Speech of the Vice President at Anchorage, AK
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for your wonderful welcome.
I want to say, too, that I particularly appreciate the opportunity to be here in Alaska and in Anchorage and, as I indicated at the airport, this is indeed, a historic moment. It is one that will never be duplicated. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a candidate for the Presidency of either party has visited all of the 50 States of this country. [Cheers and applause.] And I think that is the way it should be. I think that the time is past when either party or any candidate should take this State or that State for granted or concede this State or that State to the opposition. [Cheers and applause.] As far as I am concerned, North, East, West, or South, it's all part of America and a candidate for the Presidency should go to every State so that he knows what America is all about - and that's why I'm here. [Cheers and applause.]
I want to say to Lee McKinley and Ron Rettig and our other candidates that I'm delighted to be here with you and to give you my support, and to this audience I want to say that we have a couple of meetings left tomorrow in which we return to Wisconsin, to Detroit, where we have a 4-hour telethon - some of you may be able to catch it up here - and then we go on to Chicago for an election eve broadcast, and then finish in San Bernardino tomorrow evening at midnight. We're finishing, in other words, with a little sprint, because that is going to win this election on November 8. [Cheers and applause.] But what I want to say to you is that we have had literally hundreds of meetings in all of the 50 States. We've had very enthusiastic welcomes. We have had large crowds, some larger than this, because auditoriums were larger, but I think I want all of you to know that in no
States have we had a warmer welcome or a more enthusiastic welcome or a more spontaneous welcome than right here in Alaska. [Cheers and applause.]
You know, both Pat and I are westerners, as you know. She was born in Nevada and I was born in California. Very unusual to be born in California. Most people come there from other States, you know. But, in any event, being westerners, we have a feeling for this part of the country, and as we were driving in Pat said: "You know, I could really live here. I like the West." So, you've got one convert for Alaska already, I can assure you. [Cheers and applause.]
Now, at this stage in the campaign all of you have heard a lot of issues discussed. My opponent has been here, and he's had some things to say - and I'll have some things to say about him. [Laughter.] But, in any event, I think this is an appropriate tine to talk about some of the problems of Alaska, but also to talk about the problems of the Nation and the world; and, in speaking of these problems, I would like to touch first on some of those that were raised so that we can keep the record straight.
First, about our national defense: Everybody knows the tremendous importance that Alaska plays in our national defense plan. The DEW line has its major stations here. We also have heard some comments to the effect that as far as the administration is concerned our attitude toward the defenses that are here in Alaska is different and less enthusiastic than that of our opponents. Let's just get one thing straight. There is no question at ail about my attitude with regard to national defense. After all, I know Mr. Khrushchev. I know the Communists, and I will see to it that the United States remains the strongest nation in the world - and Alaska will play its part in maintaining that strength. [Cheers and applause.]
And I get a little bit tired of having people run around the country saying ; Well, we're going to do this or do that that is detrimental, and then go to other parts of the country and make promises which eventually catch up with them; but all that I can say is on this score, on the score of national defense, on the part that Alaska plays, I have issued a statement for release here which sets forth my position in detail, and I emphasize it by pay remarks on this television program and to this audience.
The second point that I want to make I have also issued a statement on. I want to touch on it briefly. That is with regard to the development of the great resources of the State of Alaska.
When my opponent was here, he made what I think was one of the most irresponsible statements ever made by a candidate for the President in the history of this country. He said, and I quote, "that if the Russians had kept Alaska, Rampart Canyon Dam might have been built by this time or would have been built." I'll tell you why that is irresponsible. First of all, that's an insult to the people of Alaska. The people of Alaska want Rampart Canyon Dam, but they don't want the Russians running Alaska either. [Cheers and applause.]
And, second, of course, it's an insult to the intelligence of the American people because this talk to the effect that this administration has not and does not support reclamation is simply nonsense. We find that we have had the greatest amount expended for reclamation in this administration of any in history. We find that one-third of all the dollars invested in reclamation has been invested in this administration. We find that there have been 30 percent more new starts in the Eisenhower administration than in the Truman administration.
I can assure you that, as far as I am concerned, I, being a westerner, being from California, have always voted for, have always supported, reclamation projects. My opponent cannot say that. He's a "Jackie-come-lately," and I'm not, and I think you know that, and that's where I stand. [Cheers and applause.]
As far as Rampart Canyon Dam is concerned, certainly you can expect progress, more progress, I believe, in our administration than his, because it's always the same old story. They make the promises, but we produce on the promises that they make - and that's what we want. [Cheers and applause.]
Now, a third point that I want to make has to do with that development of this great State. You know, the easy thing to do is to come to a State like this and say to you: The Federal Government is going to take over all of your problems. The Federal Government is going to promise you this, that, and the other thing. As a matter of facts it's rather interesting that when we look at this campaign it's had a rather amusing twist in a sense because, as you notice, the slogan that our opposition is using: "Kennedy is the remedy." Well, you know, that's like the old medicine man who used to come to town - the same remedy for everything - spend more money - and that's your money. [Cheers and applause.] Now, the difference was, you know, that the medicine man had the same remedy - different labels on the bottle - it would cure snake bite or "rheumatiz" or anything else, but it really didn't do it; and the difference was the medicine man always got out of town just before the people caught up with the fact, that the remedy didn't work. The trouble in the ease of Mr. Kennedy - he didn't get out of town soon enough, and the people are going to find it out on November 8. [Cheers and applause.]
But again as a westerner, and as one who knows something about the development of the resources of the West, let me make a statement with regard to the potentialities in the field of petroleum exploration in this great new State. This is at stake in this campaign. Within the platform adopted at Los Angeles by our opposition was a clause, a statement, with regard to the depletion allowance. Ever since that time they've been trying to get off it, but they insist on the fact that as far as they're concerned they're going to study it.
Now, let me say as far the depletion allowance is concerned - to the average person, to the person in an audience, it doesn't seem particularly important. I've had people say to me: "Why do you ever discuss it? Who cares, except a few rich oil men?" My friends, if you want to develop the oil resources of Alaska or of any other State, the way to do it is to encourage not only the big companies, but the little companies, the "wildcatters," to get out and explore - and if you reduce the depletion allowance, which our opponents would do, you would stifle the very development that you want. He takes a hedging position on this. I'm for retaining it. Why? Because I want to develop the resources of Alaska and of America, and I think my position is right and his is wrong - and I'm sure the people of Alaska agree on that point. [Cheers and applause.]
As a matter of fact, there's really nothing that better shows the difference between us than this particular point. The difference is that I have a faith in individual enterprise. have faith in individual enterprise, because I have faith in the American people.
We have heard a lot of talk about new frontiers, and this is one of the great new frontiers of America; but, my friends, when we consider how the frontiers of America were conquered, let's remember: They weren't conquered by government. They were conquered by people who were given a chance by their government, an opportunity, and that is the way to greatness for America, and it is the way I stand for, and I'm sure the way the people of Alaska believe in as far as this campaign is concerned. [Cheers and applause.]
And, so, I do not come before you and say the Government is going to take all responsibility away from you. I do not come before you and say the Government is going to solve all the problems of this country and of the families that you have and the like. I do say Government has responsibility in education; Government has responsibility in science; Government has responsibility in reclamation, in all these other fields - but I say that if we are going to develop our resources to the full in this country, we must remember that it will come not primarily through what Government does, but what 180 million individual Americans are encouraged to do by their Government. This is the difference in philosophy, and I'm sure again that the frontiersmen of Alaska appreciate that point. [Cheers and applause.]
Could I take you now into the future for a moment, into the future with regard to perhaps one of the most exciting developments in the history of man, and certainly the most exciting development from a peacetime standpoint in the history of the United States in this century ?
I made a speech which may have been covered to an extent here - I'm sure it was; possibly it was not brought to your attention - in Toledo, Ohio, a few weeks ago. It was about Plowshare. Plowshare is a great project for the peaceful use of atomic energy. Now, we cannot develop Plowshare unless we break the stalemate that now exists with regard to the testing of atomic devices. As all of you know at the present time we are having negotiations with the Soviet Union as to whether or not we can develop a foolproof inspection system which will enable us to stop testing for military purposes; but at the very time we are stopping testing for military purposes, we also are making no tests for peaceful purposes.
Now, what we're talking about here is with regard to tests underground - they involve no fallout, no danger whatever - but they do involve breaking into new areas of knowledge that man has never entered before. What will Operation Plowshare do? Here are some of the exciting possibilities, and no State in this Nation plays a more important part in these plans. We can develop atomic dynamite, atomic dynamite, for example, which will move whole mountains, something that could never be dreamed of before, that will develop resources that we have never perhaps ever had the chance to develop before, because the cost was too great.
We can develop the possibilities of building great new harbors and canals.
For example, I have seen figures with regard to the digging of a second canal in Panama - as you know, there are some plans for that - and this second canal could be built with the new nuclear devices, which can be tested underground at half the cost that it cost originally to build the Panama Canal. And: so, here we have a new development, a new development that will mean tremendous amounts of progress for Alaska and for the Nation and for the world.
That's one of the reasons why I have indicated in this speech that one of my first actions, should we succeed in this election, will be to send my colleague, Cabot Lodge - and may I say that he, I believe, without question, has lead more experience and has done a better job fighting for the cause of peace and freedom than anybody could have done in the United Nations in these last 7½ years - that's why I intend to send him to Geneva, for the purpose of breaking the bottleneck and so that the United States can go forward on the development of Project Plowshare. [Cheers and applause.]
I tell you this because this is real progress. This is the kind of progress that will spell tremendous development for this great new State, and it is the kind of progress that I will work for. It's the kind of progress that you want. Let me go to one other point, one other point which is of particular concern, I am sure, to the people of this State, a point that I have made in every State that I have visited, and one that I am sure you are concerned about. You are closest to the Soviet Union, of course, of any of our States. You, therefore, have an even greater stake, if that is possible, in developing programs that will keep the peace than our other States may have. You will be a first target. There is no question about that. And, so, as I have said to audience after audience, and I repeat it here, the major test that we must apply in electing the neat President of the United States is: Which of the two candidates has the experience, the judgment and the background to keep the peace, to keep it without surrender, and extend freedom, and extend it without war? Nothing is more important than this. After all, we can have the best jobs and the best schools and the best social security and the best housing we can imagine, and it isn't going to make any difference if we aren't around to enjoy it. And, so, I say keeping the peace is the major issue of this campaign. It is the major test to which you must put us. [Cheers and applause.]
Now, let us get it very straight what I am talking about. This is not a question of who is for peace. Everybody's for peace. It isn't a question of who is against communism. We're all against communism. The question is: Who has the experience? Who has the judgment? Who has the background to do the job?
And on that point [cheers and applause] - on that point, rather than taking the man from the audience, I'm going to let you judge yourselves. [Cheers and applause.]
What does peace demand? What does it demand in these critical times? Well, first of all, let us look at the qualifications of our ticket and of our opponents'.
First, looking to us, Cabot Lodge and I have had a unique experience. For 7½ years we have sat in the high councils of this administration, in the Cabinet and the Security Council. We have participated in every discussion leading to the great decisions that have been made in the field of foreign policy. We both know Mr. Khrushchev. We both have talked with him at the council table. We have not been taken in by him. I don't think we ever will be. We bring to the American people that experience, and we offer it.
Now, my opponent says that experience is worthless. He says it is worthless because - and I quote him - "the Eisenhower years in the field of foreign policy have been years of defeat and retreat for America."
My friends, the adjectives are all right, but he's got the wrong administration. It was the Truman administration. [Cheers and applause.]
You see, it was in the Truman administration that we lost 600 million people to the Communists. It was in the Truman administration that, because of a fuzzy-minded, wooly-headed policy, we invited the Communists into Korea and 140,000 Americans were casualties. It was in the Truman administration that we got this country into a mess, and it was the Eisenhower leadership that got us out of a mess, ended that war, and has kept us out of other wars - and we want to continue that kind of leadership in the years ahead. [Cheers and applause.]
Now, what are the credentials that our opponents offer? Well, you've had three tests in this campaign, and, incidentally, one of the purposes of a campaign is to test the candidates. I can testify they're hard, hard to travel 50 States, hard to speak day after day, to go on television as I did earlier today and then to speak at night, but, usually, as I will tomorrow, speaking once in the morning, then at noon, 4 hours on a telethon, and then at night - this is hard, and how you stand up in a campaign, the kind of answers you give, whether you have the judgment, shows how you will react if you should ever have the most awesome responsibility that the world has ever seen, the Presidency of the United States. Three times my opponent has had that opportunity in this campaign, and three times he struck out.
One: On Quemoy and Matsu. You recall, if you listened to our television debates, that this was a major point of issue. He took a minority view, a view held by only 12 Senators. A majority of the Democrats and Republicans were against him in 1955, in indicating that if he had been President, then he would have made the same mistake that was made with Korea. He would have drawn a line around these two islands of freedom in the Pacific and said, in effect, to the Communists, "Come and get them," said it because he wanted peace. President Eisenhower declined to do that. The Senate agreed with him. The Senate gave the President the right to defend these islands. Why? Because he knew from history that when you're dealing with a dictator, the way to war is to surrender at the gun point and the way to peace is to stand firm against. the blackmail of whether it is a Hitler or a Stalin or a Khrushchev. And, so, in this instance, President Eisenhower was right. Why was he right? History proves it. For 5 years we have kept the peace in the Pacific, and, so, again the question arises: What would have happened if he had been President? He would have drawn a line. What might have happened? The Communists might have come in. What might have happened then? We might have been in war.
The second point: The Paris Conference in June. Here again a real test. Here again he differed with the President. The President, as you recall, went to that Conference; the hopes for peace, for negotiations on Berlin and the other crises before the world were very great, and then Khrushchev broke it up. He said he broke it up over the U-2 flights which the President had ordered to defend the United States against surprise attack, but that wasn't the reason. I know Khrushchev, and Khrushchev knew about the U-2 flights long before that.
No, Khrushchev wanted a reason to break up the Conference and a reason to keep the President from going on a return trip to the Soviet Union, and he seized on this particular incident as the reason, and then when he got to the Conference, he shook his fist under the chin of the President of the United States and said: Apologize; express regrets for these flights. At the very time he was saying that Communist espionage agents were being picked up in the United States of America. And, so, with that the President refused to apologize.
Incidentally, may I say, that Khrushchev used language on that occasion that was so crude, so vulgar that the translator, and I talked to him, couldn't even and wouldn't translate it and it never got into print.
So, the President - what did he do? Well, first, he didn't lose his temper, as a President must not ever lose his temper. He kept his dignity, and may I say this: This is essential. A President must always be firm, but never belligerent. You never get down to the level of a man like Khrushchev. When you're right, when you're confident of your right, you maintain the dignity of your office and of your country as President Eisenhower did. [Cheers and applause.]
But here again my opponent didn't agree. He said President Eisenhower could have apologized; he could have expressed regrets. What would have happened if he had? Why, Khrushchev would have ground him up like hamburger. I can tell you that, knowing this man, the moment you make a concession, the moment you give in to that kind of blackmail, it only encourages him to stomp on you, and here again I say: This is how he would have acted had he been President.
And then third, the incident on Cuba; again a point of issue in our debate. Here it was shooting from the hip, but missing the mark, the President taking the correct position of quarantining Mr. Castro, quarantining him by economic and political means, and Mr. Kennedy then saying this isn't enough, we've got to go further and then making the outrageous suggestion that the Government of the United States should intervene directly - and that's the way it was interpreted all over the world - into Cuba. This would have invited the Communists in, probably resulted in civil war or world war. Certainly these were the possibilities. All three points during the course of this campaign.
These are the areas that test a man. Now, I realize that there are those who say: But, Mr. Nixon, Mr. Kennedy changed his mind. He says now that he supports the President on Quemoy and Matsu. He says now that he didn't really mean that the President should have apologized, only that he could have. He says now that as far as Cuba was concerned, he always meant all along that he simply felt that we should give moral support to the cause of freedom, which, of course, is what the President has been doing all along.
But, my friends, let me just say one thing: When you're a candidate, you can make a statement, it can be wrong, you can take it back the next day and nobody is the worse for the wear; but, my friends, when you're President, it's for keeps.
When you speak, when you act, you can't take it back. I've been there. I was there the day we went into Lebanon. I remember the President on a Monday morning very early pacing, the floor in the oval office of the White House, finally making up his mind, turning and saying, Well, we've got to send the boys in. He knew that it risked war to send them in. But he knew that it was a certainty, perhaps, that we would have war if we didn't send them in, because the Communists would have swept down through the Middle East.
The decision was right. That's why on 10 different occasions that I can recall the President wisely, calmly, always the coolest man in the room has made decisions that avoided war on the one side or surrender on the other; but if he had made a mistake, you see what the stakes were.
And, so, the question before the American people is this: I cannot promise you perfection. I cannot promise you the standard the President has set. I can only promise you that I have been through the fire of decision. I can only say to you that I know what the problems are. I know Mr. Khrushchev. I can only say that, because of that experience, I would tend not to make mistakes that would be due to rashness or impulsiveness or inexperience - and you have the record of my opponent. With regard to him, I will say what I have said previously, and I think it should be said in this State. I do not think we can use the White House as a training school to give a man experience at the expense of the American people. [Cheers and applause.]
My final point: I would not want to come to this great State and to conclude my remarks simply on the note of controversy that I have raised. Controversy is essential in a campaign, particularly in the last days. You've got to know where I stand, were my opponent stands, so you can make an intelligent choice. But, my friends, above everything else, as I speak in this great new State, I want to leave with you a feeling of faith I have about the future, about the future of America, about the future of the cause of freedom, about the future of the cause of peace.
I spoke about it earlier today on television. I will summarize my own views to this great audience listening in Alaska here and on television tonight.
There are those who say: We live in a grim world, a world with a sword of Damocles hanging over our head, a world in which we're going to have troubles, and wouldn't it be wonderful if we could go back to other times.
And my answer is: No; it wouldn't. My answer is: Yes; the problems we confront are terrible, terrible as statesmanship fails. But the possibilities, the possibilities for exciting progress, such as man has never had before, are so great that this is the best time that men and women could ever live. I'll tell you why. Abraham Lincoln had a favorite story, or at least it is one that is one of my favorites of his. One day he was walking down the street with his two boys, and they were arguing vigorously with each other and a neighbor called out to him, and he said: Abe, what's the trouble with the boys?
And Abraham Lincoln's answer was: The same thing that troubles the world. I have three walnuts and each boy wants two of them.
Now, my friends, what has that got to do with the future of America and the world? From the time civilization began, people have dreamed of the time when there would be enough to go around, and wars have been fought throughout history because there was not enough to go around, not enough food, not enough resources, not enough for all the people on this earth. Today, because of the breakthroughs of our scientists because of the breakthroughs insofar as productivity of the soil is concerned, for the first time in human history, we have the power in our hands to feed and clothe and house all the people on this earth if we just use the resources for peace and not for war - and that is the responsibility - that is the challenge - that America faces today, because unless America and the American people are worthy of this challenge, unless we lead the forces of freedom and peace, we will fail, and we will go down, go down in war or surrender, or worse. My friends, I say that we're not going to fail. I say it because I have seen America, and I have confidence that our people are ready for the challenge, to give the world the moral and spiritual leadership that it needs in these critical times, and that's more important than our military strength and our economic wealth combined.
The things we believe in - our faith in God; our belief in the rights of men - these are the things that make America honored in the world today.
Also, may I say to you that I am confident that we will win because I have seen the world and the people of the world on both sides of the Iron Curtain - the Russians, the Poles, the Chinese - they want peace. They want freedom. They prefer to turn that way. All they need is the leadership which we and our friends and allies in the world can and must give.
And, so, I say to you as I close my remarks in this 50th State of the Union that, yes, we have problems, problems where inexperience or rashness or impulsiveness could get us into war or could result in surrender of principle or territory, but we have opportunities, the greatest that ever could be imagined in the history of man, opportunities where, with the right kind of leadership from America, we can win the battle against poverty and misery and disease and tyranny all over the world.
That's what I want to fight for, and that's why I ask Democrats, Republicans, and independents in the State of Alaska - I say: Think not of your party. Think of America. If you believe that Cabot Lodge and I can give the kind of leadership I have just described, then we ask for your votes, for your work, for your prayers.
Thank you. [Cheers and applause.]
Richard Nixon, Speech of the Vice President at Anchorage, AK Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273781