Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

July 06, 1960

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down. Do you have any questions?

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: Mr. President, I wonder if you could give us your general reaction to the situation in Cuba. Is there any Emit, Mr. President, to this country's policy of nonintervention, and is there anything that can or will be done about the expropriation of American-owned property?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, the Sugar Act just passed by the Congress--it came to my desk just a few minutes ago with the reports from the several departments, and along with that there are our plans for staff study and conferences with me during the course of the day. And I am sure that there will be something said on the whole situation--if not today, then early tomorrow.

And I think the part of wisdom, therefore, would be not to make any casual statements until that has been done.

Q. David Kraslow, Knight Newspapers: Mr. President, Senator Johnson said yesterday that we can look forward to the establishment of a Russian submarine base in Cuba. first, sir, do you agree with his estimate and, secondly, assuming that this occurs, what would you suggest that the United States and the other nations of the hemisphere do, if anything?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think there is not only the Caracas Resolution, but there is the OAS that is constantly--has a permanent body in which these things are assessed and what might be done about them.

Now I am not going to make any guesses about the possibilities of which the Senator spoke. Always there are such possibilities in the world, but I don't think it is a likelihood. I do say that through the OAS, but if necessary to protect our own interests and to make sure that we are not threatened, why we would have to act as we saw fit.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Sir, can you conceive of a situation where a Russian military base and a United States base would coexist on Cuban soil?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't believe I will comment or try to predict on that one.

Q. Mr. Scherer: Mr. President, you have traveled almost 100,000 miles in the cause of peace this past year and yet, for a number of reasons, your hopes have not been fulfilled. It has not been possible to. reach a detente with the Soviet Union. There was no summit, and the Japan visit was canceled. Could you tell us how you feel about all this, in personal terms--whether, for instance, you think it might affect your place in history, and what part these recent developments in foreign policy might play in the election campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you certainly asked a big question. [Laughter]

Well, let's dismiss the simple part at once. My place in history will be derided by historians, and they will probably give consideration to these years and to the war years that they think they deserve, and then they will make a conclusion. And I don't think I will be around to differ with them.

Now, as to the effort to produce better understanding among the free nations, and in the hope that this will lead to a better road for seeking out agreements--negotiations--with the Iron Curtain countries--the Soviets--of course, I have worked on this for a long, long time, and I tried in my talk of a couple weeks ago to try to put this thing in perspective. I see no reason, either, for despairing because such successes as were achieved were not all that you would like to have been. On the other hand, I see no reason for getting pessimistic and not continuing to work.

And I said then, I believe that any future President will find some value in the occasional visit to other countries, and certainly I know that if he is going to respond to the American wishes--the wishes of the American people--he is going to be doing his very best to promote peace. Now, that is all I can say.

Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, an increasing number of economists appear to be expressing the view that a recession may be edging up on us or may actually be under way. I wonder what your own assessment is of the economic prospects.

THE PRESIDENT. Will you name the economists?

Q. Mr. Schwartz: Well, one in particular is the research director for the Investment Bankers Association, who says that we actually may already be in such a recession.

THE PRESIDENT. I have seen two letters from interested parties, but in the second quarter our GNP was $503 billion, which is an all-time high. In May, the last month for which we have figures, the employment went up a million. The personal income is over 400 billion.

Now, the one thing on which they must be predicting this recession is the fact that steel is operating on the order of 50 percent. Now, there are two things to remember. One, that such a tremendous capacity--productive capacity of steel--was built in the few years in the past that now the 50 percent activity is something on the order of 75 some very few years back. And possibly there is a reserve capacity that is a very good thing. And you would not expect it to operate at 100 percent all the time, because then you would have to build some more and then you would still have a low percentage or a lower percentage.

And the other thing is right after the conclusion of the steel strike, everybody was astonished by the rate of steel production. And inventories were built up, and there is not now the same demand that there was at that moment.

That is the only thing that I know on the horizon that gives legitimate cause for the concern these people have expressed.

Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Governor Rockefeller of New York, sir, made a series of statements recently questioning the relative position of the United States versus the Soviet Union. Specifically, he says that we have declined in terms of military, psychological, and economic strength in relation to the Soviet Union.

I wonder, sir, whether you agree with the Governor's assessment, and, too, what effect do you think his campaign along these lines will have on the Republican Party politics?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, let's talk about this thing, about defense and how we have declined militarily. I have put in, I think it is now, a total of eight budgets. In five of those budgets the Congress has reduced the amounts for which I asked. Three of those budgets--and only incidentally I remark that they were election years--they have raised those budgets. Now, what I am at least getting at is this: that the judgment of the Executive Department, which is reached after--well, tortuously, you might say, through the long channels that have to follow before you get to the making up of the budget, has been, by and large, approved by the Democratic-controlled Congress during these years. There is not, in other words, a very great deal of difference between us.

Now, there are individuals, of course, who get very deeply concerned, and possibly even worried, about some of these things and believe that just more money would do a better job.

I will say the Governor is not only entitled to his own opinions but is entitled to express them. And I don't believe that that mere expression will itself tend to wreck any party. That is--it happens to be his conviction; it is not mine.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, Mr. Khrushchev has set up his plans so that shortly after a new administration takes office, he may be in position to make very radical or dramatic proposals with respect to Berlin, and so on. Have you given any thought yet, sir, to the idea of a transitional arrangement with a new administration respecting foreign affairs?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'd say only this: When the election is carried out and the results known, my successor, no matter who he may be, will be given every facility to familiarize himself with every going policy, every activity, every connection we have, and he and his associates that he will appoint to take the place of my associates will be given like opportunity, so that this Government can go forward according to the convictions of the administration that comes in and can be informed in so doing.

Now, so far as Mr. Khrushchev's opinions on this and his statements are concerned, I don't believe that either party is--should be--concerned about them, and I don't believe they are concerned about them. They are very crude attempts to involve himself and his influence, if any, in this country into our affairs, and I don't believe that either side is going to try to find any advantage in whatever his advice to both of us may be.

Q. Charles W. Bailey, Minneapolis Star and Tribune: Sir, in the light of your two terms in the White House, I wonder if you could give us your judgment, all other things being equal, on the importance of age as a factor in choosing a President.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't suppose there is any ideal age, because we've had people of all ages. As a matter of fact in my own case, if the good Lord allows me to fill out my term, I'll be the oldest man that ever served in this office.

Now, I have not, in spite of three illnesses, felt that physical defects or a weakness has been any decisive factor with me and in the way I have conducted my office. At times I may doubt a little bit my mind and intellectual capacity and my good judgment, but I'll tell you one thing: I never doubt my own heart and where it stands with America. And I don't think that the physical has had a great deal to do with whatever good I've been able to accomplish or the mistakes I have made.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, have you received a report on the amount of the Treasury surplus for 1960, and have you made an estimate of how much, or guess as to what, the 1961 surplus will be?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we've got an estimate, but it has not yet been finalized, and therefore I don't want to put the figure out prematurely. I do think it is fair to say that, respecting the '61, after all, we asked for the money that would make up the Post Office deficit and to raise the taxes for aviation gasoline and the tax we--the additional half cent we asked for in highways, of course, went into the trust fund and not into the budget. On top of that, there has been a great deal of money, including just an $800 million slug just the other day for each year; so it would be a miracle if the surplus for '61 should be what I then estimated.

But let's remember that that budgetary estimate lays down the conditions on which it is made; that is, the additional revenues and the estimate as to the prosperity of the country at the time.

Q. John V. Horner, Washington Star: Mr. President, on the subject of Cuba, is the United States making any serious efforts to get across its story to the Cuban people so they will fully understand, some time in the future, that our quarrel is not with them but with the present policies of their present government?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we are. Now, I haven't had a recent report as to how effective that is. But that is exactly what we are trying to do. And I have stated before this group time and again we not only have no quarrel with the Cuban people, we want to be their friends and, indeed, I think we both need each other. They are great producers of sugar, and we consume--or we import--something like over 3 million tons a year from them. It seems to me we have a very fine mutually beneficial arrangement. And it is only the inexplicable actions of the government that caused the trouble, as we see it.

Q. L. Edgar Prina, Washington Star: Mr. President, you and Mr. Nixon have just had a long political talk, we understand. Can you tell us anything about how active a role you plan to play in the coming campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the only thing I know at this moment, I am to be at--I'm to make a talk on the night of the 26th at the Republican Convention and to be there the following morning for breakfast. And then my wife apparently gets a free lunch, and then we are going on from there.

Q. Mr. Prina: But beyond that--

THE PRESIDENT. Now, beyond that there are no plans made that I know of.

Now, I do have, for some reason, an unusual number of prior engagements for nonpolitical meetings and all over the place, but I haven't got any political engagements made for the time being, except that one.

Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Communist China has been contending that war is inevitable with the capitalist countries, and the Soviet Union has been saying otherwise. What is your opinion of this and to what extent should it guide our future policies?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you mean in the effort to split these two peoples apart, or what do you mean--in our policy in avoiding war? What are you talking about?

Q. Mr. Davis: Our policy in meeting the threat of a nation that believes war is inevitable.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will say this: if you will go back into the writings of Lenin and even, I think, you will find it in Stalin's book on the problems of Leninism, these same statements were made. Now, as these people have gotten more productive, they have a much bigger collection of productive mechanisms. In other words, they have accumulated wealth, and they've also got a great arsenal of powerful weapons; I think that there is--there comes a time when their views as to the methods they will use to dominate the world should be--might be changed. And I think that there is a change going on there that probably the Red Chinese have not yet decided upon. As of this moment, they seem to be much more belligerent and much more, you might say, quarrelsome than are their associates.

But I would think this: just as always in this world, vigilance, alertness, and strength are the base from which you must work, as you try to bring about conditions in which these things will not come about.

Q. David P. Sentnor, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, as a follow-up to that subject, would you care to comment on the statement of Khrushchev in Austria that he would like to have the Communist flag fly over the whole world during his lifetime?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think he once said in that same statement that he wasn't talking about doing it by violence and by war; he said this was a hope of his, but he said not an expectation.

Now, I may be quoting from a reporter from your newspapers; I'm not sure. But he said it was a hope and not an expectation.

In other words, they, the Communists, have never retreated one step from their conviction, their belief, that the Communist flag ought to fly over the whole world from pole to pole. And so their intention is still the same.

Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: Mr. President, in view of Premier Khrushchev's derailment of East-West negotiations in the last few months, do you see any way that we could get these talks and negotiations back on the track during the remainder of your administration?

THE PRESIDENT. I have directed and I've made sure that there is a clear understanding on the part of the Soviets that we are ready to talk any time, honestly and without any equivocation or evasiveness, on the problems that .have been attracting our attention--I mean our common attention. These are disarmament, nuclear testing, liberalizing movements, and exchange of ideas, and all that sort of thing between our two sides.

Q. Lillian Levy, Science Service: Mr. President, on the subject of disarmament, what were the plans we would have presented on nuclear disarmament at Geneva had not the Russians walked out, and has their walkout affected our decision concerning the resumption of nuclear testing?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, to take the second part, the nuclear testing, there is not yet any indication that they intend to walk out on these particular negotiations.

The five nations on our side--Canada, Italy, Britain, ourselves, and France--that are the part of the 10-nation conference, are staying there for a while, because this gives them such a fine opportunity to refine and agree upon the details of the plan that we should--would have submitted to the Russians on the day they walked out.

Now, this plan has been exposed in its general terms and, as I say, is now undergoing some refinement, and that's all there is to be done on this thing.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, this is the first press conference we've had in 8 weeks, and part of that time you've been away, but part of that time you've been in the city. My question is: do you base your decision on whether or not to hold a press conference on some policy consideration, apart from the time element that you have, or how do you decide whether or not to hold a press conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, I suppose that there is some little bit of whim that comes in there once in a while. But, in fact, I don't try to be talking all the time. I don't try to take charge of the microphone and carry that as my baton.

But the fact is now, one week I made a speech on Monday. I said about all on the subject then that seemed to be engaging the headlines that I could think of, and there seemed to be very little reason for a press conference. And then, as you say, I'm away at times, and other things come up. Whenever the day seems to be free and I can do it, well, frankly, I enjoy many of them, you know. And so it is not any running out on the thing; it's just, as I say, how it happens to strike me, I guess.

Q. Felix Belair, New York Times: In the matter of nuclear testing, Mr. President, I think it is now approaching 2 years since we volunteered the ban on further testing, and there have not been, of course, any controls or assurance that Russia is not continuing its tests. Is it the intention to continue the ban on our testing as long as the negotiations continue, in view of--what I am getting at, Mr. President, the charge frequently heard that this is gambling with the national security, of which we'll hear more in the weeks ahead, I am sure.

THE PRESIDENT. As of this moment, of course, we are actually proposing certain tests in which the three countries will participate and on, you might say, an equal basis so 'far as that can be established. There are very many legal and technical problems or obstacles to overcome, and our hope would be that in this matter we would have this much--we would have a sufficient, you might say, assurance--sufficient assurance of progress and of honest intent on the part of the other fellow that we could afford to stand for a few more months without testing.

Now, I've made quite clear about--I think it was about last January, or something of that kind--that our promise no longer held. We had said we will not test in the atmosphere, we will not do anything to pollute it. We reserved the right, however, if we cannot get any kind of agreement, to make such underground tests as we would choose. Well, that decision has not been changed. On the other hand, when we will make a decision that we now have to go in our own--in the interests of our own security and defense--that is one that has to be made when we see what happens. I can't--I must say it hasn't been too hopeful in its outlook, but I think it is still worthwhile pressing for some kind of an agreement.

Q. Charles H. Mohr, Time Magazine: During the period right after the summit, Mr. President, when Mr. Khrushchev was releasing a whole waterfall of words and abuse about you, he made a statement that at Camp David you had said that you weren't in favor of German reunification, and that's been dealt with by a White House statement. But it seems Mr. Khrushchev is embarrassed somewhat now because of his own friendly attitude during this period, in view of the Chinese attacks on him. Can you tell us some of the concessions he might have suggested at Camp David and some of the other things that had passed between you on this Berlin question over the months in communications?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, frankly, this talk, like between most heads of state, heads of government, was of informal character, taking from one end of the spectrum and going to the other. And the only concession that was made that I know of was the one that I announced the following morning, I think--let's say Tuesday or Wednesday after that--I guess even before this body, that so far as his attitude on Berlin and his policy on Berlin was concerned he had removed the time limit.

You remember, he had had a time limit that at first he put 6 months, and then he hinted at another one, and he said there would be no time limit, although he said he wanted to negotiate honestly, and we said we wanted to negotiate honestly always, having in mind the basic problem of the reunification of Germany.

Now, that was all that was--that I remember of a substantive concession made by him and certainly we didn't make any, because we didn't have any to make.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Sir, in the past, you have praised Governor Rockefeller as a good Republican. Has your view of him changed, or do you still consider him qualified for a place on the Republican ticket?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know what I've said--I've said this: I've had a good number of years of experience with Nelson Rockefeller, and I have found him a dedicated, honest, hard-working man, and that's what I still think about him. Now this doesn't mean that I necessarily agree with all the conclusions that he has made in a number of fields.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, I would like to return to an earlier question and ask whether you feel, in view of the great uncertainty of foreign developments, after the election there should be close and recurring personal consultation between you and the incoming President regardless of who is elected?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't feel--after all, just like it takes two to make a fight, it takes two to make an agreement. And assuming that any individual wants this kind of consultation, he will certainly find me quite ready and willing.

Now, I would say this: in my own case, I found that to get into the documents, the budgets that were being proposed at that time--you see, I have to make up a '62 budget and propose it; I have to make up a State of the Union Message, and a whole--recommendations, including those about my convictions about the necessary reorganization of Government and all that. Now, we do have those documents which I think would do him more good than too many--just talks. But he will always be welcome to come in, I assure you.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, in view of the recent election in North Dakota, do you think the Republican Party ought to adopt a new farm program, or some new policies?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think any general policies. I will say this: right now I think it would be very good for the farmers, to take this one-this troublesome wheat thing--and pass the bill that the Senate did pass and sent over to the House. It has not been passed yet, and I think it would be a very great thing for them.

Actually, we talk about the farm problem like there is just one. There are as many farm problems as there are commodities, as there are different localities in this country, and it is a real mishmash of problems. And there is nobody that I know of that is ever going to cure it completely by governmental action. And anyone that believes that either the economic or the general economic or, more specifically, the farm problems are going to be cured completely by legislation is fooling himself. That's all there is to it.

Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and eighty-sixth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:02 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 6, 1960. In attendance: 215.

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/235041

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