Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Saginaw, MI

September 20, 1960

Thank you very much, Al, for introducing me so generously and vigorously to this wonderful crowd of your present constituents and I certainly hope your future constituents as you represent them in the U.S. Senate as you have represented them also in the U.S. House of Representatives.

May I say that it is a great privilege to be here today with my colleagues on the Republican ticket. They've been introduced to you. You have shown your appreciation of them but I've been traveling with them throughout the day and we have one meeting left tonight. But in Paul Bagwell and Al Bentley you've got a fine team at the top of the ticket. I'm proud to run with them and I am glad to see that your candidate for the House, Jim Harvey, is so well thought of here. Let's give him a hand since he started this. [Applause.]

As you can imagine, we've had a tremendously interesting and exciting day today traveling through Michigan. We started this morning in Pennsylvania where it was raining. We flew here to Mount Clemens and then we have been coming through the Michigan countryside until we arrived at Saginaw after our stop at Flint. We're a little late but the reason for being late is, of course, always a good one because along the sides of the streets you sometimes see crowds collected that weren't supposed to be there. There will be crowds of students, for example, one of the high schools down the road and another crowd of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Incidentally, speaking of high school students and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, aren't these Nixon girls really wows? [Applause.]

We think we'll just take them along with us through the whole United States of America. [Cheers.] You know I was watching a little of the returns from Atlantic City the other night when Miss Michigan was made Miss America and I can see that pretty girls are not unusual in Michigan after seeing these girls up here today. [Cheers.] I see some of the boys cheering over there too.

May I say, too, that I greatly appreciate the signs and their novelties. I've been reading a few of them. This one I haven't seen before:

"Nikita's a red

Violet's blue

Dick is the boy

To give him his due." [Cheers.]

One of the stops we made, incidentally, was one that I made 2 years ago in 1958. It was at the Michigan School for the Deaf. During the course of the day, I might say, that many people very kindly have asked me how my knee was. You recall I injured it, some of you may have, and spent a little time in the hospital. You know when you have a bad knee or something of that sort you really feel quite put upon, real rough, real rugged. You know we really don't appreciate how little our troubles are until we see how wonderfully people who have real troubles live through them. And as I saw these young children at the Michigan School for the Deaf with their eyes bright and their wide smiles, it made me realize what an inspiration their lives were for us. So you will excuse us for being a little late. That was one of our extra stops.

Now I would like to talk to you today - not for too long because you've been standing here a long time - but I'd like to talk to you about this next election in terms of the future of these young people who are here before us, because that's really what we all think of. We think of ourselves, true. We have our own problems. But we're always looking forward in America. That's why we're a great country. We are people who are never satisfied with things as they are, good as they are. We want a better life for our children than we have for ourselves. And I'm sure that Paul Bagwell would say that, that that is his feeling as he runs for Governor of this State. He wants to give this State the kind of government that it deserves so that Michigan will move up into the front ranks, as it should be, industrially and every other way, by attracting new employment through the sound fiscal policies that he will adopt as the Governor of this great State when he is elected by these good folks in this audience and throughout Michigan. [Applause.]

These are the things that Al Bentley wants. They are the things that Jim Harvey wants. And let me say something else.

Incidentally, that little boy walked out of there. We've got to read that sign. Will you bring it around here again? Because otherwise his daddy'll give him the---. It says, "Next to St. Nick I go for Dick." That's pretty good. [Applause.]

One thing I want to say is this. I don't stand before you today as I might as St. Nick. I don't stand before you as I might and say if you elect me President I am going to have the Federal Government do everything for you. I'll tell you why I don't. Not because it wouldn't be something that I would like to do but it wouldn't be good for the American people if we said the Federal Government is going to take care of this or that or the other thing. What has made America a great country is not what the Federal Government has done for people but what the Federal Government has encouraged people to do for themselves. The greatness of America are you people, the people of this country, 180 million strong, individuals making their tremendous contribution to the most productive, the most prosperous country that the world has ever known.

That's what I believe. That's what these men believe. These are the things we stand for.

So we think of the future of America, may I say that we stand for government which does the right things for the American people and that isn't a question always of which government does the most things or which does the least, but which does the right thing. May I say, too that in that connection I am very proud today to be running, following the record of the present President, President Eisenhower. On two previous occasions here at Saginaw I have appeared campaigning with him or in his behalf as part of the same ticket. I can say that the American people are going to be grateful for him for a number of things.

One, for restoring honesty and dignity and integrity to the conduct of government in Washington, D.C., so that everybody could be proud of the man who was President of the United States. [Applause.]

And two, for adopting policies under which we have had the greatest progress economically that this country has ever enjoyed, in which we have had the greatest progress in the field of providing equality for our opportunity, greater progress in these 8 years than in 50 years that went before.

But above everything else, do you know what President Eisenhower will be remembered for? As the man who ended one war, who kept America out of other wars, and who has kept the peace without surrender for America today. This is the great accomplishment of President Eisenhower. [Cheers, applause.]

And I say to you today that the most important qualification that you must look for in the man who is to be the next President of the United States is on that question. Does he have the ability? Does he have the background? Does he have the program that will keep the peace for America and will extend freedom throughout the world because the two go hand in hand together?

And it's on that point that I want to talk to you today. I want to talk to you about it because, my friends, there is nothing more important than that. Oh yes, jobs are important, and schools are important for these young people, and better health, better hospitals. All these things are important. But most important is that we and our children want to be around to enjoy these things of life and, therefore, what policies can America follow which will keep the peace and will extend freedom?

I can't, of course, discuss them in great detail but there are these things that I would particularly emphasize.

First, this country, if we are to keep the peace must continue to be the strongest nation in the world. Now why? Not because we want to use our strength to run over anybody else, because we don't. Not because we want to use our strength to gain anything from anybody else, because we don't. I saw the American Legion post represented over here. You know, one of the proudest things about America is this: There are men in World War I in the Legion and the VFW; there are men in World War II; there are men in Korea. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died in those three wars. Billions of American dollars have been paid out as a result of those three wars. And we have done all that - all that - for what? Not an acre of territory. Not a concession from anybody else. We have done it because America was fighting for peace and for freedom for

the whole world, not just for ourselves, because we knew that when freedom was threatened elsewhere it was threatened for us.

And this is a proud tradition and that's why we have and must have strength in the years ahead. Because as we are strong, you see, we can keep those who do not look upon the world as we do, who do want to extend their authority over others against their will, we can keep them from doing so. I am referring, of course, to the Communist leaders because they tell us what they want to do. They say we will conquer the world. We will do it without war if possible but we will do it with war if necessary. And particularly the Chinese Communists have said the latter.

But under those circumstances, you see, the United States as one that stands for peace, and we can be proud of that, as one that stands for freedom, and we can be proud of that, we as the guardians of peace and freedom must see that our strength is first in the world. So that is the first pledge that I make. The next President must keep the United States as strong as she is today and stronger still, so that regardless of what a potential enemy has, he will be deterred from ever launching attack because of our strength.

Now what else do we need if we're going to keep the peace? We need policies, diplomatic policies which go right along with the strong military strength that I have referred to. By "diplomatic policies" I am referring, of course, to what the President and the Secretary of State do when they represent this country at great conferences.

We had an example of that at the Paris Conference. You recall Mr. Khrushchev broke up that Conference. He said that he broke it up because of our U-2 flights that the President had ordered to get information with regard to their war preparations. Now, as a matter of fact, that was not the reason, we think. But you remember after he broke up the Conference, after he had insulted the President as he had, that there were some people in this country who raised a question about the President's conduct at this Conference. They said that perhaps he should have tried to have saved it, that he should have tried to have saved the Conference by expressing regrets to Mr. Khrushchev for these flights, or apologizing for them. Now, let me tell you why that would have been the wrong thing to do from a diplomatic standpoint.

First, because it shows such a naive attitude with regard to the men in the Kremlin. An apology or expressing regrets without getting something in return would not have satisfied him. It wouldn't have saved the Conference. It would only have whetted his appetite and made him demand more.

There was another reason, too, why the President of the United States could not and should not have done that. I say that that reason is that no President of this country must ever apologize or express regrets for attempting to defend the security of the United States against attack by somebody else. [Applause.]

So we must be firm. We must be nonbelligerent. We must be willing to negotiate. But in dealing with the men in the Kremlin we must remember that when we negotiate they are men who respect power, they are men who respect firmness, they are men who have nothing but contempt for weakness. So firmness and strength are the way to peace and I say this based on my own experience, having met Mr. Khrushchev, having met other Communist leaders, knowing how they react.

So in these fields, then, military strength, diplomatic strength, the United States, if we are to keep the peace, must continue the firm, strong, wise leadership that we have had under President Eisenhower.

Now what else do we need if we're going to meet this great objective which is America's responsibility in the world to lead the world to peace and to freedom?

My friends, we've got to keep the economy of this country, its productivity, strong. We have to keep it sound. It must grow. But in order to grow it must be free. Now I know that there are those who suggest that the way to get greater production in America is for the Federal Government to move in with massive spending programs here, there, and everywhere else. But let me tell you this: The reason that we have become the most prosperous nation in the world is not what Government has done, but, as I indicated a moment ago, because of what 180 million free American people have been stimulated to do by Government and by their own activities. And we shall move forward, we shall move to the greatest heights America has ever experienced, but we shall move forward only if we stay true to the principles that have made America great. We shall not move forward if we turn back to policies that we left in 1953. I say this is the road that America should follow. It is the road to economic strength, and that strength is essential if we are to survive in this struggle in which we are engaged.

Now the last point that I would like to make, and the last one, as usual, is the most important one, is this: We need America strong militarily and economically, with a better life for our citizens through the years than we had for ourselves. But, above all, we need to have the moral and spiritual strength in this country which will enable America to lead the forces of freedom, not just to hold the line but to lead them to victory, to lead them to victory without war. Now, what do I mean there?

Now, you students here in high school, you've read a lot about American history. You remember the early days of this country. We weren't a strong nation militarily then; very, very weak, as a matter of fact. We weren't a strong nation economically. But America caught the imagination of the world 185 years ago. Why? Because of what we believe. We believe in the dignity of men. We believe in the right of all men to be free. We believe in the right of nations to be independent. We believe that these rights did not come from men but that they came from God. And the moral and spiritual strength of America was the greatness of America then and, my friends, it's the greatness of America today. [Applause.]

So I say to all of you when you ask what can I do to help in this fight for freedom, to see that America does stand up for those things which will extend freedom throughout the world. I'll tell you what you can do.

Moral strength, spiritual strength, love of country, patriotism, these things that are so essential, they can help the people, Government leaders, Senators, Congressmen, Presidents, Vice Presidents, what they say in producing those things. But they don't come from them; they come from you. They come from the home. They come from the church. They come from the school. They come from your hearts and your souls and your minds. And whether America does lead the world, as I am confident we can and we will, to peace and to the extension of freedom, depends upon all Americans. And I urge you to do your best for America. Do your best in seeing that our young people make their maximum contribution to our Nation in whatever they may choose as their occupation. Do your best in striking down prejudice and in working for equality of opportunities so that America may tap the resources of all of our people, so that nobody is left behind as America moves ahead. Do your best in strengthening the moral and spiritual fiber of our young people and of our older people, of all Americans. Because as you do your best, then America can be strong, really strong, not just with military might, not just with economic strength and productivity of factories and farms and great centers like Saginaw, but strong where it really counts - in our hearts, in our souls, and in our minds.

And finally today, may I tell you that when you go to the polls next November 8, you will be making a decision about the future of your country, a decision tremendously important, and I'm going to ask you to make it on this basis. I ask you, whether you are Republicans or Democrats, to think not of the party label, but of the country. And if you believe that the leadership that my colleague and I can provide to the leadership America needs, then you should work for us - if you believe that. And may I say in that connection, having referred to him, that I am proud to be with him on this ticket because I don't think there is any man in the world today who has done a better job of standing for peace and for freedom than Henry Cabot Lodge in the United Nations representing the United States. [Cheers and applause.]

So as I close I ask you for your support for us, but I ask it on this basis: Support us because you believe that we can furnish the leadership that America needs. Vote for us on that basis. Work for us on that basis. And vote and work for us between now and election day and for these other candidates, recognizing that you're voting for something bigger than just a man or a personality, something bigger than a party; that you're working for your country, for what is best for America, and for what is best for America's responsibility to lead the world to peace and freedom.

Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Saginaw, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project