Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, City Hall Square, Bridgeport, CT

October 17, 1960

Vice President NIXON. Thank you. Thank you very much. Senator Bush, and all of our friends here at this great meeting in Bridgeport, we want to thank you So very much for coming out in the middle of the day and giving us this wonderful welcome on this day as we visit Connecticut. And I want to say, too, that as we arrived in the city we were particularly pleased to be escorted by the bands that came in, on either side here, and by Fairfield University over here. [Applause.] Fine. (Let them up closer. That's fine.) Oh, and I must not forget having been to the University of Bridgeport, welcome to all of you. [Applause.]

I want to say, too, that I'm very honored to have been introduced so generously by my friend, Pres Bush, Senator Bush, and also to have the opportunity to be here on the same platform with my two colleagues who are running for Congress, one running at large, Tony Sadlak, let's give him a hand [applause], and then right from this very district, Ab Sibal, how about a hand for him. [Applause.] And now if I might have your attention for just a few minutes, I would like to discuss what I think is the most important issue of this campaign. This is the issue that I find, in traveling already to 46 States, is the one that all people are concerned about above all the rest.

You know, I've been to Hawaii, and I've been to Maine. I've been to the North, the East, West, the South, and you'll find the people of this country are quite different in many ways. Where you go to different areas they may have this concern or that one that separates from the rest of the country, but one of the things, the great things about America, is that when it comes to those matters that affect the survival of the Nation, all Americans join together, and I find that above every other issue is this one: Which of the two candidates for the Presidency is best qualified by experience, by judgment, by background to keep the peace, and keep it without surrender for all (could not hear end of sentence because of applause).

Now, why is it that that is the issue above every other one that Americans are concerned about? Because it affects the future of our children, because it affects also our own future, and because, as all of you know, we can have the best jobs, the best medical care, the best housing in the world, and it isn't going to make any difference if we're not around to enjoy it. [Applause.]

Now the second point that I want to make is this: We often hear the word with regard to how we ought to judge a candidate for the President. Whether we ought to vote the party or the man, and I just want to say here that where America is concerned, that I ask everybody in this audience, Democrats, Republicans, Independents to remember that when we elect a President, it isn't enough just to vote your party, it isn't enough just to vote as somebody else tells you to vote, hut what we have to do is put America first and select the best man, whoever can do the job for America at this particular time. [Applause.]

And now, then, I want to turn to that issue because it is one of primary importance, it is one where the American people will make the decision 3 weeks from tomorrow, what are the things that you ought to judge the candidates by in making that decision?

The first thing that I think you have to have in mind is this: You want to look at our experience, and as far as our experience is concerned, all of you know that Cabot Lodge and my running mate - my running mate and I, for the last 7½ years have been members of the Eisenhower administration. We have been in the Security Council. We have been in the Cabinet. We have participated in the discussions on foreign policy, and so, therefore, you must judge us by the record.

Now there are some who don't think much of that record. They have a right to say what they think, but we also have a right to correct them where they are wrong, and may I just say this: That where it comes to all the criticisms of the record of this administration in the field of foreign policy, no criticism can fool the American people on this point. The American people know that under President Eisenhower's leadership, we got this Nation out of one war, we've kept it out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today, and that's what we want. [Applause.]

Now, what of the future There are those who say "America's prestige is falling all over the world; America is now becoming second-rate in its science and its education and its economy; the Soviet Union is going to catch us; America has been standing still and we have got to get going again; we have got to change our foreign policy." Just let me say this in answer to all the critics. I think it was summed up by what my opponent said in New York a few days ago, speaking on foreign policy, he brought this criticism of the administration to a head in this way: I think I remember exactly what he said, and I'll quote it, without notes [laughter-applause], he said: "I am tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing." He said, "I am tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro is doing." He said, "I want to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing." Well, let me tell you something. If he'd stop talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower has been doing. [Applause.]

Now, I've got to admit the President hasn't been doing some of the things that he wants him to do. For example, at the Paris Conference when Mr. Khrushchev insulted him, when Mr. Khrushchev complained about the flights the President had ordered for the purpose of getting information and to protect this country against surprise attack, the President refused to follow the advice that apparently Mr. Kennedy would have given, he refused to apologize or to express regrets for the United States of America and its policies. [Applause.] And also the President of the United States has not followed his advice, an advice that he gave 5 years ago that out in the Pacific what we ought to do is, in effect, to surrender a piece of territory held by the forces of freedom at the point of a gun, to surrender it in the hope that if we did that this would lead to peace, but President Eisenhower and an overwhelming number of the Members of Congress rejected the view that he advocated then, it was wrong then, it's wrong today, and I say the American people want to continue President Eisenhower's policy which is the way to have peace when you're dealing with a dictator is to be firm and not to surrender principle or territory any place in the world at the point of a gun. [Applause.]

Now what do my colleague and I offer in this respect? Well, first of all, we both know Mr. Khrushchev, we've sat at the conference table with him, we know what kind of a man he is, we know that he is a ruthless, fanatical man whose object is not Quemoy and Matsu, the islands you've been hearing about, not Formosa, but the world, and, therefore, we know that he and his Communist colleagues, if we're going to have peace, that America must do certain things. Now I know that Bridgeport is known as the "Arsenal of Democracy" and this is particularly appropriate, what I am going to say here today at this point. If America is going to be the guardian of peace in these years ahead, we've got to be sure that we're the strongest nation in the world. Today we are the strongest nation in the world despite what others may say, and I can assure you that under Cabot Lodge and me, we're going to continue it the strongest, and the American people will support us in that objective. [Applause.]

This means we can never be satisfied with what we're doing because the situation changes, we've got to take advantage of new inventions as they come along, we've got to step up our defense forces as the Soviet Union moves in new directions, we've got to be sure that the time never comes that an American President is at a conference table where the man on the other side of the table says "I'm stronger than you are and I can blackmail you." And so, one, we will keep America strong militarily, and the second thing we will do is this. We will be firm in our diplomacy. We know this man as I emphasized. We know that he doesn't react like the leaders of the free world. We know that the naive and well-intentioned people who suggest that a concession here, or a concession there will lead to peace forget the lessons of history. My friends, we learned in Korea, we learned in dealing with Hitler that whenever you're confronted with a dictator, the way to peace is to strengthen strength and firmness, and the way to war is through weakness, both militarily and diplomatically. We stand for strength and firmness and that's what we're going to continue, and that's what the American people are going to vote for on November 8. [Applause.]

And now, I'm sure, many people say: "Well, now, Mr. Nixon, that's all well and good, suppose we do have peace, what's going to happen at home here? What about our jobs? What about our schools? What about the housing, the medical care that we all want? Are we going to move forward?" Some of you might have been reading the papers that said: "Has America been standing still these last 7 years? Do we have to go back to the policies of Truman that Mr. Kennedy advocates in order to get going again?" [Crowd - "No."] All that I can say is this. Anybody who says America has been standing still hasn't been traveling around America the last 7½ years. [Applause.] He hasn't seen the fact that we've built more schools, more houses, that we've had better jobs, greater progress in these 7 years than in any 7 years in history, and we're going to continue to build even greater progress in the future under our leadership. [Applause.]

Then there are those who might say: "But your opponent says he's going to spend more money to get progress.?" And my friends, whose money is he spending? It isn't his, you can be sure of that, it's yours! It's yours! And I say that the American people, yes, they want their Government to do what it should, and the Government must lead in seeing to it that we develop to the full the resources of this country, our human resources, our education, and we have to move forward and with leaving no Americans behind, but also my friends, we also have to remember that every time we spend a dollar in Washington, that it's a dollar that the people don't get to spend at home, and I say the very fact that our program will cost less of your money and do more is a reason to recommend them, and that the American people don't have to vote for programs that would raise your taxes, and raise your prices when you can get more progress with the way we offer it, the American way in this campaign [Applause.]

And so I say to you today, consider our programs, consider what we say, but above all, you must consider the men, their record and we in that respect I would add this final point.

I have had a very rare experience with my wife in the last 7½ years, we have represented America all over the world. We have been to 55 countries and for those who say, "How's it going to come out, Mr. Nixon? Are we going to have peace? Is freedom going to win? Or is the wave of the future the wave of communism?" And my answer is: Have faith in America. America has never been, is not now, and never will be a second-rate country if America will keep her faith in our country. [Applause.] And for those who say our prestige is falling, tell them to go abroad and see. Go to Poland as we did and see a quarter of a million Poles on the streets of Warsaw cheering and shouting, "Long live America," crying with tears running down their cheeks, why? Because America stands for the right things, not just for strength militarily, and not just for wealth, but for ideals, for our faith in God, for our belief in the rights of men, for our belief in equality of opportunity for all people, for our recognition that these rights belong not just to us, but that they belong to the whole world. That is what I believe. These are the things that I want to fight for! These are the things that I believe America can preserve not only for our own children but can extend to all the world, and that we can do it without war. And it is this kind of support that we ask in this campaign, if you believe that Cabot Lodge, my colleague, who has done such a magnificent job at the U.N., if you believe that he and I are the ones that can lead America into this bright new future of peace without surrender, a progress through more freedom rather than less freedom, then we ask for your support. Remember, yon will be working not just for us as men and not just for our party, but for what is best for America and the whole world.

Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, City Hall Square, Bridgeport, CT Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project