Richard Nixon photo

Speech of the Vice President, Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, UT

October 10, 1960

Speaking in this city, I want to talk about the great issues confronting this country, perhaps in a different tone, in a different concept, than you might have anticipated. It seems to me, as the Governor well indicated, we do face tremendous problems in the world today. I know that as we consider the issues confronting the American people we might find disagreement in this audience, or in the television or radio audiences, as to what is the most important issue, but I would say that after consideration all would agree that one issue stood out above all the rest, because we can have the best farm program, we can have the best housing program, the best educational program that we can possibly imagine, and they aren't going to make any difference if we aren't around to enjoy them.

So I say to you tonight, the most important test, the sternest test, to which you must put the two candidates for the Presidency in this year, 1960, is this: Which of the two men is best qualified, by experience, by judgment, by background, to keep the peace for America without surrender and to extend freedom throughout the world?

Now, in speaking of that great issue, I first want to refer to the record, of which I am proud to be a part. I am a part of it, and my colleague, Henry Cabot Lodge, is a part of it. Incidentally, while I cannot, of course, appropriately refer to my

qualifications, I certainly can refer to my colleague's, and I will say that I don't think any man in the world today has had more experience or could have done a better job than Henry Cabot Lodge as our representative to the U.N. in fighting for the cause of peace and freedom.

As I have indicated, he and I both have had a part in the record of this administration. Therefore, we must assume responsibility for its mistakes. We also can take some credit for its successes. It has not been a perfect record in this or any other field, but we have had very, very great problems in the field of foreign policy, and when we look at the whole record, despite all the criticisms that have been made, I think the American people, regardless of party, are going to reach this conclusion, which I will now state: They will be forever grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for the fact that he got this country out of one war, that he has kept it out of others, and that we do have peace without surrender today in America and the world.

Now, it would be very easy for Cabot Lodge and for me to simply stand on this record, to say that we have done very well in the past and that we will, therefore, just continue this on into the future. But today, or any time in the future, no one who is concerned about America, no one who is deeply concerned about the cause of peace and freedom can stand pat on this record or any other record, no matter how good it is, because the problem with which we are confronted in the world is one that is tremendous in scope, that is constantly increasing and one for which the United States must continually develop its programs. And I say tonight that, proud as I am of the record of our administration in the field of foreign policy, proud as I am of that record, we must build upon it. We must never be satisfied. We must never be complacent about our strength, and it is to that point that I particularly want to talk tonight.

What kind of strength does America need in these critical years? How much strength do we have? What more will we be required to do in the period of the sixties if we are to keep the peace without surrender and if we are to extend freedom, which is our mission in the world?

Well, first of all, in order to determine what America must do, we have to examine the kind of men with whom we are dealing. We have to look at them and we have to conclude at the outset that these men, Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues, do not react like the statesmen of the free world; and if there is one lesson that the next President of the United States must have in his mind above everything else it is that. Here is a man - and I know him from having sat across the conference table from him and having talked with him - here is a man, Mr. Khrushchev, representing the Communist empire, who has only one goal in mind, and that is not simply keeping his own country strong and prosperous and independent, but extending communism throughout the world. He says over and over again that he intends to conquer the world. He says at the present time that he intends to accomplish that end without war but he also admits that his ultimate goal is to dominate the world. So, as we judge

Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues we must never take our minds off this obsession which will motivate every action, every word that he may utter.

Now, having looked at him, we must then conclude what we must do. If here is a man who is determined to conquer the world, if here is a man who will use any means to accomplish this end, we must recognize he will not follow the rules of the game, that he will not react according to the traditional custom of Old World diplomacy or New World diplomacy, for that matter, outside of the Communist bloc.

And so, these things are necessary, and I begin with the one which is the most obvious and with which we will have agreement, I am sure, in this audience and among all of those who listen. If we are to deal effectively with the threat which is confronting us in the world, America must continue to maintain the position militarily that it presently has - and that means that we must continue to be the strongest nation in the world militarily.

I use the word "continue" advisedly, because we are the strongest nation in the world today; but I say further that America is going to have to make decisions in the years ahead to step up its military strength to meet every possible contingency, and whatever the cost may be we must be prepared to meet it - and I will tell you why. One, because, as the guardians of peace, we must be sure that we are the strongest in the world; and two, because we must never have any President of the United States in a position where he goes to an international conference, where he looks across the conference table at Mr. Khrushchev or any of his colleagues, and where the other man is able to say, "I am stronger than you are."

So I pledge to you, first that in the next administration we will do whatever is necessary to increase America's strength so that we will always have an ultimate advantage of the type that I say is necessary.

Now, with that military strength, we also have to have wise diplomacy, and that means again diplomacy that is geared to the conduct of the man and the men who face us. Again I think we can look to the past to see what kind of diplomacy will fit the bill. Look at President Eisenhower and at his conduct through the years of being firm on the one side but nonbelligerent on the other, of always being willing to go an extra mile to negotiate, but never being willing to trade away our freedom or the freedom of our friends. This is what America needs in the years ahead.

Now, it would be easy to tell you tonight that there is an easy way at the diplomatic table to find peace, that we might get Mr. Khrushchev to treat us more nicely, for example, if we were to express regrets or apologize for some action or another that he might not like, that it might be easier to acquire peace if we were to do in the Pacific what has been suggested - give up a couple of little islands out there that the Communists have their eyes on.

Let me say this. All of these suggestions are made by men of good will. All of them are made by men who want peace. The trouble is that they are made by men who do not understand what peace demands when you are dealing with a man like Khrushchev or Mao Tse-tung, because in dealing with men like this whenever you make a concession to them which they do not deserve, it only whets their appetite, it doesn't satisfy it. It is not the road to peace. It is the road to war or the road to surrender or both.

So that is why the next President of the United States, difficult as it may be, must always stand firm, willing to concede if we get something in return, but never willing to give up principle or territory unless we are getting something in payment for it.

This is the kind of policy which will work. It is the only kind of policy which I think can be adopted in meeting the Communist threat in the diplomatic area.

Now, the next point that I make is related to the first two. If America is to be able to lead the free world effectively in these critical periods, we are not only going to have to be the strongest nation in the world militarily; we are not only going to have to have a firm and nonbelligerent diplomacy, but we also are going to have to see that the economy of this country continues to grow, continues to progress.

Now, in that connection, let's also set the record straight. America has not been standing still for the last 7½ years, and anyone who suggests it has should simply travel around America and see. But let me also say this. While we have had great progress in these last 7½ years, again we can't stand fast where we are. We must move forward, developing our economy, seeing to it that our educational system explores the full talents of all of our young people, so that we do not waste a potential scientist, a potential leader in the law or politics or in religion or in any other career area. Because as America maintains it economic strength in this period, we cannot afford any leaks, we cannot afford for anybody to be left behind.

That is why I have advocated programs - and will continue to advocate them - that will move America forward from where we are, that will increase our growth so that we can always maintain the advantage that we presently have, and it is a great advantage, over the Soviet bloc.

Now in this connection there is a difference that should be pointed out in the approach that I offer and that which our opponents offer, and I think I can sum it up in a nutshell. There are those who suggest that the only way to move America forward economically - whether it's in getting better education or better housing or better health or better welfare, or whatever the case might be - is to turn to the Federal Government and to let the Federal Government take over the program lock, stock, and barrel, and take over also the money from the people to finance the program.

Now, I say that the way to progress in America is not through starting with the Federal Government and working down to the people, but by starting with the people and working up to the Federal Government.

Why do I say that? In this great audience there can certainly be no doubt, particularly among those of you who know the history of this area, you who came to new frontiers. Who were the pioneers of America?. They weren't people that were wards of government. They were people filled with individual enterprise and spirit, and we've got to keep that pioneering individual spirit strong in America if we're going to survive.

Government has its responsibility, the responsibility to do those things which the people or the States cannot do for themselves, but let us never forget that the greatest engine of progress ever developed has been the creative ability of 180 million free Americans - and that is what we must stimulate if we're going to have the progress that we want in this country.

Now, I have spoken of military strength, of economic strength, of firm diplomacy. I am sure that many in the audience might conclude: "Well, that ought to do it. If we're stronger militarily than the Communists, that means we can keep them from starting anything. If we have the firm diplomacy that the Vice President has described, that means that we don't need to worry about surrendering to the Communists, either in principle, territory, or people. And if we have a strong economy, that means that Mr. Khrushchev isn't going to make good on his boast that he's going to catch the United States and pass us economically" - as he boasted to me when I saw him in Moscow.

All of these things are important, but may I say to you that they are not the most important element of strength that America needs in this critical period. May I describe that most important element of strength by telling you what happened to my wife and me a year ago when we visited Warsaw. We had just been to the Soviet Union. We had seen Mr. Khrushchev. We had been in the heart of Siberia, in the Urals, and we flew to Warsaw after that. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon in this Communist country. The Communist government did not want us to have a big demonstration because Mr. Khrushchev had been there a couple of weeks before and they feared perhaps that there might be an unfavorable comparison, but the word gets around in a Communist country, or any dictatorial country, by word of mouth, and apparently had gone like wildfire all through the suburbs and the heart of the city, because on that Sunday afternoon there were a quarter of a million Poles on the streets of Warsaw. They were cheering, as you have cheered tonight, but they were doing more than that. They were shouting at the top of their voices, "Niech Zyje America" - "Long live America" - and then when the cars stopped in the middle of the town, they threw flowers into our car, hundreds and hundreds of bouquets of flowers, and I looked into their faces, and lots of them were smiling and laughing, in joy, but over half of them, men and women, grown men and women, were crying, with tears streaming down their cheeks. Why? Not because I was famous or my wife was, because we were not as well known as President Eisenhower would have been if he had been there. Not because America was strong militarily and economically. Khrushchev had bragged about that kind of strength and they didn't give him that kind of welcome. No. It was because the people of Poland knew that America stood for something more than military strength, something more than the productivity and richness of our factories. They knew that America stood for moral and spiritual ideals that caught the imagination of the world 180 years ago, that those ideals are the things that America stands for - they stood for them - and those are the things, believe me, that make America the hope of the world today.

What are they? Let me state them in just a few words: our faith in God; our belief in the dignity of man; our belief in the rights of all men to be free; our belief that the rights that men have to freedom, to equality of opportunity that these rights do not come from men, but that they come from God, and, therefore, cannot be taken away by men; the right that all nations have to be independent, of all peoples to be free. These things we believe.

These are the ideals for which America was founded. These are the ideals written into our Declaration of Independence and into our Constitution. These are the ideals that America came into the world not only to preserve for ourselves but to extend to people throughout the world - and this is what we must remember tonight.

And so I say to you tonight we shall keep America strong militarily and economically, and we shall keep our diplomacy firm and nonbelligerent; but, most important of all, those who are the leaders of this country must recognize what America really stands for, and that message must be brought to the whole world, to people on both sides of the Iron Curtain, because the whole world wants to hear it, is hungry to hear it.

In that connection, it would be easy for me simply to state that this kind of moral and spiritual strength that I describe can come simply by leadership of the President of the United States, but it does not come simply from a President or from a Governor or a Senator. It comes from the people. It comes from the schools, from the homes, from the churches of America. And so I can pledge to this great audience tonight, if I have the opportunity as a result of your decision on November 8, to give America strong leadership, to keep our economy strong, to keep our military strength up, to hold our ideals high. But the strength that we need, the strength that will prevail in this struggle must come from you, and so I say keep America strong at home. Keep her ideals strong. See that our young people grow up appreciating the privilege it is to be an American citizen. See that we all recognize that this struggle is not simply a test of arms or a test of strength. It is a test of faith. If we recognize that, we shall win, be cause we are on the right side. Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Speech of the Vice President, Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, UT Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project