn't for example, follow the line of Senator Kennedy and 12 other very well-intentioned but mistaken Senators who in 1955 said, look, in the Formosa Straits, at the point of a gun, we will rule out the defense of an area of freedom. President Eisenhower did not follow him on that and it's a good thing he didn't because every time you make that kind of a concession, every time you allow a blackmailer, the Communist, to get what he wants at the point of a gun, you don't get peace. You only encourage him to push you further and it's the road to war. [Cheers.] And we're not going that way.
He didn't, for example, follow the suggestion Senator Kennedy repeated again, as you recall on our second television debate, when he said again, "Our policy in the Formosa Straits is wrong. President Eisenhower should negotiate so we don't have to defend these two islands." He, of course, failed to see the whole point of the matter, failed to see that the Communist objective is not two little islands, not Formosa, but the world. And the moment at the point of a gun you surrender territory, or principle, to Communists, you are going right down the road to defeat or surrender.
We talk about the fact that this is the time to extend freedom. Well the way to extend freedom, the way to have an offensive, is not to start running backwards and the American people are not going to do that whatever Senator Kennedy suggests. [Cheers and applause.]
But now he says, "I do support the President." Well it's about time. [Laughter.] Let's just suggest this. Why can't we have a
moratorium on any more rash, immature statesman by something that is going to encourage the Communists to attack us any place in the world on the part of Senator Kennedy? [Applause.]
In other words, what we need to have is for him to start thinking before he talks. It'd be a lot better for him and for the country if we could do that. [Cheers.]
But let's come to the fundamental problem. Experience. Also, we offer to you this: Both Cabot Lodge and I know Mr. Khrushchev. We have sat opposite him at the conference table. You know what we will do in handling him. There's been criticism of what we have done in the past. All that I can say is this: Knowing him as we do, we are not going to be fooled. We are going to develop the policies of this country that will deal with him as he is, not as we would want him to be. [Applause.]
What does this mean? In a nutshell I'll sum up. We're going to keep America the strongest in the world. Why? Because we're the guardians of peace and we must never allow an enemy of freedom to be in a position where he believes he can start something without having certainly massive destruction of his warmaking capability.
Point two. We're going to keep this economy moving forward. Why? We must never rest on what we've been doing, good as it is, because America must move forward as we're in this race. And we will move forward if we stay true to the principles that have made this country great.
Point three. We've got to keep the diplomacy of this country firm, firm on principle, standing for the right as he stands for the wrong, but also nonbelligerent. That means never getting down to the level of answering insult for insult, remembering that when you're right, when you have confidence in your own case, as President Eisenhower has so well demonstrated at Paris and then at the United Nations, that you maintain your dignity hut never, at the same time, giving certainly anything with regard to principle or territory. It's this, the kind of leadership that leads to peace.
Oh I know so many people say, Mr. Nixon, isn't the way to peace to follow a different line. Couldn't we make this concession or that one? Mr. Khrushchev would like us better, for example, if we did apologize or if we did give him this, or that, or the other thing. The answer is that the record of dictators is the only language they understand is firmness. That's why the language of firmness, the language of strength, that's what's kept the peace for the last 7½ years. That's what'll keep it for the next 4 years. I say the American people cannot afford, they do not want, a rash, immature man changing these policies. They want ---- [Cheers drown out Mr. Nixon.]
Do I tell you that we have all the answers? No. Do I tell you life is going to be easy in the sixties? No. I know the world. I've been to 55 countries. I know the Communists. They're going to stir up trouble. We're going to have trouble not only in Cuba but in Japan and all over the world. Why? Because they're going to stir them up.
But the point is not whether you have troubles but how you handle them. And all that I can say in conclusion. We believe we know how to handle them. We know we're on the right side. We know that we stand for the right things. And we believe that with your support that we can give America the leadership that America and the free world needs. We ask for that support. And we ask you to go out if you believe as we do, we ask you to go out and work for us. Work for us not just as Republicans, but remembering that this cause is bigger than a party. It's as big as America. It's as big as the whole world itself.
Remember, you're not just working for a man or a party. You're working for what's best for America. If you believe that and if you work with that great inspiration behind you, we'll carry Connecticut and we'll carry the Nation. Now let's go out and do the job. [Cheers.]
Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Bushnell Memorial Auditorium, Hartford, CT Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273997