Richard Nixon photo

Speech of the Vice President of the United States, Masonic Auditorium, Davenport, IA

October 28, 1960

Senator Hickenlooper, Congressman Schwengel, Congressman Chiperfield, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform, this great audience here in this hall in Davenport, those who are listening on television and radio: First I want to say that this ends one of the most exciting days of campaigning of this whole campaign. We started this morning whistle stopping through southern Illinois. We came up through the line and in every place we stopped we had the biggest crowds in history at those station stops.

And then tonight when we arrived here we had a reception at the airport that certainly equaled and probably exceeded any that we have ever had in terms of color and enthusiasm: all the way into the city, the torchlight parade with the "Nixon Girls" - and we thank them, all 250 of them, who participated - and then after that the opportunity to hear at the hotel just before we came to the beginning of this rally, but before that the speech by the President of the United States which I'm sure you heard, too.

Then, after I came in for the first time, I had the treat of hearing the man who I believe ought to be serving and will serve with Bourke Hickenlooper as the junior Senator from the State of Iowa, Jack Miller.

I hadn't heard him speak before but believe me, he can lay it on the line and that's what we need down there in the U.S. Senate.

That allows me to say also, as when I visited Iowa before, on my first visit that I'm tremendously impressed with your State ticket here, with Norman Erbe and others, and I'm glad to see this State return to the Republican fold at the State level.

I proudly support all of those candidates and also of course I want to say a word for your own Congressman, for Fred Schwengel. I want to say something about him that is a little bit unusual. You know we often speak of our colleagues in the House and Senate in terms that are rather impersonal, in terms of their service, and I could speak of him in that way. But you know a man best either through his parents or his children. His children, particularly, reflect the kind of man he is and it happens I know his daughter, Dot. She works in my office and if he's half as good as Dot he must be a tremendous person.

I'm glad also to have my friend, Bob Chiperfield here. I'm going to have more to say about him tomorrow when I speak at Rock Island. But all in all, just let me say this my friends: when you elect a President, remember he needs help. He needs it in the Senate; he needs it in the House, so give us your support for our Republican candidates for the House and the Senate in the State of Iowa and the State of Illinois.

Now the only problem that I have at this point in the evening is that everything I was intending to say virtually has already been said by the President.

As a matter of fact, what he didn't say, Jack Miller said. But I have a couple of things left over and I do want to say some things which happened here that even the President couldn't have said tonight; some things which are very close to my heart, some things which relate not only to the people of Iowa but to all the people of this great midwestern part of the United States. It seems a long time, Bourke, since I was here a few days ago and we did not whistle stop but motor caravaned from the Nebraska border over to Des Moines. Since that time we've traveled to States all over this Nation. We have seen immense crowds and in the past week we had our first whistle stop tour by train.

Let me tell you a bit about it. It started in Pennsylvania and ended with a tremendous rally in Pittsburgh. The neat day we were in Ohio, ending with the rally in Cincinnati, which was on television. Some of you may have seen it here.

The following day we traveled up through the heart of Ohio, through Columbus, where my father used to work on the street railway as a motorman, then ended that night in a rally in Toledo, Ohio. The following day we went up through Michigan ending with a rally at Muskegon. And the point about all these States, these key States, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and now Iowa - I say that here the Republican cause and tide is running strong, and Democrats by the thousands are joining with us to support our ticket.

Now I want particularly to talk to that point. We expect Republicans, of course, to vote for our ticket in view of our splendid record. But why is it that the Democrats and Independents are now turning to our leadership as they did in 1952 and 1956? Because they do not have confidence in their own ticket and they realize that the more as this campaign goes on. They realize that whoever is President of this country is going to have to be the leader of the free world and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of this country. They realize that the requirements of the Presidency, as the President himself indicated tonight, in this critical year, 1960, and the burdens are greater than those that have fallen upon perhaps any leader in history. They realize that it is essential in making the decision as to who should be President that it not be made simply on the basis of the labels we wear but that it has to be made on what we stand for, on our experience, on our background. And it is on that basis that I again present my case, the case of our ticket, to the people of Iowa, to the people of Illinois, and to all others who may be listening by television and radio tonight.

There are many issues. Many of them have already been touched upon. But I would just like to add a word with regard to this issue by moving America forward. As the President well pointed out tonight, anybody who says America is standing still has got a hole in his head. Remember, the last candidate that ran against the President had a hole in his shoe. Well, since that time, things have moved along so well that people can get their shoes half-soled, at least, since 1952.

As far as standing still is concerned, of course, they're getting off that record a bit. You know why? Because they can't sell it. The American people know better. Look around in your own community. Look at the buildings that have gone up in these last 8 years. Look at the schools that have been built. Look at the highways that have been built. Look at the progress that has been made. You can't fool the American people by saying, "Look, you've been standing still for 8 years," when they realize that they were standing still and started to move when Eisenhower was elected President.

You can take any index you want - housing, health, schools, anything you want and you will find that America has moved more in these last 7½ years than in any administration in history. And we will move even faster in the years ahead, because we've got a bigger base to build on, and that's why I say tonight, to all Americans, that we are a progressive people who want to go forward and we know the way. Our opponents have lost the way. They lost it and they prove that they lost it because what do they advocate? Oh, yes, they talk about these new frontiers. They sound very good. But, you know, when you go back to the frontier times, do you know how we crossed the frontiers of America? That wasn't done by a weak people saying, "We've got to have the Government work out all these things." The reason that Americans were able to cross and conquer the frontiers was that they had individual pioneer spirit and that's what we need today to conquer the frontiers of the future.

Let me just spell out in very simple terms two items that I think illustrate the difference in approach in what my opponent offers in this campaign and what we offer. Jack Miller's speech reminded me of it. First, education. Now let's think in terms particularly of higher education. I've often said on this whistlestop tour today that perhaps the most exciting day in my life, next to the day that Pat said "Yes," was the day when I received a letter back in the year 1934 from Duke University indicating that I was going to get a scholarship to study law. If I hadn't received that scholarship I wouldn't be here today because I couldn't have afforded to go to law school. My parents could help me some, but I needed the scholarship. Now, today, all of us in America realize that as a matter of national urgency we must not waste the talents of any young man or woman who has the ability to make a contribution to America and who ought to go to college, but who can't afford it because of the money.

But now comes the difference in approach. Our opponents would suggest that the way to handle this problem is to say, "Well, the Federal Government will take over. We'll set up a Federal program that will handle this from top to bottom."

Now let me tell you what our program is. We already have a Federal program, as you know, of student loans, loans for those,

particularly, who were going to make contributions in the field of national security. And so, we build on that to begin with. We add to that a program of scholarships, a limited number, for those students who would be unable to pay back loans, but who have extraordinary ability and who want to go on to college. But we don't stop there. The major part of our program is this: We feel that what we have to do is not only to have these Government programs, which will take care of part of this problem, but we want to give the American people a chance to do it in the way that they traditionally have done it. And I might say, in that connection, I know that in this audience tonight, listening on television and in this hall tonight, there must be literally thousands of parents who did what my parents did and worked hard. I remember my mother used to get up in the morning and bake pies, 5 o'clock every morning; we sold them at the store - worked hard so that they could help their children get through school.

So, what I say is that, in addition to these Federal programs, what we need is to set up a system where we give tag credits and tag deductions to parents who help to send their children to college. That allows it to be done in the American way.

In other words, you see the difference. We are trying to encourage individual responsibility.

Now let's take medical care for the aged. I can speak from a personal standpoint about this. I remember the year my father died, just before the last election in 1956. My father and mother both had operations that year.

They were very expensive. They were able to take care of them out of their limited savings, but it was hard. Now I know that in the country today there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who, when they get past the stage of earning, have catastrophic illnesses which come to them. And the question is: How are they going to be able to take care of them?

We wrestled with that problem, as Bourke and Fred and Bob here can tell you, in this last Congress. We wrestled with it trying to find the solution. Now here again we have two diametrically opposed plans. Our opponents say, "Well, we can't handle it at the individual level. We can't handle it at the State level. So what we've got to do is to have a Federal program that will be compulsory and that will compel everybody who is under social security to have health insurance if they're over 65." Everybody, of course, pays the bill, all up and down the line on the basis of your social security. Now, let's look at that program for a moment. First of all it's compulsory. Second, it doesn't cover 3 million people over 65 who don't happen to be on social security.

Now what is our answer? Our answer again does it, I believe in the American way, the individual way. First of all we have a program which is State and Federal. Second our program is one which, instead of saying to the individual, "You have to have a Government program," he can have a private program, if he wants. He can buy private health insurance. But third we say that, whereas we believe that everybody over 65 who wants health insurance ought to be able to get it, and our program enables him to do so, we say that no program should compel anybody to have health insurance if he doesn't want it. That is the American way to deal with this problem.

And, so, here you see two different programs. We want to keep what we have today, and that is the best medical care in the world, and you aren't going to keep it if you set up a compulsory system run by the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. You can keep it with the kind of system which we would set up, as I have pointed out.

Let me turn now to a third problem - the farm problem. I discussed that in detail when I was in Iowa before. I have already indicated through a statement that I have issued covering my remarks tonight, my attitudes on it, which you can read in the papers. I would like to summarize those attitudes for our television audience.

First of all, we begin by recognizing, as I did in my speech when I was here in Iowa at the plowing contest and the one the following week in South Dakota, that it is essential that we find a program under which our farmers will get a fair share of our increasing national prosperity. They're not getting that today. They can get it, and there is a way to do it. The question is: What is the way?

Well, first of all, I'll tell you that there is the wrong way. And the wrong way, as you might imagine, is the one that our opponents are offering in this campaign. I can tell you that it's the worst farm program, certainly from the standpoint of the farmers, that has ever been offered in the history of this country. The 60 percent of American agriculture, for example, that has been free until now will be put under rigid control - 250 more products - from Washington. You know how many Government-compliance inspectors you've got now; you would have four times as many. You would have $250 million more a year to send around administrators to be sure that the law wasn't broken. You would have fines and even jail sentences to be sure that the farmers complied with the quotas. Under this managed scarcity - and that's the best way I can describe it - about a million jobs would be destroyed on the farms. One-fifth of all our agricultural marketings would be eliminated. You would be reducing acreage. Take wheat, 38 to 46 percent; cotton, 35 to 40 percent; soy beans, 20 to 25 percent; feed grains, 30 to 35 percent.

Incidentally, these are not political figures developed by a political staff. They come from the career people at the Department of Agriculture, who my opponent said would be able to describe his program and cost it out - and this is exactly what they say it would do.

As far as the farmer is concerned, it would put upon him a straitjacket worse than anything he has ever experienced before, and one that has certainly been described as the most drastic farm program insofar as controls are concerned that we can possibly imagine.

It goes the wrong way, in other words, the wrong way as far as the Nation is concerned, and also as far as the farmers are concerned.

In that connection, just let me say this one thing: We hear a lot about where America is second these days. Now, a lot of this talk is nonsense, certainly in the field of farm production. Here is one place we can be proud of the fact that we're first in the world, and we're going to stay first in the world, because we find that in the United States approximately 7 million farmers and farmworkers produce as much as it takes 50 million farmers and farmworkers to produce in the Soviet Union.

You see, my friends, that gives us a tremendous advantage in this struggle between communism and freedom - the productivity of our farmers. But if we adopt a program like this we run the risk of becoming second in agricultural production. That is one of the reasons we've got to be against it, apart from the fact it would not help the farmers in the long run. It would do nothing but hurt them.

Now, what is the answer? Well, the answer is, I believe, the program we have advocated, a program which is based not on scarcity, but on abundance, a program which would lift the surpluses off the farmer's back by distributing far more of them abroad and by finding new markets at home; a program that during that period that we were getting rid of the surpluses, lifting them off the farmer's back, w e would compensate the farmers through payments in kind and keep farm income moving up.

This is the kind of farm program that moves in the direction of freedom, and control by the farmers of the program rather than by a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington who ought to get their hands out of the farm business.

And I will only say this: I don't pose as a farm expert. But I know some, including the Senator from Iowa, Bourke Hickenlooper. And I can say that there is nothing that is going to be of higher priority, if I am elected, than breaking this bottleneck that exists between the executive and the legislative branches of the Government, in getting an imaginative farm program that will make an all-out attack on surpluses, one that will certainly deal with this problem in an effective way.

I think it can be done. I think it can be done with good, strong leadership. I think it can be done also with the assistance of the Secretary of Agriculture, who, as I have indicated, I believe should come from and represent the great heartland of American farming, the Midwest of the United States.

Now, another point that I would like to touch upon: People suggest to me, "Well, Mr. Nixon, we're a little worried. Maybe things haven't been standing still. Maybe you do have some good programs, but we read in the paper the day before yesterday" - and these were tremendous scare headlines in the Detroit paper when I was there "that Senator Kennedy predicts recession." Now, I want to talk to that point. That is probably the most despicable, and the most ignorant comment made in this campaign to date.

Now, first, I want to tell you why it was ignorant - and that's pretty easy. It was ignorant because in the very same paper - and he should have known this - the headline immediately below it was: "New car sales at alltime high."

Now, my friends, if there's going to be a recession, the American people apparently weren't let in on it because if they're buying more cars than ever, they have faith in the economy and they think it's going to go ahead.

And just let me tell you something: This economy is going to go ahead. It is sound. We have seen unemployment move down last month more than seasonally and employment rise more than seasonally. New car sales are moving up. This means that steel and other production move up.

And all I can say is, what will destroy - and this is the despicable part of this comment - that confidence? You know what it is? It is more of this kind of scare tactics where we try to talk ourselves into a recession.

But here again I don't think our opponent is going to get away with it, because I'll say this: The American people are just too smart. They aren't going to believe it. He may have more dollars than you have, but you've got more sense than he has.

I guess I don't have to spell out the kind of sense I meant.

I have one last point that I want to mention. It is one which the President discussed with great eloquence and conviction tonight. He spoke much too generously about my qualifications, but I want to speak very frankly to this audience, to the American people, the people of this area, about the chance for peace, for freedom, in these critical years ahead.

The easy thing for me to say - and the political thing - would be: Elect me and elect Cabot Lodge and all your troubles so far as the world is concerned will be over. I could say that, but that wouldn't be true, because I know the men in the Kremlin. I have seen their hard faces. I have had Khrushchev shake his fist in my face and talk about his missiles. I know that he is ruthless, fanatical, cold, and that he has only one aim - and that is to conquer the world. At the present time, fortunately, he says he will accomplish his aim without war. But make no mistake about it, he's determined to accomplish it - he and all the Communist leaders - by any means, if necessary. And, therefore, as long as you have adversaries like that, they're going to make trouble for us. They're going to make trouble all over the world. You saw it, if you picked up your papers today. They picked up a couple of Communist spies in New York. They're here now, in America. Their agents are all over the world, and they will continue to be. They will continue to stir up trouble.

The question in these critical years that we enter is not whether or not we're going to have trouble, because they're going to make it. The question is whether we're going to be firm and mature, and not be knocked off balance, and not be panicky, and not shoot from the hip, and not be rash and impulsive. This is the question that the American people have to decide.

I cannot tell you that I won't make any mistakes. But I will tell you this: I have been through the last 7½ years. I have seen the President make great decisions. I remember the Monday morning that he made the decision to go into Lebanon. He paced the floor, in that oval office at the White House. I was sitting there, the only other person in the room, and the President finally said, "We'll have to do it." The decision was made. If he had made that decision the wrong way he wouldn't have had a second chance.

My point is this: We cannot afford in these critical times to have as President of the United States a man who does not think first before he acts.

And I can pledge to you that I know what this responsibility is. I know the men in the Kremlin, and I am confident that with Cabot Lodge's assistance we will avoid mistakes certainly as well as any two could avoid them in these critical times. But, more than that, we're not simply going to stop at fighting for peace, which we should. We also are going to try to represent at its best the American ideals of freedom to all the world. Why is this essential? Because only as we stand for the extension of freedom throughout the world can we effectively meet the thrust of the Communists who are fighting to communize the world.

And, so, I say in conclusion to you: If you believe that we are the team that can keep the peace, keep it without war, then we say, go out and carry the State of Iowa and Illinois for our ticket.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Speech of the Vice President of the United States, Masonic Auditorium, Davenport, IA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project