Richard Nixon photo

Speech of Vice President Nixon, Soldier-Sailor Auditorium, Kansas City, KS

September 23, 1960

Vice President NIXON. Thank you very much. [Applause.] Thank you. [Applause.] Thank you very much, Andy Schoeppel, for your introduction and I can only say in response that I well remember that meeting 4 years ago here in this very hall. Afterward, I said to Pat that I didn't think you could ever exceed that rally and its excitement and its enthusiasm. I remember all the groups of the young students and college students down in front - there weren't quite as many press following me then at that time and you were a little closer, but I must say that while I didn't think it was possible, you've done it. This is certainly one of the great rallies of the campaign and we thank you tremendously for making it so tonight. [Applause.]

There are so many people that I would like to express appreciation to - to the bands, to all of the student groups, to our "Nixon girls" down here in front who make the audience look so very attractive to the speakers, and may I say to particularly all of you who have come to swell the crowd and to you on television and radio - we appreciate your being with us tonight.

As you know, Pat and I have been doing a little traveling since that time 4 years ago, some outside the United States and recently, some very intensive traveling within the United States, and as we come to Kansas City tonight we are nearing the end of the second week of 2 intensive weeks of campaigning which started in Baltimore, Md., on Monday, a week ago.

Now, as far as the weather is concerned, we had what we thought was an inauspicious start. It just rained cats and dogs in Baltimore and they had to move the great airport rally inside and the President was there and Cabot Lodge was there - all the party officials, as well as a great number of people from the surrounding Maryland countryside. And then the President reminded us of something, something that will be very close to the heart of Kansas. He said, "You shouldn't be discouraged by the fact that it rained on this first appearance." He said, "I remember when I opened my campaign at Abilene, it rained twice as hard as it did on this night, and it is a good omen. If it was good for me, it's going to be good for you, too." [Applause.]

Thank you. Well, we've had a little weather today, too. I attended a plowing contest up in South Dakota and it rained, but the crowd still came out because the farmers of America are a hardy people. They like the rain and they will come and stand in it and they were very gracious and considerate, I must say. And I can only say that as far as that rain was concerned, and we also had rain in Pennsylvania and at one other stop, that while the climate from the standpoint of the weather is concerned has been somewhat uncertain, there sure hasn't been anything wrong with the political climate on this four. It couldn't be better and it is capped by tonight. [Applause.] And I am delighted to see it because this means that here in the State of Kansas, you're going to do what the Nation expects Kansas to do, to keep together your great team of Senators by reelecting the man who introduced me so generously, Andy Schoeppel, with the biggest majority he has ever had in the State of Kansas. [Applause.]

You're going to return Kansas to its Republican tradition in the governorship by electing John Anderson Governor of this State. [Applause.] And I also say that you're going to give us more Republicans in the House of Representatives and Kansas City, Kans. is going to help by sending Bob Ellsworth to the Congress of the United States for Representative. [Applause.] I see the Ellsworth group right down in front of me on my right here, and we're awfully glad to have them. And since we are speaking in Kansas, but since our friends in Missouri are so close across the river, I think you should know that we had two great meetings in Missouri, one in Springfield, one in St. Joe and I'm going to make a prediction tonight. While I was there I was tremendously encouraged by what I saw - the new spirit of enthusiasm in that State for our cause - I couldn't say anything about the Senate race then because our candidate hadn't been chosen. Now that he has been chosen, Lon Hocker, I'm going to say this: That here is one place where our opposition is in for the fight of their lives and we can and we will pick up a Senate seat there if we go to work in the State of Missouri. [Applause.]

Your applause drowned out the last of what I said - I said if we go to work as we should, and that counts for Kansas, it counts for Missouri, it counts for every State in this Union. Because, my friends, let me say this: We're taking nothing for granted in this campaign, we don't care what the polls show, if they show us a mile ahead we aren't going to be taking anything for granted, we are going to fight this campaign right down to the wire because that is the way to assure victory and I can assure you that in this State, in Missouri, in all the other States, we want you to work with us will just that spirit. If you do, we will win and that's what we're out to do. [Applause.]

Now I found, of course, a number of very interesting things on this campaign tour so far. One thing I found is the similarity in the attitudes of audiences on the great issues confronting the Nation. People in this country do have different attitudes, depending upon the part of the country they come from; depending, to an extent, upon the occupational group in which they may find themselves. But you know what I find? I find that those great issues that unite Americans are certainly ones that are overriding and make the others seem very insignificant by comparison, and North, East, West, and South, whether it is across in Springfield, Mo., or here in Kansas City, Kans., Sioux Falls, S. Dak., or San Francisco, Calif., or Hawaii, or Maine, I find every place that I go the issue of overriding concern in this campaign, the one that dwarfs all the rest is the one that dominates your newspaper headlines tonight and tomorrow morning. And it is this.

Which of the two candidates for the Presidency, which of the two candidates for the Vice Presidency, by experience, by background, by program, can best keep the peace without surrender and extend freedom throughout the world? [Applause.] Our young people in front of me will well understand that, facing, as they do, the military service which they will have, but all people in America will understand it because they know, as we know, that we can find solutions to every domestic problem that we have and we are finding solutions for them and we will present them during the course of this campaign, but the thing is to be around to enjoy the solutions we find to all of our other problems, and so, therefore [applause], I would like to discuss tonight some of the reasons why I believe that our ticket deserves the support not only of Republicans in this State and in the Nation, but of the Democrats and independents as well, who are thinking of the leadership that America needs apart from any partisan consideration that might be involved.

And the first credential that we have to offer is our record, and it is, I say, a great record. I think that the people of the United States are going to be grateful to President Eisenhower for a number of his achievements during his 8 years as President. They will be grateful of the fact that he brought dignity and respect and honor to the highest office in this land; they will be grateful for the fact that under his leadership [applause] - they will be grateful for the fact that under his leadership America has enjoyed the greatest progress, economically, in its history, but, above all, Americans will be eternally grateful to Dwight D. Eisenhower in the role that all Americans were so tremendously proud of him yesterday, when he stood at the United Nations. [Applause.] Dwight Eisenhower, the great war leader, the man who ended one war, has kept America out of other wars, and who has brought us peace without surrender today for America and for the free world. [Applause.]

And so we believe our record is one - a one that deserves the consideration and the approval of the American people. We also believe that in the area of experience we have credentials that should be taken into account. I, of course, should not comment on my experience. That would be presumptuous, but I can say something about the experience of the man who will visit this city next Tuesday, and I know you will be out to see him, my running mate. And in speaking of his experience - and I will say this: I don't know of any man in the world today who has had more experience and who has done a more effective job than standing vigorously and fighting for and talking for the cause of peace and freedom than Henry Cabot Lodge, our Ambassador to the United Nations. [Applause.] And I pledge to this great audience tonight, to those listening on television and radio, that he will be a partner with me, that we shall work together in strengthening the instruments of peace, great organizations like the United Nations and the Organization of American States, strengthening the instruments of freedom, working in the cause which is of such overriding concern not only to the people of this country but to people throughout the world.

Now, what will our program be? What do we stand for? What are the things the American Government, the American President, the American people must support if we are to keep the peace without surrender and extend freedom? And the first ingredient is one that everybody will understand and appreciate; that is, that America must continue to maintain what she does have today, and that is the position of being the strongest Nation in the world militarily. [Applause.] We have that strength and we will continue it, not because we ever want to use it for aggressive purposes but, as the President has so often and so eloquently indicated, because we must have such strength to deter those who would want to use military power to extend their domination over other people. And so as long as the Communist leaders are on the move, as long as they do indicate that they intend to conquer the world, as long as they do maintain military strength, America and her allies must pay whatever price is necessary to see that we are never at a disadvantage and that we maintain an advantage that will discourage them ever from attacking us or any other free nation. [Applause.]

Now, in addition to that military strength, America must continue to be, and I again say "continue to be," what she is today, the strongest nation in the world economically. Why is this so essential? Because the race in which we are engaged, this competition, is not only military in character, it is economic in character. Mr. Khrushchev has challenged us to competition. I remember that he told me when I visited the Soviet Union that he intended to catch us - he admitted he was behind, but he intended to catch us and that he intended to pass us, and he said: "When we pass you, we're going to wave to you and then say, 'Come along, follow us and do as we do or you're going to fall too far behind in this race.'" And our answer to him is this: We will not fall behind. Mr. Khrushchev will not catch us, not in the 7 years that he says, nor in the 70 years, provided we stay true to the principles that have made America the most productive nation on the face of the world today. [Applause.]

Now, let me emphasize: In the military field, in the economic field, this does not mean standing pat in what we're doing. It means moving ahead, always moving ahead, because when you are in a race the only way to stay ahead is to move ahead. And in the economic field we shall move ahead. We will strengthen our economy. We shall see that our growth continues to increase in the years ahead. What difference, then, do we have with our opponents in this field? A very significant one. They point always as a method of the soaring greater growth of this country to the Federal Government. The Federal Government must increase not only what it is doing in the economy, but also it must increase its expenditures generally just for the sake of getting growth in and of itself. And we start at the other end of the spectrum.

We say that the way to greater growth in a free country like America is not to increase the size and the functions of the Federal Government just for that reason, but that the way to greater growth is for the Federal Government to adopt policies which will encourage to the utmost the creative, inventive genius of 180 million free American citizens. [Applause.] And if we stay true to these principles, we will continue to maintain the economic advantage which is essential in this race in which we're engaged.

And then there is a third strength that we must maintain. It is more important than the other two in the final analysis because it may prove to be decisive, and I speak of the moral and spiritual strength, the strength of the ideals of this country. Why are they important? They are important because it is in this area that we have something that the atheistic materialists, who are represented by the Communist leaders, cannot match and do not have. You know, my friends [applause] - look at the history of America. One hundred and eighty-five years ago we were a very weak country militarily compared with the other world powers. We were a very weak country economically and agriculturally, and very little industry to speak of, but we were one of the strongest nations in the world and the peoples in the world. Why? Because we stood for ideals that were greater than America. Ideals that belonged to all humanity. Ideals that come not from men but from God, and I speak of faith in God, faith and respect for the dignity of all men, regardless of their background or their race or color. [Applause.] Recognition of the fact that freedom and independence - these words which sometimes we take for granted because we have enjoyed them so long - that they belong not only to us, but that they belong to peoples throughout the world on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

That was the reason, may I say, that my wife and I received in Poland the tremendous reception that we did. Because the people of Poland behind the Iron Curtain know that America had been for its history and still was the hope of people who wanted freedom, that it stood for ideals greater than any military strength or economic strength than we could possibly imagine. And so these three areas of strength America must have. And the third area must come, not just from your leaders in Washington - oh, it would be easy to say that a President can provide the moral and spiritual strength that a nation needs - it must come from our people themselves because that is built into our people, into our children, at the home, at the schools, in our churches, and I ask you to do everything you can to see that America does build its moral and spiritual strength so that we can win the struggle for peace and freedom in these years ahead. [Applause.] But now that we have this strength, we now come to the key question. How do we use it? America, a strong nation militarily, a strong nation economically, one with ideals that have a tremendous appeal around the world - how do we use it? And here is where national leadership comes into play.

At the diplomatic table, the United States must continue the splendid example set by President Eisenhower, an example of always being willing to go the extra mile to negotiate in the cause of peace but never being willing to negotiate away the rights of our friends or the rights of people to be free anyplace in the world. [Applause.] It means standing firmly for principles without being belligerent. The best example of one, which I've repeated, and I repeat it tonight, was the President's conduct in Paris at the Paris Conference.

You recall that Mr. Khrushchev broke it up over the U-2 incident. There was some criticism of the President. Some said, on the one side, that he should have answered his insults in kind, and I say that the President was right in that respect because when you are confident of your strength, when you know you're right, you don't get down to the level of a name caller like Mr. Khrushchev, you maintain the dignity of your office and of your country. [Applause.] But all of the critics didn't take that point of view. There were others who suggested the President didn't do enough to save the Conference. That possibly he might have acceded to Mr. Khrushchev's request to express regrets or apologize for the flights in order to save the Conference. And here again, may I say, this would have been a grave error. A grave error on two counts. One, because it shows the naive attitude with regard to the reaction of a Communist leader. I know, from having talked to him and to others like him, that when you make a concession which he knows is not justified, it does not satisfy him, it only whets his appetite and makes him ask for more. [Applause] And so the President was correct in refusing to accede to that request when it would have been unjustified to do so.

And then the other ground, of course, is one that every American will understand. No President of the United States, Democrat or Republican, can ever consider expressing regrets for attempting to defend the security of his country against surprise attack. [Applause.]

Now you will gather from what I've said that I'm proud of the record of our administration, that I believe that we offer

leadership and a program which can best keep the peace without surrender, as I have indicated. Now the question is, What about those who criticize this record, what about those who raise questions about it? And I would like to talk on that point for just a moment.

Criticism in a political campaign is essential in order to see what is wrong with our country's record and in order to correct what is wrong. But, my friends, I would add only this one thought. When we point out the things that are wrong about the United States, and this is particularly so when the Communist leaders are visiting this country, I say that there is a responsibility upon all Americans to point out the great strengths of this country, what is right about America as well. [Applause.]

For example, when we point out, as the critics do, and they have a right to, that there may be deficiencies militarily, let's not overlook the fact that we are the strongest Nation in the world, and let's make that clear. If they point out that there are weaknesses economically, we must, at the same time, make it clear that we are the strongest country economically and that our system is superior and we will continue to maintain the advantage.

And then there is one point on which I feel particularly strongly, and that is upon this constant harping to the effect that the United States is losing prestige. That our prestige is at an all-time low around the world. My friends, let me give you an example that disproves that point - one very close to home. Kansas won a rather significant game when they upset TCU, 21 to 7. That was a pretty good score. [Applause.] Now if American prestige were low the place that it would show up would be where the votes are counted and that's in the United Nations. They had a vote the other day on the Congo. The Russians were on one side and we were on the other side. The score was pretty good. It was better than 21 to 7; it would be very good in football; it was tremendous in international relations. They didn't get any votes and we got 70, and I say that is the answer to those who say - [applause]. I say that the fact that in the 7½ years he was at the United Nations, Cabot Lodge was never in a position where the position of the United States was not sustained on a major issue. That proves that American prestige is high in the world, and I would add this further point. The reception that the President received for his great speech before the United Nations is another answer to that.

May I close by pointing up my own personal experience and by indicating a word of faith with regard to the future in this great area. I indicated that we have seen much of the world, 55 countries we have traveled to, and I can tell you, my friends, we are going to win the struggle for peace and freedom, we're going to win it because we are on the right side, and we're going to win it because the people of the world are on the right side. They are on the side of peace. [Applause.] The people of the world are on the side of peace. They are on the side of freedom. All that they need is the leadership of America and our strong friends and allies around the world for that position to be sustained. And I pledge to you, that if the opportunity is presented to my colleague and to me to provide that leadership, that we shall, to the very best of our ability, do everything that we can to maintain those great American ideals which have been the admiration of the world for so many years and which it is America's destiny to extend to all the world.

And now, if I might ask you to do something. You have heard my case. You have had an opportunity to indicate your approval of those portions of it that you have heard, may I ask you now to go forth from this hall and if you believe as I believe, and ours is the leadership that America needs, clearly apart from the party to which you may belong, then I say, go forth and carry this message into every precinct, into every home in the neighborhoods in which you live, and we shall win a great victory not just for our party but for America and for everything she stands for.

Thank you. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Speech of Vice President Nixon, Soldier-Sailor Auditorium, Kansas City, KS Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project