Richard Nixon photo

Speech by the Vice President at O'hare Field, Chicago, IL

October 29, 1960

Thank you very much.

Governor Stratton and Marguerite, again all of the distinguished guests here on the platform and this wonderfully enthusiastic audience here at O'Hare: Certainly the welcome you've given us is a great sendoff, what is going to be a 105-mile motorcade through the suburbs of Chicago, and if this is any indication of the enthusiasm, we're going to have one of the greatest days of campaigning in history, and we're going to carry Illinois in November. [Cheers and applause.]

I am delighted, too, to be here on the platform with our candidates, all of whom you know, with Bill Stratton, my friend, the Governor, with our candidate for U.S. Senator, as you know, Sam Witwer, and I'm glad to see you know him well by your applause, and also, while I will not mention the others, I will say something about Marguerite. She's the sweetheart not only of this district, but she's the sweetheart of the Congress of the United States - and we want her back up there. [Cheers and applause.]

You know, I was telling Bill up here a moment ago - I said, usually, they talk about running on somebody's coat tails. In this district, we know Marguerite is so popular - we just want to run on her skirts, that's all. [Cheers and applause.]

If we do as well as Marguerite, we'll be happy. Let me say, too, the opportunity to be here is one I've been looking forward to because it has a little nostalgia involved in it. Some of you may have been at the airport the last time I was here; I don't know whether you remember, but it was the day we came in for the Chicago Convention, and that started 4 days, 4 days incidentally, in which I only got 4 hours of sleep a night, but 4 days which were certainly the most exciting of any we've ever had, and I remember the reception we had then. It was the beginning of a great 4 days, and for that reason, for those sentimental reasons, and for other reasons as well, when they were planning this schedule, I said, "Well, let's have a reception at O'Hare," and for you to come out at the airport on a busy Saturday morning to give us this welcome. I know how busy it is, how hard it is to park your cars and wait around and then have us a half-hour late because of the California weather - the sun just came out - [laughter] for you to do this touches our hearts. It gives us inspiration. We'll never forget it.

I know, too, you have heard a lot of speeches in this campaign, and this is the week when you're going to hear a lot more, because we're coming down the homestretch, and as we come down the homestretch, the campaign begins to heat up. This is the critical period. This is the time when people who haven't made up their minds make up their minds. A lot of you obviously have made up your minds. [Cheers and applause.]

But remember this is the time to go out and talk to the others who haven't been thinking about it too much and say, "Now, look here, these are the things we have to think about." You know, the thought that occurred to me, and I see a little youngster down here - will stand up, so I can see that sign again, please, son? He's in a Halloween costume and it says "Jack," and he's got the jack of diamonds. I don't play cards, so I don't know. I think it's the jack of diamonds "Jack don't stand a ghost of a chance," it says. [Laughter, cheers, and applause.]

Now, my friend - there, turn around so they can see it.

Oh, on the other side of it, it says, "Get to the seat of your troubles - vote Nixon-Lodge." [Cheers and applause.]

Well, anyway, this is the Halloween season, and believe me, from the campaign of the opposition, you'd sure guess it with all the ghosts they're conjuring up. My goodness, you'd think this country was really going someplace in a hen basket. I can only say the President last night, you know, had a little opportunity to talk about that.

I was saying with regard to this particular period - we hear a lot of ghost stories. You know around Halloween time we don't worry about them. We don't worry about them, because we, of course, recognize them for what they are. But right now in a political campaign when a candidate for the Presidency gets up and makes this statement or that it kind of worries us. It kind of worries us about whether or not they might be true. You've read some of the things. I am sure some of you heard President Eisenhower last night. Let's hear if you liked that speech. [Cheers and applause.]

Well, incidentally, I liked it, too. I got a chance to hear him, and I've heard that some of our friends on the opposition side have been complaining about it. They said, my goodness, he was awfully hard on our opponents. Well, just let me say this - let me say this - after all the lies Harry Truman's told about me, I have the right, to tell the truth about Jack Kennedy. [Cheers and applause.]

You know something, too - looking at this Hollywood - that's the land of make-believe, ghost stories, and the like - listen to some of them. America is second in education. We're second in science. We're second. Our economy is running down and the Communists are going to catch us because they're coming over our shoulders. Now, look, I know something about this. I know Mr. Khrushchev. I know what they have. They are tough. They're fanatical. They're trying to catch us, but, my friends, don't sell America short. [Cheers and applause.] If you're going to - look, don't sell America short. Do you see many Americans who want to go there? There are millions of them that want to come here. Let's face up, they're - [Cheers and applause.] They're beating on the doors of the Iron Curtain of the satellite countries saying "Can't we go to America?"

Now, look here, as far as the economy is concerned, as far as science and education are concerned, America is first today, and we can stay first if we don't get a national inferiority complex because of some of the silly statements that are being made in this campaign season and we're not going to get it. [Cheers and applause.]

And all that I can say is this: This is competition. This is a race. I see a couple of boys down here in sweatshirts. I suppose they're out for some team. We're going to have a lot of football games today - real competition. Have you ever seen a team elect as captain a man who ran down his own team and told things that weren't true about it? Of course not. And they're not going to do it. The American team isn't going to elect as captain somebody who's said that America is second when it isn't. Listen, if you're going to win a contest, you've got to believe in yourself. You've got to believe the truth. [Cheers and applause.]

Of course, it really reached a climax the other day. I was in Detroit. I picked up a paper - eight-column head - really screaming headline--said: "Kennedy Predicts Recession."

Well, now, look, right under that what it said. "Auto Sales at Alltime High." [Laughter.]

Now, look, my friends, you know what causes a recession - when people lose confidence in this economy, when they quit buying, when they're afraid. Well, the American people obviously aren't afraid. They're buying more new cars than ever before. That's why we find auto production is going up. Steel production is going up. Unemployment is going down, and we find that more Americans are employed today, earning more, spending more, investing more than at any time in history. Why? Because the American people believe in America. Because they don't believe we're going to have a recession and, believe me, the American people are right on this score, and my opponent is wrong. [Cheers and applause.]

All I can say is this: I admit he may have more dollars than the American people, but you've got a lot more sense than he has. There's no question about that. [Cheers and applause.]

Sounds like Truman out there. Well, I won't use his language, but, believe me, I'm going to take on this campaign from now on out, you can be sure of that. [Cheers and applause.]

You see, we don't have to tell lies about them. All we have to do is tell the truth. Boy, that's bad enough. [Cheers and applause.]

Now, let's look to the future a moment. What do we want? I've often thought, as I look over great audiences like this - I often think of what my parents wanted for us and what I wanted as a youngster, and I think that's rather typical of America. I remember my mother and father worked pretty hard. In fact, they worked until they were 70 years of age. My father died 4 years ago. My mother is still living; she's 77. They had to work hard. Five boys, is a lot of illnesses when we were growing up. But one of the things about them was this: They never complained about it. They never said to us: "Look, you're might lucky" or they never said, you want to go back to the good old days. They always said, look, in America, we always look to the future. We want a better life for our children than we have for ourselves. I've never forgotten that. That's what I believe. That's what I want. That's what Cabot Lodge and I want a chance to work for. We want a chance for these young people, for example, all of them, to go to college, if they have the ability and the opportunity, but we want to have a chance for them to go not simply as wards of the Government. The Government can help in some instances through loans and scholarships. We say that the American way to do this, the best way, is to encourage American parents to do what mine did, and probably yours did, and you know how you can do it? Let's give tag credits and tag deductions to parents who send their youngsters to schools so that they can do it. [Cheers and applause.]

Take the problem of medical care for the aged. You hear a lot of argument about that, and I'm sick and tired of hearing our opponent say, oh, we don't care about it; we don't care about the old folks. We just want them to go off and die someplace in the poor folks' home. Look, they don't care, and I'll prove it. They didn't do anything in the last Congress. They put up a bill they knew wouldn't pass and they didn't get it through. They don't care and I'll prove it. They left out of their bill 3 million of the people who need it the most, people over 65. They don't care, and I'll prove it. We have a bill which does it the American way, not one that would have compulsory health insurance that would reduce the standard of medical care, that would compel millions of people who don't want it and didn't need it to have it, but, one, a bill in which every American over 65 who wanted health insurance can get it, either private or Government, but in which no one in this country is compelled to have it against his will. That's the American way of handling this problem.

One other point: They say we don't care. Somebody was saying the other day: "Well, Mr. Nixon, I'll prove it to you. After all, Mr. Kennedy's willing to spend a lot more money than you are for your program."

That's right, but it's not his money. It's yours. You know that. My point is this: My friends, the reason that I and Marguerite Church, for example, at the national level, and Sam Witwer will be the same way when he's down there, the reason that Bill Stratton at the State level - the reason we don't go around promising everything to everybody and to spend billions and billions of dollars is this, because we do care. Look, I remember my father buying, when we were quite young, a life insurance policy - New York Life, I recall it so well - $6,000. That was a lot of money, it seemed then, but I remember every year how tough it was to pay those premiums. That's nothing now. Everybody in this audience virtually has social security or pensions or life insurance, or all three.

Now, if we adopt policies in Washington, D.C., in which we spend billions of dollars more than we take in or if we adopt policies in which we spend dollars that we don't need, you know what happens? It means that we break faith with those people. It's just as if a thief came to your door and said, "Look, I want a third of your pension, I want a third of your social security, I want a third of your life insurance" - and that happened once before. Let me tell you when it happened. In the 7 years of good old Harry. [Laughter.] In those 7 years you know what happened to the dollar? It went down 50 percent. The people who had saved all their lives, as your mothers and fathers may have saved, and then were trying to eke out a living on life insurance or pensions or social security - it was the cruelest thing of all. I say it was wrong then. I say we will not let it happen again. I say our opponent's programs would do it. Oh, they say, we're going to take it out of the rich, but they know very well they can't get it out of them. That lemon's been squeezed enough, they can't get any more out of there. And after all they can't do it when Lyndon Johnson goes down and after Mr. Kennedy says we're going to take it out of the rich oil people and Lyndon says, "Oh, no, you're not, because I'm going to see that you're not."

You know, poor Jack; he has a terrible time with Lyndon. He can't have him up here, and Jack's afraid to go down there. So, I don't know what they're going to do.

Well, whatever the case may be, Cabot Lodge and I speak with one voice for America, and with a sound dollar and a sound future for the future of this country.

We will not break faith with the millions who have saved their money. We won't break faith with the people here trying to make ends meet - wage earners. Look, wages can go up. They went up in the Truman era. What happened? It didn't mean a thing because prices went up just as much.

During the Eisenhower period, wages went up - it meant something, because we kept prices down - only a fifth as much as it went up m the Truman era. That's the kind of leadership we've got to give.

So, that's why I don't go around making promises that I shouldn't keep or wouldn't keep, but that's why I have programs that will move America forward, but will move her forward not simply by saying that we'll turn over everything to the Federal Government, but we'll move her forward by saying that the way to progress in America is not through what Government does primarily, but through what 180 million Americans are encouraged to do for themselves, and that's our difference, and that's our program. [Cheers and applause.]

My last point: All these things will not matter unless we have peace. I have heard this since I was very, very young. My mother, as you may know, is a Quaker - my grandmother also - and from the time I used to go to Sunday school, the little Friends Sunday school and the church, I have heard always in the Quaker sense a concern for peace. I have a concern for peace. You have a concern for peace. We also have a concern for freedom, peace without surrender, freedom without war.

These issues - these are the big ones, because all these other things I've talked about won't matter if there's a war. The next war will devastate even Chicago. It will be one of the first targets, as a matter of fact.

So, I say to you the major test is: Look at the two candidates. Look at the two teams. Who has the most experience? Who is likely least to make mistakes?

My friends, I will give you one little story. I was there when the President made the decision on Lebanon. You've forgotten that? You remember, he sent the Marines into Lebanon and the other troops? Why ? Because if he hadn't done it, the Communists would have swept through the Middle East and war might have resulted. He had to send them in, but there was a risk involved. It had to be done right. It had to be done at that time. I remember the President pacing the floor in that oval office of the White House. He turned to me. He said, "It's got to be done." He gave the order.

Now, my friends, the President has made decision after decision like that over the last 7 years. Fortunately, they've been wise decisions. That's why we've avoided war. That's why we've avoided surrender. In the next 4 years the decisions will be even more difficult, more difficult because the men in the Kremlin, the men in Peiping will continue to step up their offensives around the world, and it's essential that when the President makes a decision it must be the right one.

I don't tell you today that I have all the answers. I don't tell you today that I'm not going to make mistakes, but I do tell you this: I know the men in the Kremlin. I know what they're like. I know the things that will lead to surrender and that will lead to war - and, believe me, I think that with Cabot Lodge we can avoid those mistakes, avoid them certainly because we have been through the fire. We know what it is and, more than that, we're not simply going to rest on avoiding war, keeping freedom as it is. We're going to launch a great offensive for freedom throughout the world. Why? Because we've got to do that in order to meet the counteroffensive that is launched against freedom by those who advocate slavery, and we will win; and I'll tell you why we will win. Because we're on the right side and because 180 million Americans don't think they're second rate. [Cheers and applause.]

Because as I have traveled to 47 States and looked into the faces of people throughout this country, I have seen in their faces confidence in this country. I know that in the churches, in the homes, in the schools of America, there is an idealism, an idealism that makes you mighty proud to be an American, and I only hope in the years ahead, if we have your support, that I can be worthy of the American people.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Speech by the Vice President at O'hare Field, Chicago, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project