Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Mid-Island Plaza Shopping Center, Hicksville, NY

September 28, 1960

Senator Javits, Senator Keating, Congressman Wainwright, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform, and all of the audience in front of me, behind me, and on each side of me.

May I say that it's a very great privilege to be here with you and to have this wonderful turnout in the middle of the afternoon. I want to thank each of you for coining. I know that the conditions under which you will be listening are rather difficult. I can see you out there all crowded together. I can see you with no chance, of course, to sit down. I know you've been here a long time and Pat and I do appreciate your coming and welcoming us as graciously as you have.

There are many things that I would like to say to you today but I know that in the positions in which you're standing that brevity is something that a speaker should always adhere to. But I'd like to begin by thanking those who helped put this meeting on. It's really a wonderful meeting to have this group gathered here and I know all the work that must have gone in it - to build this platform - and particularly, don't you think we ought to give a hand to all of them and to our two bands - the Hicksville High School Band and the --- Band. [Cheers.] There's the other one over there. I greatly appreciate music. You know that's one place I'm like Harry Truman - I used to play the piano myself. [Applause.]

But now if I could have your attention for just a few moments I would like to discuss some issues that are very, very close to your hearts. They're just as close to the people in this audience as they are to those to whom I have been speaking all over this country - from Hawaii to Maine, in the South, and the North, and the East and the West, we have had great throngs of people like this. And I have found that running through these crowds wherever you go is one primary concern above everything else. Do you know what it is? It's the concern about the future of our young people.

We're all thinking of that. I see some of the waving down here when I mention them. Our children know how we love them - we grownups.

I remember my father used to say to me when we were growing up and to my four brothers, he said, "You know, I never want to go back to the good old days and I'm not looking for that for you. I think this is a pretty good country but I want it better for you than we've had it for ourselves."

I remember that he was able to finish only the sixth grade in school and that's why both he and my mother used to work long, long hours in a grocery store - the rest of us worked there too - but they worked very, very long hours so that their sons could all go to school - even to college.

I know that everybody in this audience has these same feelings for your children as we have for ours.

And I know that you look at me, a candidate for the Presidency, and you say what's he going to offer us. What can he do that can help us? Help us so that we can do a better job for our children, so that America can be a better place for us to live in. And I'd like to tell you today something about what I believe America's leadership, the American President can do for our people.

First, I want all of you to consider this question. What do you want most of all from government? Well, a good living. We'd like to be able to have the opportunity to have a good job, to be able to go in these stores and buy the things we need and then have enough left at the end of the month to pay the bills. We want all these things but above everything else do you know what we want? We want for ourselves and for our children peace without surrender to the forces of slavery throughout the world [cheers and applause] - because, my friends, nothing else matters unless we do this.

So the first test you must put on to me, the first test you must put on those others who are running for office in Washington, and incidentally, I am so happy that we have in the U.S. Senate in Jack Javits and Ken Keating two men men who have been in the forefront of the fight for peace and freedom and with whom I will be privileged to work as the President of the United States if you give us the opportunity. [Applause.] I know, too, that you recognize the great abilities of your own Congressmen in this field - Sty Wainwright - a man who specializes in foreign affairs.

But returning to what a President can do and what you want from him, you know that above everything else this is the responsibility of government. So I say to you, test us. See whether I, my colleague Cabot Lodge, whether we offer the leadership America needs or whether our opponents do.

Now I want to tell you what we offer. First, we have a record. We both have been part of an administration. For 7½ years he and I have worked with President Eisenhower in this cause and in others for America. What is that record?

Speaking of it in this field may I say that there are those who criticize it. But I say that the people of America will be forever grateful to Dwight D. Eisenhower for ending one war, for keeping us out of other wars, and for bringing peace without surrender to the world today. [Applause.]

And to those who say, ah yes, but President Eisenhower has let America slip. He has let us become a second-rate country. We find that our prestige around the world is slipping. We find that the Communists are starting riots in Tokyo against our President, riots in Japan against our Vice President. And this is a terrible thing. Just let me say this. These people are making the mistake of blaming their own President and their own country for what the Communists are doing. Let's stop it and be proud of the United States of America. [Applause.] When the Communists run a riot in Tokyo against the President of the United States, or in Caracas, Venezuela, against the Vice President and his wife, it just shows they don't like our policies. And we are not going to change our policies so that Communists do like them because if we do, that means we surrender to what they want in the world and this we must never do, I'm sure you all agree. [Applause.]

What do we offer in addition to a record? Well, in this field we offer our experience as I have indicated. I cannot talk about my experience. That's for you to decide - as against my opponent's. But I can talk about my running mate's and believe me, you folks who have seen him on television at the U.N. will agree when I say that no man in the world today has had more experience and could have done a better job of fighting for the cause of peace and freedom than Henry Cabot Lodge, our Ambassador to the United Nations and our candidate for Vice President. [Cheers and applause.]

We run as a team. We will work as a team. We will work for the cause of peace and freedom, working to extend it throughout the world.

What else do we offer? We offer our experience, our background, and the things that we believe America must do. This is the way we believe.

First, we know the Communists because we've dealt with them. We know that they are men who respect strength. So we will begin by seeing that America's strength is first in the world, always first, and whatever it costs, my friends, we're going to see that we maintain that position of strength because we must never be in a position where a President of the United States, sitting across the conference table from a man like Mr. Khrushchev, where he can say, in effect, that he's looking down our throat. We've got to be in a position such as we are today where we're stronger than they are. Why? Because that way we discourage him ever from using his strength for blackmailing us or using it to start war any place in the world. So strength is one. What else?

We have to have economic progress to go along with that. Economic progress because, my friends, America must continue to be the strongest nation in the world economically as well as militarily.

We're in a race with the Soviet Union and the Communist world, a race that we're winning and we must continue to win. And we believe that our policies will win this race and that theirs would run the risk of losing it. I'll tell you why. Because we say that the way to get progress in the United States, maximum progress, is not to turn everything over to Washington, D.C., not to increase the size and the spending of the Federal Government just for the sake of doing it. We say that Washington should do those things only that it needs to do and there aren't many things that it must do to lead this country, but that the way to increase the strength of America economically is to increase the opportunities for individual enterprise of 180 million Americans. [Cheers.] And that's what we have here.

Now on this score you will hear our opponents say, "Ah, but Mr. Nixon, America has been standing still. For 8 years we haven't been moving." But those who say that haven't been traveling around America. Look at this place. Look at this tremendous shopping center. What built it? Government No; individual enterprise. I am for individual enterprise and I believe we've got to encourage it in America. [Cheers, applause.]

And I am for policies that will always give to the people of America the maximum opportunity to develop their creative energies.

What else do we need? If we're going to keep the peace we've got to have a firm, strong diplomacy. Firm without being belligerent. We begin with the fact that no President of the United States must ever indulge in the luxury of losing his temper when dealing with men like the Communists. Why? It should be much easier to do. I know how hard it is to hold it. But I can tell you that he can't do it. He's got to be cool in the toughest crisis because we must never heat up the international atmosphere to the point that a nuclear expression could be risked.

What else do we need? Not only must we do that, but no President of the United States must ever be gullible. You must recognize that the men in the Kremlin are different from the other leaders of the world. These are men who understand firmness and strength, and, understanding firmness and strength, they are men who have utter contempt for those who are advocating or who practice concessions without getting concessions in return. That's why it would have been a mistake, as some have suggested, for President Eisenhower to have expressed regrets to Mr. Khrushchev for the U-2 flights which were ordered to protect this country's security - a mistake because it would not have saved that conference in Paris but also a mistake no President of this country, Democrat or Republican, must ever apologize to anybody for protecting the security of the United States of America. [Cheers.]

So in addition to all these things, the military strength, the economic progress, that I have referred to, the diplomatic firmness, America, in addition, needs a flaming idealism. I suppose so me of you may wonder now why is he going to talk about that. After all if you're dealing with men like the Communists who respect only strength, what does idealism matter. May I say that through the centuries people have always underestimated - not all people, but the militarists and the materialists have underestimated the power of ideas, the moral and spiritual ideas of this Nation, the ones for which we stand throughout the world. In that connection may I say to this great audience that you are the ones that can help keep America strong in this respect. Love of country, faith in God, faith in our ideals, recognition of the dignity of men and women regardless of their background, making our ideals a reality for all of our people, so that a man like Mr. Khrushchev won't be able to come to the United States as he did last week, this man who has been responsible for slaughtering thousands in the streets of Hungary, this man who has enslaved millions in his own country, for him to come here and point the finger to us and say, "You Americans are practicing prejudice, you are enslaving people." Let us do what we can to see that American practices at home what we attempt to preach abroad. That's recognition of the dignity of all men an women regardless of their background. [Applause, cheers.]

This comes from our homes. It comes from our churches. It comes from our schools. It comes from you.

Finally, I say to you today that having traveled through the world having seen our own country, that I would not want to end this talk without a note of faith. People sometimes come to me concerned. They say the Communists are trying so hard. They're so fanatical and they're causing trouble here, there, and everywhere. Are we going to win? Can we have peace? Will freedom prevail? My friends, it will and I'll tell you why.

Because we're on the right side. We're on the side of peace, the side of justice. We're on the side of freedom. And I have seen it in the faces of thousands of people in 55 countries around the world on both sides of the Iron Curtain. What we need is leadership in America, backed by a united people regardless of party which will keep America strong economically, but above all, strong in her faith, her faith in God, in her ideals and faith in ourselves. That is my message to you. [Cheers; applause.]

If you believe that the leadership that I can offer, with my colleague, Cabot Lodge, that this is the leadership that America

needs, then I say whether you are Democrats or Republicans, I ask you to think of the country first.. If the country needs what we have to offer, only if you believe that, then I say, "Will you go out and work for us? Will you go out and roll up a majority here such as we've never seen?" If you do, remember, you will be working not just for a party, not just for men, but you'll be working for what is best for America and for the cause of free men throughout the world.

Thank you very much. [Cheers; applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Mid-Island Plaza Shopping Center, Hicksville, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project