Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Wood County Courthouse, Parkersburg, WV

October 25, 1960

Thank you very much.

Governor Underwood, all the distinguished guests here on the platform, and this great audience here in Parkersburg. I was recalling to Pat, my wife, when we were coming in on the train this morning and then driving over from Marietta, an occasion which many of you may recall, some of you who are older, in 1952. I remember the train came through this area rather late at night, around 6 :30 or 7 o'clock, and we had one of the largest crowds of the campaign right here at Parkersburg. At that time I said they must have a tremendously enthusiastic group of people here to come out then. And then we come here today and see what is really - and I say this advisedly, because I have seen rallies all over America - one of the greatest rallies of this whole campaign, and we thank you for it, right here in Parkersburg, W. Va.

I think all of you should know that, in addition to this crowd, immediately in front of us and way down the streets on this side - it completely surrounds the courthouse - are people who can't even see, who are in back of us here. And we want you to know this is one of the most inspiring things that could happen as we start these last 2 weeks of the campaign. We're glad to come to West Virginia to get this kind of reception, and I am particularly happy to be on the platform with my fellow candidates. I was glad again to have a chance to meet Harold Neely, because he will follow in the tradition of Cecil Underwood in giving this State honest, efficient government at the State level. Let's elect him Governor of this State along with the other candidates. All of you, of course, have known of my long association and friendship with Cecil Underwood, and I will only add here to what I said earlier when I visited Charleston, W. Va., that he is one of the men that I have watched through the years in the Republican Party who rises above the average. He is a man who is bigger than certainly the State from which he comes as are all of the great Senators and leaders of this country. He is a man who will be not only a great Senator from West Virginia, but one who will be a great Senator for the whole Nation, and West Virginia needs him. But I want him down there because America needs him - and let's have Cecil Underwood in the Senate of the United States where he belongs.

And now I'm going to say something with regard to this campaign. Two weeks from today you will vote. I know that immediately after the West Virginia primary and for a great amount of time after that, the political pundits were all conceding West Virginia to our opposition. They were saying, well, West Virginia is a State that has been run down so much by the two who were campaigning here during the primary that we wouldn't have a chance to carry it. I've been watching the reports since then. I've noticed the crowds that I've had since I've been here. I have received reports today. And I'm going to tell you that West Virginia is going to be one of the surprises because we're going to carry it on November the 8th with your help. And in view of what we've seen here, we're going to carry it because the people of West Virginia know that we can provide the leadership that America needs, that we're going to produce on all those promises the other fellows have been making. All they do is talk, and we act. That's what West Virginia wants, and that's what we're going to produce in the Nation's Capital as well as in the State capital here.

In that connection too, let's just keep the record straight. In every area that we've been discussing in which West Virginia as an interest and the Nation has an interest, this administration has a record of which we're proud. This administration, with the assistance of men like Cecil Underwood, can provide that leadership which you want and which you need. I know, for example, as I arrive here that we realize that in this particular area you were not in those that are classified as the so-called depressed areas. There are parts of West Virginia that are concerned on that particular point, but let's get one thing straight. The people who campaigned here in the primary and created the impression around the country that West Virginia was the most backward, depressed State in the Nation just didn't know what they were talking about. I'm here to stand up for West Virginia and not to run her down. If we get the opportunity, we will and can produce in those particular matters in which West Virginia is concerned because we're going to use a rifle on those areas rather than a shotgun. All that our opponents would do would be to

create a political issue here, but we're concerned about the people involved, and that's why we can produce the progress that they only talk about.

Now may I turn to an issue that will be more important to everybody in this audience and in this Nation than any other in this campaign. It's the one you heard Senator Kennedy and me discuss in our debate last Friday. It's the one that involves he future of America, the future of the thousands of schoolchildren that I saw all along the highway as we drove over from Marietta and the thousands who are here in this great audience. It is the survival of America. I say it's the most important because, my friends, we all want good jobs; we want good schools; we want good hospitals - and I saw several along the route today. But above everything else, we want to be around to enjoy the good life we have in this country, and that means what we need above everything is a President who has the experience and the judgment and the background to do what President Eisenhower has done - and that is to keep the peace without surrender for America and the world.

Now you have a clear-cut choice here. You have in Cabot Lodge and me two men who for 7½ years have sat with the President in the National Security Council and in the Cabinet. For 7½ years we have participated in the great decisions that have avoided war on the one side and have avoided surrender on the other. You have two men whom you know. You know how we will react, because we have sat with Mr. Khrushchev, both of us.

We have sat opposite him at the conference table. He has tried to push us around, and he hasn't gotten away with it. He will never get away with it, and you know that because you know how we can handle ourselves.

Now why do I mention that? Not, my friends, because we want to be belligerent in dealing with Mr. Khrushchev or anybody else. But because when you're dealing with a dictator, remember that the road to war and the road to surrender is paved with weakness, with inexperience, with a naive attitude that these men are going to react as the leaders of the free world will react. And I say to you that if you look over the record of this administration, if you look over the reason why President Eisenhower got this Nation out of war and has kept it out of others, you will find it has been because he has kept America strong militarily, he has kept her strong economically, but also because he has always recognized that we must be firm, that we must never make a concession without getting one in return - and that is what you have on our side. You have experience. You know what we will do. You know that we do know the men who threaten the peace.

What do you have on the other side? No question about intentions, good intentions. But look at the mistakes they would have made, my friends. Think for a moment. If my opponent had been in President Eisenhower's shoes what would have happened. I'll tell you. In 1955 a great decision had to be made. I was there when the President made it. It was hard. He had to decide whether or not, in order to keep the peace in the Pacific, America would slice off a bit of freedom, two islands, and say, "You can have these because we want the peace so badly that we don't want to get into a war about these." Or he had to say, "No, we're not going to surrender a couple of islands, because if we do, we realize that it won't satisfy you, that it won't bring peace, that it will only encourage you to ask for more." And so the President made that decision. My opponent would have done exactly the opposite, because in the Senate he voted with a small group of well-intentioned Senators who said, "We feel we ought to surrender these two islands to the Communists because by doing so it will avoid getting into a war over them." They were wrong. President Eisenhower was right. And here again we have an indication of what would have happened.

Let's go to the summit conference. You remember, in Paris just a few months ago. You remember the occasion when President Eisenhower was there, and Mr. Khrushchev came to him and said, "Apologize for the U-2 flights. Express regret for them or this conference will not go forward."

A man who was less strong, a man who was less firm than President Eisenhower might have apologized, and it would have been a terrible mistake, and I'll tell you why. Because if he had, it wouldn't have saved the conference. It would only have encouraged Khrushchev, the dictator, to demand more, to try to blackmail the United States, and so the President refused. And I say all Americans are proud of him that he did refuse and did stand up for the United States and did the right thing.

But, my friends, let's see what would have happened if our opponent had been there. We know what would have happened. In Oregon right after that, he criticized the President. He said, "I think the President could have apologized, that he could have expressed regrets." He could have, and if he had the result, my friends, would not have been to serve the cause of peace. It would have served the cause, in my opinion, of leading us down the road which leads inevitably to war or surrender, where dictators are involved.

So, here are two instances. And then we have the instance of Cuba, an instance again where the intentions were good, but where, because of lack of knowledge, apparently, or understanding, he made a suggestion which has rocked the capitals of the world. It has dismayed our friends. It has given grist to the mill to those who are our potential enemies around the world, because he suggested that the U.S. Government should support the anti-Castro forces in and out of Cuba.

This sounds so well intentioned, because, after all, we all don't like Castro. But here again we have treaties, treaties which, of course, would have been broken by this government intervention, which, was certainly the effect of his words - at least that's the way everybody interpreted them. And so the President of the United States here again took the right course. He said quarantine this man. Quarantine him economically and politically and that will lead eventually, we believe, to the Cuban people doing what they eventually will do: Assert their right to freedom. And here again a mistake would have been made of tremendous magnitude by my opponent.

Three cases I give you. What am I trying to say? I say to you, my friends, there is nothing more important than keeping the peace. There is nothing more important than avoiding surrender. But the way to peace and the way to avoid surrender is not through weakness, not through inexperience. I say we cannot have and we cannot afford to have as President of the United States a man who would have made the mistakes when the chips were down that my opponent would have made. And I think the American people know that, and that's why they're going to vote for our ticket rather than their on November the 8th.

Now what will we give you? We certainly don't give you any promise that the road to peace is going to he an easy one. There will be rough seas as well as smooth ones. We have to recognize that with the problems we confront in the world today America has to be strong not only militarily, but we have to be strong in our maturity. We have to be willing, and we have to be able, to accept and deal with the problems that we have around the world without blaming ourselves every time they do something, whether it's in Japan or Caracas or some place else.

And may I say in that connection we also - if we're going to win this struggle for peace and freedom - have got to get over an inferiority complex about America. I'm tired of hearing our opponents not only run down West Virginia, but run down the United States of America. I say we've had enough of it, and we've got to stop it. And all this talk about the United States being second in science, second in education, having the worst slums, the most crowded schools: Listen, I have been in other countries. I have been in the Soviet Union, and that's just plain nonsense, and they ought to know it and they ought to travel a little and find out if they don't know it.

And may I say in that connection, I was noticing here this fine big red team over here. I know too the great reputation Parkersburg has in its football team. My friends, have you ever seen a team win a game when they thought they weren't going to? You know, there have been upsets. Often the team that wasn't scheduled to win the game has come through to win. But you win a struggle - when you believe in yourself, when you've got faith, when you think you're going to beat the other fellow. And all this talk about the United States being second, that in our economy we are becoming stagnant and theirs is moving ahead - this weakens America at home and it certainly doesn't help us abroad, and by the same token may I say it isn't true.

I just want to add this final note. The reason that I am confident about the future of this country is that I have seen the world and I have seen the Soviet Union and I have seen America. Yes, the threat is great, because they're determined, because they want to conquer the world.

The threat is great because when they concentrate their tremendous energies on any area, whether it's space or issues or anything else, they're going to make some progress. But, my friends, we will win. And you can have faith in this because we're on the right side. We're on the side of freedom. We're on the side of justice. We believe in the right things, in the ideals that the world wants. Why does this count? I'll tell you why it counts because history tells us. History tells us that the militarists and the materialists through mankind's whole record have always underestimated the power of ideals. And, my friends, what will be decisive is the fact that we Americans do have faith. We have faith in our God. We have faith in our ideals. And we believe as a nation that it is our responsibility to represent these great ideals, to work for them not only here but all over the world.

And that's what we're asking in this campaign. I believe that this is the most important election you're going to participate in in your lifetime. I believe it's important because it determines your future. It determines the future of the world. And I ask you, my friends, if you believe that my colleague and I and those running with us can provide the leadership that America and this State needs, then we ask for your support and we ask for it on this basis: We have faith in America, we have faith in our ideals, and we want the opportunity to work for them, to fight for them, to stand up for them in the high court of the world. And if we do that, and if you keep America strong here at home, there isn't any question about the outcome of this struggle.

So again, to all of you who have come out and welcomed us, our deep appreciation. We will never forget this welcome, this city of Parkersburg and all of those who came from all over West Virginia to give us this sendoff as we start this day of campaigning in West Virginia and Ohio. And again I say: With your spirit and with your help we will win not only West Virginia, but we will win the Nation on November the 8th.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Wood County Courthouse, Parkersburg, WV Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project