Richard Nixon photo

Speech of the Vice President, Convention Hall, Philadelphia, PA

October 05, 1960

General Baker, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform and this great audience here in Convention Hall, I'm sure you must know how very moved Pat and I are by your very warm reception.

We have been having some very exciting days in these past weeks and some record crowds in many places. I recall earlier this week when we were in Memphis, Tenn., we had 30,000 people standing in the rain at the noon hour listening to a speech. I recall when we were in western Pennsylvania where the rain was coming down in sheets and thousands of people were on the streets and also came out to our rallies.

I recall just a few days ago when we went into Boston, not expecting much of a crowd, and there in Boston we had 250,000 people who came to welcome us.

Earlier today we were in New York City. We had great crowds there.

But I want to say this: That today in Philadelphia, on the streets and in this auditorium, we have the greatest crowd of the campaign, and we congratulate you - and, believe me, we need this crowd, every one of you. We like it because we consider Pennsylvania to be a key State. We must carry it, and with your help we will carry it this November.

I am delighted that all over the State of Pennsylvania, by television, we are able to talk to the people of Pennsylvania tonight, and I am delighted, too, that on this platform are leaders of our party, as well as our candidates for the Congress, all of whom I am very proud to support, and I particularly am happy that here on the platform is my colleague in the U.S. Senate, Senator Hugh Scott, of the State of Pennsylvania.

There are some more that ought to be mentioned, but if I do I will not be able to finish in the time allotted on television. So, I can only say: To all of you who have come out tonight, to all of you who are giving us your time on television, we express our deep appreciation and we want you to know that seeing a demonstration like this, that seeing such crowds as we did today coming into Philadelphia, make us realize the tremendous responsibility we have in this campaign and the tremendous responsibility that the next President of the United States will have to the people of this country - and it is to that point that I particularly want to address my opening remarks.

In this crowd tonight I know are predominantly members of my own party. The easy thing for me to do tonight would be to say: "Since you're Republicans and I'm a Republican, I ask you to vote for me on that ground alone."

I do not do that. I do not ask anybody here or anybody listening to television to vote simply on the basis of my party affiliation, if it happens to be yours.

My opponent in a speech last week indicated that it was the party affiliation that counted. I tell you that when we elect a President of the United States, particularly when we elect one in this critical period of the history of this country, what must come first is not the label a man wears, not his party, but what's best for America, and it's on that basis I present the case to you.

And, so, I ask all of you to judge me tonight, and in the balance of this campaign, on that test: What do you want for America? What does America demand of the man who will next be the President of this country?

This is a stern test. It is one which I want you to put me to as well as my opponent, and in putting us to that test, might I suggest some of the issues, some of the things you must be thinking about, as you decide what your decision will be on November the 8th.

In the first place, consider for a moment the things that you want, you as American citizens, in this great country of ours.

I often think of this as I drive through the streets, as we did today, as I see young people and old, shouting and cheering, as I see men and women holding up their little children, one a 3-week-old baby, I noted, for example, as we just left the airport, holding them up, waving their hands, and then it makes me think : What do they want for these? What is my responsibility to them - not only to ourselves, but to our children and their future?

And these are the things that I think Americans all are thinking about.

You look at the future and you want for our children a better life than we have had.

This doesn't mean that we aren't the most fortunate people on earth to be Americans and to live in this great country. It simply means that we're a go-ahead people, that we want America to move ahead, and as she moves ahead we want to leave no one behind - and this is what we stand for in this campaign.

And, so, I say to you tonight: For these things, as America moves ahead, we stand.

You want and we want better jobs for our people, at higher wages. We want security for their old age. We want health protection. We want better schools. We want progress in medical care. We want progress in all of those various areas that spell the development of a great country such as ours has experienced throughout the 175 years of its history.

And, so, tonight, I can, in truth, tell you that in our platform and in the programs that I have announced and will announce, that we will stand for and that I do stand for, programs that I believe will bring the greatest progress that America has ever had, in job opportunities, in health, in education, in science, in all these fields. I tell you that, but you have a predicament because my opponent tells you that he, too, stands for these things, and I'm sure that he believes that he does, as I believe that I do.

And, so, consider the predicament of the voter. What's he going to decide? How do you judge us? We say we are for these good things for the American people. How do you select between the two?

And, so, I give you tonight some tests to apply. First, you must look at our record, and when you look at our record, I say that when you compare what this administration has done with what the Truman administration did before it, in whatever test you want to make - schools, jobs, housing, health - that we've got them licked, and that is one thing the American people want.

I could give you statistics, but in every one of these areas we could point out where we have made more progress, built more schools, more hospitals, more highways, where jobs - as far as real wages are concerned - have been better in this administration than in its predecessor.

And, so, on the record I say we have something to offer. Consider for a moment the record in the field of civil rights in which so many Americans are justly interested, and in which the whole Nation has an interest, an interest because it is essential, may I tell you, essential in this country, apart from the other very great reasons that we must stand firmly on this issue, that we deny to Mr. Khrushchev, a man who has enslaved millions and who has slaughtered thousands, the chance again to come to America and say, "You're denying rights to your people," as he did last week.

And I say we will move forward in this field, and I know our program will move, as it has moved in these last 7 years.

And here again I say that we're proud that we initiated in 1957 the first civil rights law in over 80 years and that we established a Civil Rights Commission, a Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department. As a matter of fact, we had more progress in 8 years than in 80 years preceding it.

They talked a good game, but we've done a good game - and the American people know this. And the record shows that our opponents have failed to enact the program that President Eisenhower asked them to enact 3 years ago. They failed again this year. They failed again when they had an opportunity after their convention in the special session to act as President Eisenhower asked them to act.

And so I say to you, the people of this country will judge us on our record, and I am also proud to say tonight that on this issue, as on other issues, my running mate, Cabot Lodge, will stand with me rather than against me and will work with me in this program.

And I am proud to say that we have discussed this issue north, east, west, and south that in every one of the Southern States I have visited I have discussed it, because this is one of the essentials of American leadership - to lead the people in those fields where they must be led if America is to progress.

And I would hasten to point out as well that my opponent has failed to do so except in one appearance in the South, in which he made only a fleeting reference, and I call upon him and his running mate to talk the same in the North and the East and the West and the South as Cabot Lodge and I are on this issue.

And, so, I say on the record: Whatever test you want to apply, we have done a better job. But we don't just stand on a record. We're here to build on it. I say that we have a program that will produce more progress than even they will talk about. Why? First, because our philosophy is right, and theirs, I believe, is wrong insofar as the production of progress is concerned.

They say that in order to get progress in any field the thing to do is to throw up our hands and to turn the problem over to the Federal Government to have a massive new Federal program, to weaken the States and to weaken the individual responsibility, and we say that the way to progress in this Nation is not that way, but through increasing responsibilities and opportunities for 180 million American citizens.

Oh, I know - I have heard the question raised: "Mr. Nixon," some people have said, "you say you're for progress more than your opponents. You say your programs will produce more. But how can you say that when he says that his will cost more, that he will spend more money than you will?"

And I'll give you a very simple answer. When he makes promises about the money he's going to spend in all these fields, remember, he isn't spending Jack's money, but your money, and the American people know that.

And I say tonight the fact that we do have programs which can produce more by spending less of your money at the Federal level, that this is a recommendation for those programs, and not a reason to vote against them, because in all of these areas let us remember again that how America grows depends not simply on what the Federal Government does and spends, but on what all Americans do, the Federal Government, the State government, but most of all what free Americans are allowed and encouraged to do - and here again we see the secret of progress which we always work to improve and which unfortunately, their programs would blunt.

And, so, whatever field you wish to choose, I say in these areas of progress we have the best case to present. But let me turn now to another concern, one that I have found is the one overriding issue of this campaign. It's the future of our young people in a very different way. We want better jobs, housing and health. All these things we want for our children; but, above everything else, we want them and we want ourselves to be around to enjoy the good life we have in this country.

And, so, the most important test, the sternest test to which you must put the two candidates for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency is this: Which of the two men can best lead the United States and the free world and keep the peace without surrender?

And I tell you tonight - I tell you tonight - that I am proud of our ticket in this respect. I am proud of it not because I can speak of my own experience, because that would be presumptuous but I can certainly speak of my running mate's, and I'll say this: No man in the world today has had more experience and no one could have done a better job, in my opinion, of fighting for the cause of peace and freedom than our candidate for Vice President, Henry Cabot Lodge.

And we will work together, work together to strengthen the instruments of peace, like the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

But there's one other thing you must know about us, which is vitally important: We know the man who threatens the peace of the world and his colleagues. We have sat across the conference table from them. We've had the opportunity to deal with them, and if I may say so, we've done a pretty good job of dealing with them in the past, and we'll do a pretty good job in the future.

Oh, I know in the case of the record of this administration there's been a lot of criticism of it in the foreign policy area, and it's the responsibility of our opponents to criticize where they think it's wrong, but I say it isn't necessary to run America down to build her up, and I also point this out: I also point this out: I noted recently, for example, a statement of my opponent to this effect, that he made in upper New York State. He said, "I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Khrushchev is doing. I'm tired of reading in the paper what Mr. Castro is doing. I want to be able to read in the paper what the President of the United States is doing."

Let me tell you something. If he would stop talking and start reading, he'd find out what President Eisenhower is doing.

No. He hasn't been doing the spectacular things that Mr. Khrushchev is doing. He hasn't been making a fool of himself in the United Nations, thank God.

No, he hasn't been trying to muscle into the Congo unilaterally to take over that newly independent country. That's a very sensational thing. It makes news. It makes exciting reading. But President Eisenhower has done the right thing. He has seen that America has worked patiently with the United Nations to save the independence of this country rather than to destroy it - and this we can be proud of.

And, looking to the future, what do we say we will do? We know the men with whom we are dealing. We will keep America, first, the strongest nation in the world militarily, because we're the guardians of peace, and the American people, I know, will pay whatever is necessary to maintain that position in the world.

We will keep our economy growing so that Mr. Khrushchev is never able to realize his bet of attempting to catch the United

States and pass us, and, believe me, he will never catch us in 7 or 70 years if we stay true to the principles that have made this country great.

We will keep the diplomacy of this country firm, without being belligerent, always willing to go the extra mile in order to negotiate those differences that we have with the Soviet or anybody else, but never paying the price of freedom of ourselves or others in order to negotiate because that is not the road to peace. That is the road to surrender, to war, and we will avoid it.

These are the things we will do. And, in addition to that, we will remain true - we will keep before the world - the tremendous ideals which the people of Philadelphia and of Pennsylvania know so much about, because this country started here in 1776, and, more important than our military strength, more important than our economic strength, is the strength of our ideals, and I pledge to you that Cabot Lodge and I will never forget that what will count in this struggle for the world will be our faith in God, our belief in the dignity of all men, our recognition that the rights that men have come not from men, but from God and, therefore, cannot be taken away from men.

Why are these things important? Why are they important when you're dealing with a man like Mr. Khrushchev who is simply an atheistic materialist?

I'll tell you why. Because from the time of our foundation in 1776, America was then weak militarily, weak economically, but was one of the strongest nations in the world because we stood for what was right - and I pledge to you we will continue to stand for what is right, and we will carry the spirit of Philadelphia to the world.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Speech of the Vice President, Convention Hall, Philadelphia, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project