Richard Nixon photo

Speech of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Waikiki Shell, Honolulu, HI

August 04, 1960

Vice President NIXON. Mayor Blaisdell, Governor Quinn, Secretary Seaton, Senator Fong, Lieutenant Governor Kealoha, all of the distinguished guests on the platform, and this great audience here in Hawaii I want to say, as I begin tonight, in the months ahead, my wife, Pat, and I, will be traveling over the 50 States of this country. We will have many meetings like this, some outdoors, some indoors, some larger, perhaps, some smaller; but I consider that none will remain more in our memories more than this one and the 2 days I have spent in Hawaii. And I can say --- [Applause.]

And I can say that I am immensely proud that I am the first nominee for the Presidency of the United States to campaign in the State of Hawaii, the 50th State. [Applause.]

I have been surprised, as I have told those who have traveled with us through the outer islands today and yesterday - I have been surprised at the magnificent work that has been done by the Republican organization in arranging our meetings.

I am a pretty good judge of how you get out crowds. Sometimes they don't come up to expectations. At other times they do. But I know they just don't happen. I know it is a case of people spending hours and hours of their time making plans, the plans for the meeting, the program; and certainly a great crowd like this, on a beautiful evening, when people could be doing other things, I am sure, and enjoying them - a great crowd like this just didn't happen. This was true of all the places we were yesterday and today, and I want to express my deep appreciation not only to the officials here on the platform but to the literally hundreds of people that I know worked to make these meetings as successful as they were.

And may I say, too, that I am honored that behind me on this platform are these splendid party officials, the leaders of the Republican Party in Hawaii.

I could say something about each of them, about the tremendous leadership they have given not only to our party here, but the stimulation they have given to our party in the United States as well on the mainland.

And I can only say that as I speak of Governor Quinn, as I speak of Senator Fong, as I speak of Lieutenant Governor Kealoha - these men represent the kind of strong, vigorous, progressive leadership that the Nation needs. And we are proud that here in Hawaii you have given an example not only to the Republican Party but to the whole Nation, of leadership, in these men. [Applause.]

Now, I would like to say a word or two about the other people back here. I asked in advance who they were. There are 200 people. They are precinct captains and chairmen and workers and the like. And I could tell you without any affront to the very distinguished VIP's who are on the platform, that those in the back row are probably the most important people in this campaign. [Applause.]

Because, you see, many people get the idea that the way a campaign is won is by the speeches that the candidate makes, or by the public relations, the television broadcasts and the types of information that you put out through the various information media, through billboards, through advertisements in the papers, and the like. All of these things are important. But what really counts - and this particularly is true in a close election - is the work in the precinct, the people who go and call on their friends and neighbors and talk to them about the campaign. They make the difference, the difference where votes are close. And this will be a close election. I think virtually everybody agrees.

So to them, the hundreds behind me, and to the literally thousands in front of me, who I trust will be working in this campaign, let me say that I know you are the important ones, and I appreciate what you have done in the past, and I want to thank you in advance for what I know you will do in this campaign as well.

May I say, too, that I am on sort of a spot tonight. I know that there were some pretty good, or shall I say high-priced acts that came on before mine. [Laughter.] As a matter of fact, I met some of them as I was leaving, and I know the standard I am going to have to maintain is going to have to be very high.

In that connection, I want you to know that I have some pretty good critics at home, not only my wife, Pat, who is of course my most constructive critic, but in addition, my two daughters. And after my acceptance speech in Chicago a few days ago, the girls had attended it along with a few thousand others, and when we were leaving I turned to them and asked them what their reactions were, and the younger one, Julie, who is 12, said, "Now, Daddy, I don't want you to misunderstand, because this is really a compliment. It wasn't 'Boy!'" [Laughter.] And so I just hope today that what I say is not "Boy!"

And speaking of messages, apart from the entertainment which preceded it, may I say that no message could be more close to our hearts, as Americans, than the invitation that we have heard tonight. And I would say that that invitation is certainly a great guideline and a splendid standard for all of us to aspire to, whatever our political faith may be.

And now may I tell you some of my reactions about my 2 days in Hawaii, about the issues, about the people, and how I think they will be looking at this election.

I find that the people in Hawaii are very much like the people in the States, in the mainland. I find that you are interested in many of the same things. I find, for example, that in the crowds there are many, many young people, youngsters, parents coming with their children, and that the parents want to see that their young people have a better life than they themselves have enjoyed.

Here in the West, really the West, further west than California, here in the West, there is of course a great sense of progress, of going forward. You are not looking to the past except as a basis for building a better future. You are not satisfied with the present. You want to go forward for a better life, not just for yourself but for your children. And that spirit I have sensed every place that I have been.

And you are interested in the domestic problems that face the country today, how we can get programs for better health, programs which will mean a better standard of living, better jobs, better wages, better security, for all Americans. All of these things I know you are interested in.

But I found, too, that every place I go, every place that I travel, through the State of Hawaii, today, there is one issue which overrides all the others. And I sensed it perhaps most of all when we went by the Arizona the other day, and we left a wreath in the water. It is the issue of peace, of peace without surrender.

I say this is the overriding issue, because the people here, having been the only part of the United States that has known what it means to suffer directly from enemy attack - the people here are conscious of what war can mean, even more than are people in other parts of the United States.

And you know, as I know, that we can have the best jobs and the finest social security system and the best health care and the finest education that we can possibly devise; and it isn't going to make any difference if we are not around to enjoy it.

And so tonight, of all the subjects that I could talk on, I have selected the subject of our foreign policy and those steps that I think can and must be taken to keep the peace for America and the world and to keep it without surrender of freedom, without surrender of territory. This is the great issue of this campaign. This is the issue which the American people will have in their minds as they measure the candidates for President and Vice President. And this is the issue that I wish to discuss tonight, so that you, whether you are Republicans or Democrats, who are listening to me, may know what I believe, what you can expect from me, if I should succeed in this campaign.

And I ask you not only to listen to me, but to listen to my opponents, so that you may compare us. And I ask you to do this, because America needs a decision from the voters that will be the best for America. And that means that you must measure us both, measure our abilities, measure our programs, and then decide which road America should take.

And now, if I may turn to that issue and discuss it in its simplest terms and indicate to you my beliefs as to the road America should follow if we are to have peace and have it without surrender in the years ahead.

We begin with the proposition that all of us will support. And that is that in today's world there is only one major threat to the peace of the world. We do not threaten the peace of the world. Our allies do not threaten the peace of the world. Everybody in the world knows that we would not initiate a struggle, one that would mean nuclear disaster not only for others but for ourselves. And we do not want any territory that anybody else has. We do not want to impose our will on any other people. And so we are not potential aggressors, and that can be said of our allies as well.

There is a threat to the peace of the world. I say a threat because of what they have said and what they are doing. It is the one presented by those who rule the Communist world. They say that they want to accomplish their objective - and they admit this objective of world domination - that they want to accomplish it without war. But on the other hand, they do say that this objective they will and must accomplish. And we, of course, must have in mind the fact that they have maintained tremendous expenditures for the purposes of building their military strength.

And so the first requirement, if we are to have peace, is to have strength on our side, which is not only equal to theirs but which is greater than theirs - greater than theirs, so that regardless of what they might have, if they should launch an attack against us, even a surprise attack, we would have enough left to knock out their warmaking capability.

This is what America must have, and this must come before any other consideration. [Applause.]

And now the question that arises: Do we have this kind of strength today? And on this point I wish to speak very directly; and frankly, in view of some statements that have been made about the weakness of America by some of our political opponents in the last few weeks.

May I say in commenting on their statements that I recognize and respect and encourage the right of every American to criticize what is wrong with this country, so that we can correct our weaknesses and make America a stronger and better country. But on the other hand, I say that when we criticize what is wrong, we must not overlook what is right. And one thing we must not overlook is this: That America today, contrary to what you may have heard, is not second rate militarily, not second rate economically [applause], not second rate ideologically, not second rate as far as their education is concerned.

We must recognize our weaknesses. But let us be proud of the fact that today we are the strongest nation in the world militarily, economically, ideologically, and we can maintain that strength if we have the will and the stamina to do so. We begin with that proposition. [Applause.]

That is the situation today. But in stating that fact, which I believe, and in stating a belief which is based on information which I believe is accurate, may I say that this does not mean that we can be complacent; because we are up against a determined opponent. And we find that they constantly are increasing their activities in this area. And so the United States must not be satisfied militarily with simply resting on what we have. We constantly must explore all the new technological breakthroughs to the full, to see to it that America stays ahead technologically. And we must constantly revise our military estimates whenever our intelligence information indicates the potential enemies of the United States have increased the balance of strength of their side vis-a-vis that which we have together with our allies.

And in that connection, let me say that as far as getting intelligence information is concerned, I thing we can he proud of the fact that we have a President of the United States that has put the security of America first and has not allowed an intelligence gap which would lead to another Pearl Harbor. [Applause.]

And may the President of the United States, whether he is a Democrat or a Republican, never feel it is necessary to apologize for protecting the security of the United States.

In order to maintain this military strength, we must recognize, too, that we need assistance. And we welcome the assistance of our allies. This means that in the years ahead we must not only maintain our strength, but we must work with our allies in NATO and SEATO and CENTO, the alliances that we have built around the world.

We must recognize that in addition to this our military strength must be combined with a diplomatic policy which goes along with it. What kind of a diplomatic policy will we need if we are to maintain the position of peace through strength?

Diplomatically, we must be firm without being belligerent. I have said that many times before. I repeat it tonight; because the next President of the United States, whoever he is, must have this in his mind above everything else.

When you are the subject of insults, as we have been, it is a great temptation to answer those insults in kind. But this temptation must be avoided. It must be avoided, because we might indulge in a war of words that could heat up the international atmosphere to the point where we could set off a nuclear catastrophe.

Now, this does not mean, on the other hand, that in not being belligerent and not answering insult by insult, the United States will tolerate being pushed around. This also means that we must be firm every place in the world; because the road to peace is not through appeasement. And the United States, wherever we find freedom threatened, whether it is in Berlin, whether it is in Cuba, wherever it is in the world - we must make it clear to potential aggressors throughout the world that we will stand with the forces of freedom in resisting the attempts to destroy freedom wherever it is.

And so we begin with these two ingredients, which everybody would agree with: Military strength second to none. Military strength in which the security of the United States is first, above everything else. And second, diplomatic firmness, diplomatic firmness without belligerency.

And, third, we combine our diplomatic firmness with constantly working for, constantly seeking, policies and programs which will reduce international tension.

Now, what do I mean by that? I mean simply that the next President should follow the course that President Eisenhower has begun, follow the course of being willing to go anyplace, anyplace in the world, in the cause of peace. Follow the course of being willing to negotiate from a position of strength with firmness, standing always for freedom, but be willing to negotiate on disarmament, on Berlin, on any of the other major differences that we have, trying to work those differences out so that we reduce the areas that might set off this disaster that all of us wish to avoid. And might I say that in this particular field we have to recognize that these next years provide an opportunity to strengthen the instrumentalities that will work for peace. We must work to strengthen the United Nations as an instrument for peace. We must work to strengthen other organizations and to build new organizations on a regional basis which will work for peace. We must use every imaginative, bold method that we can, to strengthen those organizations which can reduce tension and lead to peace without surrender for us and the world; because the stakes are so high that it is not enough to say, "We are strong." It is not enough to say because of our strength we do not feel it is necessary to negotiate. We will never place ourselves in a position where we will negotiate from weakness. We will never negotiate with appeasement in mind. But we must be willing and we must search out the ways to find agreement where agreement is possible, on disarmament, on reducing tensions, throughout the world.

And may I say in this case - and I am going to make an announcement at this time that I know will please you - that coming into Hawaii later in the campaign will be a man who is my running mate. And I am proud to say that the man who will be my running mate will not be just a deputy, but he will be a full partner. And I don't know of any man better qualified in this area of working to strengthen the organizations for peace than Henry Cabot Lodge, our candidate for the Vice Presidency. [Applause.]

And I assure you that he and I, if we are given the opportunity, will work together in this area to strengthen the forces of peace and freedom all over the world. [Applause.]

Now, I have spoken about military strength, of the kind of a diplomatic policy that I believe you must follow. May I now turn to a third area?

Sometimes I think there is a tendency for us to think that if we are militarily strong and if we have the right kind of diplomacy, that is the answer to our problems, because then we can build a world of peace, a world in which we can live.

But this is not enough; because we can have peace, we can avoid war, and we can still lose our freedom. And this is the greatest thing that threatens the United States today - not the loss of freedom through war, but the loss of freedom through means other than war.

And on that point I wish to talk to you tonight as well and indicate the kinds of programs and policies that we should and will follow.

What do I mean by the loss of freedom through means other than war? I mean we have in the world today the force of communism, which has developed new means of taking over nations, means more subtle, more difficult to plan against, more difficult to work against.

Where the aggressor uses propaganda, where he uses economic means, where he uses political means, where he goes under a border rather than over a border. And this kind of warfare is the kind that the people of the United States must understand and that the people of the free world as well as the people of the United States must develop more effective means to meet.

Now, what can we do? What we can do is this: We have a number of programs to meet and deal with this kind of warfare. And before describing those programs, may I tell you where this struggle is taking place? It is taking place in Asia. It is taking place in Africa. It is taking place in the Near East. And it is taking place in parts of South America.

A billion people in these parts of the world that I have described - they are often classed as neutralists. They are not neutralists; not in their hearts, because they want to be on the side of freedom. They would prefer to have progress with freedom rather than progress at the cost of freedom. But we must make no mistake about it. These people are determined to have a better way of life, and if they cannot get that better way of life with freedom and through freedom, they will be greatly and sorely tempted to turn to communism, which offers the problems of progress, but which takes freedom away from them in the process. And we cannot and we will not leave to the millions of people living in these countries that choice.

So I say to you tonight: As we look at the battleground, we find that the United States has some programs to meet the Communist threat in these areas - programs, for example, for exchange of persons, programs through which we provide technical assistance, economically, politically, and otherwise, to the countries who want it and ask for it, programs where we provide economic loans and grants.

You often hear it described as foreign aid. May I say: This is not just foreign aid; it is aid to the United States, aid to the cause of freedom; because where freedom is threatened and where it dies any place in the world, it is threatened here.

May I say in this connection that as we look at these programs, for exchange, for technical assistance, for information, programs for economic loans and grants to countries abroad, what we need, not only in stepping up these programs in many areas - and I could speak in great detail if I had the time tonight, for example, as to how we could step up the exchange program and how Hawaii can play a particular part in that respect, through your East-West cultural center and other means. [Applause.]

Not only must we step up these programs, but we need to coordinate them and have them directed through the Office of the President of the United States himself. And may I say that in these next few years, if we can get that kind of a directed, coordinated program, we can then, rather than being on the defensive in many parts of the world, use all of these programs together as an ideological striking force, a striking force not for the purpose of taking over and take away the freedom of other countries, but a striking force to defend their freedom and to assure it and make it grow in those parts of the world where they desire freedom and desire to resist the forces of communism.

And in this connection, again, as I say, I believe that the programs that we have certainly are on the right track. And rather than reducing them, they need to be expanded. But in addition to expanding them, we need to have them directed and organized, as they are not directed and organized today, not through any fault of those who have been responsible for them, but because the problem is more acute. The problem is changed. And we need, therefore, new methods to meet the problems with which we are confronted today in this area.

So much for the program. What about the people that are going to work? We need to train people. We have many good people in these programs at the present time, but we need many more - trained not only in the customs and the languages of the countries to which they will be accredited, but trained thoroughly in the tactics and strategy of world communism, and trained just as thoroughly in the great ideals of the American Revolution, which is the only answer to the Communist revolution which we can present to the world today.

We need men and women who are just as dedicated, just as filled with zeal, as are the Communists. And I have seen them, and they are dedicated, and they are filled with zeal. But we need men and women dedicated and filled with zeal, with the determination to outwork, to outfight to outlast the enemies of freedom wherever they meet them, any place in the world.

And we need to instill in our people, not only those in Government, but in all Americans who work and travel abroad, private citizens as well, this spirit that we are in a race, a race in which we are ahead, but a race in which we can lose unless we move ahead. And if we can get this kind of a spirit, there is no question about the outcome.

But may I add another thought, another thought that is even more important than those on which I have touched up to this point. I have talked about organization. I have talked about programs, about everything else. We must recognize the idea which is the antithesis of what the Communists are.

People say, "Well, it is quite simple, isn't it? They offer economic progress at the cost of freedom, and we offer economic progress with freedom".

And the answer is that that is part of the story, but that is not all of the story. We must not allow this great contest for the minds and the hearts and the souls of men to be bought sheerly on the basis of materialism. That is what the Communists would like. They would like for this simply to be a contest of who could produce the best factories, the best clothing, the most food, for people in these countries as well as in our own.

We must recognize that our greatest strength is not in the area of materialism, but the great strength of America, and the free world, is in the strength of our ideals, our moral and our spiritual strength. This is what we have to offer to the world today. [Applause.]

And who desire to turn to our way if we just give them the chance. And I have seen, too, in my travels on the other side of the Iron Curtain, in the heart of the Soviet Union itself, in Warsaw in Poland, on the faces of thousands of people - I have seen love for the people of the United States. And also I have seen and sensed, too, a desire on the part of those people to develop a life in which they have greater freedom than they presently have.

In other words, communism is not the way of the future. Freedom is the way of the future. And we must always remember this and never forget it. [Applause.]

And may I say, too, that if we look into the future, I think we can all be sure of the fact that people throughout the world are on the side of freedom and on the side of peace.

I recall an incident in my first trip around the world in 1953, that I would like to recount to you, which bears out the point that I have made.

We were visiting the city of Lantsang, and on one day we were traveling down the road in the new territory just a mile from the Chinese Communist border. And we stopped our car at a school, a grade school, an unexpected stop, which we often like to do in these trips, and walked on to the school grounds at recess time. And the students swarmed around us in great numbers, and Pat, my wife, who is a former teacher and has a way with not only children but grown-ups as well, may I say - I just want people to vote for her; then we'll win, I am sure of that - she went into the second and first grade classrooms and delighted the children by writing her name with a brush in the Chinese style. I talked with some of the older students on the campus, and we talked of many things. And as we were about to leave, about 20 minutes later, the principal of the school, who was also an instructor in English, spoke to me in words that I recall like this. He said, "Mr. Vice President, I want to express to you and to Mrs. Nixon my appreciation for your stopping at our school."

He said, "I trust that you will extend my best wishes and those of our students here to the students that you meet in the United States on your return."

And I answered him in this way: I said, "Thank you for those good wishes. And may I say to you that I am sure that as I stand here, the cause that you believe in, the cause of peoples living together, will eventually prevail. And I want to tell you that I bring to you not only the best wishes of our Government, but the best wishes of all the people of the United States to the people of China."

I could see that he was moved, because he knew at that time that Chinese forces in North Korea had American forces pinned down. And he answered in this way. He said, "I thank you Mr. Vice President, for what you said. And I can tell you that I am confident, and I have faith, that the time will come when our two peoples will again live together in friendship, because we must never forget that we are all brothers in our hearts."

And I am sure that you, you who in the past few days have shown us so feelingly the spirit of aloha recognize the truth of what he said. We are all brothers in our hearts. And because we are brothers in our hearts, because freedom and not slavery is the way to the future, because man needs something other than himself to worship, because the moral and spiritual strength of our cause does live not only here but in the hearts of people throughout the world and even on the other side of the Iron Curtain, we will prevail.

But may I say in concluding that it is not enough simply to elect a man as President of the United States who believes these things. This is going to require a national effort. It is going to require on the part of each and every American the best that he can give to his country, the best that our students can give in their classrooms, the best that our workers can give, the best that our workers and our employers can give in their activity; and in your political activities, since this is a political meeting, it means that every American, be he Democrat or Republican, should not only vote for the man or woman of his choice, but he should also work for that man, so that the selection that is made represents the best thinking of the total American voting population. [Applause.]

And tonight, as I stand here, in this beautiful evening, may I tell you that, as we begin this campaign, nothing could be more inspiring than to have met the tremendous crowds that we have seen every place that we have gone, to speak here tonight before this wonderful crowd, and in the months ahead, when the going gets rough, when we get tired, after many, many speeches at the end of a week, we will look back and remember you and the encouragement you have given us.

And I make one request to you: Throughout this campaign, I hope that everything I say, everything I do, will serve the cause of peace and the cause of freedom.

I make another pledge to you: That however this election comes out, I, with you, will work for this cause, and I will carry away in my heart the spirit of aloha, the spirit of aloha which all the world needs, and which you have in your hearts tonight. [Applause.]

Richard Nixon, Speech of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Waikiki Shell, Honolulu, HI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project