Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

October 15, 1958

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down. I have no announcements.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, do you subscribe to Vice President Nixon's campaign statement which he made in reply to Democratic criticism that the Acheson foreign policy resulted in war and the Eisenhower-Dulles policy resulted in peace?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, again you are bringing to me a quotation that I hadn't even read. But I do subscribe to this theory: foreign policy ought to be kept out of partisan debate. I have tried to live that doctrine. Incidentally, I notice that one of our most prominent members of the other party is a man who happened to have borne the responsibility of the Presidency, and he takes exactly the stand that I am just now expressing, that foreign policy ought to not be within partisan debate.

I realize that when someone makes a charge, another individual is going to reply. I deplore that. They have made the charges about me. I will not answer, do not expect to.

So I believe, in the long-term, America's best interests in the world will be best served if we do not indulge in this kind of thing.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, in this connection, do you subscribe to the thesis that discussion of such situations as this Quemoy affair, in which there are opposition views to the administration views, actually weakens the administration's position or ability to negotiate?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not always; but I will tell you, Mr. Roberts: there is a very clear distinction to be made with respect to foreign policy, as I see it. One is the policy and one is its operation.

Every single day there are new and tough decisions that have to be made within a foreign policy. But if you go back to 1947 and see the statements that are made about opposing the territorial expansion of communism by force, when you go back and see what our policy went into in the effort to develop collective security, mutual aid, technical assistance, that kind of thing that, well, at least will help to make the free world stronger collectively--each individual nation, as opposed to communism-those when you come down to it are the basic parts of the policy.

At times humans, being human, are going to make errors. I think they will. And therefore I do not, by any means, decry intelligent questioning and criticism of any particular point. But when it comes to the policy that is being established, I think it has been standing pretty well on its own feet for a long time.

Q. Mr. Roberts: Well, do you consider, sir, it is fair to use the term "appeasement" for those who have opposed your policies specifically in this Quemoy case?

THE PRESIDENT. I say this: I have spoken out against appeasement exactly as appeasement was spoken against many years ago in this area.

Now to my mind when you give way to force and readjust yourself and go back through force, it can't be anything else but appeasement.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: Mr. President, over a period of months there have been bombings, explosions in the South and the Middle West directed against Jewish churches and Jewish community centers. Some of these have been attributed to people who describe themselves as a Confederate underground. Other people responsible for these explosions have been quite silent. Do you feel that there is anything you can do to halt or discourage these incidents, and do you relate them in any way, sir, to the school integration issue?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is a pretty broad question. I went out of my way on Sunday afternoon when I heard about the bombing in Atlanta to speak extemporaneously about my feeling about these bombings. Now, you had certain phrases in your question to which I want to advert. You said these people described themselves as part of the Confederate underground. from babyhood I was raised to respect the word "Confederate"--very highly, I might add--and for hoodlums such as these to describe themselves as any part or any relation to the Confederacy of the mid-19th century is, to my mind, a complete insult to the word. Indeed, they should be described as nothing but Al Capones and Babyface Nelsons and that kind of hoodlum.

Now, what I have done and what I will do is to continue to speak out against this, well knowing that the police power is centered primarily in the State, but still doing what we can and making certain, as already indeed has been done, that the facilities of the federal Government that are asked for by local police agencies and governors and so on, proper officials, will always be available.

I add one more word. from my own people, the Justice Department, I had a report that the efficiency of the Atlanta police force was of the highest order and, under Chief Jenkins, was doing the finest kind of work that they could possibly conceive of.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, this is a question, too, that might be called one of political ethics, sir.

In the past, Mr. President, you have had occasion to deplore the activities of so-called hate groups stirring up religious and racial prejudice, and so forth. It happens, however, that some of these groups are prominently identified with the Republican side in the current political campaign. One of the individuals involved, a man named Kamp, pretty viciously attacked you and Earl Warren in 1952.

How do you feel about members of your party, candidates or otherwise, soliciting or accepting support from such people?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Morgan, I can't speak for other individuals. As a matter of fact, I am not so certain that I can speak in generality on this subject.

Just the other day someone sent me a pamphlet which I had never before seen because I don't read such things ordinarily, but this was a pamphlet written, I think by the man you named, about me in 1952, and I am sure that there was nothing that was omitted in the way of name calling except the word "gentleman."

I still have no reason for taking off after him. I deplore that kind of exaggeration, hate mongering, but exactly what I should do if that man happened, and stated later that he went into a voting booth and voted for me, I don't know what I could do about it. Do you see what I mean?

So, there must be some limit to what you can say. I just think that Americans are growing up. Hopefully I believe that this improvement will continue, because if you go back to some of the campaign literature of the past, if you go back again to that book "The Presidency," I think it was by Lorant, and read it, you can see that some of our things today are rather mild. Not that I don't deplore them, but I do believe we are getting a little better.

Q. Mr. Morgan: Do you think it would help, sir, if a national committee would issue a statement deploring such tactics specifically?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hadn't thought of it, but so far as I am concerned I would deplore it as strongly as I know how. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty]

I am just told that in one of these instances Mr. Knowland did repudiate this same man, and apparently he knew about some effort the man was trying to make.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, usually accurate newspapers frequently refer to you as "General Eisenhower."

THE PRESIDENT. What paper?

Q. Mrs. Craig: Usually accurate, a number, refer to you as "General Eisenhower."

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand the adjective, that was all.

Q. Mrs. Craig: Yes, sir. I had understood that you resigned from the Army when you entered the Presidency. Will you tell us what your status is now, and whether you wish to or can resume a military status when you leave the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know whether I should at this moment voice my future ambitions, which I assure you are very mild, but I will tell you this: I did resign, actually resigned my commission on the day I was nominated. It would have been legal for me to have gone merely on the inactive retired list without pay, but I wrote the very hardest sentence that I ever wrote in my life, the one sentence resigning my commission. So today, so far as official position is concerned, I occupy that that any other President has occupied.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, different Presidents have had different favorite hobbies and sports. In your case you seem to find a special appeal and a special value in golf. Could you tell us just what this special thing is for you about the game?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, a funny thing, there are three that I like all for the same reason, golf, fishing, and shooting, and I do because first, they take you into the fields. There is mild exercise, the kind that an older individual probably should have. And on top of it, it induces you to take at any one time 2 or 3 hours, if you can, where you are thinking of the bird or that ball or the wily trout. Now, to my mind it is a very healthful, beneficial kind of thing, and I do it whenever I get a chance, as you well know.

Q. William Knighton, Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, while you are in California for about 25 hours next week, do you intend or hope to try to get Senator Knowland and Governor Knight together--in mind, that is?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going out there to do my part the best I know how to help good government through Republicanism. We have two Republicans there and I am going to support them both.

Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, surely the Senate is one of the keenest battlegrounds--

THE PRESIDENT. What is that?

Q. Mr. Evans: The Senate, control of the Senate is one of the keenest. I noticed in the six States, as I read it, that you are definitely committed to visit, four of those have no Senate contest. I know that in Wisconsin and Minnesota Republican candidates are very eager to have you come out there.

One, could you explain how you picked the geography of your campaign and, two, is there any chance at this late date that you might change your mind and go into one of those Middle Western States that is a battleground for the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, you said I am going to four places where there are no--I didn't know I was going to four places.

Q. Mr. Evans: As I read it, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado have no Senate contests.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, do you begrudge me the taking of an hour to go and see my old hometown? [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Evans: I do not, no, sir, begrudge you.

THE PRESIDENT. All right. In the next place, Denver is my wife's girlhood home. Her mother is not well. We are stopping in for a few hours.

First I am dropping into this corn-picking contest because I was urged to do so by both the people sponsoring it and by the Agriculture Department. Then I am going definitely political in California. Then I am coming back to Chicago. Why? Because Chicago is the center of communications, and unquestionably there will be a regional telecast of the speech there. That is the reason. So I am hoping to reach all of the States of the belt you are talking about. Then somewhere in the East I think we have about decided on Pittsburgh. I think the decision is not yet final. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty]

I should say--I had forgotten--in the West, that is in San Francisco or Los Angeles, I am on an 11-State network; in Chicago, 15.

Q. Henry N. Taylor, Scripps-Howard: Mr. President, although you are a civilian now, sir, I am sure you must be interested in the remarks of field Marshal Montgomery in his new book.

I wonder if you can tell us what you think of some of his statements about strategy and criticism, particularly his idea that if we had adopted a punch in one place rather than along a broad front, the war might have been ended a good deal sooner.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it happened to have been my responsibility to conduct the western invasion, under the authority of the combined chiefs of staff, and I was given a free hand. The only thing I can say is this: we won the war in 11 months from the day we landed, and I heard no single prediction at that time, before we made that election, when that war would be over in less than 2 years.

As a matter of fact, Winston Churchill told me that if we were as far as Paris and captured Paris by Christmastime, he would remark that that was the greatest military operation of all time.

I think I have been criticized by everybody who can write a book, and I will be in the future.

Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, this is about the height of the budget-making time, season, for the various departments of the Government. Can you give us any kind of a preliminary estimate on what goal you are shooting for for the next fiscal year?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, this is what I want to do. I want to get it down to the last cent that I think is needed for the security and safety and essential services in the United States. I believe we are spending too much money and contemplate spending too much money.

I would take an hour to tell my full feelings on it, but I think it is too bad that we are forgetting such words as thrift and economy in this country.

We are suddenly getting the theory, apparently, or maybe we are reverting to a theory, that just money alone is going to make the United States greater, stronger both at home and abroad, even though you continue to depreciate the value of that money.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, at his news conference yesterday Secretary of State Dulles said he had no plans whatsoever to urge Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to reduce the number of troops that he has on Quemoy.

Now this has given rise to the interpretation that he has either somewhat toughened or reversed the position which he took at his news conference on September 30 when he gave the impression that the United States would seek to persuade Generalissimo Chiang to reduce his forces if a dependable cease fire could be obtained. Do you see any conflict in the two positions, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know of any two men in Government that stay closer just through physical contact and through constant exchange of ideas than do the Secretary of State and myself. I read his press conference of yesterday or the day before, and I noted that he made no secret of the fact that we believe this very heavy advance position, strengthened with very strong commitments of troops, was in his opinion and that of this Government too heavy--that it wasn't, to our way of thinking, logical.

But he said also we are not going to try to coerce an ally about something in which they believe their very existence depends.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, the school board from Clinton, Tennessee, has recently asked you for some federal funds to repair the damage to their dynamited school which I believe was estimated at about $300,000. Sir, do you have the federal funds to help people in situations like this?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there is an emergency fund that is made--the appropriation made on the very minimum, I think, that the Congress thinks I will need normally for natural disaster and things that cannot possibly be foreseen.

Now, with respect to this one, these people came up and talked in the White House, and there was a very sympathetic atmosphere created, as far as I know, because we do feel very sympathetic with them in their plight. The only way that I know of that anything could be done would be out of the rather restricted law permitting help in federally impacted areas.

But in lieu of that, for the moment, the AEC has made available to them, just 10 miles away, a building that the AEC is not now using, and I believe was first a school building, wasn't it? Mr. Hagerty: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it was a school building, and they are using it without cost to themselves, so I am sure that they understand the federal Government is interested.

Now, I do not want to fail to stress again that the school problem is primarily local. It belongs to the State, and if the federal Government undertook, every time anything went wrong, from a water faucet on up, to put its funds down there, then we would be doing the kind of thing that all of us condemn, that is, getting the federal Government's nose into places that it shouldn't be.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: I believe, sir, you have set great store by the person-to-person or people-to-people program, especially in Latin America.

Now, according to the AFL-CIO and other reliable agencies, this program is currently being endangered by the United Fruit Company, which has been fighting democratic trade unionism in various Central American countries, and thereby encouraging communistic and anti-U. S. activities. United Fruit is also charged reliably with instigating an investigation of our Embassy in Costa Rica. Does the administration plan to take steps in regard to a U. S. company with this sort of activities?

THE PRESIDENT. If you have that kind of information don't you think you ought to put it before a grand jury through somebody, because you are making all sorts of charges against a company which I have never heard, and you are making a speech, really--

Q. Mr. Herling: No, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. --about something that I think would have to be aired very, very carefully in the Justice Department or in a court of law to see whether there is any basis for such charges.

Q. Mr. Herling: Sir, I think that the information is available in Government agencies.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, then, give it to them.

Q. Sarah McClendon, San Antonio Light: Mr. President, Dr. Glennan, who is head of this new national aeronautics and space agency, has indicated that he expects to take over the Army's space programs. I wonder if this has your approval and if this means that he will also take over all of the space programs of the Air force?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe that Dr. Glennan ever made any indication of that positive character.

Now this is correct: I have a commission of which I am the chairman; on that commission are represented all of the interested agencies of Government as well as, I believe, two or four outside public citizens. They will have to be studying all of the reorganization that will be called for by this space agency's operations, and they will do it on the basis of studies that these agencies themselves will make. I have already directed all the interested agencies to see what should be taken over by the space agency, but it has not even come to the commission yet, much less the decision.

Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, it has been almost 2 years since the Suez crisis, which was the sharpest division between America and her European allies since the end of the second World War. In the light of European confusion and concern over our formosa policies, how do you assess the Anglo-American alliance now, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have heard both the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, or read statements of theirs, in which they said they understand firmly on the proposition that we will not countenance Communist expansion, territorial expansion by force. That is the one truth on which we can all stand, and I think we all should stand.

Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Mr. President, have you received any indication from President Chiang Kai-shek that he would be agreeable to a reduction of his Quemoy and Matsu garrisons, if the United States were to help his defense of those islands with increased fire power?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Q. Gene Wortsman, Rocky Mountain News: Mr. President, could you tell us of what some of your personal plans are while in Denver, in addition to visiting Mrs. Doud?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope to get an automobile and see something more of Denver. That is about all. I've nothing else.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, your meeting with Republican leaders last week was followed by a statement which said: "Nationalization and socialization of industry is the clear alternative to a Republican Congress." Do you subscribe to this?

THE PRESIDENT. What? Read that quotation.

Q. Mr. Scherer: That "Nationalization and socialization of industry is the clear alternative to a Republican Congress," following the meeting of a week ago Monday. I was wondering if--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I read the statement and I don't remember that it used that exact language. I believe it said that unless you supported the Republican program, that there would be a lead or a direction towards the left that could eventually become socialism, or something of that kind, but I don't believe it was in the same language you gave it, Ray.

Now in any event it was not my statement, it was theirs, and I think politicians do love to make things very positive. [Laughter]

Q. Alan S. Emory, Middletown (New York) Daily Record: Mr. President, the Middletown Daily Record in New York has asked me to request your views on a suggestion that Quemoy and Matsu be the sites of plebiscites to determine to which China the people there would like to belong.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't want to comment on that at all because I don't see very much use in such an idea.

Q. Charles H. Mohr, Time Magazine: Mr. President, this is a question about nuclear test suspension. The test inspection system agreed on technically at Geneva we are told will not detect underground blasts of less than 5 kilotons reliably. There must be some clear or compelling reason that you feel that you can still safely offer a test suspension despite this built-in ability to cheat, but I am not sure that I am aware of what the reasons are or why the possibility of cheating is not a great danger, and I wonder if you could comment on that for us.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, when you are going smaller, you are obviously posing less danger than is inherent in one of the big bombs. But the technicians were trying to establish a system that would work for all practical purposes, I mean a technical system. They were technically advising.

Now, to get 100 percent of perfection in this kind of a thing would unquestionably demand mechanisms, organisms, agencies and men of really very, very large size, and I think that you could come to the old law of diminishing returns, that you just put too much to gain too little. I really believe that they feel there is little danger in the kind of a thing which you are talking about.

Q. Charles L. Bartlett, Chattanooga Times: Mr. President, have you formed a personal position on this question of the transfer of a large element of the Army's missile research personnel and facilities to the NASA? Dr. Glennan--

THE PRESIDENT. Just a minute. I just listened to a question here and answered it just a minute ago. Didn't you hear it?

Q. Mr. Bartlett: Dr. Glennan has made a very specific request to the Army, which would indicate that the thing--

THE PRESIDENT. Maybe he requested it, but I told you there is a study being made, and I directed weeks ago all of the interested agencies, and finally the decision will have to be made by me as required by the law, after a complete examination by the commission that is set up by the law.

Q. Mr. Bartlett: Then this request, sir, should not be taken--

THE PRESIDENT. I have given you the answer.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, in connection with the reduction of forces on Quemoy, would you say that we would welcome a voluntary reduction of troops by Chiang Kai-shek?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would think from what I have inferred, my own personal convictions as a military man and I think as responsible for the foreign affairs of a country, what those convictions are, I see nothing of advantage to be accomplished by making a public statement now that might be misunderstood in Taipei. That's all.

Q. David Kraslow, Miami Herald: The Air force and the International Cooperation Administration have denied the General Accounting Office access to two internal reports. The Air force report deals with the management of the ballistic missiles program and the ICA report is an evaluation of the formosa aid program. Is this policy of suppression in accord with your feelings?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether it is a policy at all. You are bringing up two specific things of which I have not before heard, and I would say that if there is a complaint of this kind, the thing to do is to air it, give it to the proper people and let them bring in recommendations.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and forty-third news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:29 to 11:00 o'clock on Wednesday morning, October 15, 1958. In attendance: 216.

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/234110

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