Remarks of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, University of North Dakota Field House, Grand Forks, ND
Gov. JOHN F. DAVIS. North Dakota is again honored to have as our speaker a statesman, a national leader, the Republican Party standard bearer, who will, I forecast, be the No. 1 citizen of the United States. [Applause.]
I would like to first commend and congratulate the university and the Republican Party, Young Republicans, who planned and executed this meeting here at the University Field House, chairmaned by Tom McElroy and Dr. Penn. They have done an excellent job and certainly they are gratified by your response in coming here this afternoon for this significant meeting.
It is truly an occasion to have the Vice President come to North Dakota so shortly after his illness and ailment that confined him to a hospital. I should like him to know how we feel about our zestful, healthy climate - providing good health and long life - for our citizens; and while he will be exposed to it for only a short time, I assure him it will be beneficial and healthful - I know for at least 60 days! [Applause.]
These are days of decision for Americans - for soon we will select a new leader of our Nation, the next President. The responsibility for each citizen is great, and it is truly a rich experience for us to have our great Republican candidate and his very gracious and charming wife as our guests for this occasion today. This man is fitted to be President by experience, which came from his service in his home State of California's Legislature; in our Congress; and in the very high executive position as Vice President of our great Nation; by his leadership which he has displayed on so many, many occasions; by his temperament, which gives him this understanding of the feel of America; by his background of typical Americanism; by his very deep and abiding faith in the good life that has been provided in America under our principles and under our ideals. Here is the man to support; here is the man to work for; here is the man to vote for.
It is an honor for me to present the Vice President of the United States, our next President, Richard Nixon and his very charming wife, Pat. [Applause.]
Vice President NIXON. Governor Davis, Mr. President, my colleagues from the House of Representatives, my colleagues who are also candidates, future candidates [applause], members of the faculty and student body of the University of North Dakota and my friends in North Dakota; this is the first opportunity that my wife, Pat, and I have had to visit a university campus since the nominating convention in Chicago. And after this wonderful reception, this demonstration, I can only say I hope it isn't the last - if this is any indication of how you are going to react. [Applause.]
I want you to know that it is always a great challenge and an inspiration to speak before an audience which is composed not only of those who are active workers in my party, but also those who are future voters or just entering voting age. And certainly the opportunity presented today to speak at this great university, to this audience is one that to me is a challenge and one that I deeply appreciate.
I want you to know, too, how much I have been moved by the introduction that Governor Davis gave a moment ago. As a matter of fact, I was listening over there by the door, and my reaction was that after that introduction I might as well not make a speech; he had done very well by me already. I can only say that to live up to the very generous things that he said would be most difficult, indeed. But in return, may I say that my regard for him is well known, and yours as well is well known. I also want you to know how very proud I am to be on the platform with some of our other Republican candidates and to have our candidates for the House, or the State legislature, represented both on the platform and in the audience. I will not mention them specifically by name because the list is a bit longer than time will permit, but I will only say this: They are outstanding men, I've had an opportunity of working with some of them in the Congress, I have known a number of them, and I can certainly wholeheartedly commend them to you as you make your decision on November 8 - both at the State level and at the Federal level, or the Congress of the United States.
I know from having previously visited North Dakota and other States that you like to make up your own minds as to how you're going to vote. And I'm not going to tell you in this respect except to indicate my own strong personal affection and admiration for these men with whom I'm proud to run on the same ticket.
May I also say at this time that I am sure that in this audience are a lot of future candidates - both Republican and Democratic. I am sure - since about 30 percent of the audience consists of students at the University of North Dakota - that I am speaking probably to future Governors, future Senators, perhaps Congressmen, maybe a Vice President or two - who knows? But, in any event, the advice that I'm sure most of you would like to have from me is: If you want to enter politics, what can I best do? Now the advice I'm going to give is not going to be the usual advice. I feel myself that the best thing that you can do while you're in the university is to concentrate on what I would call the humanities, very broad background in all of the great culture and tradition of our civilization and our society. I believe that specialization in political science is important, but I believe that far more important while your minds are so young and while they can undertake to understand new ideas so readily, far more important is to study the humanities - history and literature - all of those things which will later serve you in such good stead.
Now, from a very personal standpoint, I can give you the advice that was given to me by my professor of contracts when I entered law school in the first year. We were a lot of young lawyers, at least potential young lawyers, and our first day in class, and he looked over the class, all the Phi Beta Kappa keys and other bright young men and women there, and he said: "Now, young men, I have some advice for you as to your future, if you want to be a success at practicing law. I would suggest that you marry for money and practice law for love." [Laughter, applause.] Now, I did that; incidentally [laughter], my wife was teaching school when I married, and she made more money than I did practicing law. Of course, there was some love, too, I can
assure you, but, in any event, that advice is something I will pass on to you for whatever it is worth.
Now, if I may, I would like to talk to you for a few minutes about the decision you will make on November 8 at the presidential level. In talking about that decision, I want to present the case in perhaps a way that is different from what you might expect. It would be very simple and very easy to present the case for the election of a Republican President in a State like North Dakota, which has a Republican tradition, by simply urging that you vote your party affiliation: Vote Republican. It would also be easy to make the appeal to you - particularly on sectional grounds - with speaking particularly about the issues that you are primarily concerned about right here in this State. To talk to the farmers, if we thought that the farmers were predominantly those who might be in this audience, or to talk to any other group in society that might be represented. I'm going to do neither of those things today. I'm going to present this case in a way that I think it properly should be presented - not only here but throughout America.
I happen to believe - and I'm sure you will agree - that when we elect a man as President of the United States, we must not think of our personal interests, we must not think of our own little group, our own section of the country primarily; we must not think just of our own party and our party label; but we must think of the whole Nation, of the national good. And whoever is elected President must be able to represent the whole people with obligations to no particular section, to no particular group within the society, so that he can stand for all of the American people and represent America at its best both at home and abroad.
And so today I'm going to ask everybody here, whether you're Republicans or Democrats, for a few minutes, to forget your party affiliation, to think of the Nation, and to consider what I have to say by asking and answering this question: What leadership does America need in these next 4 years? Leadership for what? What is the most important issue? And on that I will say here what I have said in every State I have visited so far - from Hawaii to Maine, to Alabama, to Georgia, to California, to Oregon. I will say that I find there is one great issue that cuts over all the rest; it is the overriding concern of all people in this country, whether they're farm folks or city folks or management or workers, whether they live in the North, the South, the East or the West. And it is this: It is the concern that America must find a way through its leadership to keep the peace without surrender in the years ahead and extend the cause of freedom throughout the world. [Applause.]
Now I know I don't have to do any convincing to the young men in this student body who will be entering the armed services - to prove to you that that's the overriding issue. And I know that as far as all the rest of you are concerned that you will agree with me when I say that, while we are tremendously concerned also about having a kind of government in which we have good jobs, good income on the farm, in which we can have good security for our old age, better health, better education, better institutions like this - while we're concerned about all these things, we all know that all of the solutions to our domestic problems aren't going to be worth anything unless we're around to enjoy them. So the first step you must have in your mind - as you appraise the qualifications of the candidates for President and Vice President - is this: Which of the two can best provide the leadership which can keep peace and extend freedom?
Now, obviously, in presenting my case to you I cannot cover all of the ramifications of that issue - in this or any other one appearance. I would like to touch some of the highlights, and I would like for you to consider them with me, if you would, for a few moments.
First of all, as we consider the future of America in the world, as we consider the dangers which confront us, we must look at our past record, and I say in presenting our case, the case of Ambassador Lodge and myself, that, first, we are proud of our record, we are both members of the Eisenhower team. For 7½ years we have worked - he as Ambassador to the United Nations and I as Vice President - under the President of the United States in this administration. And so, as far as this record is concerned, we are part of it; we are proud of it.
Now, obviously, our opponents have other views. They're entitled to those views, and they should express their criticism just as constructively and earnestly as they can wherever they think we've been wrong. But I would say that after reading some of the criticisms that have been made of our administration's foreign policy over the past 7½ years that I think that we all must not overlook this singular fact: that the criticisms cannot obscure the fact that the policy has been overall successful. Why do I say successful? [Applause.] Summed up in a sentence, I say successful because when we came into office in 1953 the United States was at war. We have ended one war; we have avoided other wars; and today we do have peace and we have it without surrender of principle or territory, and this is a magnificent achievement for which Americans will be eternally grateful to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States. [Applause.]
Now, I can assure you it's a great temptation for any candidate when you have a record like that, which an audience obviously approves - as you do - simply to stand on it. But a record, of course, is not something to stand on; it's something to build on. And this is particularly true in this field of international relations, because I can assure you that while we do have peace today, the threat to peace, the threat to freedom, continues to increase. Why? Not because of our weakness, not because of mistakes that we may be making, but because of the continued, aggressive tactics of the international Communist movement directed by its leaders in Moscow and Peking. And as long as these men continue with their obsession, which is to make the world a Communist world as far as Mr. Khrushchev is concerned without war if possible; as far as the men in Peking are concerned with war if necessary; as long as this is their aim, America can never be content to stand on what it's doing, we can never assume that what we're doing is enough, we always must examine our military posture, our economic strength, and the other areas of strength of this country - to be sure that we're doing our very best. Because unless we do, we will lose; we will lose because we are in a race, and when you're in a race it isn't enough simply to be ahead, you must move ahead to stay ahead.
And so, I do not stand on the record today. I say we must build on it. And if I might outline just briefly some of those areas in which I believe the next President of the United States must exert leadership to maintain the peace, to see to it that we do not lose what we have gained in these last 7½ years.
We obviously begin - and everybody in North Dakota with your great defense installations so near this city will understand this - we obviously begin with this as a must. The United States with its allies must not only have military strength second to none, but military strength which will meet this test: regardless of what a potential enemy may have, if he should launch an attack, we must have enough left so that we could destroy his warmaking capabilities. We have that kind of strength today, that is why attacks are not made. But we must constantly reexamine our strength, compare it with what we know or believe the Soviet Union as well as the Communist Chinese may be doing (?). And then we must do whatever is necessary and be willing to pay the cost in dollars, which are necessary, to see that America's military strength will deter aggression and keep the peace in this area; this we must do. [Applause.]
Now the temptation, of course, is to assume that if you have this great military strength - that that is the shield that you need and that will keep the peace; but it isn't, of course, alone enough, as I am sure you know. This strength must be used wisely. This means that it must be combined with diplomacy, which is also strong - diplomacy, which not only averts war, but which promotes the cause of peace. Now what do I mean by that kind of diplomacy? I think I could sum it up as I often have with two adjectives: the diplomacy of the United States in the years ahead must be firm and it also must be nonbelligerent. We must avoid [applause] - we must avoid the twin dangers on the one side of appeasement, which would not satisfy a dictator and which would not lead to peace but eventually could lead to war, on the 1 side; but we must avoid also on the other side the ill-considered kind of reactions to the insults that we must expect and the provocations we must expect and we must avoid those reactions because we cannot have the luxury, frankly, of losing our tempers simply because the other man may lose his. [Applause.]
I think the President's conduct at the Paris Conference was a good example of what I have been saying. [Applause.] He was criticized after that conference on two scores: there were some who said that the President should have answered Mr. Khrushchev's insults, that he should have stood up to him and given back to him as good as he took. But the President was right - as you know - first because when you are strong, when you are confident that your position is right, you don't lose your dignity and get down to the level of the man who insults you, and the President maintained the dignity. [Applause.] On the other hand, there were well-intentioned people who said: "But why didn't he save the conference? Why didn't he go to further lengths than he did? Couldn't he, for example, perhaps have acceded to Mr. Khrushchev's request that he express regrets or apologies for what had happened on the U-2 flights?" And the President couldn't do that, and the reason that he couldn't again, I think we will all understand. First, because doing that, as I've already indicated, wouldn't have satisfied Mr. Khrushchev, it would only make him demand more; this is the way that he reacts when he insists on that kind of action. And second, the President couldn't do that - and I can only say in response to those that suggested that he could, that may the time never come when any President - Democrat or Republican - feels that it is necessary to apologize or express regrets for attempting to defend the security of the United States. [Applause.]
Well, now again, we might be tempted to stop here. America will be strong, she will be firm, she will be nonbelligerent, and we will have peace. But we can't stop here, because this is still a defensive position. We must go beyond that; we must extend the cause of peace; we must extend freedom throughout the world, because we live in a changing world, and it isn't enough for Americans to sit here with our good life (and it is a good life - travel to other countries and come back, if you have any doubts about it); we must remember that as we sit here with our good life, that we cannot retain it unless the opportunities throughout the world for others to have equally a good life are extended and realized.
And so, when we think of our own life and making it better, we cannot think of it alone; we must think of the world as well. And so, what can we do to extend peace; what can we do to extend freedom, so that we can retain our own in the United States?
First, as far as peace is concerned, we must, of course, strengthen those institutions which keep the peace. Now I know all of you in this audience watch the United Nations with great interest - since it was founded in San Francisco, the city I visited just 2 nights ago. There has been a lot of criticism of the United Nations, but I would say that when we look at the record of that organization, we could point out instance after instance where if we had not had the United Nations with the strong support of the United States - moral, military, and economic at all times - if we had not had the United Nations, we might have risked war in several instances. I think, for example, our (?) conduct in the Congo is one of the best reasons certainly for supporting the United Nations as we have. We could have moved in - or muscled in - the Congo, as Mr. Khrushchev apparently tried to do, but we didn't. We supported the United Nations with the result that the hope of the people of the Congo to retain their independence has, I think, at least for the time being, been sustained. But we must continue, although it appears sometimes to be the difficult way, to support the United Nations, the Organization of American States, our friends around the world, in a collective operation to further the cause of peace, and we must develop ways not only to work with these organizations as they are, but to strengthen them and develop new organizations of this type. [Applause.]
And may I say in that connection that I realize that the experience of the candidates, when you vote for President and Vice President, will have a lot to do with your decision. It would not be appropriate for me to talk about my experience as compared with that of my opponent; it is appropriate for me to talk about the experience of my running mate. And I would say that I am proud that he is on the ticket with me; I would say further that I don't know of any man in the world today who has done a better job of standing up against the men in the Kremlin and representing the cause of peace and freedom than he has in the United Nation - Henry Cabot Lodge. [Applause.]
And I can assure you that he and I will work together, if we are given the opportunity, in strengthening the instruments of freedom and the instruments of peace throughout the world.
But having talked about negotiation, may we turn now to a further side of affirmative actions we must take if we are to keep the peace and extend freedom. Military strength, diplomatic strength, and, third, we come to economic strength. Why is this important? Because a challenge has been laid down to us. Mr. Khrushchev has said over and over again, when I saw him in the Soviet Union, and he repeated over and over again when he visited the United States - he said: "We are not going to have to fight a war, a shooting war." He said: "We are going to defeat the United States in the economic race in which we're engaged." He said: "You're ahead of us now, but we're moving faster than you are and we're going to catch you." And then he turned to me and he said: "As we go by we're going to wave and say, 'Bye, bye, come along, follow us, do as we do, or you'll fall way behind in this race.'" All that I can say is this: Mr. Khrushchev, I think, certainly believes, or appears to believe, that his system is best and that he may be able to catch us. But the only way that he would be able to catch us is if we did do as he did as far as his economic system was concerned. We must remember that the strength of America in this economic race is in the fact that we do not rely primarily on what government does to create economic progress, but that we rely on the creative enterprise of 180 million free American citizens. [Applause.] Government must play its part, government must, of course, handle our defense, it must handle the great programs for economic assistance abroad and the like - with which you are familiar - but as far as economic progress generally is concerned we must recognize that government's function primarily must be to stimulate and encourage individual enterprise in our economy. That's why we got where we are today, and that is how we will continue to grow in the future. And to those who suggest that we've been standing still, I say: "Travel around the United States, look at the United States, see what has happened. Look at Grand Forks and compare your situation today as it was 8 years ago; look at the country generally and you'll find that America is moving forward and it must continue to move forward at even greater progress in the future and it can, provided we continue our faith and the principles that have been responsible for our progress in the past." [Applause]
And now, if I may be permitted to say just a word about an issue related to our economic progress with which the people of North Dakota are greatly concerned, an issue that I'm going to comment upon in a major speech at Guthrie Center, Idaho, on Friday (Note. - The Vice President obviously meant to say "Iowa.") : The contributions that the Nation's farmers have been making and can make in the future toward the strength of America economically in the struggle in which we're engaged.
First of all, let's recognize a fundamental fact. You hear a lot of talk about the farm problem these days, and from a political standpoint it's a difficult one. But let's never forget that there is no greater asset that we have in our struggle with the forces of slavery than the tremendous incredible productivity of America's farmers. [Applause.] Mr. Khrushchev knows this. He told me when he got back to Washington that he was pretty impressed with what he saw on the farms in Iowa that he visited, and he has reason to know it and I'll tell you why: because here in the United States approximately 6,500,000 farmers and farmworkers produce as much as 50 million farmers and farmworkers produce in the Soviet Union. [Applause.] That, you see, gives us a tremendous advantage which we must retain. But since we owe this to our farmers, we must see that our farmers get, what they do not receive today, and that is a fair share of America's increasing prosperity, and this can be done. The problem is difficult. As I've indicated, I'm going to touch upon it in detail in Iowa on Friday and a speech in South Dakota at the national plowing contest the next night.
But just to indicate my thinking in a nutshell, it is this. I think that we have got to quit thinking about our farm surpluses in a negative way; we've got to consider them, what they are to be - a national asset. We've got to quit thinking of this problem in a timid way; we may have to pay more now to get the surpluses off the farmers' backs, surpluses which hold down his in come, pay more now in order that the problem will be less acute later on. And I would say further that as far as this program is concerned, if both of our major parties will recognize that it cannot be solved on a political name-calling basis, but that it can be solved if we go to work together and work for a solution rather than simply for an issue, that America's farmers will be better off and the Nation as well in the process. [Applause.]
Now, if I might come to my final point, I have spoken of our military strength, of our diplomacy, the necessity of strengthening the international organizations which work for peace, our economic strength which is tremendously important, but if we stopped here we would be making a very, very grave mistake.
Let me illustrate it by an experience. My wife and I have had the privilege of traveling to 55 countries abroad. We have had many heartwarming welcomes, but one that will stand out in our memories the longest was the one that we had on a Sunday afternoon in Warsaw right after our visit to the Soviet Union last summer. Let me describe it in just a moment. There was no notice by the Government that we were arriving at a certain time because they were not trying to get out a crowd. Mr. Khrushchev had been there 2 weeks before and they did not want to be embarrassed by having our reception bigger than his. But the word gets around in a Communist country via the underground, and after we left the airport, as we drove through the streets of Warsaw, the crowds became bigger and bigger until in the heart of the city we were stopped eight times by great
surging crowds of people. They were throwing flowers - hundreds and hundreds of bouquets thrown into the car, bouquets that some of these very poor people had purchased themselves. They were crying, many of them, tears of joy streaming down their cheeks, and they were shouting right at the top of their voices: "Long live the United States." Why? Why were they doing this? Not because I was somebody that they knew and was a great hero as President Eisenhower would have been had he gone there; not because America was strong militarily and strong economically - Mr. Khrushchev represented a strong military country and strong economic country, too, and he didn't receive this kind of a welcome. Because they knew that America has always stood for - and stands today - for something more than military strength and economic strength and gross materialism, that we stand for moral and spiritual values which caught the imagination of the world 185 years ago and still excite the admiration of people on both sides of the Iron Curtain today. [Applause.]
This part of my message I direct particularly to the 30 percent of this audience who are students. As you lead America in this last half of the 20th century, remember: Our military strength is important, our economic strength is important, but the battle for peace and freedom is going to be won if America keeps its moral and spiritual values strong and sound. [Applause.] And this can't be done by electing a President who will talk about them, as I will and my opponent will, this can't be done simply by relying on people in Washington - Senators and Congressmen and others - to give the right kind of leadership. The moral and spiritual strength and character of a country must come from its people, from their hearts, from the home, from the church, from the schools, from the great universities. And let us strengthen our ideals remembering that what we do in America has effect all over the world. And to the young people who will go out from this university, may I say, some of you, of course, will run for office * *
(NOTE. - Recording ends at this word, although it was not the end of the tape.)
Richard Nixon, Remarks of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, University of North Dakota Field House, Grand Forks, ND Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273902