Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Television Program, Channel 4, New York, NY
Governor ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President - you see, I'm already in the habit now; I've gotten a little premature - Mr. Vice President, for the moment, though
The VICE PRESIDENT. I'm the President of the Senate, so you're correct on that.
Governor ROCKEFELLER. This question we have been talking about - defense - this is the thing, as that poll shows, that is of uppermost concern in people's minds. It's basic to peace. It's basic to what you have been discussing - the preservation of freedom, freedom in all parts of the world. I think one of the things people wonder about is: When we have done such a marvelous job under the Eisenhower administration, why is there this need for increased expenditure in the defense field, as we look ahead?
The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, the major reason for it is that the situation in the world has changed. For example, when we look at the Soviet Union today, we find that they are stepping up their capacity particularly with regard to missile capacity. Now, in view of that, it is essential that the United States not stand pat on what we're doing. We can't do that. We have to step up our retaliatory power so that if they should launch a surprise attack, regardless of how much surprise there is, that we will have enough power left after that attack to destroy their warmaking capabilities.
Governor ROCKEFELLER. You mean, in other words, our retaliatory forces have got to be able to withstand an all-out attack and we have to have our bases strengthened and have enough planes in the air or available so we really can strike back in a way that will make it absolutely unprofitable from their point of view, even if they attack us in the beginning?
The VICE PRESIDENT. It must be suicide for them to launch an attack. This is what we call the second strike capability.
Governor ROCKEFELLER. Exactly.
The VICE PRESIDENT. And I want to make it clear, while, as you have pointed out, as I have pointed out in speech after speech, the United States today is the strongest nation in the world, and that is the reason we have been able to guard the peace in these past 7½ years, that we could make no greater mistake than to rest on that strength. Because the Soviet Union is stepping up what it is doing we have to step up what we are doing. I want to make it clear, too, as I have in every statement in which I have discussed the defense matter, that I think that our defense expenditures are going to increase through the years ahead rather than go down, and we are going to have to be prepared to pay whatever is necessary to take care of those expenditures.
I will add one other thing.
Governor ROCKEFELLER. Yes.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Of course, we are going to see to it that the people get a dollar's worth for every dollar we spend, but it's going to be expensive.
Governor ROCKEFELLER. Well, Dick, that's where it ties in, as you and as I have talked and the rest of us so many times, with economic growth
The VICE PRESIDENT. Right.
Governor ROCKEFELLER (continuing). Because the Government at all levels - Federal, State, and local - takes about 20 percent of the national income now. Either we've got to take a larger percentage of the national income now or we have got to have a more rapid expansion in our country so the 20 percent will be a bigger picture and we will be able not only to take care of defense and foreign policy requirements, but also the job opportunities for a growing population and the desire for a higher standard of living an the Government's responsibilities for the various services which are rendered.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Exactly. As a matter of fact, here again Americans can be very proud, and frankly, they can be very thankful that we are as rich and productive as we are.
We have had a great deal of progress in the Eisenhower years, more progress than in any administration in history, but here again we're not alone in the world. We're in a race, and when you're in a race, a race with fanatical, ruthless enemies, we have got to be sure that we not only stay ahead, but that we move ahead, and so this means that we must tap all the resoures of this Nation. It means that we can't have any human resources that are not tapped adequately. That means giving everybody an opportunity to make his maximum contribution to the growth of America.
Governor ROCKEFELLER. And be able to have jobs so that all of them have opportunity for employment and a higher standard of living, in addition to meeting these responsibilities?
The VICE PRESIDENT. Exactly.
Governor ROcKEFELLER. Well, the best of luck to you and Cabot, Dick. We're all with you.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Thanks for your help.
Governor ROCKEFELLER. OK, fellow.
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The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, I will certainly insist on presenting to the Congress and getting every support that I can on a bipartisan basis for our platform as you know, delineates several areas where we must make progress - in the field of voting rights in the field of employment, and also in the whole general field of equality of opportunity, which we have been discussing and working for in the Senate for these past few years together.
Senator JAVITS. Well, of course, your rulings opened the door to the consideration of civil rights bills on the floor of the Senate. They would have been buried in Senator Eastland's Judiciary Committee, as I think everybody knows, and your ruling on the Senate filibuster rule gave us the first opportunity in history to wage a fight on that.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Let me just add one thing: One of the reasons for electing Cabot Lodge as Vice President of the United States is that he will be President of the Senate. He will make the same rulings that I made, and the very fact the Presiding Officer will make those rulings will mean that we can have civil rights legislation. With Lyndon Johnson as President of the Senate - he voted against every one of these rulings to which you referred.
Senator JAVITS. Well I think you made that point crystal clear, because it bears on something else that interests us all What do you feel should be the moral leadership of the President? As you, yourself, have said and authorized me to quote you, the President should set the moral tone of the country. What do you define as the moral leadership on civil rights?
The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, first, of course, the President has the responsibility to speak to this issue when he can. He has the responsibility to act effectively in this field, at every opportunity, and in action I mean not only sending legislation down to the Congress for approval. That takes a long time. I mean, for example, acting as the Attorney General did on the sit-in strikes, getting chainstore operators into his office, and getting them voluntarily to do what everybody should do with regard to that - open up these counters so there will he equality of opportunity in that respect.
Now, as far as the President is concerned, he can see that the whole tone of his administration is one of leading in those areas.
Senator JAVITS. Well, now, Dick, one other question: There has been a lot of talk about opening the channels of communication between the races which is closed in many places in the South, for example, through the President taking the stronger moral stand you have described and perhaps even through a White House Conference on Civil Rights. Have you thought about that, as the President?
The VICE PRESIDENT. I have thought about it. I would say this: That if we can determine that we can get enough cooperation, enough responsible leaders to come to a White House Conference on Civil Rights, I believe we should have it. I don't believe in simply having one for the sake of political argument, but I believe if we can get responsible people to come - and I would hope that we could - that such a Conference would bring progress in this field, progress before the law, operating so slowly, can produce it.
Senator JAVITS. Then, of course, our program also calls, as you have emphasized time and again, for giving the Attorney General powers which we know our Attorney General will carry out to even go, in key cases, into school desegregation in areas where it is needed like the South.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Exactly, and our Attorney General, I think, has a splendid record that even our partisan critics will not be able to find fault with.
Senator JAVITS. Well, Dick, while I have campaigned hard in New York and other places in the Nation for our ticket, I'm going to continue to stress civil rights, bccause you have given us all heart and confidence that with us it is going to be performance and not campaign promises.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Thank you.
Senator KEATING. We have heard a lot of talk from your opposition about the United States losing its prestige. How successful do you think Mr. Khrushchev was at the U.N. and did he pick up strength there?
The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that most of the people who are viewing or listening to this program know the answer to that question. A man who comes to the United Nations and takes off his shoes and makes a fool of himself - he may make news; he may think he has the initiative, but he isn't gaining prestige, not for his office and not for his country. As a matter of fact, I know that many of those who talked to African delegates after that particular meeting and that particular performance said that they were shocked and amazed at his performance. I think he set back the cause of communism not only in Africa, but in all the other uncommitted countries by his rude conduct at the U.N.
Senator KEATING. Your opposition has also said that Cuba is lost, Mr. Vice President. Can we afford to cross off Cuba and concede it to the Communists?
The VICE PRESIDENT. We certainly cannot, and we won't. As a matter of fact, this talk about the fact that Cuba is lost and that Ghana is lost, and Guinea is lost, incidentally - and they have also claimed that - is irresponsible in the extreme. Cuba is not lost. The fact that Castro, of course, is following a pro-Communist line at the present time causes us great concern, but there are plenty of things that we can do and are doing, and we're taking some very firm steps, as you know, to quarantine Castro in that area. I am convinced that those steps will be effective. I am also convinced that the 5 million people of Cuba, themselves, are learning what communism is under Castro, and that they, themselves, will get rid of him just as the Guatemalans got rid of their Communists.
Senator KEATING. Tell me, Mr. Vice President: We have repeatedly heard you and your running mate say the only way to maintain the peace is by a policy of firmness. Why do you say that?
The VICE PRESIDENT. Because we have learned in dealing with dictators that where you are weak militarily or weak diplomatically, you invite war, and where you're firm militarily and strong diplomatically, you keep the peace. That's the way it works.
The Korean war was brought on by weakness diplomatically. In World War II, giving in to Hitler - Danzig, and Sudetenland, one time after another - everybody thought that was going to produce peace, those that were giving in, but all it did was to whet his appetite and he eventually did the very thing which was inevitable. He went a step too far, and we had to fight, and I say the time to stop the Communists is not at the time we have to fight, but to stop them now. We must not encourage them so that they can blackmail us by their aggressive actions and at gunpoint.
Senator KEATING. Well, Mr. Vice President, it's my deep personal conviction that a Nixon-Lodge administration would have the great experience, the proven ability, and the know-how that it takes to handle the Communists in the cold war.
Every success to you and Cabot Lodge in your campaign.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Thank you. With the help of you three, we can win New York.
Senator KEATING. Thank you.
Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Television Program, Channel 4, New York, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/274056