Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

April 29, 1959

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down. I have no statement of my own.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President do you think Mrs. Luce should go on to Brazil as Ambassador, or if she should follow the advice of her husband and offer to resign? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's look at a little background.

Mrs. Luce was our Ambassador in Italy for a long time and operated very successfully there. Actually her work in helping to bring about a settlement on the Trieste question, I think was brilliant.

She resigned for reasons of health and personal reasons some time back; and a few--I suppose two or three--months ago, Secretary Dulles came to me and suggested that we ought to get her back. He said he thought he would like to send her into Brazil, because he thought her talents would be useful there.

I have always known her as a dedicated and useful public servant. As a matter of fact, I knew her really only as an ambassadress.

Now, she had some difficulties as you know, about confirmation and there were attacks made upon her.

Then she made a remark.

Now that remark, as far as I am concerned, was not meant as any disparagement of the Senate of the United States. She was unquestionably in a sort of heated type of disposition and temperament at the moment, and she said something that was perfectly human, even if she probably would have hoped it had never been published. [Laughter]

But what I am saying is this: even if ill-advised, it was human and she did not mean it as a disparagement of the United States Senate. I don't think she meant it that way and I don't think the Senate thinks of it as that way. So I see no major impairment of her usefulness for the post we intended.

Indeed, I had a survey made so far as it could be done by telephone yesterday afternoon in Brazil, and the answer there is quite clear that she is welcome in the post.

Q. David Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Have you received her resignation or any communication from her since yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not been in direct communication with her at all, and she has not submitted any resignation.

Now, she did, back about March 3d or 4th, the time of that Time article about Bolivia, she came in and said if we thought, in the State Department, that her usefulness had been impaired, she was quite ready to withdraw in spite of the fact that she was quite anxious to undertake that task. I was told then that Brazil, in spite of that article, welcomed her presence.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: Mr. President, in Augusta on April 15, in announcing the resignation of Secretary Dulles, you told us that you would name a successor within a matter of days. And then you were asked whether this meant that you might be considering someone other than Mr. Herter, and you said that there were a number of people in Government who had particular talent in this field; and there were all kinds of considerations to be studied.

Well, in the period between your press conference down there and the morning of April 18, when you announced the selection of Mr. Herter, there was a degree of speculation and interpretation in Washington that this had been a delay damaging to Mr. Herter and indicative, possibly, of some reluctance on your part to appoint him.

Now, what is your reaction to that sort of thing, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it was a lot of unnecessary speculation and unprofitable speculation.

From the very beginning of his illness, Foster Dulles, whose mind has not been impaired in the slightest--and I visited him only Monday afternoon-took up with me voluntarily the identity of his successor, should this become necessary. He thought that we should--no need for jumping into this thing with haste--that we'd look over the whole field and see what we had better do.

He and I both came to the conclusion that when this, if this ever came about, this necessity for replacement, that Mr. Herter should do it. But we didn't want to start any great speculation because I did not know, neither did the Secretary know, whether he would experience a period of upturn in his disease, or whether there would be no improvement and he would have to withdraw.

Now, the one thing that concerned us very definitely was Mr. Herter's health. And so when I got the final, definite notice--well, I don't know the exact date; let's say the 14th, something like that--and the doctor said that it would be better for him to resign, and he decided he should resign, then Mr. Herter was sent over to a clinic that had nothing to do with Government and where it would be not his own doctor, to be an objective examination, and the report came back. That was a report that needed to be read, but it nevertheless gave him, in my opinion, clear health certificate for going ahead, certainly for 2 years.

At this time it was merely a question of how to get hold of Mr. Herter now to make certain that I could give him his appointment in a dignified way. And I asked him to come see me. I believe he was traveling that day. So instead of getting him for Friday morning, why, I got him for Saturday morning.

He and Secretary Dulles and myself were completely agreed as to how this should be done, and let's not forget this: so far as I'm concerned, in such a serious matter as this, when you're losing a public servant of the stature and standing of Mr. Dulles, you don't try to hold a wedding until the other man has at least left the house. I think it was done decently and properly, and that is all there is to it.

Q. Thomas N. Schroth, Congressional Quarterly: Mr. President, last January, in your State of the Union Message, you said you planned to set up a committee that would draw up a set of national goals. As of now, no such committee has been set up. Could you tell us what the delay is for?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's to get exactly the right, proper people, the people that can give the time, and the people of the quality and standing that can do it; that's what the question is.

Q. Jules Witcover, Newhouse Newspapers: Rear Admiral Nunn, the senior U.N. delegate to the Military Commission in Korea, has demanded that the Communists disclose the fate of 2147 allied prisoners who were never accounted for.

Do we know now how many of these are Americans, and are we making any new efforts to recover them?

THE PRESIDENT. You bring to me news about this report from the Admiral.

Now, I recall, from memory, that there were a great number of people that we could not account for, and we have had long, serious, and even continuing discussions with the Chinese Communists trying to make them disclose where our prisoners were held.

At that time they gave us identifications in certain numbers and of those, we have gotten back a few and there are still some left there. But the details of this I would have to have looked up for you, and you could get it from Mr. Hagerty.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, I noticed in the newspaper this morning that Mr. Dulles, the Director of the CIA, calls the situation in Iraq the most dangerous in the world today.

Sir, do you feel that the fact that that situation has become so dangerous is a reflection on the foreign policy which has been pursued in your administration?

Is there any way of recouping the situation now before it slips behind the Iron Curtain?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's say this: we always recognized Iraq as a friendly country. So did the preceding administration. We have always met its request, at least so far as possible and certainly always in a reasonable manner, for the assistance that it needed. It had been one of the most progressive of the countries in the region. After the great difficulty that came about, after the revolution or revolt there that removed the King and the Prime Minister--now, from that time on there is also another feature that has come into the thing, and that is certain crosscurrents of antagonism within the Mideast.

We are trying and have been trying to be friends with everybody in the Mideast. We are very concerned about Iraq. We do our best not only to sustain but to promote our better relationship with that country, but that is complicated by--well, you know from the newspapers about the connections with communism and the difficulties with Egypt. This is not one of the easy problems.

I don't know that I would classify it as the most dangerous, but I would say this: it is one of those things that requires attention every single day on the part of our Government, and if there is anything we can do to promote better relations with this country without making other enemies in the same region, why that is a good policy to follow. And we do follow it.

Q. Ronald W. May, Madison (Wis.) Capital Times: Mr. President, the United States is about to fall behind Russia in the field of high-energy physics.

In Madison we have the Midwestern Universities Research Association that some years ago developed an atom smasher of very much more power than anything in existence, and they have been coming to the Atomic Energy Commission for years, asking for money to build this smasher, and have been consistently turned down.

Now, it has been reported that your Special Committee in this field is going to recommend that Stanford University get about the equivalent amount to build, to rebuild an old-fashioned type smasher, and this worries people in the Midwestern Universities. And they have learned now that the Russians are building the great advanced machine which was developed in Madison.

I wonder if there is any explanation for this.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it sounds a little bit like a pressure group presentation. [Laughter]

Now, I didn't know that Madison was seeking this particular mechanism there. Naturally, I wouldn't, but I do know this: I have had a very long presentation on the building of a--what you call an atom smasher-accelerator, I think, is the word they use when they talk to me.

They showed me the pictures of the biggest and presumably the best machine the Russians have, and I believe it is a half mile in diameter, but our people have come to the conclusion that a linear accelerator is better than any other.

They also told me, because I said, "Let's put this on a reservation somewhere and hide it," they said it has to be on the university; and they said because of past experience in this kind of thing they were putting on, they thought it should go in the Stanford locality.

Now, this is far from being old-fashioned. I am told by the scientists that this is the most extraordinary thing that has yet been attempted, will put us way ahead of where we are now, and will take about 5 years to build, I understand.

Q. Mary Philomene Von Herberg, San Francisco Call-Bulletin: Just supposing that everything goes well with this foreign ministers conference so that the summit conference is held, we are wondering, out in San Francisco, if you would not like to hold that summit conference there.

The city is very excited about it.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, that is the kind of question, the timing and the site and composition of the conference, that will be decided, certainly taken up by the foreign ministers. So I couldn't possibly give an answer to it at the moment.

Q. Miss Von Herberg: No, but we wondered if you would be interested in going out there.

They liked you when you were there before. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I always like to go to San Francisco.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. Hagerty indicated yesterday that you might have some comments that you would like to make about the labor bill which was passed by the Senate and is now going to the House. Would you care to, at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. Are you asking a question or do you want me to volunteer something?

Q. Mr. von Fremd: No, I'd like to

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the fact is that this whole labor situation, which has been characterized as worse than malfunctioning, even racketeering in some few labor organizations and among certain individuals, been highlighted by the McClellan committee report, this whole thing was studied by the administration last fall and winter, and we put it on a program.

Now, in the Senate bill as it has come out and passed and sent to the House, we think there are very definite weaknesses. I don't mind saying that I am very much disappointed, particularly in three fields: the secondary boycott is not dealt with properly and effectively; blackmail picketing the same way; and then the field of clarifying the relationships of States to those areas where the NLRB has refused to assert any jurisdiction. We believe there ought to be a definite law here to confer or to recognize that authority of the States to meet those particular problems.

Now, in those three areas I think the bill should be strengthened, and I am very hopeful that the House will do so.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, your old friend, Marshal Montgomery, seems to be at it again.

He seems to be taking a rather dim view of American leadership at the moment. He says that it is not as good as it might be, and that it lacks decision at the top.

I was wondering if there was any observation you care to make.

THE PRESIDENT. I think that about all I can say you will find in the British newspapers of this morning and last night; and I think if you will read those, that all the answers are there.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, it has been some time since you talked with us about the situation in Germany. Could you tell us how you think it is shaping up now that the talks are getting under way, and what your hopes are for the next few weeks, or any plans we have.

THE PRESIDENT. As you know, we have had some very serious conferences, Mr. Herter and indeed with Secretary Dulles and myself on the developing scene.

The only, you might say, sine qua non in our policy is this: we will not desert two million free people to some kind of domination that they would rebel against. We are going to maintain our rights to discharge the responsibilities that are still ours.

Now, after we stand on that flat-footedly, on that principle, I should say there are a great many approaches as to what might be done to ease the situation a little bit, to make certain that it will grow no worse from the standpoint of either side, and which will give some hope of improvement and more stability so that we will not be constantly facing a new so-called crisis or reason for tension.

Mr. Herter has gone over with our friends of the West to concert the kind of papers we will either separately or together table in this foreign ministers meeting. And thereafter we will see whether we can get anything that indicates hopefulness in the way of getting Germany in one-put it this way: make one little step toward a position where it could begin to think of negotiating a peace treaty.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, some high Air Force officials want strategic control of the missile-shooting submarines. What is your position on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I would be with the submarines.

I hadn't heard this charge before. I would think that here is something that the Secretary of Defense could control and direct and coordinate without any difficulty.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, could you give us your view of the British compromise proposal which has been laid on the conference table at Geneva, and which the Soviets seem to be interested in, having to do with the inspection of possible suspicious blasts?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Drummond, here is the basic issue there, as I see it: that proposal was made on the theory that the veto would be removed, that there would be no Eastern insistence upon the veto, and therefore the only problems to solve would be how many of these free inspections could be made. But so long as the Soviets insist upon the veto with respect to the composition of the committees, inspecting teams, their right to go inspect within the number, then there is no sense whatsoever, as I see it, of talking about the number that will be allowed.

Now, the difference between that and what we propose and with the British concurrence was--let us stop atmospheric tests, tests in the atmosphere, because the simplest kind of system could assure that our present methods could be reinforced with only a few stations, and there would be no teams driving around.

But until you have the authority to do this without the veto, then the number thing doesn't come in at all.

Q. Mr. Drummond: May I ask a related question, Mr. President?


Q. Mr. Drummond: Do we rightly understand that the British proposal is that there should be an agreed number of inspections that each side could make in the country of the other without veto, and then there would be a veto over additional inspections?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Drummond, as submitted to me and, as a matter of fact, as discussed with me in personal discussions, it didn't go into this detail. It was trying to find some way that would circumvent or get around the strict, unequivocal veto; and this would be, therefore, in their opinion, some advance if we could get that promise.

Now, the matter ought to be studied very intelligently and carefully. But each of these, you see, has some action and interaction and reaction, and it is very difficult to make, you might say, a shooting-from-the-hip answer to that kind of thing.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, if there is a summit conference, would you expect Vice President Nixon to attend it with you?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is quite early to be talking now about the composition of such a meeting, because the meeting itself has not yet been established. But I would say this: if the Vice President were to come, he and I would never be there at the same time, I would be quite sure of that.

Q. Joseph A. Loftus, New York Times: Mr. President, a further question about the labor bill, with particular attention to this bill of rights which is now in there to protect members from autocratic officers.

Would you, do you believe that this offsets in any degree the absence of some of the items that you asked for?

THE PRESIDENT. The bill of rights, as I saw it introduced and read it as introduced by Senator McClellan, I thought was a very fine thing.

There have been amendments made that withdraw from that position; and I would not believe, as it stands now, that it was a real substitute for the kind of things that I think should be done and that I specified.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader: Sir, on January the 3d the Russians made a claim that they had sent a rocket to the moon, and you, I believe the record of the Senate investigators showed, congratulated them on that very day, although our scientists did not seem to pick up a signal until the following day, and later there was great doubt among our scientists as to the claims by Russia.

Now, some people have thought that maybe your quick congratulations may have aided Russian propaganda in their claim to accomplishment. Would you-

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if I did, I will say this, it was strictly unintentional.

Now, I made a statement on the advice of the scientists who believed it was an advance, and it would be, since it was supposed to be in the peaceful field of space exploration, it would be really wrong not--to withdraw recognition of that accomplishment.

Now you say I did it before it was accomplished. Not as far as the scientists told me.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Could you tell us who those scientists were? Were they in Government or were they outside Government? Who advised you to go ahead with that?

THE PRESIDENT. I'll say this: in my opinion, some of the finest in the country.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, your statement about Vice President Nixon could leave the implication that you might not remain at a possible summit conference for the entire duration. Is that a logical--

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't mean to leave the implication that this was a probability of any kind, but I do remind you people always of some of the constitutional limitations that are placed on me, if you have to go out of the country for any considerable time.

Now, how would you have someone acting as the head of the state, or in his position, in a delegated position? Remember, the Secretary of State and his aides are working every day in the details with the foreign ministers; then you meet in the afternoon with the heads of state; someone has to be able to meet there who is not involved in the details all day long.

So I would have to find, I should think, if I did find it necessary to come home 2 or 3 days, somebody else. I just suggested that was one way that we might solve the difficulty. There's been no planning, I assure you; no plans of any kind.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, Senator Fulbright, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has suggested an amendment to the Mutual Security Act under which for 5 years a billion five hundred million would be appropriated each year for the Development Loan Fund.

What position are you now taking on that proposal?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have not had any studies yet. As to the beneficial effect of a rigid kind of a commitment of this kind, I believe this: here is something that requires the very finest brains we have all the time. Nothing that I deplore so much as the fact that in certain quarters this subject seems to become a political one, and we expect to get political advantages out of using slogans such as "Giveaway" and that kind of thing.

Now, I do believe that unless the United States is prepared to carry forward a program of higher appropriations than we are now using-I say that because we have been using up from the carryover something around 8 billion; we are down now to I think 1.8--we have got to carry forward a program that each year is going to be something stronger than what we are now doing, if we are going to serve our own interests in this world.

I am quoting such opinions as that of Admiral Radford and Mr. McCloy and Mr. Webb and Mr. Draper, the people that have been studying this very searchingly, and with no partisan or governmental or, you might say, administrative responsibility in the whole thing, and think there we must listen very seriously to their words.

Q. Mr. Reston: Mr. President, could I clarify one other point about that? Do you accept the principle of the long-range commitment?


Q. Mr. Reston: As I understand the argument is, you can save money if you can commit for 5 years.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I'd agree with that, I'd agree with that. I haven't talked to Senator Fulbright directly on this, but this has been an argument that Secretary Dulles and I put forward when we first asked for the development fund, because we asked for "no year" money to be put in there, to be used so far as possible in the long run, to be used as a revolving fund, but in the meantime to keep it at the level where you could do the job.

Q. Ruth S. Montgomery, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, what do you think about the type of attack that some Senators have made against Admiral Strauss, as well as Clare Luce, and what is back of it, do you think?

THE PRESIDENT. Miss Montgomery, I am not and I do not intend to question anyone's motives and therefore to ascribe to them any particular reasons for why they do things. But there are at this moment before the Senate 76 nominations made by the President, to say nothing of a thousand postmasters that are down there waiting confirmation. Of those 76, there are 47 I think that are classed as major appointments: 1 Secretary, 4 Assistant Secretaries, a number of judges, attorneys. All of these people as a matter of fact--judges, including one Supreme Court Justice--all these people are important to the functioning of the United States Government, and some of them are wondering now whether they are going to be here for a month and what they should plan to do, or whether they are going to be here after the Congress adjourns.

Every one of these men, so far as I and my advisers can discover, is not only well qualified for his job or her job but they are people that we think are pre-eminently qualified. So therefore I know of no reason for keeping this matter in abeyance so long. I do not criticize at all, legitimate research into ability, record; and any kind of fact that can be brought out, should be brought out; but we should get at it and do it and not just to defer the thing.

I think that Secretary Strauss is one of the finest public servants I have known. I have known him in a number of capacities, I have known him in private life, and I have never heard one single word against his character, against his honesty and his ability. And, therefore, I am really puzzled as to why this delay should occur.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and fifty-seventh news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 11:03 o'clock on Wednesday morning, April 29, 1959. In attendance: 252.

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/235574

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