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Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Town Square, Council Bluffs, IA

September 16, 1960

Congressman Jensen, and our friends in Council Bluffs, my wife, Pat, and I want you to know how much we appreciate your welcoming us as you have. Now, as I note the time of day here, and I note so many children here in the audience - are you getting out of school because of this? [Shout of "Yes" from children in audience.] Oh, all right. Then I can figure out some of the reasons for the size of this crowd; but on the other hand, we are tremendously pleased and may I say humble in the presence of this wonderful crowd here in Council Bluffs. We are sorry to be late but we got tied up this morning on the other side of the river and consequently, it took us longer to get here than we expected.

May I say that I have been looking forward to the opportunity to speak in this city for a number of years, and I'd like to tell you a little personal experience. You know, after you become a Vice President of the United States a lot of people want to come in to see you, not just because they want to see you, but because you're Vice President, of course - just like some of these people who want my autograph. Now, I was going to say that's true of everybody, and it is also true of newspaper people. But there is one newspaper editor who has been coming in to see me regularly every year on his trips to Washington from the time I was just a Congressman from a district out in California. He is probably one of the best friends that I have; he's one of my best critics - he tells me when I do things wrong as well as when I do things right - and if I had no other reason to come to Council Bluffs, it's because I got a chance to see Mr. Piper, and I'm glad he's here today. [Applause.]

Now, may I say, too, that I am particularly happy to be on the platform here - Here's Mr. Piper, fine, and he's going to be coming for many more years. [Applause.] And I'm glad to be on the platform here with my friend, Ben Jensen. He's been in the Congress longer than I have, but we've served together and we've stood together, and I just hope I can do as well as he does in this district, that's all I have to say. [Applause.]

I am also tremendously proud to be here with our other candidates for the Governorship of the great State of Iowa, and for the Senate, who have been introduced. I commend them to you as fine men and as people who can serve this State and this Nation in splendid fashion in the way that the people of Iowa have expected from their public servants.

And now, we don't have too much time. You have been standing here a long time, I realize, because we are late, and I just want to say a word about some of the great issues that will be before us in this campaign.

First may I say this to all of you of voting age - and I say this to all of these youngsters here who go home and talk to people of voting age - your mothers and fathers - the decision that you will make on November 8 this year will be one of the most important decisions you'll ever make in your life. It will be as important - perhaps even more so - than the times that you decided what job you were going to take, or what girl you were going to marry.

It's going to be a tremendously important decision because it will determine the future of America and the future of all the people of the world, because America today has the responsibility, you see, of leading all the world, and consequently, in asking you to listen to me, in asking you to consider the issues, I'm not going to do what you usually hear from the candidate for public office saying, "Look me over, ladies and gentlemen. If you like me as an individual, vote for me." I'm not going to say to the Republicans here, "I'm a Republican. Vote for me because I happen to belong to the same party that you do. Vote your party."

I say to you today, don't think of the personality of the man. Don't think of the party to which you belong, but think of your country; and then, you will make the decision that is best for America, because what happens [applause] because when we elect a President of the United States, we've got to put the country first, because my friends - and particularly you young people who are studying history - as you look over our history, you'll find that neither party has a monopoly on producing the great Presidents of this country. Some of them have been Republicans, some of them have been Democrats, and the reason that sometimes one is one, and others are one, is that the people have always thought of the country first, and the party second when they were electing a President - so I ask you one to do now.

Now, the second thing. What is the major thing you should think about? What's the main thing that the President of the United States - the major qualification that he must have in this period?

Now, obviously, if I were to talk to everybody in this crowd and go down the line I'd get a lot of different answers. Somebody might say, "Well, what I want out of my President or out of my Government is the kind of a situation in which I could have a good job." Somebody else would say, "Well, I'd like better schools." * * * Matter of fact I met a young fellow over in * * * across the river in Omaha the other day - I know there's a little rivalry here - and you know what he said? Will you make me one promise, Mr. Vice President? And I said, "Well, I don't know - What is it?" And he said, "Will you be for a 4-day week for school?" [Laughter and applause.]

Well, today some people might want a 4-day week for school; other people might say that the most important thing is what kind of jobs we're going to have; whether or not we're going to have better hospitals, better schools; whether or not we're going to have a better farm program - all of these things are important, but, remember, the most important thing of all is to be around to enjoy the good job, the good school, the good hospitals that we have.

So I say to you, the greatest test of your next President, and the thing you must have in mind - which one can keep the peace for America without surrender and extend freedom throughout the world. [Applause and shouts.]

You know, look at these youngsters standing around me - these teen-agers and subteens, these boys and these girls - we want them to have better jobs than we have. As my dad always used to say, he never wanted to go back to the good old times. He always said, "I want a better life for my youngsters than I've had."

And we want that for our youngsters; and we want their world to be a world of peace, but a world of peace with freedom. And this is what I ask you to test me on, test my opponent on, and then make your decision.

Now, with regard to that decision, may I tell you what I believe. One: America must begin by being the strongest nation in the world militarily. Why? Not because we want to fight a war, but because we don't * * * because we know as long as we're strong, we will always use our strength to keep the peace and to keep anybody else from threatening it. So, point 1: I pledge to you we will keep America strong as she is today - stronger than anybody in the world so that we can keep the peace.

Second: In addition to keeping America strong militarily, we must also keep the diplomacy in which we deal with the men in the Kremlin on a firm, realistic basis. We must not be belligerent because we cannot enjoy the luxury of losing our tempers - the next President certainly can't, because when he loses his temper in dealing with the men in the Kremlin, it might run the risk of setting off the world conflagration that we don't want. So the next President must be a man of judgment, a man who has had experience, and a man, above all, who knows the men in the Kremlin and the Communist leaders and knows what will work with them and what will not.

And one thing that will not work with them is, you may think that they react like other people do, but, my friends, they do not. That is why the President of the United States was right when Mr. Khrushchev demanded that he apologize for the U-2 flights in Paris - was right in not doing so because it would not have satisfied Mr. Khrushchev. It would only have encouraged him to ask for more.

And may I say today, may the time never come when any President of the United States, Democrat or Republican, feels that he must apologize or express regrets for defending the United States of America against surprise attack. [Applause.]

Now, we must not only be strong militarily and diplomatically, but we've got to keep the economy of this country strong. We have to have better schools and better housing, better jobs with progress. How are we going to get it? Well, let me tell you this. I could tell you that the way to get it is just leave it to Washington, that Washington is going to provide the jobs and the schools and the progress we need, but that isn't the way it works in this country of ours. The way to progress in America is not through putting the responsibility on the Federal Government, but for the Federal Government to adopt policies that will stimulate the incentive and the creative ability of 180 million free Americans, just such as you here. [Applause.]

And then, the third thing we must have - and this I say above all - as I see in this audience some of those who represent the great churches of our country, may I tell you that military strength is important if we are going to have peace; economic strength is important if we are going to stay ahead of the men in the Kremlin the Soviet Union, who would challenge us to competition; but above all, if America is to realize her true destiny, if we are to be really an example to peoples around the world that want freedom and want peace, we must not rest our case simply as the Communist rest theirs on gross materialism, atheistic materialism, we must not rest it simply on military strength and economic might.

Let us remember that the strength of America is in her ideals, in her moral and her spiritual strength, and I say to you that cannot come from Washington either. Oh, we can talk about it, but that must come from the hearts of our people, from our schools, from our churches, from our families, and so I say to you, keep America's moral and spiritual fiber strong so that America can lead the world to peace and friendship without surrender of principle or territory in the years ahead. [Applause.]

And then, finally, may I say this. There is nothing which is more inspiring to a man in public life than to see a crowd like this, knowing that in the crowd are some of the men in his own party and ladies in his own party, some who are from the other party, but all of whom care - all of whom care about their country, and about the world, and who want to come out and listen to views that they may not even agree with.

And as long as this happens, America will continue to be the greatest nation in the world. And one word of faith as I close. You've heard about the weaknesses of America; you've heard about the fall off of prestige of America; you've heard that our Nation is second rate militarily, economically, morally, and spiritually * * * May I say to you today, those who preach this kind of a gospel don't know America and they don't know the world.

I have seen this country. I have traveled to 50 countries abroad, and the heart of America is sound; and the people of the world, believe me, want what we want. They want peace. They want progress. But above all they want that peace and that progress with freedom recognizing the God-given dignity of men and women. And this is what we stand for. And because we're on the right side, we shall win this struggle.

Finally may I say to you, then, consider what I have said, what my opponent may say, and then go out and work in this campaign for the man that you think - not that can do the best job for the party - but the one that can do the best job for America. If you vote for what's best for America, you'll also be voting for what's best for yourself, and for these children as well. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Town Square, Council Bluffs, IA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project