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Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Sunnyside Park, Atlantic, IA

September 16, 1960

Thank you very much, Ben Jensen, for introducing me to your constituents here in Atlantic as generously as you have, and while I am expressing thanks, may I tell all of you how much Pat and I appreciate the fact that you've been standing here quite a spell. We're running a little late, and we do want to know that we appreciate your coming out and waiting for us and delaying your lunch until we got here.

As a matter of fact, I'm going to make my talking part of this program rather brief so you can get on with the eating part as well. And I see that each of you at least will have a souvenir of having had lunch with Pat and Dick, so we at least have to have some of this lunch or that won't mean anything.

May I say, too, that I am very privileged to be here with my fellow candidates, our candidate for Governor and for Senator, and, of course, your own Ben Jensen, who is again a candidate for the House of Representatives. I want you to know that I am proud of my party nationally. I'm particularly proud of it here in the State of Iowa. And I commend them all to you for your consideration - not only the men that I mentioned, but those for the State legislature, the fine people I have met who are candidates here, and the others as well, whom you know.

Now, on an occasion like this the problem that a candidate has is always to think of what to say when he's just got a few minutes and so many people and so much that he wants to say. And as I was driving through this beautiful Iowa countryside today - through the small towns with people out waving and the schoolchildren with their flags and signs and so forth, welcoming us as we came along - as I came near this city I was trying to think of those particular subjects that were closest to your hearts that I might discuss with you in the brief time that we have.

There were a great number that came to mind. First, of course, obviously, that this is farm country and I could talk about farm policy; but I'm going to be talking a little later at Guthrie Center about that and you, of course, will all have a chance to listen on radio or see on television or read in your papers what I say there. So I won't go into that at this point.

Another thing, of course everybody here in addition to being interested in farm policy is interested in our children's education and I could talk about our schools and the kind of programs that I think will best not only provide the best education - and our youngsters do get the best education in the world, believe me - not only provide the best education, but will make sure that it remains free without being controlled, without having anybody in Washington telling the people in the local communities what to teach in those communities. [Applause.]

All these things of course are vitally important, and the subject that I particularly want to emphasize is related to our young people.

I'm sure every time you see a group of young people like those in the high school band who played so wonderfully when we came in, or even younger ones in the grade schools, the ones for example of the ages of our two daughters - boys and girls - that the thought runs through your minds just the same as it runs through mine and my wife's - we want a better life for our children than we have for ourselves.

And we want them to be able to enjoy life. We not only want them to have better jobs and to have better education and better health - all these things that all Americans are for. The only thing we disagree about is how we get them. We not only want them to have all these good things, but we want them to be around to enjoy them.

And so I say to you today that as I travel throughout this country - north, east, west, south - as I visited cities, farms; as I visited all sections and parts of the country, I find that regardless of the kind of a crowd you are speaking to, one issue stands out above all the rest. And do you know what it is? Yes, a good life for us in America, and let's make it better and as best we can, but above all, let's see that we are able to enjoy that life.

That means in selecting a President, let's select a man who can best keep the peace without surrender for America and extend freedom throughout the world. [Applause.]

In the time that we have I cannot discuss that subject in detail. We are all for that. The question is, how can we attain it? There are certain things that we all agree upon, I am sure, that are necessary if we are going to attain it.

First, if we are to keep the peace, we want to remember this: We don't threaten it. You know, the United States has engaged in three wars in this century, and in those wars in no case have we gotten an acre of territory; in no case have we gotten any concessions; all we have fought for is the right of other people to be free, and for ourselves, of course in the process, to be free.

And that is the American attitude. As far as we are concerned, we want military strength, not because we want to use it against anybody else, but because we realize that if we, who want nothing from anybody else in the world, have strength - the greatest in the world - that this is a guarantee of peace, because it means that those who threaten the peace, those who have said over and over again that they intend to conquer the world by other means if possible but by war if necessary, it means that we as a peace - loving people with our tremendous strength are the guardians of peace for all the world.

And so, point one is this: America today is the strongest nation in the world militarily. And America in the years ahead must continue to be. And the next President of the United States, and if I happen to be that man, this must come before every other consideration, and Americans will do what is necessary to be the guardians of peace for ourselves and for the world. [Applause.]

Now, of course, it isn't just enough just to be strong. You know, as we enter the football season you can use a pretty good analogy. You can have a real good husky line, and good fast backs, and pretty good plays, but unless you've got a good coach and maybe a good quarterback, the other side may win. So in addition to our strength we've got to have the right leadership. And the right leadership means leadership that knows and has had experience in dealing with those who threaten the peace and security of the world - [applause] and recognition of a fundamental fact - that Mr. Khrushchev and the other Communist leaders don't react the way Mr. Macmillan, Mr. De Gaulle, Mr. Adenauer, Mr. Nehru, Mr. Eisenhower, the leaders of the free world react.

These are ruthless men. They are men bent upon conquest. They are men who respect only strength and firmness. So we must combine our military strength with diplomatic policies that will be firm and strong, that will recognize that when you make concessions without getting concessions in return, you don't satisfy them, you don't pave the way to peace, you open the way to more demands and you pave the way to war.

And so this means standing firm against the men in the Kremlin and not allowing ourselves or our friends or the friends of freedom to be pushed around any place in the world. This is the second ingredient.

But in addition to being firm, you've got to combine that with another ingredient, and that is that you must use this firmness wisely. You must not respond in kind when those who are insulting, who use language as Mr. Khrushchev did at the Paris Conference - unheard of in its barbarity as against another chief of state. You don't respond in kind - why?

Well, first, when you are strong and you are confident in the rightness of your course, you maintain your dignity and you don't get down in the ring with somebody who is engaging in insults. But second - there is another reason - because the next President of the United States, just as our present President, must always remember that he can never indulge in the luxury of a loss of temper for personal reasons. He must always remember that he cannot engage, and should not engage, in just a mere war of words because he personally may he insulted. He must be firm, but he must see to it that the war of words never becomes the extent that it might risk a war of another kind.

And so this kind of diplomacy must go along with our armed strength.

Now, these things are important. There's also something else that's important. We must strengthen the instruments for peace around the world. And I am speaking now of the United Nations, of the Organization of American States - Oh, you know, a lot of people say to me sometimes, "Why do we worry about these organizations like this? We're strong enough. Why don't we move into the Congo as Khrushchev did, unilaterally? Why don't we go into Cuba unilaterally, on our own, instead of working through all the rest of the American States as we have?"

And the answer is this: The United States cannot and must not do this because if we are going to have real peace and real security in the world, we must have other free nations and other peace-loving nations working with us, rather than against us. And we must set an ideal - an ideal which they will follow - an ideal that we will work with these organizations to see that things that otherwise would be settled on the battlefield, are settled at the conference table.

And may I say in that connection that I am proud to have as a colleague running with me for this office, a man who will be a partner in strengthening these organizations of which I speak, that work for peace, and one who from the standpoint of experience, I say has no peer in the world today when it comes to standing up to the men in the Kremlin and their representatives in the United Nations, and working for peace without surrender as he has, and I speak of Henry Cabot Lodge, our Ambassador to the United Nations, who is my colleague. [Applause.]

Now up to this point I am sure that I have spoken of things that we agree on. After all, everybody would say sure enough, we've got to be stronger than these people that threaten the peace of the world; we've got to have a firm diplomacy; we also have to avoid belligerence; we've got to strengthen the instruments that produce the peace.

But, you know, all these things together, combined with the great economic strength of this country which is first in the world and will continue to remain first, provided we continue to recognize that the strength of America's economy - of its productivity - does not come from Government, but from Government's providing policies which develop to the full the creative abilities of 180 million individual free Americans.

We must remember that military strength, economic strength, diplomatic firmness, all these together are not enough, because what we have to offer to the world is something more unique and more important than all this.

The Communists are militarily strong. The Communists are economically becoming strong. And this is all they have to offer. But we have so much more. Let me give you one example to prove it, and I will be finished.

When we visited Poland on a Sunday afternoon in Warsaw, the Government did not try to get out a crowd as I am sure our local Republican officials tried to get this crowd out here today. As a matter of fact, the Government was trying to discourage a crowd because Khrushchev had been there 2 weeks before and they didn't want to have a bad comparison. But in a Communist country the word gets around in the underground when any news is trying to be kept from the people.

And as a result, when we went through the streets of Warsaw behind the Iron Curtain that day, there were not thousands - there were a quarter of a million people on the streets - and they were throwing flowers, hundreds of bouquets of roses and other flowers in season, into our car. And they were singing. And they were crying, many of them with tears running down their cheeks. And they were shouting, "Long live the United States - Long live Nixon - Long live Eisenhower."

Why would they do this? Not because they knew me, because they didn't know me particularly, or my wife. Not because of our military strength and our economic strength because the Russians had had that and Khrushchev hadn't gotten that kind of a reception. But because they knew what we know - that America stands for more than gross materialism, for more than military strength and economic might. We stand for moral and spiritual ideals, for the God-given dignity of men and women, for ideals that caught the imagination of the world 185 years ago, and that still bring hope into the breasts of people who want peace and freedom around the world.

And so I say to you today, we must strengthen our moral fiber, our idealism. We must recognize that this is our Nation's strength, and this must come, not from our leaders in Washington - they can help - but from our homes, our schools, from our churches. And all of you can help to produce it so that America can be a wonderful example of peace and freedom for the world.

And finally, if I could just add this other thought. I'm sure that if we had the time to talk, a lot of folks would say, "Well, Mr. Nixon, you've traveled a lot. We've heard a lot of concern expressed about America's position in the world. Our prestige, people say, is slipping. This country is losing its strength. Economically we're standing still. The Communists are moving faster than we are. There's a great danger."

What kind of a world do our young people - the young people in this band, the young people that I saw on the sides of the streets here - what kind of a world are they going to grow up to see?

Well, let me tell you this. It isn't going to be a world in which everything is calm, because it's going to be a world in the process of change. We're going to have problems, but, my friends, we're going to win. We're going to win without war. And I'll tell you why. Because the people of the world on both sides of the Iron Curtain are on the side of peace; they're on the side of freedom.

All that we have to do to win is to maintain our strength and provide the leadership for the forces of peace and freedom which is needed. And it is that, that I ask for the opportunity today, for you to decide. [Applause.]

So I say to you, consider what I say. Consider what my opponent says. And between now and November 8, make a decision. Don't make it on the basis of a personality, on the basis of a party label. When you are electing a President they aren't good enough reasons for doing it. But make it on the basis of what is best for America, what is best for the hope of the whole world to live in peace and friendship.

What leadership can best provide that? And once you have decided, then go out and work and vote - not just for a man or a party, but for America and all that it stands for. And thank you again, very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Sunnyside Park, Atlantic, IA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project