Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

August 10, 1960

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.

I have a very short statement about this Congolese situation.

[Reading] I believe that the Security Council resolution, adopted early yesterday, represents another step forward in the United Nations determination, under the Secretary General's tireless efforts, to find a peaceful solution to the difficult situation in the Congo. The United States welcomes the steps Belgium has already taken and has said it will take in conformity with the Security Council resolutions.

Belgium has contributed much in past years to the development of the Congo. The United States hopes that loyal cooperation with the United Nations on the part of all concerned will restore confidence between the Belgian and Congolese peoples and enable Belgian civilians to continue their contributions in the development of the new Congolese State. [Ends reading]

Any questions?

Q. Jack Bell, Associated Press: Mr. President, both party platforms promised, pledged, an acceleration in defense, and despite the steps you have taken in the last few days and those that you outlined, Senator Lyndon Johnson says that you still do not intend to spend $621 million of the money Congress has made available. Could you tell us why you decided against spending that money?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, can you tell me how you decided that his statement was correct?

Q. Mr. Bell: Sir, I didn't say that his statement was correct. I just said that Senator Johnson--

THE PRESIDENT. You asked me why I decided it. Well, let's don't go that far.

Q. Mr. Bell: All right. If you--

THE PRESIDENT. I know of no reason for anyone to say that I have decided not to spend this money. But I'll tell you this--when you make changes in programs that remove from the budget some one and three-quarters billions of money and put back into it about $1.1 billion for other purposes, now there's a lot of study and tedious allocation and priorities to be settled and it's not done in a few weeks. It's a very difficult thing. And to say that this money has been frozen is--the proposition hasn't even been put before me in those terms at all, whatsoever.

Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: Mr. President, I wonder if you could give us your reaction to the possibility that Premier Khrushchev may lead the Soviet delegation to the discussion of disarmament in the United Nations, and could you tell us if you might possibly do the same for the American delegation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, by no means would I disbar myself from going up if I thought it were necessary. Now, Mr. Khrushchev proposed that all heads of state apparently, or of government, head their delegations when it comes to the General Assembly of September 20th, and that was obviously a propaganda thing.

Now someone told me that he has suggested he might bring his disarmament delegation. I haven't even given any thought to that, I just heard of it this morning sometime. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty]

Excuse me, I used the wrong date--September the 15th instead of September 20th.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, do you regret having kept Ezra Benson on as Secretary of Agriculture in view of the unresolved farm problem that is giving Mr. Nixon such a hard time in his campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Ezra Benson has, to my mind, been very honest and forthright and courageous in trying to get enacted into legislation plans and programs that I think are correct. And, therefore, for me to regret that he has been working would be almost a betrayal of my own views in this matter. I think we must find ways to give greater freedom to the farmer and make his whole business more responsive to market, rather than just to political considerations.

Now, this is what we have been trying to do and, as you know, in January I said--well, I've done everything I could to. try to get the Congress to accept sensible measures, and told them--I gave some very broad outlines, largely economic in nature--that if they would bring up a program that they thought was better, or that anywhere fell within these guidelines, I would approve it. Well, they've never done anything about it and the only bill that was passed that I know of was the Senate wheat bill which was killed by the House.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Sir, Republicans are saying that it's very likely that you will do a good deal of campaigning in the South in behalf of the Nixon-Lodge ticket because you received so many votes down there yourself in the last two elections. I'd like to ask, sir, are you planning to come south on several speaking trips and do you feel confident that the Nixon-Lodge ticket will do very well down there?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the Nixon-Lodge ticket is going to do well. And whatever I can do to promote it, and its success, because of my conviction that it would be good for the country, I shall do. Now this doesn't mean that I possibly should be out on hustings and making partisan speeches. I'm not so sure that it is--that it would be a good thing. I've got a lot of other responsibilities and I've got a lot of other commitments around the country. But I think these two fellows can take care of themselves pretty well and I think they are tops.

Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, in this special session will you spend more time discussing strategy with the presidential nominee of your party and will you give him a greater voice in your final determination on vetoes for signing various legislation than you have in the past, in view of his responsibility as the candidate or nominee of the Republican Party?

THE PRESIDENT. In the final analysis my decisions have to be made on what is best, what I believe to be best for our country--whether it is a veto or approval of a bill or anything else. Now, I don't see how the Vice President could be more closely drawn into the consultative process than he has been in the past. He's always been there, in every important meeting of which I can remember. But, I repeat, this is my responsibility and will be until noon on January 20th and until--as long as any question is put up before me involving what I believe is the good of the country, I'm going to decide it according to my judgment.

Q. David Kraslow, Knight Newspapers: Mr. President, the Democrats have charged that the administration proposed civil rights legislation at this time simply to seek political advantage. Would you care to comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I made a proposal in January. I called special attention May the 3d, I believe it was, in this year, and I think it would be completely inconsistent if I failed to point out that in the legislation passed this spring, the one major bill that had been passed before May 3d, two of the provisions that I asked for were omitted and that's what I did. I repeated those and I should like to point out that all this talk about me starting a bunch of new programs is just a little bit silly. Go back and look at what I have been recommending, not only during the months past, but for years in some instances. for example, I know for 5 years I have been recommending an area assistance bill, and have had to veto one that was so completely beside the point that it was no good. But I still want one. Now, I'm just asking for what I have always believed.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Sir, I believe you said that we could not permit a Communist-dominated regime to come into our hemisphere. Do we not now have such a regime in Cuba, and what can we do about it in a domination form?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mrs. Craig, I am not going to propose specific plans of what we might do. But what I have said is: any organization, I mean any government, that was dominated and controlled by international communism--that is, if it were in the same status, let us say, as a satellite--any other satellite--state, this to my mind would call for very definite action.

Now, the mere fact that someone that might believe in a different form of government than I do and established it themselves freely, then I don't see how the United States could properly object or intervene. Now, I don't believe this is going to happen. I don't believe there is any case in the whole world when any group of people have freely voted to make themselves--to regiment themselves. Therefore I think that you have got to take the situation itself, analyze it--what does it mean? What is its significance in the international world? And then finally devise those means that will defeat it.

Q. Felix Belair, New York Times: Despite assurances from leaders of both parties in the Senate, sir, and as some of the questions here this morning would indicate, the first 3 days of the session have gotten off to a rather partisan political framework. I wonder if you intend to address yourself to this point when you meet with the leaders of both parties next week, or whenever it is, and when would that be?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not going to address myself to the business of lecturing them how they should carry out their own duties and to perform in conformity with their own consciences.

Now, what I shall do is lay out a situation in the international field, which I think is important, and I'll put it this way: I'll invite them to come if they should like, to explain further the details of the international situation as I see it and which have been responsible for some changes in my own programs.

Q. Mr. Belair: Has any date been set?


Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: This is a question about the agreement that the Vice President and Governor Rockefeller reached just before the Republican Convention. What do you think of the principles that they set forth, and do you think, as some members of the party seem to, that the Vice President went too far perhaps in appeasing the Governor?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think he feels that he was appeasing. I think he thought here was a proper activity for two major figures in the political future of our party, and he decided that he should meet with the Governor, and they did, and they came out with certain things. I don't think any one of us would possibly agree with every single comma and period and word, but I think this: I think that certain of the people have already stated--here is a platform that the Republican Party can follow with honor and with the certainty that it would be good for the United States.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: On that same point, sir, the Nixon-Rockefeller agreement, it was reported in Chicago at the time of the Convention that you were personally upset at what that agreement had to say about defense on the grounds that it was implicitly critical of your administration. Were you upset and did you try to get the platform language changed at Chicago.?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't remember that I was upset. As a matter of fact, I didn't see the details of the platform until after I reached--I think it was the following morning, I think it was Wednesday morning, they gave me a pamphlet that had the platform and I read it, frankly, on the way out to Denver.

Now, there were many calls as to what I thought would be a good thing to put in, in the planks of the platform that had to do with defense, and I conferred by telephone with a good many people and for a good many hours. I don't recall anything that I found that I thought of as particularly critical. I have always insisted that you are dealing in a platform with the years as you see them coming up. I've been having to deal with the years that are now in the past, and therefore it would be miraculous if you just said, "This is adequate for the future." And what they say in one decade is not necessarily the same as another. I say one era or one period or one atmosphere might justify one type of action; another era, another atmosphere, might justify something else. In other words, I thought of it as something as building; I hadn't looked at it in the terms that you asked your question.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, if Mr. Khrushchev should come either to the Disarmament Commission meeting or to the General Assembly meeting, would you see any advantage in having him down here for a talk, or a meeting in New York?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, frankly, Mr. Hightower, I have considered the possibility so remote that I haven't given it a thought. Now, if I were to come to the conclusion that it was useful for me to see him, why, I would of course invite him to come down if he so chose. But, I haven't even given it the kind of thought that would allow me to make a decision at this time.

Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: The Vice President is said to be inhibited by the fact that he cannot speak on the Senate floor. Would you have any objections to his holding press conferences about the legislative program?

THE PRESIDENT. I would have none, no. As a matter of fact I am quite sure that while, with the exception of minute detail, he would be saying exactly the same thing I would be, I have no objection to his going and making any kind of public talk any time, anywhere at a place that is applicable or appropriate and say just exactly what he pleases. Certainly the others do. [Laughter]

Q. John R. Gibson, Wall Street Journal: Mr. President, there is a lot of discussion and certain amount of uncertainty as to what the economy can be doing between now and the end of the year. What do your advisers tell you about it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, the one spot in the economy that everybody watches is steel, which finally got down to 50 percent and is now going back a little bit. Now, we've got to remember about steel, that because of the rather hysterical production before and after the strike that we were operating almost at 100 percent, and this country cannot now consume and absorb a steel production that we are capable of turning out. After all, I think we can do almost 150 million tons a year. So, it would--we couldn't possibly expect to be operating at 100 percent, but that is nevertheless showing one of these ups and downs in the steel production that is always bothersome.

As of now this is the latest report I have from the economic advisers. Gross national product is--for the second quarter--is even higher than we had estimated. Personal income is over $400 billion. Both of these are records. Employment is almost 69 million, another record; and retail sales continue to go up at a record.

Now, these are very hopeful signs and certainly ,there is no reason to read what you might call a receding or any kind of depression-like situation in our economy. People have talked a little about housing, how right now they are building houses at a rate of 1,300,000, which is, I think with one exception, as high as we have ever been. And automobiles--in July were not very good, but one reason is that they are making their--still we are going on a 6 million basis this year and it looks like we will make something over 6 million, which is really a very fine year.

And on top of that the models are probably coming up earlier this year, I have heard, and therefore there may be some hesitancy in buying the new automobiles.

All in all, while you do not see a picture of a burgeoning economy at this particular period you certainly don't see any signs that anyone can call a recession or depression.

Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Do you see any need, sir, for the United States to reexamine or reappraise its economic and military aid program to Laos in view of the rebel regime that has ousted the government there and invited our forces to leave?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, actually, for I guess about 30 hours now, I have been trying to get some real details on the Laos situation, and we really don't know anything about it. It does appear that all of the country except the capital, taken over by a battalion of parachuters, remains loyal to the royal government. So, until there is some clarification, I don't think we can make any answer whatsoever.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, there is some puzzlement about your message that you sent to Congress Monday on the military program. Is this an about-face on your program to expand the ground forces and give them more modern equipment and increase the capability of SAC and B-70 bombers, is this an about-face or is it a change that you took in light of the world situation or were you influenced to do this by Mr. Nixon or Mr. Rockefeller? [Laughter]

THE. PRESIDENT. Well, I wasn't influenced by anybody except my own military and State Department advisers and my own judgment. Now, anyone who does not see evidence that the Soviets have been trying to create a very different atmosphere than what it had been trying to create over the past couple of years is not reading very closely. This being so, it seems to me that it's all a matter of keeping the confidence of your allies and your own people that you are taking anything that within reason shows your awareness of this kind of change and take such effective and reasonable steps as you believe will do something to counteract them.

Q. Charles L. Bartlett, Chattanooga Times: Mr. President, what is your present thinking on the question of underground nuclear testing, and is there any difference on this point between you and the Vice President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well I can't recall what he has ever said specifically about nuclear underground testing. As you will recall, I think it was in December of last year, I said we would be no longer bound by any gentleman's agreement on this matter, but that we were going to hold our hand until we could exhaust every possibility of reaching some worthwhile agreement.

Now, this has been a very disappointing and discouraging thing and we've apparently made no progress. But, I will just simply say this: when we come to the place that progress is not possible, then we have to take care of ourselves. But I will adhere, as long as I am here, to the one promise I made: I will not allow anything to be exploded in the atmosphere that would add anything to the apprehensions of people about their health.

Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Can you tell us if there is any substance to reports that there is a possible Soviet overt move in the offing in Europe or in Asia this late summer or fall, perhaps against Berlin or --

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't--where?

Q. Mr. Kent: Against West Berlin or somewhere else in Europe.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the only thing I could think of that is related to your question, is that Mr. Khrushchev continually says something to the effect that he will be ready to sign a peace treaty with East Germany at such and such a time. I believe that he made that statement most recently in connection with his objection to the meeting of the Bundestag in West Berlin. Well, this is something that has been going on for a long time, and I don't know any reason why he should make this statement at this moment. But otherwise, I don't know of anything that would indicate any intention on their part to do anything major.

Q. Ralph de Toledano, King features: The Democrats have indicated that they will block all attempts to enact the programs that you sent up to the Hill. Do you have any plans for going over the head of Congress to the people?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know; possibly I'm doing it right now. [Laughter]

I am just simply trying to say that I have been standing for a number of things for quite a while, and I think to--now to desert them and say we'll do nothing about them merely because Congress saw fit to recess and then have what they say is a short session, we cannot just simply say that politicking is more important than the Nation's business, and I don't think it is. I think that the Nation's interest comes first, and we should do what we can about it. And I personally think this: I think all this talk about Congress having to take weeks and months and months to get simple actions carried out and accomplished is a little bit silly. If there is a determination on the great majority that there is now in the Congress, to enact a constructive program, it could be done very quickly, because they've got a 2 to 1 majority in both houses.

Q. S. Douglass Cater, Jr., Reporter Magazine: Mr. President, are you, in your discussions with the Vice President, do you feel that there is any serious difference between you on the size of the defense acceleration that is needed at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so. Certainly if there is, he hasn't come to me with it, and we've talked about it.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, would you spell out for us the ideas you have in mind for your new Latin American program?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, by and large it's this: to find better ways of getting a cooperative effort in these nations to bring about the thing they are always talking about--a rise of living standards throughout their nations. Many of our lending institutions are not geared to this kind of thing. You build roads and docks with what you call soft loans because they are not immediately productive, and you help mines and industry, initiating new industries and all the rest of it with different types like the Ex-Im Bank, but what we need is something, and programs which we can work out ourselves and have enough authorization or intent behind them that we can begin to give more hope directly to people throughout this hemisphere.

Q. Mr. Reston: Could I ask another question about that?


Q. Mr. Reston: Well if you do not get in this month, these 3 weeks, the program you want, will you then summon the Congress back at a later date?

THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't think it--well, it's not a matter I have thought of yet. Congress has been here quite a bit this year, but I am not asking for a specific program, Mr. Reston. I'm saying I would like to have an expression of the sentiment in the Congress and its intent that we would, together, find ways to bring about this raising of living standards and bringing better life to these people generally, rather than just confining ourselves to these particular different types of loans of which I speak.

Now, if we have that then we can go to the Bogota conference and talk definitely--what are the kinds of plans and what are the programs I don't want to make the programs from here for South America, as you can well see. They are the ones that have to make the programs or cooperate with them. Then, if we can find that we can support them with a good heart and knowing that we are serving our own interests as well as theirs, then I think we'd have something really worthwhile.

Jack Bell, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and eighty-eighth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:19 to 10:59 o'clock on Wednesday morning, August 10, 1960. In attendance: 206.

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/235165

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