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Speech of Vice President Richard M. Nixon at CBS-TV, Chicago, IL

November 07, 1960

Mr. President, Ambassador Lodge, and my fellow Americans, 8 years ago I had the privilege of appearing with the President of the United States in Boston, Mass., on an election eve broadcast like this one. Many things have happened in those 8 years, some of which have been recounted by the President tonight; and as I sit here again in Chicago, in this studio, I realize that we have had a long journey which began on July 28 of this year in Chicago after our nominating convention. It was a journey which took my wife, Pat, and me to all the 50 States of this Nation. It was a journey which enabled us to know people, hundreds of thousands of them, in those States, to know the American people, their problems, their concerns.

And now tonight I have the opportunity to speak to millions of you through television and radio.

This campaign has been a historic one, historic from the standpoint that I have just mentioned. This is the first time that any candidate has ever visited 50 States. Of course, President Eisenhower couldn't have done that because we only had 48 at the time of his two campaigns.

I hope in the years to come that the candidates of both our major parties will visit all of the 50 States because I have found in this campaign that this is truly one nation and that whoever is going to be President must know all the people of all the States, and you can know them only by visiting them.

Also, as I look back on this campaign, I think we will agree that it is historic from another standpoint. This is the first time in American history that two candidates for President have met face to face in debate. You will recall four times we met, and the people of this country in greater numbers than have ever viewed candidates before had an opportunity to see them, hear them debate the issues of the campaign. I would say also, based on what I have seen, of what I have done and what my opponent has done in the way of travel and appearances in this campaign, that probably we have spoken to more people than any two candidates have ever spoken to in the history of American politics.

Consequently, I rather believe that all agree with the decision that I have made. I do know that any useful purpose could be served by my reducing the issues that have gone over so many times in your homes and television or in the various meetings which you may have attended in the States which you or I have visited.

I think tonight rather I should like to talk to you in terms of the decisions you will make, in terms of what it means, in terms of how I feel I should decide the fate of America and the world, because this is the truly fateful decision.

President Eisenhower has brought that out in his remarks as Ambassador Lodge has done likewise; a fateful decision because the future not only of the United States is involved but of the whole free world.

I know the responsibilities that a President has; I know them not from having had them, but I know them from having had the opportunity, an opportunity shared by Cabot Lodge of seeing the President of the United States make great decisions. I know that after our meetings in the National Security Council in the Cabinet that often when he has been urged to make a decision at the moment he has stopped the discussion and has said very quietly, "I don't think we should shoot from the hip on this one. I think I should think about it."

And then alone he has walked from the Cabinet room into the oval office which is the President's office and there quietly by himself he has weighed all the considerations and then made the decision which he thought was best for America and for the world. The fact that we have ended one war, avoided other' wars, the fact that we kept the peace without surrender, the fact that we have had great progress, the greatest in any administration in history has been due to the fact that our President has been a wise man, a man who has not shot from the hip, a man who has weighed all these great considerations before he has made the decision that really has such impact, not only on America, but on the world.

And so knowing the awesome responsibility of the man who will be the next President of the United States I would like for you to have in mind these standards that I think all of us as Americans should consider as we vote tomorrow

First, because the next President of the United States will have in his hands the future not only of America but of the whole world, the future of our children and as the President so eloquently indicated our grandchildren as well and all of those to come after us, because he has this faithful power and responsibility in his hands I think it is essential that when we vote we not vote just according to the personality or not according to the party label or not according to any other affiliation that we may have but that we should vote for the man that we think best can serve America. And I ask all of those listening tonight to do that.

If you happen to be members of my party and I happen to be a member of yours that is not enough reason simply to vote for me. It also is not enough reason to vote for my opponent. We need the best man that both parties or either party can present to the country in this critical period.

We have had many great Presidents in our Nation's history, some of them have been Republicans, some of them have been Democrats. Some way the American people have known what the times require, and I urge you on this occasion: Put America first rather than party or any other consideration first.

Also, as you vote I think it is essential for all of you to bear in mind that this must be not a decision of just a few; not a decision of just a minority of Americans, but of a majority of the American people. In other words, let this be the voice of all Americans speaking, and therefore I urge everyone listening to me tonight: whether you vote for me or against me, you must go to the polls tomorrow. You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your country, so that the decision that is made is one that represents the best thinking of the American people as a whole rather than as a part. Nothing less is worthy of America and the responsibilities that we have.

And now, finally, having urged you to have these to consider in mind may I add a personal note, it is predicated in his remarks that it would be the last time that he would be making a political address as President of the United States and I am sure you realized that this for me too is a last time, the last time that I will be speaking to the American people by television and radio as Vice President of the United States, and I would not want this opportunity to pass without expressing my deep appreciation and the appreciation of my wife, my children, for the honor that you have given us to serve as the Vice President of the United States over these past 8 years.

I want to tell you what it has meant to us; it has given us the opportunity to travel to many lands abroad, to learn to know the leaders and people of those lands, to represent the people and the President of the United States on those trips. It has given us an opportunity to travel within the United States of America, to know the people of this country, to learn, for example, that those who say that the American people are aimless, that they are drifting, that they have no sense of purpose are dead wrong, to learn that the American people are a people with high ideals, with deep religious faiths, a people who are ready, in my opinion, to assume the great responsibility which must be ours in this critical period in history; our responsibility not just to keep the peace for ourselves, but for all people; a responsibility not just to defend freedom for America, but to defend it for all peoples, and to extend it throughout the world without war.

And, also, I have had another opportunity; an opportunity which the President has referred to. I have had the opportunity of serving under one of the truly great men of our times: Dwight D. Eisenhower.

And, so, for these opportunities that you have provided, I express my deep appreciation as Vice President of this country.

And finally, then, I conclude this election eve broadcast by again urging you go to the polls tomorrow and vote. Vote for the man that you think America and the world needs in this critical period. Whatever that decision is it is one that I know will be best for America. It is one that we will all abide by; one that we will all support, and my prayer and my hope, as we do go to the polls tomorrow, is very simply this, that the next President of this country, whoever he is, will be a worthy successor of Dwight D. Eisenhower and that he will be worthy of the high ideals and the great purpose of the American people.

Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Speech of Vice President Richard M. Nixon at CBS-TV, Chicago, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project