Remarks in West Palm Beach, Florida
Governor Kirk, Senator Gurney, Congressman Cramer, Congressman Frey, all of the distinguished guests on the platform, and this great audience here in West Palm Beach:
As all of you are aware, I, from time to time, like to come to Florida, and since the election of 1968, this is the first time I have been in Florida to make a political speech. I am glad it is here in West Palm Beach before this great audience.
I am glad because, first, it is a great audience and a wonderful auditorium, one I have not visited before. I am very happy, too, because of the program that I understand has preceded me as I was flying down here from Washington. When I think of Perry Como 1 being the master of ceremonies, we can't afford him, but, boy, is he good.
I heard that he had something to say about the Vice President's golf. I don't know' about the Vice President's golf. I have never played with him. But I do know this: He is a great campaigner, and we can be very proud of what he has done in this campaign.
Perry, I look forward to playing golf with you, but you are going to be my partner; I know how good you are. You get more practice than I do.
But in any event, I, too, want to express my appreciation to all of those that have participated in the program. I understand that the Naples High School Band is here. Right?
I am in the wrong place. It says the Miami Convention Center.
Let's pay our tribute to the Lake Worth High School Band. How about that?
And the New Dawn Sing Out,2 are they here, too? They better be. And to all of the others that have participated in the program. To you, Dr. Moody,3 for your invocation, my deep appreciation.
I am going to have something to say about students a little later, so I am glad to have some right up here.
And now, I want to talk to you very directly about my views on this 1970 campaign here in the State of Florida, particularly, and in the Nation generally.
First, I want to speak about the State campaign, the campaign for Governor-the campaign for Governor and for the State legislature and for the State ticket, generally.
As you know, I am a taxpayer in the State of Florida. I also am a resident of the State of California, where I have my voting residence. And then I live in a public housing project in Washington, D.C. As one who lives in three different places, I can say that next to Washington, D.C., I spend more time in Florida than any place in this country.
And as a taxpayer in this State, one who has a great liking for this State, who knows its possibilities for the future, for progress, who knows that as we look ahead for the next 25 years, Florida will probably be the fastest growing State of all the major States in this country--looking to this State and looking to the leadership that it needs, let me say that I enthusiastically endorse Governor Claude Kirk, because he is a man of vision, he is a man with the courage of his convictions, who will get up and fight for what he believes is right.
He doesn't look to the past; he looks to the future. He is a man who is going to build a greater Florida for the future. I think we need him as Governor and I enthusiastically support him. I just hope he doesn't raise my taxes.
And I endorse, too, the whole State ticket, of course, at the same time. Now, I want to speak about the national ticket. And speaking of the national ticket, of course, is my primary responsibility because, as one who has the responsibility of serving as President of all the American people, I also have the responsibility to speak to the people about the needs that I find in the Congress, if I am going to keep the pledges that I made to the American people.
It is rather traditional in the last week of a campaign, particularly, to get pretty partisan, to come before an audience like this which is primarily Republican and say, "Vote Republican," or if it is a Democratic audience to say "Vote Democrat," if you happen to be on the other side.
I am not going to say that tonight. And in all the speeches that I make this week, I am not going to say, "Vote Republican" just because you happen to be a Republican.
I am going to say to you here in Florida what I am going to say in California and other States that I am going to visit in these next 3 days: that the future of America is too important and the issues before America are too important to think in terms of the party label a man wears.
What really counts is what is best for America. And it is because I believe that what Bill Cramer stands for and has stood for in the House and what he will vote for in the Senate and stand for, along with Ed Gurney, that is what America needs. That is why I am for him, because he stands for what is best for America.
Let's forget for just a moment what our party affiliation is, Republican or Democrat. Let's think of these great national issues. Let's think of the responsibility of the President of the United States, sitting there in that Oval Office, his responsibilities to the people of America and particularly to the young people and their future, and, also, as Bill Cramer suggested, to the people of the world, because America as the leader of the free world holds the key to peace in the world.
As we look at those responsibilities, I can assure you that number one all across the country is that of bringing peace to the world and keeping peace. You will recall that in my acceptance speech just a little over 2 years ago in Miami, that was the major theme. I pledged then that I would work to end the war in Vietnam in a way that we could build a lasting peace in the Pacific and in the world.
We have made some progress. Instead of having men go out to Vietnam, as was the case for the last 5 years, they are coming home, tens of thousands of them, and more will be coming home.
Instead of casualties going up, and they were at 300 a week when we came in, they are going down, and they are the lowest in 4½ years, and they are going to continue to go down as a result of the strong action that we have taken to reduce those casualties.
And instead of being in a position where the United States did not have a peace plan on the table, we have one on the table, a generous one, one that we are pressing the enemy to accept or at least to negotiate.
Now, here is the situation in a nutshell with regard to the United States Senate, which has an enormous effect on the foreign policy of this country, as well as the House, but more so in the Senate, because it approves, of course, any treaties that may be agreed upon by the President.
In this particular area, we need men in the Senate who understand foreign policy, who understand the necessity for the United States to be strong if we are to lead the forces of peace in the world adequately, who understand that the real question in Vietnam is not simply ending a war that is easy.
The real question is ending a war in a way that we will discourage those who might make war in the future, and have a real peace and not a temporary peace. That is what America wants.
We have ended lots of wars. We ended World War I; we ended World War II; we ended the Korean war. And yet, do you know in this century, we have never yet had a generation of peace, one full generation. I think it is time that we did better.
And that is why I stand firmly for that kind of a program that will end this war and that will win a peace, that will give these young people a chance to have what no one in this century has had in America, a full generation of peace.
That is what we are working for and that is the support that we want in the United States Senate. If we are going to have that generation of peace, we not only have to end this war, it is necessary for the President and his associates to negotiate, to negotiate particularly with the major powers and particularly the Soviet Union.
And if we are to negotiate, we must negotiate from strength. It is necessary that we understand that. It is necessary that we have Senators--just as Ed Gurney has stood firmly and strongly in the Senate on vote after vote on this particular matter, so Bill Cramer will stand in the Senate with Ed Gurney. It will be a great team in the field of foreign policy and national defense. We need them. I need them. You need them. America needs them there in the United States Senate.
Now, let's come to some issues at home. The issue of peace abroad, as I am sure all of you will agree, doesn't divide us in terms of Whether we are Democrats or Republicans. As Americans, we want peace. We want lasting peace. We want a strong America. That is why I say on this particular issue, vote for what is best for America.
And so it is with regard to the problems that we see at home, many of them. I see many people in this audience who are undoubtedly concerned, as are others across the country, about the rise in the cost of living. I have read some of the polls indicating that that is a major concern.
It should be. I talked about it in 1968. I noted then that because our Government over the previous 8 years had spent $50 billion more than it took in in taxes, we had inflationary pressures that were driving prices up and up and up. And I said it had to stop.
I have been trying to stop it. I haven't had the help that I needed. I haven't had it in the Congress of the United States, enough help. Oh, we have had some that have stood firm. Men like Bill Cramer, men who have stood firm on these particular votes that involve this particular point.
You know, when you have a spending program in the Congress of the United States, it is very tempting to vote for all of them, because, after all, most people are for spending money which they think might benefit them.
But what we need in the Congress of the United States, in the House and in the Senate, are men who have the courage to look at these programs and to vote against a program that might benefit some people, a special group, but will raise prices for all people. That is what we need to do.
In other words, what we need is to recognize that unless we can cut the Federal budget, we are going to raise the family budgets for millions of Americans.
So, I say we need in the House and we need in the Senate men who will stand with the President in this very difficult task. Unless we deal with the problem of spending in Washington, D.C., cutting that spending where it can be cut, cutting it wherever we think excessive spending might drive up prices, it means we are going to have runaway inflation.
If you want to stop runaway inflation, then let's not have a runaway Congress. Give us men that will stand firm, stand fast. Bill Cramer is such a man. He will stand with us rather than against us on such issues.
And now there is a third issue that I believe is completely beyond partisan politics. It is the problem that can best be described as peace at home. We all know that over the past few years there has been an alarming rise of crime in this country. As a matter of fact, in the sixties, crime went up 158 percent in America.
And I pledged, during the campaign, that we would have a program, a program starting with a new, strong Attorney General. Incidentally, we have one in John Mitchell, one of the best men that has ever served in that post.
We would start with a program of strengthening the law enforcement officials, of appointing judges to the court who would strictly construe the Constitution, and particularly whose record was strong whenever the question came up of coming down hard on the side of the peace forces as against the criminal forces in this country. And particularly, also, laws, new laws, laws to deal with the problem of rising crime in this country.
Let me tell you what has happened. Eighteen months ago I submitted programs, programs to deal with organized crime, programs to deal with drugs, and dangerous drugs, and areas like that, programs to deal with obscenity and pornography.
What has happened? For 18 months the Congress waited and waited and waited, and only in the last few weeks have some of those measures reached my desk for signature. I am glad they came. I signed them, and now we are going to enforce them.
But I simply want to say this: I have determined that as far as the President of the United States is concerned, he has a special responsibility, not only to adopt those policies that will bring peace abroad but to adopt those policies that will restore peace at home.
I will do it, but I need help. I need help in the House; I need help in the Senate. And here again, I know where Bill Cramer stands. I know where he stands because he is a man who hasn't just talked about this issue in election time. In his 15 years in the House he has become an expert in this field. Whether it is an anti-bombing amendment, whether it is an amendment dealing with an antiriot situation, of which he was the author, or in many other areas, he is one of the major experts.
I remember meeting after meeting of our congressional leaders where we meet every week down at the White House. Bill Cramer, we turned to him over and over again because he knew what the law was, he knew what could be done, he made recommendations that we were able to adopt.
What I am simply saying is this: If you are concerned about the rise in crime, if you are concerned about the drug traffic in this country, if you are concerned about the flow of pornography and obscenity in the homes of this country, if you want to see that the wave of crime does not become the wave of the future, give us another man in the United States Senate who, with Ed Gurney, will stand firm.
Bill Cramer is that man. He knows what to do. He will stand firmly with us on that issue.
And now here in this great State of Florida, there is one other issue that I would like to touch upon that is completely beyond whether we are Republicans or Democrats, and that is the future of what we have been calling our environment.
It is an issue that has stirred a great number of people, and particularly our younger people, and it should, because they are going to have to live in whatever environment is created by what we do.
We need to clean up the air. We need to clean up the water. We need to stop those practices that are polluting this country, that are destroying the beauty of this country.
We must leave for these young people the heritage that we received. This is a beautiful country. Make no mistake about it. Let's see to it that we adopt the programs now that will keep it beautiful so that the young people in the future will have the kind of America that we have loved and we have enjoyed.
In this field, as you know, the administration has advocated a program that is very far-reaching. It is one that is needed. It is one which was sent to the Congress many, many months ago, on which there has been very, very little action.
We need men in the Senate, we need them in the House, who will stand firmly with us on this. Bill Cramer understands it. He has fought for it. He has spoken for it. Here is another area where that strong voice in the United States Senate, added to the voice you already have in Ed Gurney, will give us that team that we need, strong for Florida, strong for America.
And now, finally, let me say something, if I may, particularly to the young people that are here. I appreciate your coming. I know that as you sit in a political rally you probably wonder about the future of this country. And I know that some of your parents perhaps have wondered about the future of this country as they have seen what pretend to be, or some at least have suggested are, the young people of America parading across the television screens from time to time over the past few months.
You have seen them, the bombings, the burnings, shouting obscenities, shouting speakers down. I have seen a few on this campaign. It doesn't bother me particularly. I have a pretty big voice. But I can only say this: You get the impression, sometimes, because it is news when young people engage in activities that are violent, that are illegal, that that is news. And what is not news is the fact that there are in this country a far greater number of young people who obey the law, who are decent, who are trying to build a better America.
Just let me say this: For those who have the idea that the violent few that are on the television screen night after night, that they are either a majority of our young people or that they are going to be the leaders of the future, they are not a majority of the young people, and they are not going to be the leaders of the future of this country.
I will tell you, I have seen young Americans on the campus of Ohio State, I have seen them at airport stops, I hear them here in this audience here tonight.
Young Americans want change, and I hope they always will. Young Americans aren't satisfied with the way things are, and they should never be.
But the great majority of the young Americans know that in this country, in a system that provides a method for peaceful change, there is no cause that justifies violence. That is what they know, and that is what they stand for.
So my message to the young people of America is this: You can be proud of your country. You can be proud that your country's foreign policy is one that doesn't threaten any other country. We are a strong nation, the strongest in the world. But when I meet, as I did yesterday, with the leader of a relatively small country, Romania, I could say to him, and he could believe, that he had nothing to fear from the United States of America. Be proud of it, be proud of your country.
Let me tell you, when I travel over this country and when I travel over the world--I have been in the world's capitals, and I have seen hundreds of thousands of people come out--I can say that I am proud that I represent the United States of America, a country that believes in peace and stands for peace at its very best.
And here at home where we do have problems, just remember, the greatness of America is that we are the only country in the world, really the only one, that is rich enough that we have the means, the means to solve our problems. All we need is the will, the imagination, the leadership. What a great country to live in!
That is what we ought to be saying to our young people, and I am glad that most of them really feel that way, too, when we put it to them, as we are doing here tonight.
And now, my friends here in West Palm Beach, as you know, we go from here to Miami for another rally. I simply want to conclude my remarks here with this final thought: This is an election campaign in which the result will be determined in this State and in perhaps a dozen States in this country in these next few days. There are great numbers of undecided voters. What you do, what you say, not only how you vote but how you work in these next few days, may determine who is going to be the next Senator from this State, who is going to be the next Congressman from this district, who is going to be the next Governor of this State.
I have spoken to you quite directly about what I believe. I am for Claude Kirk as Governor; I am for Bill Cramer. I am for Bill Cramer for United States Senator. I am for our splendid candidates for the House and our splendid candidates in the State government.
But what I urge you to do is to remember the way elections are won is not only by your votes but by your work. And in this area, an area in which both of these candidates should do well, particularly in this election, because of the makeup of the area, we need to roll up a majority.
And I say to you, let's go out from this hall and between now and next week lees get the votes, the votes that will reelect Claude Kirk, elect Bill Cramer to the United States Senate, and do it for the good of Florida and for America and for yourselves.
1 Popular singer and television performer.
2 Youth choir from the First United Methodist Church of West Palm Beach.
3 Dr. Jess Moody, minister of the First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach.
Note: The President spoke at 6:56 p.m. in the West Palm Beach Auditorium.
Richard Nixon, Remarks in West Palm Beach, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240121