Richard Nixon photo

Remarks by Vice President Nixon, Larkin Plaza, Yonkers, NY

November 02, 1960

Mr. Chairman, Senator Javits, Senator Keating, Congressman Barry, we've had a very great day in New York today starting this morning in Brooklyn, then going out to Nassau, then finally ending up with a ticker tape parade with a meeting at Herald Square, and now this reception here in Yonkers. And I just want to say that based on the enthusiasm I have seen, based on the record crowds - and they have been record crowds - press please note - bigger than any that anybody's ever had in this area before, [cheers and applause] based on that we're on the way in the State of New York to carry New York and the Nation on November the 8th [applause].

I am particularly happy to be here for that reason, but also for a personal reason that I mention. It happened that before Pat and I were married and before she went to college - as a matter of fact she was here earning the money to go to college - that she used to visit in Yonkers a lot with the Sullivans, her cousins, and I'm glad to see that Ed Sullivan and his mother and father are still here. So to Pat, Yonkers is a very special place and we're glad to be back here for that reason. [Applause.]

You know, sometimes I think people when they see a candidate for the Presidency or for Vice President of the United States, as the case might be and his wife, they sometimes get the impression that they're different from other people without the same problems, and of course, that's just as far from reality as you could possibly imagine, because I think that since Pat has spent some time here, although I'll get the dickens for this later, I'm going to tell you a little about her.

You know, reference has been made several times during the course of this campaign to the fact that I worked my way through school. I did do it but I got a lot of help from my parents. I happened to get a scholarship and they helped me some as well, but with five boys in the family we had, of course, to have some help the other way as well.

Now, I want to say with regard to Pat that she had no help whatever because her mother died when she was 13 years old, her father was ill then for 3 years and he died when she was 17 and here's a girl that worked her way clear through college without any help at all, so I'm glad to be here. [Applause.]

And that, of course, is the American story. It's one that will be retold over and over again in many families in this audience. It's one that we must never forget. It's what makes America great - the fact that, any one of the young people in this audience can be what he wants to be, can and will have the opportunity to make his way.

And that is the kind of America we're working for. We want to have all of you have that chance. We want to have all of you have that chance. [Applause.]

Now, in the course of this campaign, of course, as we get into - the final days there are many issues that will be uppermost in your minds. I would say that the one that perhaps comes immediately to mind on a day like this in the middle of the afternoon when many of you are shopping is the problems that you have in keeping the family together.

I know something about that. I grew up in a grocery store. I remember how the housewives that came in had the problems of the family budget. I remember they were hard for most everybody, but particularly difficult for those with large families, and particularly difficult for those, of course, who were retired trying to live on a pension or a little social security or something of that sort.

I want to say to you today that one of the reasons why I believe that our ticket deserves the support not only of Republicans but Democrats and Independents alike in America is that our programs will produce progress in America - more progress in education, in housing, in civil rights, in all the areas that you want than we've ever had in its history, but they will produce progress without inflation. And we need that my friends, so that you can meet the family budget and that's what we all have to do. [Applause.]

You see, it's a very easy thing for a man to get up and say, "I promise I'll do this; I promise I'll do that," and to go all around the country promising everything to everybody, but I want to tell you what it means.

What it means is that you pay, because there is no money that grows on trees. The candidate doesn't pay for it. It doesn't make any difference how much he has - you pay.

And so I say to you today that our program is one that we're proud of because it is a progressive program, but because it has in mind the problems of people. And I say to you also that you have to consider the fact that our opponents offer to America the most promises that any candidates have ever offered, but they would cost the most money and that, of course, means your money.

And what does that mean? Let's put it right in terms that everybody here will understand. If their farm program were enacted, for example - and I also know something about farm programs - if it were enacted, the career employees of the Department of Agriculture - not the political appointees, the people who have down there, specialists for years - say that it would mean a 25-percent increase in the grocery bill of every family in America.

Do you know what that means? I grew up in a grocery store. Two cents a loaf for every loaf of bread more. Four cents a quart for every quart of milk. Twenty-two cents for every dozen eggs more. Twenty-eight cents for every pound of chicken, twenty-eight cents for every pound of butter. You say, well listen, can this really be true? Could anybody suggest this kind of a program?

I'm not suggesting it, but my opponent has come out for it. And I say he's wrong and I say the American people don't want a 25 percent increase in their grocery bills. [Applause.]

And I say, too, that the farmers of America don't want it either because the other side of this program is that it would cut their production. It's a program based on scarcity, and it is one that would put representatives of the Government - 50,000 new inspectors in - and forcing upon the farmers of this country controls such as we have never had and such as we never want to have in the United States. That is one side of it.

Now, if I could go on from there. In other words, what we're talking about here when you vote on November the 8th is this - you're making a decision. Every day, every housewife here, every homemaker, makes a decision. You go into a grocery store. You buy. You buy one item rather than another because if you buy the first item it means that you're going to be able to balance the family budget - pay the bills.

When you vote on November the 8th you're going to make a decision and you will make a decision that will have more effect on your family budget than all the decisions you will make all your lives in every store in Yonkers or in New York City. [Applause.] And so that means vote for the right way and that means the right team in this election campaign. [Applause and cheers.]

Now, let me turn to the other issue that I know is uppermost in the minds of everybody here - that's the future of America, but not only our future but the future of free people throughout the world.

We want peace. We want it without surrender. We believe in freedom and w e believe in freedom not only for ourselves, but for people throughout the world. These things are as American as any ideals which could possibly be described. And the question again is, how do we get them ? How do we achieve them?

And first, I want to say that I'm proud to have been part of an administration under which the President of the United States got this Nation out of a war that it was in and has kept it out of other wars and we have peace without surrender today. [Applause.]

I want to say, too, that I have been present when the President has made the great decisions. I know how difficult they are. I know that no candidate can get up and say, "Elect me and I will be great and you're not to worry about anything any more."

This isn't true. I know Mr. Khrushchev. I have had him shake his fist right under my chin and say, "We're going to catch you, Mr. Vice President. We're going to catch you and we're going to pass you, because our system is better than yours. We're going to catch you in 7 years."

And I'll tell you what our answer is. Our answer is he won't catch us in 7 or 70 years if we're true to the principles that have made America the great Nation that it is. [Applause.]

He also believes that the Communist system is going to dominate the world. He believes that they're going to gain a victory without war. My friends, he will not gain it provided again we are not foolish. Provided we recognize the type of a man he is and Mao Tse-tung and the other leaders of the Communist world. They don't react like Mr. Adenauer, Mr. Macmillan, Mr. De Gaulle, Mr. Nehru. These men are men who are ruthless and fanatical and who want nothing less than the world.

It isn't Quemoy and Matsu that they're after, for example, or Formosa, but the world. It isn't Berlin, but Europe and the world. And when you're dealing with men like this it means that you must never surrender freedom any place in the world or you invite them to take the whole world. [Applause.]

That's why my opponent was wrong when he said that President Eisenhower should have done what he did - not do - in Quemoy and Matsu, in dividing off a little bit of freedom and say, "Come and get it." He was wrong and the President was right.

That's why the President was right and my opponent was wrong when President Eisenhower refused to apologize and express regrets to Khrushchev for defending the United States against surprise attack. [Applause.]

My friends, I know that many well-intentioned people in this audience might well say, but really, Mr. Vice President, isn't there an easier way? Couldn't we agree for some of his proposals? He says he is for disarmament. Why don't we agree to it? Why can't we take the first step?

Listen, my friends. I don't think anybody in this audience could feel stronger than I do on the subject of disarmament and peace. I have had it drilled into me from the time I could speak. My mother, my grandmother, both Quakers - to them peace is everything. I remember when I volunteered for service in World War II, I remember how very much they opposed it.

I know, too, that there are people of infinite good will who believe that the President has been too firm, that he hasn't gone far enough in reducing the defenses of the United States on the promise that they would reduce theirs.

But I want to tell you something. For all of you who love peace in this audience, let me tell you this. Anything we do that would result in an increase of Communist power compared to American power increases the risk of war rather than decreases it because, remember this: As long as the United States is the strongest Nation in the world, the cause of peace is safe because we will never use our strength except to keep the peace. [Applause.] But the moment you have a situation where as a result of an impractical deal, as a result of taking on faith what we should never take on faith, their strength increases with regard to ours, then the risk of war increases.

And that's why I say, Cabot Lodge and I will work for peace. We will work to strengthen the United Nations and all other instruments of peace. We will go the extra mile. We'll go halfway around the world - clear around the world - to discuss, to attempt to work out these differences between nations. But, my friends, we know that in dealing with men like this the road to peace must be one in which we've got to be stronger than they are and just as firm and just as determined for the right as they are for the wrong. That is the road to peace and that is the way we're going.

I have one other point that I mention. [Applause.] It seems far away, I suppose, from these subjects that I mentioned today but it is one that is infinitely important. As we came through the streets of this city I saw many of the schools with the children on the streets, I saw the churches, I saw the homes, and I realized that here was America - not just part of America, but all of it.

Here are the hopes of America. Here are the dreams of America. Here were the people - the people that we must always remember if we succeed in this campaign, that we owe every devotion, every obligation of which we are capable.

I also realize this: I realize, not only here, but as I have traveled to 47 States already in this campaign and we're going to all 50 incidentally by the end of this week, I realize as I travel the 47 States, spoken to great crowds like this, seen literally millions of people all the way from Hawaii to Maine to Florida to California to Minnesota - I realize that these people down in Washington and other places, the columnists and the commentators that are wringing their hands and sobbing around and saying, "America's people have lost their sense of purpose. America's people are becoming second in everything. America's people don't have the drive and the determination of the Communists."

Believe me they don't know what they're talking about. The don't know America and they don't know her people. Listen, there's nothing wrong with the American people if our leaders would just recognize it, we're the greatest people on earth. [Applause.]

Now that leaves us, however, a responsibility. It leaves a responsibility for all of us to see that America, is always at its best. I want to tell you something. I've traveled to 55 countries with Pat - Asia, Africa, Europe, almost all the world, the Communist world, the free world.

Do you know one of the most difficult problems you have abroad? It isn't with explaining or defending the ideals we believe in - we're for peace, we're for freedom for all people, we have faith in God - all these things people want, people understand, but it's the fact that sometimes they can point to the fact that we don't practice at home the ideals that we believe in.

And I say to you, my friends, you can help in this great struggle for peace and freedom. You can help not only by voting on election day but you can help by making this city, your community, your church, your home, your school, make it America at its best. Make it a shining example of what we want America to be to all the world, of equality of opportunity for all of our people, fighting prejudice and hatred wherever it exists so that when the President of the United States goes abroad, or when others come here, we can say, "We Americans not only believe in equality, but we practice it."

This is what you can do and we ask you to do it, not only now but in the future. [Applause.]

Now only 5 days remain in this campaign, and those 5 days will determine the outcome. It would be easy for me simply to say: "Vote our way," and that's the only message we have to leave. But I urge you my friends, the decisions are so important, they affect your lives, your future, I say that if you believe in the cause that we believe in, don't just vote, go out and work for it. Go out and work for it remembering that you are working for a cause that is bigger than a party. It's as big as America. It's as big as the whole world itself.

I am convinced as I stand here, based on my travels through the world, of great destiny for America. I am convinced that this is a period that the great American people will either meet the challenge which is ours - the challenge to lead the world to peace and freedom - or fail to meet it. I think we're going to meet it. I think we're going to win. But my friends, we can only meet it in the event that the people in this country are strong morally and spiritually here at home.

And so I say to you, I ask you not only to work in this election, not only to vote, but whatever the outcome, never forget that you, the American people, have a destiny and that destiny is to make America the finest land in all the world so that our President can represent it abroad as we want it to be. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks by Vice President Nixon, Larkin Plaza, Yonkers, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project