Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Hillside Shopping Center, Chicago, IL

October 29, 1960

Congressman Collier, Senator Bidwell - this is your district,. of course and this wonderful crowd here at the Hillside Shopping Center.

I can only say that the opportunity to see such a crowd as this in the middle of the day on Saturday is one of the great thrills of this campaign and we thank you for coming out as you have in such great numbers. [Cheers.] I'm just sorry that people in the back there can't see too well but we do appreciate the fact that they are there. And the very fact that this crowd is so big that they all can't get out in front here is an indication of what's going to happen on November 8 in this district. [Cheers.]

I also want to say that I am greatly privileged to be here on the platform with my fellow candidates on our ticket - with Bill Stratton, who has been your Governor and will be your next Governor, with our candidate for the U.S. Senate, with our candidate for the House of Representatives, Harold Collier. I think with Sam Witwer and Harold Collier you've got two men who will make a fine team with Everett Dirksen down there in Washington. And then, of course, Senator Bidwell, this is your perennial district. I'm delighted to be here with you, with Charlie Carpenter, with the whole group. How about a hand for all of these candidates who are not speaking? [Cheers.]

Well, we've had a busy week as you may have noted in the paper. We started last week in Pennsylvania, whistlestopping. We came to Pittsburgh the first night, then went over to Ohio for 2 days in Ohio, with a meeting in Cincinnati there. Somebody here's from Ohio. And then on up to Toledo for the second night. Then into Michigan for the next night. Last night we were over in Davenport, Iowa. Today we, of course, are finishing this tour for this week in the suburbs of Chicago.

And I just want to say that we consider this to be the critical period in the campaign. This is the time when people make up their minds, those who have been on the fence. This is the time when those of you who are already for us, I say you drop what you're doing and go oust and work as you never have before because it's worth it as you work for our ticket for next November. [Cheers.]

There are so many issues that I would like to talk about today but with a crowd like this, you've been waiting some time, you're standing here all jammed up together and I know that certainly the responsibility of whoever is the speaker is to bring his message quickly, bringing it in an understandable way, so that you can have an opportunity to know the issues which should decide this election.

The first point I want to make is one that relates to a shopping center. As I looked at this great shopping center as we drove in here, I was thinking of one of the bedtime stories in this campaign, I say a bedtime story, or you can call it a ghost story, or a Hollywood story, or Halloween, or whatever you want to call it. And that is that America has been standing still for the last 7½ years. Well, you know anybody that says America has been standing still just hasn't been traveling around America, that's all. [Cheers.] Where did that freeway come in? It wasn't here 7½ years ago. Where did this shopping center come from? It's been built in these last 7½ years.

After all, those people who say America's standing still, of course, are living in a dream world. They're dreaming of getting in the White House but the American people are so smart they're not going to let them go there. [Cheers.]

Then I was thinking, too, of the problems of the hundreds of thousands of people who go to this shopping center, who live in this area. I was thinking of what you had to do when you went in there and bought the groceries, the clothing, and the drugs, and all the other things that you have to do for your family. I was thinking what we in Washington have - our responsibility to you.

I just want to say this. You know the easy thing for somebody running for public office to do is to run around the country and to promise this and promise that and promise something else and say we're going to take care of you. Just leave it to us.

The only difficulty with that is when you make those kinds of promises you're going to spend so many billions for this and so many billions for that, it comes right out of your budget.

And the point I want to make today is this: We have programs that will move America forward, move her forward in education, in science, in welfare, in all the areas that the American people want progress in this country. But we're going to move her forward not simply by trying to buy the people's votes with their own money because you need it. And whenever we can save a dollar that should not be spent in Washington, that means you can have it right here to spend as you need it right here in Illinois. [Cheers.]

Let me put it another way. Everybody here has a family budget. I remember when I was growing up the problems that we had meeting the bills at the end of the month. And there were many times that my brothers - I had four of them - and I were wanting things. One year my older brother wanted a pony; another year I wanted an automatic train, and so forth. We couldn't have them because much as my mother and father would have liked to have made a promise to give us those things, they knew they had a responsibility to the whole family. And that, of course, is the responsibility of whoever is President of this country.

He's got to think of a whole American family. He can't go around promising this and that and the other thing. He's got to think of the housewives trying to balance the family budget. He's got to think of the millions of people who are saving for their old age through social security, through pensions, through life insurance. And he's got to make a pledge - and I make that pledge today - that if you work and if you earn money, that that money's going to be able to buy what it costs you to earn. And we're not going to break faith with the American people by spending in Washington and raising prices in such a way that it's going to make it imp ossible for you to balance your own budgets right here at home. [Cheers.]

Now I suppose somebody will say now, "Mr. Nixon, you talked about a bedtime story. How about this one? Is this one?"

No, the American people have got a pretty good memory. It happened here. It happened in America.

You remember 1952? You remember what happened in those previous 7 years? You'll recall that in those 7 years millions of American families got wage increases. It didn't mean a thing to them because prices went up just as much as wages did, even more in some instances. In that 7 years, and this was the cruelest part of it all millions of Americans who had saved their money - pensions, social security, life insurance - were driven right to the wall because prices in that period went up 50 percent - 50 percent in those 7 years and never forget it.

My friends, I say to you today that that was a breach of faith for the American people. I say that it's a responsibility of our Government in Washington, D.C., never to break faith. I say that it's our responsibility to see to it, to always to think of the problems of people at home. And one of the reasons that I think of them is that I've been through it. I know what it means. I know what it was in our own family and I know what it is in yours.

And I can assure that making these decisions, that they will be made always having in mind the fact that there are millions of Americans who, if we do the wrong. things in Washington, if we spend when it isn't necessary, that it will simply come right out of your paychecks, right out of your pensions, right out of your social security.

May I just finally add in that respect, that is exactly, unfortunately, what our opponent's programs will do. They're not new. He just wants to go back to the same programs we left behind in 1953. I say we had enough of those policies then. We don't want any more of them now. We want to go forward rather than back and that's where we're going to go on November the 8th. [Cheers.]

Now speaking of Halloween, boy we've really been hearing some ghost stories lately. You've been hearing about America being second rate in education. Remember that one? You've been hearing about the fact that America is second in science. Remember that? You've been hearing about the fact that American prestige, Mr. Stevenson says, is at an alltime low. That's the same thing he said back in 1956, incidentally, and 9 million Americans, by a majority of 9 million, Democrats and Republicans, said he was wrong and Eisenhower was right and they're going to say that again this year in 1960. [Cheers.]

I'm sure that many of you heard the President last night. I'm sure that you heard, of course, what he had to say about some of these issues. Did you like that speech he made? [Cheers.] Well you know there have been some complaints about it I understand. Some of our friends of our opponents say, Oh the President really shouldn't have taken on Mr. Kennedy like that." All I can say is this. After all the lies Harry Truman has told about me, it's good time that President Eisenhower told the truth about Jack Kennedy. [Applause.]

Also, it's time to tell the truth about the United States. It's time to speak up for America. Listen; I have been to the Soviet Union. I know we're first in education. I know that we're first in science. I know that as far as their economy is concerned they won't catch us in 7 years.

I remember Khrushchev shaking his fist in my face and saying, "Mr. Nixon, we're behind you now but we're going to catch you in 7 years." He doesn't have a chance if we just stay true to the principles that built these highways, that built these shopping centers, that built the greatest country that the world has ever seen. [Cheers.] But, my friends, he will have a chance to catch us if we turn to policies that would stunt the initiative of the American people, that would say, "Oh, people can't do things." We've got to turn everything over to Washington. We don't believe in the individual. We're afraid they haven't the responsibility. Listen; it's that kind of policy that we left in 1953 and it's that kind, my friends, that would allow him to catch us and we're not going to do it. We're not going to do it because Americans know the way into the bright future.

You know, they talk about these new frontiers. Just let me say this. America always is going to cross the frontiers. This is in the American tradition. We look to the future. We want a better life for our children than we've had for ourselves. But how are the frontiers of America conquered?

Listen; they weren't conquered by Government. They were conquered by hardy individualistic pioneers and that's what we need in the spirit of America today. [Cheers.] And I can assure you you can't cross a new frontier with an old jalopy that we left by the side of the road in 1953 even though it does have a new paint job. We certainly don't want that one. That certainly is no way to go across them. [Cheers.]

My friends, there's also another point that ought to be made. We in this country are perhaps the most forward-looking, the most progress-minded people in the world. We always want to move but the reason that we moved is that we've recognized that Government's function is to do what is necessary and do those things that people can't or won't do for themselves, but primarily to give people a chance, to give everybody a chance, to move America forward, leaving none behind. And that means all Americans must move.

That's why in the field of civil rights we've got to move everybody forward because America can't afford to waste any of our young people's talents. We can't afford to waste anybody who might contribute to the greatness of America.

And, also, Americans in this century I think have had, and will continue to have, the greatest dedication to peace of any people in the world. This is our nature. We've been in three wars. Have you ever stopped to think - World War I, World War II, Korea. What do we fight for? What do we get out of it? We got a lot of casualties. We spent billions of dollars - $60 billion since World War II even - helping our enemies and our friends. What do we get out of it? Not an acre of territory. Not a concession. All that Americans have fought for, all that we want today - and this is the American dream and the American ideal is for the right of peoples everywhere to have what we have: peace without surrender, freedom and its extension without war.

It makes you very proud to be an American when you realize that. It makes you very proud. [Cheers.]

Now how do we keep this peace? Because nothing is more important than that. I speak of these wars. They were terrible - terrible for the boys that were lost and for their loved ones at home. But, my friends, I have seen Tokyo. I have seen Vietnam. I have seen Berlin immediately after the war. I have seen London, and northern Italy. The destruction of those wars was bad enough. America has never had war brought to its shores before but in the next war every nation - even Chicago, which will be one of the first major targets.

So the major responsibility of the next President - the major responsibility and the major test you must apply to him is this - has he the background, the experience, the judgment, to keep the peace without surrender, to extend freedom without war?

I can only say in that respect that I would like to promise you that if I am elected, if Cabot Lodge is elected with me, that you'll have no more troubles, that the Communists will start acting like good people, that they won't continue to harass us around the world. But I don't tell you that because I know them and Cabot Lodge knows them. We've sat opposite them at the conference table. I know these ruthless, fanatical men. And they're going to continue to press for conquering the world but, you know, they're not going to make it. They're not going to force us into war provided we never make the mistake of, surrendering freedom anyplace in the world. We must never do that. [Applause.]

Now let me speak about mistakes. I have seen the President make many great decisions in these last 7½ years. I remember the day he decided to go into Lebanon. I was there in the office. He paced the floor. He knew the war and peace in the balance. He knew, however, that if the Communists came in and if we didn't stop, that it would mean inevitably war and that we had to take a firm stand then.

Finally, quietly, he turned to me and he said, "We're going to go in."

My friends, the decision was right. It's because he's made so many right and wise decisions that we have kept the peace without surrender. But now let's turn to the future.

You have two choices - myself, my opponent. No question about dedication to peace. No question about opposition to communism: The question only is who is going to be able to avoid making mistakes. And on score after score, I should like to point out, that my opponent would have done exactly the opposite from the President. He would of Quemoy and Matsu. He would as far as the summit conference is concerned when he criticized the President, in effect, by saying he could have apologized or expressed regrets to Khrushchev. He would in regard to Cuba. And I say we can't afford to have the White House as a training ground for an inexperienced man who is rash and impulsive at the present time. [Cheers.]

Now I just want to keep the record straight. I know that he's said he's changed his mind on this, that now he supports the President on the Formosa Straits, that really he didn't mean this business about apologizing and regretting, and as far as Cuba is concerned, he was misunderstood.

My friends, let me say this. When you're President, when you make a decision that's it. You don't get a second guess. You can't afford it. [Applause.]

So I say this. At the present time the choice is clear and it's bigger than whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. This is bigger even than America. This cause is the cause of freedom for the whole world. So I say to this great audience, consider our experience, our background, but consider it not just as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans.

And only then if you believe we are the men that can lead America at home into a bright new future, if you believe that we are the ones that can keep the peace without surrender, that we are the ones that can mount a great offensive for freedom, an offensive for freedom that will win a victory for freedom without war, and these are the things td which we are dedicated, then, my friends, I can ask you for your support.

And on that basis I say to you finally, that looking at great crowds like this I realize the responsibility the neat President will have. Whatever you may be, Democrats, or Republicans, or independents, you have a love for this country. You wouldn't be here if you didn't have that love. And I want you to know that traveling to 47 States, talking to millions of people, I have learned that the heart of America, and the soul of America is sound.

Oh, they talk about American purpose but this country in its churches, in its schools, in its homes, has an idealism which is the wonder of the world, and I only hope that I can be worthy of the American people in these years ahead.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Hillside Shopping Center, Chicago, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project