The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. I have no announcements today.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, there have been demands that this country protest and try to block Russia's announced plans to use the central Pacific to test a powerful new missile. How do you feel about this?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I didn't know it was moon missile. Somebody said larger propulsive engines; isn't it?
Q. Mr. Arrowsmith: I think that's it.
THE PRESIDENT. The United States has always claimed the right in the high seas to use areas there for valid scientific experiment, and has, in doing so, notified everybody concerned, and then taken the proper measures to warn away from the areas involved anyone that might be damaged.
We did this in the central Pacific. We have assumed that this was within the meaning and spirit of international law; and if there is any contrary view, why, it would have to be, I think, studied in that context as to the requirements of international law.
Therefore, it would seem very unusual for us to make a protest when we have done the same thing ourselves and intend to do it again.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: Mr. President, what do you think of the revived suggestion, this time from former President Truman, that you take some ranking Democrats with you to the May summit meeting? Are you considering such a thing?
THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I am not commenting on anybody else's suggestion. It is a thing that always comes up whenever there is any international conference. Indeed, so far as I know, it has always been the practice, where there was any prospect of any treaties to be signed, to bring somebody of the opposite party into these conferences, particularly from the Senate, so that when the matter of confirmation came up there could be someone to explain the details of the agreements.
Now, I have never looked at the composition. As a matter of fact, during the Casablanca and Teheran and Yalta and Potsdam conferences, I have no idea whether there were any Republicans there. I wasn't interested in those days whether a man was a Republican or a Democrat.
But there are, of course, certain circumstances where you could say such-and-such a thing is valuable. It is one of those things that is never forgotten and is kept in mind. Certainly if there came up an occasion when you would believe that there was something that might come to a head, whether it be a treaty signed, I would certainly think it would be a good idea to have others along.
Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, two questions about your December trip. You were acclaimed by millions of people, perhaps more people than anyone else in history. Have you had a chance to ponder the meaning of this and, two, can you tell us anything about the substance of your talk with Mr. Nehru?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the first part, I think, is very simple. I believe that there have been a lot of people through the nations that I visited, that were a little bit of the belief that they have been accused of being unfriendly of the American; they have an opposite feeling and they wanted to express it. I believe it is just that simple. Certainly so many young people never knew of an old soldier of World War II--they were too young for that; they didn't come out for any personal thing particularly, although, of course, some of the older ones and some of them who may have been friends and associates of mine in the war did.
Largely this was an attempt to express for the United States some affection and respect for American efforts to promote a peaceful world.
Now, I could say only this about my conversations with Mr. Nehru: I talked to many people, and I wouldn't be at liberty to talk about the specific subjects. The talks with him were not only interesting; particularly those when we were alone were very instructive to me and I think showed a very splendid grasp of the situation, particularly in the areas in which he is so deeply involved.
Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: Mr. President, could you tell us your reaction to the withdrawal of Governor Rockefeller and the resulting semiautomatic candidacy of Vice President Nixon?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I was just as much astonished as you were. By the way, he tried to call me up and to give me some advance information. I believe he was very much annoyed because he had given the thing for release at 6:30, and it was released at 2; and so he called me after it was already on my desk in the form of the ticker tape.
I would just say that I was just as astonished as anybody else, but I just take his statement at face value and that's that.
I do agree that it does give a certain atmosphere of no competition, you might say, on the nomination. [Laughter]
Q. William Knighton, Jr., Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, under those circumstances, however, do you feel you want to give a formal declaration of support to the Vice President before the convention?
THE PRESIDENT. You know, the only thing I know about the Presidency the next time is this: I can't run. [Laughter] But someone has raised the question that were I invited, could I constitutionally run for Vice President, and you might find out about that one. I don't know. [Laughter]
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, in a speech last summer you advocated help to the Middle East in development.
The first stage of the Aswan Dam in Egypt has now begun with Soviet help. Are you considering offering help from us to Egypt in further stages of the Aswan Dam?
THE PRESIDENT. We are trying to do that now, Mrs. Craig, through the World Bank.
The World Bank today, in my opinion, is the most knowledgeable instrument that belongs to the West to bring about, first, the probable value of these various public works, and on top of that the best way to go into it, to support the thing.
For example, you will remember when we were into the Aswan business, the dam business--[laughter]--well, I don't want to be accused of profanity around here--[laughter]--we at that time had the World Bank as the central affair.
We were to put in a certain amount of money, Britain was to put in a certain amount of money; and so we have gone pretty well on that theory, that they have got a very fine engineering exploratory service. Then, of course, this special Fund of the United Nations is doing a very fine job in what you might call the pre-exploratory efforts. All in all, I would say we would look at the Aswan Dam in the same way we would anything else--from that basis.
Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Speaking of Vice President Nixon, sir, could you comment on his role in the steel settlement, and tell us how you feel about the settlement itself?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's a very simple affair, really. We'd had this long deadlock, and then there was no evidence of progress even after the invocation of the injunctional proceedings under Taft-Hartley. So, it seemed that possibly new personalities to act as some kind of mediators between the contending parties might be helpful; and I asked Mr. Mitchell, with Mr. Nixon, to act in that capacity.
Now, they were deadlocked; they would not come together, would not reach an agreement. So, finally, these people, acting as mediators, by going to each side separately and working--apparently a very intensive area of working and a period of working--proposed a solution that was somewhere between the two positions.
There are certain facts that ought to be noted. Mr. Blough very properly said this was not an agreement forced by anybody; it was forced by circumstances. Two of the important circumstances were these: the can and the aluminum contracts had already been solved and written; the other one was that all of the information to both sides was that the workers were absolutely going to reject what had been advertised as the last offer of the companies.
You are in that kind of a position when they brought this forward-this proposal. Any idea that there was threat or pressure brought to bear upon the companies is silly.
First of all, I don't know what pressure you could bring of a practical nature. Both sides did, on the contrary, voluntarily accept this solution. They did so, first of all, saying that there would be no immediate price rises--the first time it has happened, by the way, in any steel contract that I know of since World War II; secondly, if the can or the aluminum contracts had been applied--their terms, been applied--to steel, this would have been a higher settlement than the compromise settlement that was reached. So the final word on the thing was, at least the hope was expressed, that if the kind of cooperation that they now believe could be expected between labor and the companies was pursued vigorously we might indeed avoid any price rises as a result of this contract.
Of course there are other influences always at work; for example, higher taxes in OASI, as they come in, and all the rest of it. But that was the thing that happened, and it is the whole story as far as I know it.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Sir, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, in his new book, is proposing a single Chief of Staff for all the services, and a much larger defense budget of something like $50 to $55 billion a year. Could you give us your views with regard to both those points?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I should think he has the right to his own opinion.
Q. Sarah McClendon, Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader: Sir, there seems to be sort of an attitude of kissing off defense adequacy, the subject even in your State of the Union Message; and your Republican leaders, as they came out of the White House yesterday, they seemed to think any question of adequacy here is partisanship.
Now, isn't this more of a serious situation? This Polaris submarine you referred to in your State of the Union Message, you said we would have some entering with missiles into the active forces this year. Do you mean "some" means one or more?
THE PRESIDENT. Wait just a minute. Are you asking a question or making a speech?
Q. Mrs. McClendon: I am asking two questions, sir.
THE PRESIDENT. O.K.
Q. Mrs. McClendon: Two questions, sir; with an introduction.
One is, is it not more serious, this question of adequacy of defense more serious, than just to kiss it off as a partisan matter; and, two., will the submarines, the nuclear submarines, with the missile that we get this year, be more than one?
THE PRESIDENT. I am not exactly certain as to the time each one of these comes off the ways. I know, and I think the budget shows, how many have been authorized each year. They know that the testing of the Polaris missile is going ahead, and the last one, the very last one that they have just had, has been successful.
I don't take it very kindly--the implied accusation that I am dealing with the whole matter of defense on a partisan basis.
First of all, I don't have to be partisan; and, second, I want to tell you this: I've spent my life in this, and I know more about it than almost anybody, I think, that is in the country, because I have given my life to it, and on a basis of doing what is good for the Government and for the country.
I believe that the matter of defense has been handled well and efficiently in the proposals that will be before the Congress within a matter of a day or so; and I think those people that are trying to make defense a partisan matter are doing a disservice to the United States.
Q. David Kraslow, Knight Newspapers: Mr. President, the Cuban Government apparently has rejected another protest concerning the illegal seizure and confiscation of American property. Does the administration plan to take any steps beyond the sending of notes. to secure equity for American property owners?
THE PRESIDENT. In this particular stage of this particular problem, I don't think it would be best to comment at the moment as to the things that may be available to us.
Q. Don Oberdorfer, Knight Newspapers: Mr. President, you asked the Congress to study the recommendations of the Commission on Civil Rights in your State of the Union Message. Do you agree with the majority of the Commissioners that a law is needed to provide Federal registrars when Negroes are denied the right to register or vote?
THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I don't even know whether it is constitutional.
What the Commissioners said: this was one plan that they thought might have some measure of validity and, therefore, they wanted to study it.
Now, the way I feel about this civil rights, we have one bill that was put in last year in which extensive hearings have been had; and I should like to see the Congress act decisively on this particular proposal, and such other proposals that now become almost controversial from the moment that they are presented would not enter into the process of examining and passing the bill that was already put before the Congress.
What I am trying to get at is, I have no objection to the study of the others. As a matter of fact, I want to study them because I would like to see what everybody thinks about it. My big problem is, though, let's get this bill already proposed on which they have had hearings, let's get that acted on.
Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, you have said on more than one occasion that you thought that there were a number of Republican leaders who would be qualified to be the presidential nominee. I would like to ask whether you think it is accurate to say that the Republican leaders in the main do not welcome a contest for the presidential nomination, as has been said, and what do you think of that statement?
THE PRESIDENT. I suppose you refer to the statement of Mr. Rockefeller--I mean in his announcement--in which he said, I think, those controlling the party--something of that kind. Now, if we are talking about political leaders, some of them have no position in the hierarchy of Republican machinery; that is, they are not members of the National Committee, they are not State or county chairmen, or anything of that kind. All I have said is this: there are a number of them that I think are very, very highly qualified people. I have said this ever since 1954, I guess. But I do not know whether they welcome any contest or not.
I am sure of this: some of the leaders think that any contest is good because of whipping up interest, even if they know, or think they know, who is going to win. But I suppose there are other ways; for example, in '56 it seemed to be perfectly well known, once I accepted, that I was going to be the nominee, and I don't see that it hurt that election particularly. [Laughter]
Q. Felix Belair, New York Times: Mr. President, in recent days the papers have been carrying a statement from a former British Prime Minister, Mr. Eden, highly critical of the United States foreign policy, particularly in Indochina and that general area, critical of Mr. Dulles.
Well, the way we operate, as you well know, is not to disclose papers that would confirm or throw light on our position at that time.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Belair: I wonder if in the present instance you might make it possible for us to receive some guidance so that the public could get the true picture of what really happened?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I do not comment on memoirs, and I must say at times there has been a bit of provocation. [Laughter]
I think here that, as an official matter, I wouldn't do. it. But remember this: Secretary Dulles was a very forceful man. He could very well talk about possibilities and ask people about possibilities that might by them be considered as proposals, when they were not meant that at all. It was to put out an idea and study it.
I do know this, that there was never any plan developed to be put into execution in the particular instance that has been talked about.
Now, on the other hand, I must say this: I have known Mr. Eden for many years, from the very beginning of World War II. I have known him in positions of responsibility, and he is not an irresponsible person So I think whatever he is doing, he is writing the story as he believes it to be.
Q. Mr. Belair: What I was wondering, Mr. President, was whether you would look sympathetically on--I mean I understand you could not possibly comment on this business--but would you look sympathetically on some authorized person in, say, the State Department, advising the press and supporting the contrary view, if there is a contrary view?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Belair, I would have to talk to them. I hadn't thought of that, but I will talk to them about it.
Q. Edward T. Foillard, Washington Post: Mr. President, to go back to the question of defense, some critics of the administration's defense program are saying that in talks with Chairman Khrushchev, you would be at a disadvantage because of the prospect that the United States will be second best in the missile field. Do you think that argument has any merit, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's put it this way: such an argument as that presupposes that I come to any conversation in the feeling of inferiority--that I am a little bit frightened. I assure you I am not.
I believe in the United States power, and I believe it is there not to be used but to make certain that the other fellow doesn't use his. I am not in the slightest degree disturbed by such a possibility as you speak of.
Q. L. Edgar Prina, Washington Star: From what your Air Chief General White said at the Press Club Monday, he believes that the virtual cancellation of the B-70 program was a budgetary decision, certainly not an Air Force decision, and he indicated that he might make his views known on Capitol Hill. Do you have any comment on it?
THE PRESIDENT. I will say this: it is certainly not a budgetary decision because there is money in the budget and, as I pointed out, there was a surplus that I hoped we could pay off some of our debts.
It was my conviction as to the necessity for particular weapons at a particular time. The B-70, as an operational weapon, is going to take a long time to produce, and we certainly ought to be in a pretty strong position in many other ways before those years elapse.
Q. Ronald W. May, Madison (Wis.) Capital Times: Mr. President, Representative Kastenmeier of Wisconsin has suggested that there might be a change in our traditional policy of not using chemical, germ, or poison gas warfare first. He said that Army people have indicated that they believed that maybe we should change our policy and use these first, either in a large war or even in a small war. Is this true?
THE PRESIDENT. I will say this: no such official suggestion has been made to me, and so far as my own instinct is concerned, is to not start such a thing as that first.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post Dispatch: Can you tell us how you reached the $4.2 billion surplus for fiscal 1961?
THE PRESIDENT. Easily; $84 billion of revenue, and 79.8 of expenditures.
Now, we did it on this basis, Mr. Brandt: we took a $510 billion GNP. Already, we are accused that it is too conservative. I saw one in a financial page the other day, a guess of 524; I saw where several bankers said 514.
We made ours 510; and on the basis of such a GNP and our tax rates, why, it was very simple to get a pretty accurate estimate of our expected revenues. Of course, we are hopeful that the Congress will see the wisdom of the recommendations we have made in the expenditure side, and by that means we hope to have that much to put on the debt.
Q. Mr. Brandt: I can see how you get your 84, but how do you get the 79.8?
THE PRESIDENT. I put that--yes, I said that in the State of the Union Message. It is the total amount of the budget.
Q. Mr. Brandt: Is that variable?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, look: now, let's don't pretend that anyone has got a sacrosanct judgment on something that reaches 18 months ahead. Of course, there are going to be some needs that are increased, and some that probably are decreased--hopefully. But that is our best guess at this time.
A budget, after all, is not a paper that you go to jail on if you happen to be a little bit wrong. A budget is an estimate, a plan for expenditures and revenues, and you get your balances on that basis.
But I do point out that it is absolutely necessary that we have savings to put on this debt that we are passing on to someone else; and possibly we seem to think it will be all right for us and them to. increase it. I think the kind of alleged economist that says that the United States can afford to keep piling this debt on and on and on is not one to be very highly respected as an economist.
Q. Lillian Levy, National Jewish Post: Mr. President, it is reported that our authorities in Berlin have put a lid on press information and requests about officials in the Bonn Government accused of former Nazi affiliations. The excuse offered is that this information might be embarrassing to the Bonn Government. Would you comment on such a reason for a news ban?
THE PRESIDENT. You will have to go to the State Department. I haven't heard any such thing as this. I thought it was all in the papers; at least I have read in the papers about the things that have been going on; so I think you will have to go to the State Department.
Q. Miss Levy: Well, the report was in the Post this morning that press requests for such information are being turned down by our military authorities who have records of Nazi, of officials in the Bonn Government who are accused of former Nazi affiliation.
THE PRESIDENT. That is a very "iffy" question. But I assure you of this, that a local military commander is not going to get into political affairs and give out information that has to do about the politics of individuals or anybody else. This is not his business, and while there may be reports of this kind that come to the Defense Department and are passed on to State, the last thing I would think of any local military commander would be to get into any such thing as that.
Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and seventy-seventh news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:33 to 11:02 o'clock on Wednesday morning, January 13, 1960. In attendance: 253.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235228