Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Town Square, Red Oak, IA

September 16, 1960

Thank you very much, Jack Miller, for introducing me to your friends here in Red Oak, Iowa. I want all of you to know how deeply Pat and I appreciate your coming out and welcoming us, but particularly how much we want to thank you for waiting because we happen to be running late today.

You find when you have a motorcade that starts at about 8:30 in the morning and with unscheduled stops along the way, that it's a little hard to keep up with the times that are set for all the stops you're supposed to make. And the fact that so many of you came and so many of you waited all this time, standing here just packed in like sardines, believe me, it makes us feel very humble in your presence; and we just want you to know we appreciate it. [Applause.]

To show some of the things that make you stop, as we got down into the hotel lobby over in Omaha today at 8 o'clock in the morning just before going to our first meeting - a great breakfast there which had a tremendous attendance - there was a group of the youngest voters or prevoters I have seen. These were all under 10 years of age and they were singing songs and wearing Pat and Dick buttons, and so forth, and so on, so we thought we certainly should stop and say hello and sign an autograph or two. And one of the little girls who was there who said that she was 8 years old, I think her name was Judy Howard, particularly touched us when she said, "You know, Mr. Nixon, I hope you're elected President." She said, "Do you know what I do? Every time I go under a bridge I make a wish that you'll be elected President of the United States." [Applause.]

And since that time I've been thinking of the various things we all wish on. I remember that when Pat and I were going together quite a number of years ago - not for her, of course; she's much younger than I as you know. [Laughter.] In any event when we were going together a few years ago there were two things we used to wish on. One, the first star in the evening - I bet you a lot of people here wish on the first star - that's right; and the other, I don't know whether you have this custom here or not - a white horse. It must be a pure white horse, is that right? Fine.

Well, today we've been under a couple of bridges, but we've also seen a lot of good white horses so the wishes are going pretty good today as far as we are concerned. [Applause.]

May I say, too, that as we came into this city of Red Oak, one of my friends in our traveling press corps asked, "Well, have you ever been here before? Have you ever heard of Red Oak, Iowa, before?" And you know he was probably expecting me to say, "Well, I've seen it on the map, but I've never been here and didn't know much about it."

But I want to tell you, Red Oak is very famous in my hometown of Whittier, Calif., for a reason. I was talking to Mr. Tiffin, who used to be in the school system here - a lot of you know him, of course - and I was talking to him before and asking him: Wasn't there a boy who was a star halfback on the Red Oak High School team back in the early thirties by the name of Alvin Hutchinson? And there was. He came to Whittier College; he made little All-American there; and do you know what we called him - all the sports writers? The Red Oak Express. [Laughter and applause.]

And I've often thought since then, if I could run as well in this election as Alvin Hutchinson could run for Whittier College, we'll do O.K., you can be sure of that. [Applause.]

There are so many things that I would like to talk about today. Time will not permit, of course, more than touching on just a few of the things that are close to your hearts and to the hearts of all Americans as we go into this election campaign.

I think perhaps I should start with the fact that this is a festival. I don't know the name of the festival. It's a little too complicated for me to figure out, but it looks to me like an autumn farm festival such as we have in many of the towns of America at this time of the year. And when we have a festival, the thing that goes through our minds most of all is a feeling of how fortunate we are for the good crops that we've had, for the good life that we live.

And I want to say to all of this great audience here today, we also should feel fortunate that we live in the United States of America, the land of freedom and hope for all the world. [Applause.]

And if there is one particular point that I would like to emphasize, if there is one great concern that the next President of the United States, above everything else, must have in his mind and in his heart and in his soul, it must be to preserve the freedom that we have, the great ideals that make towns like this and festivals like this so memorable, and also to preserve peace in the world so that we can have our young people grow up in a world of peace with freedom.

Now, a lot of people, l know, could well raise the question as to whether there are other things that are more important as far as this election campaign is concerned than programs that will keep the peace and extend freedom and keep freedom in this country. And I certainly would reply by saying that other things also are very important: We want better schools in America; we want better health care in America available to all of our citizens; we want better jobs for our people; we also want to see the income of our farm families participate in the tremendously increasing prosperity which Americans are enjoying. But, above all, my friends, we want to see these young people, these schoolchildren who by the thousands we have seen along the streets of these Iowa towns and cities today, and who are here by the thousands, we want to see that they grow up to enjoy all these other good things - that they do have a life of peace for themselves and for the world.

And so I urge to all of you today, all of you as you make the decision - this tremendously important decision that you will make on November 8, that, above everything else, you remember this and consider this: Which of the candidates can best develop the programs and the policies that will keep peace, that will keep it without surrender, that will extend freedom, and, at the same time, will continue to develop the progress which will mean a better life for Americans here at home.

If you keep this in mind, America will be the better for it. And I ask you to keep it in mind as you vote, not only for the Presidency, for which I am a candidate, but also as you vote for the senatorship - and may I say in that connection that I am very proud to have the opportunity to be on the platform here with the man who introduced me, who will make a fine colleague of Bourke Hickenlooper, and Bourke Hickenlooper is one of the outstanding Senators ever to come to Washington, as all Iowans know [applause], as you vote for your Congressman, as you vote for our splendid candidate for the governorship with whom I have had the chance to campaign for the first time today, and who will give to Iowa that great tradition of Republican Governors which has been established in the past and which he will bring back to this State, I am confident, with your help on November 8 [applause]; but as you make decisions in all of these offices, but particularly as you decide for President, my friends, may I say to you, don't think of the personality of the man, don't think of the party label which he has, because these things, while they mean something, don't go to the heart of the problem; think of what is beneath the label, think of what is best for America, and make your decision on that basis.

Now if I might say in a word what I believe can preserve the peace, the kind of policies that I believe would build America if we are given the opportunity to serve in the capacity for which we are running.

First of all, we've got to keep America the strongest nation in the world, and we must be prepared to pay whatever is necessary to do that. And we must do this not because we want to use our strength against anybody else, because Americans have fought three wars in this century and we haven't got an acre of territory to show for it, we don't have a concession from another country to show for it; we have fought wars to defend our own freedom and to defend the freedom of others throughout the world.

And the reason that we maintain strength today - and we must maintain it - is because we want peace and freedom, not only for ourselves, but for others as well. I know that we need that kind of strength because I know the men in the Kremlin. I know how tough they are. And I know that all that they respect is strength. America must never be in a position where her President goes to an international conference and where the man on the other side of the conference table can look him in the eye and say, in effect, "We are stronger than you are." That is not the case today, and if I have anything to say about it, it will never be the case in the future as far as America is concerned. We will continue to be the strongest nation in the world. [Applause.)

With that military strength we need diplomatic firmness; not the firmness of anger, of stirring up trouble, of answering insults with insults, because when you are a strong, confident country you don't have to do that, but the firmness which stands on principle and which says to the men in the Kremlin or to any others who threaten peace and freedom, that we will not use aggressive tactics against you, but we will not allow ourselves or those who stand for freedom anyplace in the world to be pushed around. This we must make clear to the whole world.

And then in addition to that we need economic strength. And do you know where we get that? We get it from all of you - from all of the American people. And nothing is more important to that strength than our farm communities in this country, because without that farm strength that we have - the almost incredible productivity of America's farmer - we would have a problem keeping up with the Soviet Union economically and staying ahead, as far ahead as we are.

But one of the greatest advantages we have in this struggle is that today 7 million American farmers and farmworkers produce as much as it take 50 million to produce in the Soviet Union; and with this advantage we do and are able to maintain the gap with the Soviet Union as far as our economic progress is concerned.

How do we continue to maintain it? By recognizing a fundamental principle: That the strength and the reason for progress in America comes not from what the Federal Government does, or the State government for that matter, but that strength and the progress of this country come from policies which will encourage and stimulate the productive and creative energies of 180 million free, individual Americans. This we must never forget. And if we don't forget it, America will continue to be first in the world economically, as she is today. [Applause].

And then there is the final thought that I would leave with you. With this economic strength that we have, and the military strength, and the diplomatic strength - all of which will extend the cause of freedom and peace - we need above all to have the moral and spiritual strength which is our greatest advantage over the enemies of freedom.

Why do I say that? Because all they offer to the world is military strength and their economic capacity. They don't believe in God. They don't believe that the freedoms that men have do not come from men, but come from God. And because they do not have such beliefs, and because they present their case on purely materialistic grounds, America must remember that our greatest strength is in our moral and spiritual ideals and because those ideals are our greatest strength, it means that you, the people of this country, can do the most to preserve it.

Believe me, somebody in Washington - he alone cannot keep up the moral and spiritual strength of this country. That must come from the people, from the home, from the church, from the community - like this one in which we are appearing today.

And so I say to you today as I stand here and I look over this crowd, having passed through some of the richest farmlands in America, I have a great deal of faith about our country's future. Oh, we've got problems, and they are very grave ones. We can't be complacent about them, and we've got to continue to work on our farm problems and our other economic problems. We've got to continue constantly to root out any of the influences that weaken the moral and spiritual strength of this country.

We must continue to emphasize those things that unite Americans rather than those things that divide them. And a President of the United States must be one who does not say I'm for one group against another, for a labor group against management, for farm folks against city folks; he must be President of all the people, and this I pledge to you will be my responsibility if I have the opportunity to serve in that office.

But I have faith today that the future for our children - so many of whom are here - is going to be a good one. And it's going to be a good one because the heart of America is sound, because the people of the world, I can tell you, want peace and they want freedom if only we give them the leadership which enables them to be for it; and because of that faith and your faith, I am confident of the future of our children.

And so with that, may I thank you again for coming and may I urge you on November 8 to go to the polls; vote for the men that you think, apart from party, that will give America the leadership it needs in these critical periods. If you make your decision on that basis, I am confident it will be the best decision for America, and the best decision for you, for our children, for all of us. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

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