Remarks to a Young Voters Rally in Miami, Florida
Parn Powell, Sammy Davis, all of those who have entertained here so splendidly at this program, I understand, earlier, and to all of you who are attending this Young Voters rally:
As I was driving over here from my home in Key Biscayne--as you know it is the custom that anyone who is nominated for the Presidency does not appear at the convention until after the nomination, and consequently I have not been there except to see it on television--but as I was driving over, the thought occurred to me that this was one of those moments in history that has never happened before and that will never happen again.
I do not mean by that that I have not been nominated before. As a matter of fact, I was nominated in 1952 and '56, for Vice President, and I have twice had the honor of being nominated for President and tonight makes it the third time.
Now, to put this all in the historical context, all of you know that this is the first time in the 195-year proud history of America that young voters 18 to 21 are going to participate in the election decision. And I believe that it is particularly appropriate that the first appearance of the President of the United States, after his nomination, be made before first voters who are voting as you are.
Now as I was coming in, I was stopped by one of the fine television commentators, a commentator for the ABG network, and he asked me--as we were trying to talk over the rather, shall we say, quiet audience at the moment--he asked me what was going to happen to the youth vote.
He said he was beginning to wonder whether I had concluded that perhaps the estimates that the youth vote was just automatically going to go to our opponents might be a little high. I .can say this, and I want to give you an answer that I want you to think about a bit. I don't think the youth vote is in anybody's pocket. I don't think it ever will be. I think young people are not likely to vote party label. I think they are going to vote what they believe in. They are going to be independent. I think the young people of America are going to listen to both candidates. They are casting their first vote, they want it to be a good vote.
We have just as good a shot at it as the other side, and we are going to get it-with your help.
Now, I want to express appreciation to all of the celebrities--that is the word we use for them, for Sammy Davis, Jr., and the marvelous groups that you have been hearing here, to Pam Powell--and I want to ask all of you to realize what it means for them to be here.
Now, my business is the business of politics. It is a very honored business. I hope lots of you get into it, maybe full time. But I want you to know that when you are in politics you assume--you have to under our system--that what you are trying to do is to get somewhat over half the vote and the other man, or woman, as the case might be, is going to get somewhat less than half.
Now, in show business, which is Sammy Davis, Jr.'s business, and the business of others who are here, they are not trying to get half; they are trying to please everybody. So you see, when somebody in show business comes and participates in a political rally, he or she is doing something that is a very great personal sacrifice and even a personal risk.
I heard on Monday night one of the television commentators question Sammy Davis, Jr., when he was sitting there with Mrs. Nixon in the Presidential box. He pointed out what I have known and what Sammy Davis, of course, quickly agreed with, that he had been a very enthusiastic supporter of President Kennedy when we ran against each other in 1960. He said he was still a very good friend of the Kennedy family. Then the commentator said, "What is your reaction, Sammy, to the fact that many people who have been your friends and your supporters, perhaps many who think you are great in show business, think maybe that you have turned against them and that you have done so"--as he put it--"you have sort of sold out because you were invited to the White House to see the President?"
Well, just let me give you the answer. You aren't going to buy Sammy Davis, Jr., by inviting him to the White House. You are going to buy him by doing something for America, and that is what we are doing.
When Sammy and I and his wife were chatting there that day, I want you to know it was one of the most moving experiences for me and I hope it was for him. We talked about our backgrounds. We both came from rather poor families. We both have done rather well. [Laughter]
I know Sammy is a member of the other party. I didn't know, when I talked to him, what he would be doing in this election campaign. But I do know this. I want to make this pledge to Sammy. I want to make it to everybody here, whether you happen to be black or white, or young or old, and all of those who are listening. I believe in the American dream. Sammy Davis believes in it. We believe in it because we have seen it come true in our own lives.
But I can assure you, my friends, that the American dream can't be fully realized until every person in this country has an equal chance to see it come true in his life.
Today I pledge to you we have worked toward that goal over the past 4 years, we are going to work toward it over the next 4 years. And I want you to know that we are grateful for the celebrities who have stuck their necks out--stuck their necks out, taken the chance, as they have, that they might lose some support, because they realize it is important to get into a campaign that affects their future and the future of their country and the future of their children.
Now, I would like to just close on one note about you. This is your first election campaign. It will not be your last. I know that many of you will go into public service. I hope all of you will continue to participate in politics.
As you go along, some of you will go into business. Some of you may go into show business. Some of you may go into some other kind of activity where somebody is going to come up to you one election year and say, "Stay out of the campaign because you might risk some money, you might risk some customers or clients or whatever the case might be."
And I just want to urge you, don't ever do that, because what you do for America is more important than anything you do for yourself. That is what really counts.
I want all of you, the young voters of America listening here and those who might be listening on television now, simply to know this: I have been trying to work for your future. We have had some disappointments, but we have had some successes, and I am going to talk about both tomorrow as I make the acceptance speech.
But should the opportunity come to serve 4 more years, I am not going to be resting on what we have done in the past. I am going to be thinking of these wonderful young faces I see out here, your enthusiasm, your idealism, your hard work. This is your first vote, and years from now I just hope you can all look back and say it was one of your best votes.
Note: The President spoke at 11:23 p.m. in the Miami Marine Stadium. He spoke without referring to notes.
Pain Powell was national chairman of Young Voters for the President, and Sammy Davis, Jr., was master of ceremonies for the entertainment portion of the rally.
Richard Nixon, Remarks to a Young Voters Rally in Miami, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/254741