Speech of the Vice President, War Memorial Auditorium, Rochester, NY
Governor Rockefeller, Senator Keating, Congressman Ostertag, Congresswoman Weis, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform, and this perfectly wonderful audience both inside the War Memorial Auditorium and outside as well: We thank you for one of the greatest welcomes we've received in the whole campaign, right here tonight in Rochester.
When we came in at the airport, the number of people there was so great that I wondered if anybody would be down here, and I understand the reason they were there was that they couldn't get in here.
When we saw the crowd outside and realized how many were waiting to get in, we realized what a tremendous interest there was in this rally - and that means what a great interest there is in this campaign and the decision you will make in New York, and in the Nation, just a week from tonight.
I say a week from tonight because by that time the votes will begin to come in. By that time we will begin to know what the results are from New York and the Eastern States, and I just want to say this: That, based on what I have seen in the last 10 days of this campaign, there is no question but that a great tide is running in our direction. And if you continue to work, as you have indicated by your enthusiasm you are working now, there is no question about the result, no question about what will happen in New York and in the Nation on November the 8th. That decision is one that will involve party. It will also involve men. But, above all, it will involve the United States of America, its future and the future of people throughout the world.
My friends, I want to talk very bluntly to you tonight. I want to lay it on the line with regard to the differences between the two candidates. I want to do so because the decisions that are made this week in the State of New York, and in other States, will determine this election - and you can help. You can help people who have not made up their minds, by bringing the truth to them - the truth about our program, the truth about our opponents - and that will mean victory for us, because we're on the side of truth in this campaign.
Before we can talk about the truth, we've got to lay a few lies to rest. I'll start on those right now, and I think you'll be interested in them.
My friends, at home the great question before the American people is whether we are going to turn back or go forward. Now, the decision you will make will determine that because what my opponent tells the American people is this: That for 7½ years America has been standing still; that for 7½ years we have not been moving, and that now we've got to get her moving again; and he says that in order to do this we've got to go back to the policies of Harry Truman. That's what he says.
He doesn't use those words, but he does use those policies. He talks about new frontiers. But, my friends, you can't cross new frontiers in an old jalopy with a new paint job - and you can be sure of that. Except for the farm program - which, believe it or not, is worse than anything Truman ever thought of - there is nothing new in the program that my opponent offers to the American people today.
So, first, let us look at this charge that America has been standing still. I discussed it tonight on television a little earlier. Look around yourselves - look at the city of Rochester. Look at the growth in this area. Look all over the United States. What do you find? You find more progress in these 8 years than in any 8 years in history. You find we have built three times as many schools. You find we have built 20 percent more housing and hospitals, and made more progress in civil rights, for example, than in the previous 80 years. Name any area, and you will find that we have been moving forward under this administration.
My friends, the thing that we want to remember, too, is that we've been moving forward without war - and this is something our opponents were never able to accomplish in 20 years. Their progress and prosperity were never accomplished except during wartime, or as a result of war. That's the record and nothing can change the record, and this is what they must stand on, and run on, in this campaign.
Now, I realize, of course, that if he says we've been standing still and that can't be proved, then, of course, we have to look at the next charge, and that is this: Things may be doing fairly well today, but we're going to have a recession - if you vote for Nixon and Lodge, we are going to have a recession. I see a recession around the corner.
The other day, as I pointed out on television a little earlier, I was in Detroit. I picked up a copy of the Detroit Free Press. A screaming eight-column head said, "Kennedy Predicts Slump." I suppose all the people in the country worried about that. Here is a responsible man, a man running for the Presidency of the United States, predicting that we're going to have a slump or a recession. You know what the eight-column head right above it was? It said, "New Car Sales at Alltime High in America." My friends, let's get one thing straight right now. Either Senator Kennedy is wrong, or 180 million Americans are wrong - and I say he's wrong and they are right in having faith in the American economy.
I can think of nothing that is more despicable, nothing that is more irresponsible, than for anybody to try to win an election on the basis of talking this country into a recession. He isn't going to get away with it, because we're going to win the election and he isn't going to have a chance to prove it.
But now I come to another charge, and this is one I must lay to rest, because unless we do so we can't move forward on the programs that America needs in this period. You've all heard it. In every town and every city I have visited today - and I have been down in Lancaster and Erie, in Syracuse, and now I've come to Rochester - I have had a report on the speeches my opponent has made while he was here. In those speeches, over and over again, there was the same refrain - he said Mr. Nixon and his party are against aid to education; they're against education; they're against medical care for the aged; they're against social security. I'll read what he said about that. He said "the Republican Party has been inconsistent for a quarter of a century. It has attempted to wreck social security. I believe Mr. Nixon has led the wrecking crew, and has not merely been a member of it."
Now, he has said that not once. He has said it not four times in the cities I have mentioned - he has said it over and over again. He's saying it now in California. The first time you say something like that it is a mistake. The second time you say it, it is a bad mistake. The third time you say it, when you know it's wrong, it's a falsehood, a lie, and that's what I call it tonight.
My friends, look at social security. We've had the greatest progress in social security since the law was enacted during this administration - 12 million people added to the rolls; increases in the number of benefits, and increases in the amount of benefits. Who are the friends of social security? And we would wreck it, he says. I have something to say about who would wreck it, but let's go on from there.
What do we have, then? A choice of going back, back to policies which, as I have indicated, never failed. As far as disaster was concerned, yet failed always to produce what America wanted - progress and prosperity without war, and without inflation. Then we have what we offer - a program that will move America forward, a program in education, a program in housing, a program in health, a program in social security, a program in civil rights. These are programs that will produce on the promises that our opponents make so liberally. That's what we always have done, and that's what we're going to do this time, when we're given the opportunity by this election.
And I'll tell you why we can produce more. We can produce more because we will tap the energies not only of the Federal Government, but of all the great American people.
We still recognize and have faith in the American people, while our opponents seem to have lost confidence and faith in them and in whatever they can't turn over to Washington - and we're not going to let them do that, either.
Now, let me turn to a key question. When you have your choice of programs you also have a choice of what it's going to cost.
When we examine my opponent's programs, we find that, to carry out his promises, his policies, and his platform will add $15 billion a year to the Federal budget - and I use these figures advisedly, because I have looked into this and have studied it.
Now, where are you going to get the money? Let me tell you. He says he's against higher taxes - he's not for that, so you might leave that out. He said also in New York City the other day, in speaking to a group of businessmen, that he is for balancing the Federal budget. So that's where he is - for balancing the Federal budget. He says, "I'm against higher taxes; I'm for balancing the Federal budget, and I'm for programs that will cost $15 billion a year more."
My friends, you can't be for those three things without being an economic ignoramus of the worst type in the world. I challenge him to be honest with the American people, as is his adviser, Mr. Galbraith. Mr. Galbraith for example, is for all these programs, too, but he says we ought to have a national sales tax to pay for them. Is my opponent for Mr. Galbraith's plan, or is he going to try to fool the American people in thinking that money comes off of trees? No, he can't get away with this. My friends, you either have to raise taxes or you have to have deficit financing, which means raising prices, or he has to give up part of his programs - and he should tell the American people the truth. What is he going to do - one of these three things? It's time that he told.
I mentioned his farm program a moment ago. Here is a program that will add 25 percent to the grocery bill of every family in America. I know something about this, as I've looked into these costs. This is the figure we get right from the Department of Agriculture - not from the political appointees, but from the men who make a career of studying these things.
This means, for example, 2 cents more for every loaf of bread. It means 4 cents more for every quart of milk; 22 cents a dozen more for every dozen of eggs; 28 cents more for every chicken you buy, and so on down the line.
This is what it costs to pay for the programs that he proposes. My friends, I say when we talk of who's being cruel, who's against social security and the millions of people living on pensions, it is my opponent and his programs which would cut their pensions and social security in half by raising the prices of the things they buy. This is the case.
And I say, my friends, that I will not let that happen. I say that we can move forward. We are going to have to spend more in the areas that I have mentioned; but we can move forward under the programs I have devised, programs that will move America forward, but not with the kind of irresponsible, reckless spending which he asks for - and, my friends, I say that this is a responsibility of whoever is President of the United States.
The cruelest thing that happened in the Truman administration was what happened to the people on pensions, and the people on social security. Do you remember? Prices went up 50 percent. The wage earner didn't suffer too much - he just didn't gain although his wages went up. He didn't gain a bit, but look at the millions of people who had saved a little money, trying to eke out a living on social security, pensions, life insurance cut in half. Why? Because of irresponsible policies of Government.
That was wrong. It was wrong then, it's wrong today, and I'll never let that happen. I think the American people want us to stop that sort of nonsense.
And so, in this economic field, move forward without inflation by moving forward with us. Move forward also without war - and that's the next point. In the field of foreign policy, there is much that we could discuss. I will only touch on it briefly tonight. You have here, again, a very clear choice. You have a choice between two men on our side, both whom know the problems with which we will be confronted. Both of whom have sat with the President over the past 7½ years, participating in the discussions leading to the great decisions, decisions that avoided war on the one side and surrender on the other.
You have two men who know Mr. Khrushchev, who have sat opposite him at the conference table, who have not been taken in by him, who will always work for peace, but who will always remember in dealing with a dictator that the road to war is paved with weakness and surrender - and that we're not going to have that kind of policy.
What do we have as far as our opponent is concerned? Here again we see that strange pattern of rashness, of impulsiveness, of inconsistency - in 1955, disagreeing with the President on the necessity of defending the Formosa Straits area; in 1955, again, voting with a small group of Senators who would have denied to the President the very power that has kept the peace in that area by not surrending two islands of freedom; and then in 1960, this year, again disagreeing with the President when the President refused to apologize or express regrets to Khrushchev for the U-2 flights.
My friends, the suggestion has been made, "What harm would it have done to apologize? Wouldn't it, maybe, have saved the conference?" If, for example, Mr. Kennedy had been there, and if he had apologized and expressed regrets, Mr. Khrushchev would have beaten him to a pulp. That's the kind of thing you're confronted with, with him. And then again on Cuba, a similar pattern - saying that our policy of quarantine was too little and too late, and then advocating policies that were universally interpreted as being intervention in that particular area, which would have violated every treaty we have with our sister organization of American States, and also the U.N. Charter, in the process.
These were mistakes. Many can say, "But they were well intentioned, Mr. Nixon. He changed his mind. He now is going to be something else. He says he supports the President on Quemoy and Matsu, that he didn't really think he could have apologized now, and that he did the right thing, and also, as far as Cuba was concerned, that he really didn't mean intervention - that is only the way it was interpreted."
All I can say is this: I know when a President makes a decision, it is for keeps. A candidate can say something, and he can take it back, and nobody is the worse for it; but when a President decides to defend Quemoy and Matsu, to make a decision on Trieste, or any of the other great decisions that have avoided war, it's for keeps - and I say, my friends, that at the present time we cannot afford to use the White House as a training school for a man to gain experience at the expense of the country.
There is your choice. Move forward at home into the greatest future America has ever had; but move forward with programs that will really move America, not give promises in which the promises will be eaten away by inflation. Move forward with programs abroad that will lead America in the paths of peace; lead America in the paths of extending freedom, but always recognizing that when you're dealing with dictators the way to peace is to be firm, to be nonbelligerent, always working for the cause that you believe in, rather than simply working against the cause that they believe in.
This is the opportunity that Cabot Lodge and I ask to work for, in these next 4 years.
I say to you tonight one thing more: If you believe, here in this area and clearly apart from party, that this is the kind of leadership that America needs, then and only then are we entitled to your support. We've heard a lot these past few weeks and months about the things wrong with the American people. "The American people have no sense of purpose," particularly as you sit in Washington, and read the newspapers and the columnists and all the other hand-wringing people - "No sense of purpose * * * only interested in tail fins and deodorants * * * don't care about the world * * * no sense of responsibility." All of this chatter was picked up and repeated over and over again, ad infinitum, at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, and now it's continued again and again and again by Senator Kennedy and his apologists and defenders and the like.
I just picked up an issue of Pravda the other day, and there was Mr. Stevenson saying American prestige is at an alltime low. Here's a man Senator Kennedy indicated earlier last year might be his next Secretary of State. And he also says: "The Communist World," and I quote, "looks more dynamic. We look static."
Now listen, I have been in the Communist world. I have been in the Communist world, and I have been in the free world. I have been in the Communist world and I have been in America, and I can tell you this: These people of ours, the American people, are a great people. The American people are dedicated to peace - they are dedicated to freedom, and they are willing to do what is necessary to support their leaders in a great crusade for peace and freedom.
I say that it's up to our people and it's up to our leaders as well; and I would only suggest that our leaders, instead of criticizing our people, ought to be worthy of the great American people - and I hope we can be.
Richard Nixon, Speech of the Vice President, War Memorial Auditorium, Rochester, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273635