Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Rear Train Platform, Mattoon, IL

October 28, 1960

Vice President NIXON. Thank you very much. People have requested that people with signs put them down, so people in the back could see a little better. All right? [Applause.]

I want to thank you for coming out in such tremendous numbers to welcome us as we come through this part of Illinois. I realize, incidentally, that there are people from two congressional districts and I want to say that in Bill Stratton and Wallie Ackerman, we have two men, one already in Congress, the other that ought to be in Congress, and I give them my wholehearted support and I urge your support of them on election day. [Applause.]

It goes without saying that to Sam Witwer on the State ticket, and to Bill Stratton who heads that State ticket., Sam Witwer, you're the next U.S. Senator, and Bill Stratton, that I'm very proud to be on the platform with them. [Applause.]

Now, as I look over this audience I realize that driving in the ground fog today to get here has been quite a problem and we know that it has been a lot of effort for some of you, particularly those who have come from many miles away. So consequently, I don't want to miss the opportunity to talk about the things that you're interested in.

You know, too often, we have a situation here, where, I think, sometimes people think the candidate is always talking about what he's interested in, and people must say: Well, why doesn't he talk about the things that I want, that I'm interested in? And I've been trying to think as I pass through these whistlestops in Illinois today about those hopes that are within the hearts of all Americans, the things you're thinking about, and I think they're pretty much the same.

I think, first of all, above everything else, that you want for your children, even a better life than you've had for yourselves. I know that was typical of my mother and father. As we were growing up they worked hard, they tried to get us through school, get us properly clothed, and housed and so forth because they were thinking in terms of our future.. They were living for that. And out of this audience, I imagine there are literally thousands of mothers and fathers that are thinking: How can we meet the bills this month so that we cannot only buy the food so that our children can have the right kind of a diet, but that we can get the clothes and shoes and other things that they need so that we can save the money that is needed so they can also have an education, education which is so important in these days not only for the children, to the families, but to America itself ? You know, we can't afford to waste the talent of any young person in this country who has the ability to go on to college. That's why I have programs in these fields that will move America forward, that will provide the opportunity for the people of this country and particularly for our younger people to get the education which will enable them to make their maximum contribution to America's greatness.

We also want, as we think of our children, I am sure that every one of us must think of the problems that we have in meeting the family budget. Often times, I think, those of us in public office become so concerned about our problems for billions of dollars for the Federal Budget, whether we're going to have a billion and a half deficit, or a billion and a half surplus, and the like, we talk about that, but we fail to understand the people who vote are concerned about that, of course, but also their major concern is: How are you going to meet that family budget? This month? How are you going to pay for the shoes and the clothing and the housing? How are you going to pay for the groceries? How you're going to save the extra amount for social security, pensions, all the other things which mean meeting the budget at the. end of the month?

And I want you to know that I appreciate this problem because I've gone through it. I know what it means from a personal standpoint. I know what it meant to my mother and my father. I know, for example, this. During the years I was growing up, my father had a life insurance policy for $6,000. I remember, incidentally, it was with the New York Life Insurance Co. That isn't very much money today, but then I could tell you one of the most difficult problems we had, that we had as a family, was during the month each year that that premium was due, to get the money together to pay it.

Now let me say this. Today, probably 90 percent of the people in this audience either have life insurance or social security. They are saving for the future, and you want, when that future comes, to be sure that the hard work you did to save that money is not frittered away. You don't want to be robbed of your savings, do you? Let's suppose somebody were to come in and say, "Look, I am going, at the point of a gun, to take away half of what you've got in life insurance. I'm going to take away half of what you've got in social security." Or, if you're working in a plant, "I'm going to take away half of your pension." What would you do? You'd fight, wouldn't you? You bet your life ! What I'm asking you to do is fight against policies that would return us to what we had with Mr. Truman in office, that took away 50 percent of the life insurance, of the pensions, of the social security of the people of this country. [Applause.]

And friends, I believe in fighting against high taxes and high Government expenditures. Why? I believe in it because I know we're robbing millions of our older people. We are destroying the hopes of millions of our younger people trying to plan for the future, and are making it hard for every family in America to balance its budget, whenever we in Washington say, "The only answer to the problem is to spend more money." My answer is this: The Federal Government must spend more in several areas. We've got to have more for defense. We're going to have to have more in the field of education. We're going to have to have a better program in the field of medical care, but my friends, the reason why my programs are better for America than those of my opponent is this. That his would turn all of these problems over to the Federal Government, they would cost an amount equal - get this - each year to almost the entire gold reserve of America that's in Fort Knox, and do you know what that means to you? It means higher prices, higher taxes for the American people. And I say, my friends, you've got something to fight for.

In the next 9 days between now and election, if you want to keep your savings, if you want to keep your pensions, if you want to fight against having those prices go up so you can't meet the family budget with your pay check, then go out and fight for our ticket because that is what we stand for, and fight against those who will do that very thing that I have been talking about. [Applause.]

Now, one other point I want to make. People say, to me, "Now, Mr. Nixon, we read in the paper yesterday that your opponent says we're going to have a recession." Now let's talk about that just a minute. Are we? The answer is "No, we're not going to have one," and he knows it. He knows it. He's reading the paper as I do. He knows it, the economy is moving up. He knows that unemployment went down more than seasonally last month and employment went up more than seasonally, and you know a funny thing? In that same Detroit paper that I saw was an eight-column head "Kennedy Predicts Recession." You know what an eight-column head right underneath it was? "Auto Sales at an Alltime High in America." [Applause.]

Now let me tell you what that means. That means that Senator Kennedy is betting on a recession but the American people are betting on prosperity and the American people are right and Senator Kennedy is wrong, and that's why we're going to defeat him on November 8. [Applause.]

You see, what we need is faith in America. We've had enough talk about America being second in education. We've had enough talk about America being second in this and that and the other thing when it isn't true. Now listen, when there are things wrong with this country, and there's lots we can do in education and other fields, we're going to correct them. But my friends, the way to correct them is not to think that we have a national inferiority complex. The way to correct them is to move forward with faith and confidence in the greatest country in the world, and let me say this, I am proud that the American people are not listening to the gloom and doom of people who apparently want to win an election so bad that they will distort the facts and that they will try to scare this country into recession. And let me say this. They're not going to get away with it because the American people have more sense, apparently, than the candidate for President on the other side. [Applause.] You understand, I said more "sense," not more dollars. He's got more dollars than you have, but you've got more sense. [Laughter.]

Now my last point. Let's talk a little about the basic issue, most important of all. I see these young people. I think of the young men, most of them were younger than I that served with me in the war, and I remember some of them that died. I remember that I had to write the letters to the mothers back home from Bougainville, from Green Island, from the other places that I was stationed at. I remember, too, as I thought of that war, and as I've seen the devastation in Tokyo, for example, in 1953, still huge blocks knocked out of our enemy, as I saw it in Berlin, as I saw it in Italy, and the rest of the countries, I thought how terrible war was from a personal standpoint but also from the standpoint of its devastation. My friends, that's nothing, of course, as to what will happen if we have another war. America has been very fortunate, as you know. We have never been in a war yet where we have suffered at home. Our fighting men have gone abroad but we've never had it come to America. The next war, if it comes, will come to America, and therefore the major responsibility for all Americans, the major responsibility of the next President is to give his country the leadership that President Eisenhower has given it, that avoids war, that got us out of one, and keeps us out of others, and that's what we plan to do, and I think we can do with your help. [Applause.]

How do we do it? Oh, it isn't easy. I can tell you that knowing the men in the Kremlin, sitting the opposite from the conference table with Mr. Khrushchev, I know how tough they are. I know how determined they are to conquer the world, but my friends, there is a way. When you're dealing, as we are, with dictators, men who are bullies essentially, above everything else you must be stronger than they are, and second, you must let them know that they aren't going to push you around. If you let them know that, that means they will not start anything. In addition to that, once you have that kind of strength, then they'll sit down and talk to you. Because they realize if you're stronger than they are, and they start anything, they're going to get hurt too. And that's the hope for peace today. The hope for peace, in other words, that we want, is to keep America stronger than those that threaten the peace. The hope for peace is to be firm against those who threaten the peace so that they can't blackmail us. The hope for peace is then to go out and sit down, from a position of strength, and negotiate for disarmament for peace but always from strength and never from weakness. And that's what Cabot Lodge and I will do. That's what we think we're qualified to do because we've had a bit of experience in it, and I can't talk about mine, but I'll say that I don't think anybody could have done a better job than he has in the United Nations for the last 7 years fighting for the cause of peace and freedom. [Applause.]

My friends, this election is almost upon us, and I suppose as you listen to me, you see my wife, Pat, and you say: "Well, he's bound to say it's important, it's sure important to him," and it is, in a personal way, but what happens to me, or for that matter to Senator Kennedy, or to Pat, or to his wife, is not important, not in the real sense. What is important is what happens to America. What happens not only to America but to the hopes of millions of people throughout the world, on both sides of the Iron Curtain who want peace, who want freedom and for whom America is the hope of the whole world.

Let me just say this to the students here. Never forget that you live in the most wonderful country in the world. When you travel in the years ahead and you come back, and you come back to America, as you come on a ship as I did a few years ago, and you see the Statue of Liberty, it makes tears come to your eyes. You don't know why, but it does. When you travel as I did around the world and come back for the first time in 1953 and see the coast of North Carolina from our Constellation, it brings a lump to your throat. I'll tell you why. Because this is a great country. It's the greatest on the face of the earth and because when you travel abroad you find that people everywhere have their hopes in us. Oh, I don't mean, I don't mean by that that there aren't some people that think our policies are wrong. I don't mean by that the Communists leaders like us. They never are going to like us because we're never going to give them what they want, but they're going to respect us, if we're strong.

What I mean by that is that America at its best stands for what people everywhere want. They want peace. They want freedom. They want to have faith in something other than just men, they want faith in God, and so what I say to you, "Let's not let down America and let's not let down what America stands for." You don't do it here at home. If you don't, if you stand for what's best for America, whoever is President of this country will be able to stand for America and the cause of freedom in the world.

Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Rear Train Platform, Mattoon, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project