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Remarks of Vice President Richard M. Nixon on "The Open Question," WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee, WI

October 08, 1960

ANNOUNCER. Vice President Richard M. Nixon answers the question. "The Open Question." We bring you at this time a special public service program featuring the Republican candidate for President of the United States, Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

Please remember that the questions asked on this program do not necessarily represent the opinions of the panel members, but serve as a means of bringing out the facts and information.

Now, here is the moderator of the program, Mr. Thomas Tuttle, Milwaukee attorney.

Mr. Tuttle.

Moderator THOMAS TUTTLE: Hello, ladies and gentlemen, our guest tonight is the Vice President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon.

Mr. Nixon, welcome to "The Open Question."

The VICE PRESIDENT. I am very glad to be on this program and to be in Milwaukee at least for a few hours today.

Moderator TUTTLE: Thank you.

Here to interview the Vice President are Mr. Ray Doherty of the United Press International news service in Milwaukee, Mr. Paul Ringler of the Milwaukee Journal staff and Mr. Art Olszyk, assistant news editor of WTMJ and WTMJ-TV.

This week the pollsters who are engaged in the lively, but hazardous, so-called process of predicting who will win the November presidential election, figure the race to be just about even. However, whether or not Richard M. Nixon becomes our next President, he has enjoyed one of the most remarkable political careers in the history of our country. In 1946 some people of his State of California suggested that he run for Congress as a Republican from his home district. He did just that, won easily, and in 1950 was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower selected him to be his Vice Presidential running mate, and this combination, as we all know, was victorious that year and again in 1956. Last July his fellow Republicans nominated him for the Presidency, and he's here tonight in the midst of a very hectic campaign.

Who has the first question for the Vice President?

Mr. Olszyk.

Mr. ARTHUR OLSZYK (assistant news editor of WTMJ and WTMJ-TV). Mr. Nixon, the preliminary vote in the United Nations General Assembly this afternoon on the admission of Red China indicates that the United States and the West will win again on this point, but by a smaller margin than ever, in what has been a declining margin over the past few years. Now, Senator Kennedy considers this particular vote over the years as a kind of barometer or gauge of our prestige and standing abroad. How do you feel about it, and what comment would you have on its declining in the United Nations?

The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, I certainly don't think this vote indicates that the U.S. prestige is declining. It does indicate concern, on the part particularly of many of the new countries in the United Nations, over the Communist government of China and it also indicates concern over the basic question of whether that government ought to be in the United Nations. We want to remember that there have been a number of new countries admitted to the United Nations and that, as those new countries come in, some of the positions they take are governed to an extent by nations that are considerably different from those that have been members from the beginning.

Now, as far as this vote is concerned, I think the important thing is that we again have been able to sustain our opposition to the admission of Red China to the United Nations because it does happen that we have some governments that are friendly to us which want and do favor admission of Red China to the United Nations.

I want to make clear why I believe this would be a mistake, because we really have to get to the heart of the issue. I think it's a mistake because, frankly, we can't use the United Nations as a reformatory, to put it bluntly. There are those who suggest, "Well, if we bring in Red China, this means we can get them to change their very aggressive attitudes." But let's look at what they are doing right at the present time. At the present time, Red China is in defiance of the United Nations in Korea. That's why we still have to have forces there. Red China was responsible for the difficulties in Tibet, which certainly was in violation of the principles of the United Nations. It is stirring up trouble against United Nations members throughout the southeast Asia perimeter. It holds prisoner citizens of the United States violating all the rules of international law. It does all of these things and it simply does not qualify as a peace-loving member of the community of nations, and the Charter of the United Nations puts that down as a qualification.

Now, if we were to change our position and to vote for admitting Red China to the United Nations, we would in effect, I think, reduce the moral power of the United Nations a great deal. I don't think we can do it. I think that once Red China changes its position, once it qualifies as a civilized member of the community of nations, we can change our position on admission but until it changes its position we can't change ours.

Moderator TUTTLE. Mr. Ringler.

Mr. PAUL RINGLER (Milwaukee Journal). Mr. Nixon, there was mention in last night's debate about a possible crisis in Berlin sometime next year, and certainly Mr. Khrushchev's threats of the last week would fortify this fear. How far should this country and the West go to keep West Berlin free?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I think it is not helpful to anticipate what the crisis would be and publicly to indicate what we would do under this circumstance or that. I think the moment that we do that we, in effect, give away our strategy. We also can be charged with threatening and with a variety of other charges which the Communists would be sure to make.

I would only say this: that I can think of no greater disaster to the cause of freedom than for the United States and the West to desert the free people of Berlin. I think that we have to be prepared to do whatever is necessary to stand with the people of Berlin to maintain their freedom.

Now, of course, we have here the problem of whether this means going to the ultimate point in the event Khrushchev uses force. My opinion is that if we keep the strength of the United States up and that of our Allies - and this means keep it at the level that we presently have vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, which means we are stronger than they are and so able to counteract a surprise attack with devastating destruction on the Soviet Union - then Khrushchev will not force the issue in Berlin. As a matter of fact, I think that is the reason or one of the major reasons that he broke up the summit conference. I think that he realized, as he got to the summit conference in Paris, that the West was united, that he was not going to be able to be successful in getting his way there and so he wanted to find a reason to break it up.

So, without being specific as to what we would do, which I think would be a mistake in my position as Vice President, I will only say that the United States and the West will stand by the free people of Berlin, that we are letting Mr. Khrushchev know that publicly by the statements that we're making and that we have to back that up with strength and that means that we must continue to increase our military strength so that we maintain the advantage we presently have.

Moderator TUTTLE. Mr. Doherty.

Mr. RAY DOHERTY (United Press International News Service). Mr. Vice President, Senator Kennedy said today in one of his campaign speeches that the administration's record in Africa is one of neglect and indifference which has resisted in a steady decline of American prestige and a steady growth of Soviet influence. Would you comment on that, please?

The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Doherty, Africa is one of my pet subjects and is one in which we do have grave problems. I'd like to point out however, that as far as U.S. policy toward Africa is concerned until very recently we had very few rights to have policies toward Africa because we had there colonial countries, colonial countries in which the British, the French, the Belgians, and others had the jurisdiction over the territories involved. Now as these countries have acquired their independence, then the United States has acquired a responsibility and a right to deal directly with the individual nations concerned.

I think that as far as our African policy is concerned we have been since that time - beginning, for example, with the independence of Ghana, a ceremony which I attended and with the other independent movements which have come along - that since that time the United States has very properly been stepping up its programs for Africa.

Now I don't think we're doing enough today, and I would mention these other things that I think we have to step up more in the future. First, we're going to have to have more developmental assistance in terms of technical assistance and loans to these newly developing economies.

Second, we're going to have to have more exchange programs, and this is infinitely important because it is just a waste of money to pour millions of dollars into these countries without training the personnel who can run the show.

And, third, in addition to that we need, of course, to have close political ties with African nations.

We are doing more than we have been doing. I do not think the situation is as black as Senator Kennedy paints it. As a matter of fact, I think it is a situation of hope, but it's difficult - because, let's remember, we had some troubles when we got our independence, and were blessed with great natural resources and also with a fairly well-developed people educationally. In Africa - take the Congo, for example - there are only 12 college graduates in the whole Congo. That was the case at least 6 months ago. Now we can see the problems that we have. They are terribly complex. We're going to have many difficulties, but I think if we work together with our friends, other friends in the free world, in helping them economically, but most of all, in helping them develop a trained personnel to run a government, to run an economy, if we can do this, Africa can be saved for the cause of freedom.

Moderator TUTTLE. Mr. Olszyk.

Mr. OLSZYK. In foreign affairs, in the campaign, discussing cause and effect, as you did last night when you were asked about your activities in the 1952 campaign, you made the point that you supported the decision to go into South Korea, but that you criticized the situation, the policies of the administration that made that necessary. In that same respect, do you feel that our actions, our policies, have played a part in what's happened in Cuba? Do you feel the administration, for want of a better word, is partly to blame or anything like that?

The VICE PRESIDENT. When we talk about the administration we've got to talk about both administrations because, as I pointed out last night in the debate, when we talk about the dictators in Latin America, there were 11 when this administration came into power in 1953. We inherited 11. There are only three left in Latin America today. Mr. Batista came into power not in this administration. He came in in the previous administration. So, we want to get that straight right away.

Now the responsibility being shared, let us see where we go from there. As far as Mr. Batista is concerned, and Mr. Castro, I think that we will all have to recognize that the U.S. position in Latin America is complicated by the traditional Latin American suspicion of American intervention from what they call "the Colossus of the North." That's why the treaty was entered in, to which I referred last night, the treaty with all the 20 American Republics in which we expressly agreed with them that neither we nor they would interfere in the internal affairs of any of these countries.

Now we have adhered to this. There are those who said: "Why didn't we get in and move Batista out?" We didn't have the right to under the treaty. If we had had, it would have been resented and it would probably have been counterproductive.

Now these are reasons for not doing the things that people suggest could have been done.

The last thing I would say is that as far as Cuba is concerned, I do not consider it to be a hopeless situation. I consider it to be one where the Cuban people will reassert their right to freedom and to progress through freedom rather than without it.

Moderator TUTTLE. Mr. Ringler.

Mr. RINGLER. Mr. Vice President, following the debate last night, this statement was put out by the Republican National Committee in Washington and quoted Senator Morton, the chairman of the committee, as saying, in part: "Senator Kennedy made it abundantly clear that in his approach to Russia he would be willing to grovel on his hands and knees to apologize to the butcher of the Kremlin."

And then there's a paragraph about what you would do.

Then: "Senator Kennedy is the apostle of appeasement."

Would you care to comment on that statement of Senator Morton?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I have never made statements of that type concerning Senator Kennedy, and I do not intend to. I have never questioned his motives. I think his intentions are certainly good in the sense that he, like myself, and like all of you here on this panel and the people listening on television, wants to have peace without surrender. The problem is whether or not he has the experience, whether or not he has the judgment to develop the correct policies. In my opinion, his recommendations, or at least his suggestion that the President should have apologized or expressed regrets for the U-2 flights, was exactly the wrong way to keep the peace without surrender. I think it was the wrong way to deal with Khrushchev. I think it would have led to consequences that Mr. Kennedy would be just as opposed to as I am. By the same token, I think his statement with regard to Quemoy and Matsu, where he indicated we ought to get the Nationalist Chinese to turn these islands over to the Communists - I think that's well intentioned. I think perhaps he thought this would save peace in the area. I think, as is always the case with dictators, that making a concession of this sort would have led to consequences that he would not have wanted, that would certainly mean in the long run either surrender in the one case or war in the other.

Now, when you use the word "appeasement," however, that has a connotation that a man deliberately is attempting to be weak in dealing with the Soviet. I don't think that Senator Kennedy intends to be weak. I think his judgment is bad. I want to make that clear. I think his judgment is bad. I think it was very bad on the apology statement. I think it was very bad on Quemoy and Matsu, but I don't think he intends to be soft or weak.

Moderator TUTTLE: For those of you who tuned in late, Vice President Nixon is here in Milwaukee as our guest on "The Open Question" tonight, and if you haven't already guessed it we are discussing politics.

Mr. DOHERTY. Mr. Vice President, Senator Kennedy said today and he said last night that Governor Rockefeller's indictments of United States strength and prestige are greater than his. Would you comment on that?

The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say I have read both Governor Rockefeller's and Senator Kennedy's indictments, because both of them, of course, have been at one time or another political opponents of mine. I have talked to Governor Rockefeller at great length on the defense matter. There is a difference in emphasis and there was a difference in emphasis in the primary campaign. But, as far as our attitude is concerned, I think that we agree at this time on what we ought to do on defense.

As far as saying that Governor Rockefeller's indictments are much stronger than his, I simply don't think the record bears that out. Governor Rockefeller has never made these fantastic charges that Senator Kennedy has, such as that United States prestige is at an all-time low.

Governor Rockefeller has made it clear, as I have, that we should step up our economic growth to the greatest extent possible, but he has not taken the pessimistic line that Senator Kennedy has taken, and that is the difference.

Mr. OLSZYK. Mr. Nixon, we have spent a lot of time talking about what Senator Kennedy says and I thought perhaps we would switch here. In an interview here in Milwaukee earlier this week, the Democratic national chairman, Senator Jackson, said, in the words of Ezra Taft Benson himself, "Mr. Nixon is part and parcel of the Benson farm policy."

Now, you are advocating a program that is different from that. Now, in view of that, in looking back on the last 7 years of the Benson program, what is your overall assessment of what it has accomplished and how successful it was?

The VICE PRESIDENT. The difficulty with Secretary Benson's program was that he was never able to get the Congress to adopt it; so he never really had a fair trial of his program.

The difficulty was that he took a position which was rigid insofar as the particular matters he was insisting upon, a position which he deeply believed could not be compromised. The Congress took another position and, as a result, we had a stalemate between the executive and the legislative branch, with no action.

That's why I have departed from the Benson program, because, in my opinion, the worst thing we can do about the farm program or practically the worst, next to the program Senator Kennedy is advocating, is to leave it where it is, because under this program farm income is being driven down and surpluses are continuing to pile up.

So I have a new program, a new program which takes a much more imaginative and, I think, a much more effective way of dealing with surpluses, one which will maintain and strengthen farm income during the period that we're getting rid of the surpluses. It will not have what I think was the weakness in the Benson program, which kept the Congress from adopting it - and that was that Secretary Benson's program in effect provided that in the period when we were getting rid of surpluses the farmer would have to bear the cost of the transition.

I say that since the surpluses were created not by the farmer but because the Government got the farmer to do it, the Government must bear the cost of that transition period.

That is the major difference in my approach and Secretary Benson's, and I think that is the reason the farmers will support my program and the Congress will as well.

Mr. RINGLER. At both La Crosse and Rochester today you opposed broadening the activities of the Federal Government, particularly, I believe, in the fields of education and welfare, and said that State and local governments should shoulder more of these responsibilities.

Since 1945 the gross Federal debt has increased from $258 billion to $284 billion, but the gross debt of State and local governments has increased from $16 billion to $62 billion.

How can the State and local governments, already overburdening their taxpayers, shoulder these extra loads?

The VICE PRESIDENT. Let me say, Mr. Ringler, first of all, I indicated in my talks today that the Federal Government did have responsibilities in this field, and I want to make it clear that I have supported a bill for Federal aid for school construction. I also have supported one in the field of health, which will be a Federal - State program, as distinguished from the compulsory Federal program which Senator Kennedy has advocated. So I do recognize the Federal Government must assume a part of this burden. Where I depart from Senator Kennedy's proposition is that whenever he sees a problem he says we bypass the States, we bypass the individual, and we go to the Federal Government to have it solved.

Now that's oversimplifying it, but that generally is the difference we have.

I start at the other end of the spectrum. I say we see first what the individual can do to solve a problem. Then we get everything done, as much as possible, at the State and local level, and then the Federal Government steps in and does what remains to be done.

I say this because I think it is better for the country, whenever you can, to strengthen individual enterprise, and whenever you can, to keep government at the local level, closer to the people.

Mr. TUTTLE. Mr. Vice President, last Tuesday the Wall Street Journal, which I think is generally regarded as being favorable toward you, stated - and I am paraphrasing - that the product you are offering in the political marketplace all too often seems merely a pale imitation of the Democratic product and, for that reason, it is hard to sell, so you're having a tough time selling it.

If you think that is an unfair statement, can you mention some activities the Federal Government ought to discontinue doing, or tick off several instances where you feel the Republicans have a clear-cut difference as far as Federal activity is concerned?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I can by just following up on the question that I just answered. In the field of health, Senator Kennedy advocates a compulsory health insurance program for people over 65 years of age. I oppose a compulsory program. I think it should be a voluntary program, State and Federal, with participation by the State and private insurance companies as well, so that the individual has the right to choose and is not forced to take health insurance against his will.

In the field, for example, of aid to education, I oppose direct subsidy for teachers' salaries because I recognize that once the Federal Government gets into that business the Federal Government inevitably, in my opinion ,will control what is taught.

I believe the best way to raise our teachers' salaries is to do it indirectly, so that we can have no control, and that is through a program of Federal aid to school construction.

Let's take the farm program. Here we have Senator Kennedy's proposition, which would put the Federal Government into the farm business and shackle Federal controls on all the farming community forever. My program is one that is designed to move in the other direction. I would say the best answer to the Wall Street Journal is probably to look at the cost of the programs. Our programs would cost approximately $10 billion less per year than theirs would insofar as an increase in the budget.

I would just add this last point: I do not agree with those people who say that what we should do when we have problems is just to leave them to the States and to the individuals. Now, if the States and the individuals will handle the problems of schools, if they will provide the medical care, if they will do the things that the people want done and that should be done, that is certainly the proper thing to do. But it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to step in where individual or local government cannot or will not do the job. And I simply cannot buy what I think is a view which is outmoded and reactionary, that the Federal Government just leaves everything to the individuals. Where you have these human problems we have to have solutions, but I say let's have solutions which keep the individual and the local responsibility in to the ultimate extent.

Mr. RINGLER. Back to what I believe is your major concern, the world situation, if we could agree the free world alliance is not entirely what we would like it to be, how do you favor improving it? Broaden the NATO organization, some form of Atlantic union, what you called in the platform regional confederations, United Nations strengthening?

The VICE PRESIDENT. I would improve it, Mr. Ringler, in several ways. One, I think we should strengthen the United Nations, particularly in ways it can deal with situations like the Congo. I mean we should have ready forces, ready to go in there to protect the independence of these new countries.

Second, I think we should strengthen the regional organizations like the OAS and NATO and develop them along political and economic grounds, as well as military grounds.

Third, I think we need new regional organizations, confederations, as Governor Rockefeller has used the term, and I support him in this. We are exploring that now, and I will make a major speech on it in the campaign. We need new regional organizations, both political and economic, through which the United States will work with the new areas of Asia and Africa and the Near East, these newly independent countries, in developing economic and political progress. We face, frankly, great problems in the 1960's, but I would like to point out I think they are tremendously exciting problems, because we have the resources to meet them.

Now all we need is the leadership and the imagination to use these resources to attain the greatest progress we've ever had.

Mr. DOHERTY. Mr. Vice President, three Democratic Senators today urged the networks for you and Senator Kennedy to add a fifth debate inasmuch as this fourth one comes 18 days before the election. Would you be in favor of another one?

The VICE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't had any word from the networks on this, and I would say I would imagine the people would have to decide that. They might get tired of them after four. We don't want to wear them out, clearly apart from wearing out the candidates.

Mr. OLSZYK. Mr. Nixon, as the possible incumbent in 4 years, would you be willing to take on a Democrat in the same manner in TV debates as you have up to now?

The VICE PRESIDENT. That will be inevitable. I would say, while an incumbent never, in good politicking, so-called, debates his opponent, that the pressures from the public now will be such that I think in all campaigns in the future the two presidential candidates will appear together on television. So I make that commitment for myself, and I also make it for Senator Kennedy, if he wants it.

Mr. TUTTLE. Mr. Vice President, our time is up. I wish we could continue. Thank you very much for stopping off in Milwaukee to be our guest on "Open Question."

The VICE PRESIDENT. Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Richard M. Nixon on "The Open Question," WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee, WI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273817

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