Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at a "Victory '72" Dinner in Los Angeles, California

September 27, 1972

Governor and Mrs. Reagan, Chairman and Mrs. Carter, all of the distinguished guests at the head table, in the audience, and our very special guests who have added such excitement, enthusiasm, and idealism to our campaign, the Young Voters for Nixon-Agnew:

May I also express appreciation to all of those who have participated in the program up to this point, the very generous remarks of Governor Reagan--we had also met earlier in San Francisco, and he flew down with us to this dinner tonight-the superlative performance, and it is always superlative, of Bob Hope. I have often thought that he is without question the most generous man in giving his time to good causes, and the most ungenerous man, as an opponent on the golf course, of any man I know. I am just going to have my daughter play him from now on, though.

But I do know that so many people, people I have never had a chance to meet--tonight I have met some of you, only a few--but so many people have helped to make this dinner a success, have worked in order to make it the enormous success that Ed Garter has just announced. You can imagine how I feel representing our ticket.

I spoke in New York, which at that time was the biggest dinner ever held in New York or in the country, just last night. I spoke in San Francisco at noon today. It was the biggest dinner ever held in the Bay Area. And now tonight, here in really our home area of southern California, we have the biggest dinner in the whole history of American politics.

I would like to tell you what I think this dinner is about. I would like to tell you what I think this victory is about that we talk about, Victory 1972. It is more than simply victory for a man or a party; it is victory, in my view, for this Nation, for what we want it to stand for.

I have heard, as you have heard so often, starting at the convention in Miami, and here tonight before we came in, and now right here in this auditorium, those words "Four More Years." I think all of us for a moment would like to think about, "What does 'Four More Years' mean?"

Oh, it could simply mean winning an election, and, of course, we want to win, or it could simply mean 4 more years of what we have been doing, and that wouldn't be bad because we have a record we are very proud of.

But I want to tell you that what I think about this "Four More Years"--what you have contributed to, what you are working for and will be working for between now and the election day, November 7, all of you here, all of the young people, all the others across this country who are working in our cause, Republicans and Democrats and independents--is not just 4 more years of standing on a record, not just 4 more years of what we have done, but what I would hope would be four of the best years in the whole history of the United States of America.

That is a very high goal. This country has had many good 4-year periods, more than sometimes we realize, because in these days when we find so much fault with America, we overlook some of the greatness of our country, not only in the past but also in the present.

But as I look over these next 4 years and what we want it to be, let me outline briefly for you tonight, in three areas, how I think we can achieve that great goal: four of the best years in the history of America.

We have to start, of course, with peace. We start with that because that affects every American, his family, his hopes, his future. Here we look to our record. It is a record we are proud of. We have not accomplished everything we would have desired as fast as we might, but as we look at that terribly difficult war in Vietnam, we have brought home 500,000 men. We have cut our casualties, as you are quite aware. We have ended the American combat role. We have ended the sending of any draftees to Vietnam. We have prepared the South Vietnamese so that it is now very clear that they will be able soon to undertake their complete defense without our assistance.

All of this has been accomplished without staining the honor of the United States of America. We have not played politics with the issue, as we might. We have not blamed the difficulties that we have had on the previous administrations, as we might, and then have done something that would have been very wrong for America: simply get out and blame it on the other people and hope that the American people would not regret what would have been a highly immoral act.

Let me say we are not going to play politics with it now. We are going to end our involvement. We will end the war. But we are going to end it without betraying our allies, and we are not going to abandon our prisoners of war or play politics with our prisoners of war.

But as we think of peace, we in this country too often have spoken of peace and thought of peace only in terms of ending the war. We ended World War I. We ended World War II. We ended the Korean war. And then every generation another one comes along. I think this Administration will be remembered not so much for what we have done in ending the war which we inherited, but will be remembered for the actions that we have taken in changing the world and in reducing the possibility of other wars in the future.

Oh, I do not mean that because we have an opening of a dialogue with the People's Republic of China, whose government leads one-fourth of all of the people that live on this globe, that opening that dialogue means that we will have no more difficulties with them and that government, because our differences are still there, the philosophical differences. They have not changed.

I do not mean that because we have negotiated with the Soviet Union an unprecedented series of agreements in the area of trade, in the area of the environment, cooperation in space, and most important of all, a beginning in the limitation of nuclear arms, that that means that we will not continue to have difficulties with the Soviet Union because of our differences of interests, our differences in philosophies. They are there, and they will remain.

But I do suggest this: that we could have left it as it was. We could have been left frozen, as we were, in confrontation with the Soviet Union, not negotiating those differences, and going down the road to an inevitable collision with all the destruction that would bring to America, to the Soviet Union, and all the people in the world.

We could have left the People's Republic of China isolated from us and from the rest of the world, with the inevitable result 15, 20 years from now, that 800 million, or probably a billion, of the most capable people in the world might be lined up against us in an inevitable confrontation.

So we have begun, and I emphasize tonight that despite the progress we have made in this field of foreign policy toward a world of peace, it is only a beginning, and for 4 more years, the reason we want it is that we need 4 more years to build on this beginning. We think we know how to do it. We think we have demonstrated that we do know how.

I will not go into detail as to what we will do, except I will tell you one thing that we must not do. I know that the reason we were able to open the dialogue with the People's Republic of China, the reason that we were able to begin negotiations with the Soviet Union, was that they respected the United States of America as a strong nation, standing for its principles.

I can tell you that the day that the President of the United States represents the second strongest nation in the world, they won't be interested in talking to us. And we will never let that happen. We must remember that even though we did not want this responsibility, that we are the only nation in the free world that has the potential, the power to save the cause of peace and freedom in the world, and it is for that reason that we must retain our strength so that we may be able to continue to build on these initiatives, initiatives in limiting arms, and then perhaps later in the future reducing them, but always on the basis of mutuality, never on the basis of unilateral disarmament as far as the United States is concerned.

Turning to the domestic front, when we speak of making this one of the best 4 years in this Nation's history, we think first of something that is called that pocketbook issue. Putting it more bluntly--jobs. I was proud to be able to say, in addressing 124 nations at the International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington on Monday of this week, that the United States of America, at this time, had the lowest rate of inflation, the highest rate of growth, the highest real income of any industrial nation in the world.

That is what our economic policy has done. And that, just like our leadership in the field of foreign policy, is a good record. But we are not satisfied with it, because there is more to do. What do we want to do in those Four More Years?

What we want to do is to continue to have this economy grow, to continue to provide the incentives that will mean more jobs for the American people, until we achieve a goal that we have not had in this country since President Eisenhower was President in the years 1955 and '56, and that means full employment without war and without significant inflation.

We can do that, and that goal we can achieve. But in order to achieve that goal, we must remember that we cannot take those steps that would inevitably destroy the incentives that produce the jobs, that produce the income that makes it possible for us to do good things in the world and good things for the American people. That is why, even while this present Congress is still in session, I am going to find it necessary to veto some huge spending bills for what are really good causes, but where the choice is: Do we spend money for a good cause if it means that increasing the spending by that amount will raise the taxes of the American people?

I say to this audience here tonight, as I have said previously on many other occasions, that whether it is a bill passed by the Congress which exceeds the budget and would lead to a tax increase or whether it is making a promise in a political campaign, which many think is good politics, which would lead inevitably to a tax increase because of exceeding the budget, that I intend to make no promises and I intend certainly to approve no bills that would lead to a tax increase for the American people.

This is not said because this happens to be a dinner of people of, shall we say, considerably better than average means. It is said because the great majority of the American people work for a living, the great majority of the American people pay taxes, and taxes are high enough. That is why we must limit our spending for whatever that cause may be, good as it is, limit it to what we can afford. This is the way we can build that new prosperity that we want, looking to the years ahead.

Then, if we are going to have these next 4 years one of the best 4-year periods of America's history, we not only have to have peace abroad, we have to have peace at home. Many people have forgotten the situation that this country was in 4 years ago. You will remember, some of you, the conditions in our cities, the conditions on some of the campuses of our universities and colleges. It has taken time to change it. It has also taken time to change an attitude of permissiveness that had grown up in our courts, that had grown up in some of our law enforcement agencies across this country.

I pledged in the 1968 campaign that we would change that. I said over and over again it was necessary to appoint judges to the highest courts of this land and all the courts of this land who would recognize that it was essential to strengthen the peace forces as against the criminal forces in this country. We have done that, and, as a result of doing that, we have seen progress finally being made in dealing with the criminal forces in this country. Progress is being made in dealing with the forces of narcotics and dangerous drugs.

But 4 years isn't enough. We need more. And in order, in the next 4 years, to accomplish the goal that we need to accomplish, we must continue to appoint to the courts of this land and in the positions of enforcement of the law, men and women who recognize that the first civil right of every American, whatever his background, is the right to be free of domestic violence, and we are going to see that that right becomes a real one for every American.

Let me put all of this, if I may, in terms of the hopes and the dreams of the young Americans, Republicans, Democrats, independents, who are supporting our ticket this year. We want them to grow up in a world of peace. We want them to have what no generation in this century has had in America: a full generation of peace.

We think we have helped to begin to build that possibility. Certainly, while we do not want to overstate the case, the chance that this generation can have a full generation of peace as a result of what we have done, as a result of these great initiatives, if we can continue them with the same pragmatic, realistic approach, the chance is greater than it has ever been, certainly in my lifetime. It is this, then, that we want for them.

Putting it also in positive terms, I want this new generation of Americans to grow up to the greatest extent possible in an open world. There will always be differences between governments. There will be differences in philosophies. But I would hope that we could have a world in which, despite differences between governments, the peoples of the world could be friends. I think that is possible.

I would like for the young people of this generation to be able to take the trip that my wife and I took to the People's Republic of China, to know those people. I am not referring to their government, with which I do not agree insofar as its philosophy is concerned, but the Chinese people, as a people, are an able people. The Soviet people are an able people.

What we must do is to recognize that differences between governments must not be allowed to keep people apart where they can work together. Let me give you an example. As I was meeting a few of the vice chairmen of this dinner tonight, one of them told me that his wife was unable to come because she had had an operation for cancer. Fortunately, it was successful. I was thinking of the fact that early in the morning I am addressing a group, right here at the Century Plaza, of doctors engaged in the fight against cancer. I was thinking also, in terms of that battle, with the great wars that this country has fought, and that each year more people die with cancer in the United States than were killed in all of World War II.

As I thought of that, I realized how important our initiative was, which we began, to put more funds into research for cancer. Then I thought of my trip to the Soviet Union and my trip to China where Chou En-lai discussed the problem of how we might cooperate in that field of finding answers to the dread diseases that afflict mankind, whatever their color or background or political philosophy.

I remember a meeting just a few days ago with the Russian Minister of Health. He is a famous heart surgeon. He does two open-heart surgery operations a week. He works regularly and corresponds with Dr. DeBakey, who is one of the leaders in our field here. We talked about this problem. Then I thought in terms of how we could find the answer, the answer to cancer, to the other diseases on which we are attempting to develop programs. It may not be found by an American. We have to search the world. It may be a Russian. It may be a Chinese. It may be somebody from Africa or Latin America, a small country, a large country. It may be a woman. It may be a man. The main point is that in attacking this kind of a problem where we find that the whole of mankind is affected, let's get all of the people of the world working together to deal with that problem.

I want this new generation, voting for the first time in America this year, not only to live in a peaceful world, not only to live in an open world, but to have here the jobs without war and without inflation to which they are entitled, an opportunity to go to the top, without being limited by a quota, on the basis of their abilities, and finally, I want them, and this is one, certainly, of the strongest motivations I think all of us should have tonight, I want them to feel about this country the way I feel about it, the way you feel about it.

I think one of the tragedies of our time, one of the tragedies of the sixties, was that so many young people seemingly gave up on America. Part of the reason was they could see everything wrong, and they allowed what was wrong to blind them to what was right; not all, of course, but many did.

And now we have seen the situation begin to turn. I think one of the good things, one of the helpful things about this new generation and its participation in this campaign is that with that responsibility they are looking at their country through new eyes. Oh, that means they are not uncritical. Because young people, to their great credit, are idealistic. They are impatient. They want change. They want progress. And may it always be that way.

But on the other hand, they know they can work peacefully within the system in America. Just let me say: They know, too, if they have had the opportunity to travel abroad, as I have and my wife has, to over 80 countries, that every time you come back to the United States of America you realize how fortunate it is to be alive and to live in the United States of America.

To put it very simply, I want the record of these next 4 years in the field of foreign policy leading toward peace, in the field of domestic policy leading toward opportunity and jobs and progress for all Americans, I want those next 4 years to be ones that will convince this new generation of voters that this is a great and a good and, yes, a beautiful country. We must believe that because it is the truth.

A few months ago a very splendid musical group entertained in the famous East Room of the White House where Bob Hope and Art Linkletter and others have also entertained. It was a black group from the Los Angeles area. They got an immense ovation when they finished. I walked up, as was the custom, afterwards to shake hands with the leader and congratulate him. He spoke briefly, very movingly, to that very fine audience that was there. He said, "Mr. President, it has been a very great honor for us to be invited to appear in the White House." He said, "You know, it's a long way from Watts to the White House."

Then I responded to him, and I said, "Yes, I know, and it's a long way from Whittier to the White House."

Here, before this great audience of my oldest friends, you know how long that road has been. It has had its ups and downs, its twisting and turning, its defeats and its victories. But what I want for every American, whatever his background, whatever his beginnings, however humble, I want him to have the same opportunity that I could have had and did have, a boy born in Yorba Linda, growing up in Whittier, and going to the White House.

That is the ideal that made America great and that is what these next 4 years are going to be about.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:33 p.m. at a Republican fund-raising dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Century Plaza Hotel. He spoke without referring to notes.

Edward W. Carter was chairman of the "Victory '72" dinner.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at a "Victory '72" Dinner in Los Angeles, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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