Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

August 27, 1958

THE PRESIDENT. Please sit down.

I have no announcements of my own.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, can you say whether the Justice Department will accept the Supreme Court's invitation, and participate in the school integration arguments before the Court tomorrow; and, secondly, will any Justice Department brief reflect your personal views on this issue?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is a little bit more than an invitation when such an incident occurs. The Attorney General is an officer of the Court, as well as the Attorney General for the United States; when he is invited to file a brief, it is really a command, and I think there are no exceptions to that custom.

Now, my own convictions were expressed succinctly, I think, last week when I gave you a written one, and I am sure of this: that in the general case there is no chance that there will be great divergences between what the Attorney General expresses and what I believe. That couldn't over the long run, of course, occur.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: The Republican Convention in New York nominated Nelson Rockefeller for Governor and Representative Keating for Senator. What do you think of the ticket?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is fine. I think it is an excellent one. Q. Mr. Scheibel: Are you going up there to campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't promised that. I just say I hope they both get elected.

Q. Pat Munroe, WTVJ, Miami: Does your letter to Treasury Secretary Anderson endorsing a new International Development Association rule out the possibility of setting up a purely regional inter-American bank for low interest loans to Latin America?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all. This is entirely a different thing, as the United States, as well as a number of other countries, have considerable quantities of soft currencies, currencies that cannot be used in international trade.

Now, it is possible, if we can help out through an association such as this, by getting these soft currencies and possibly a small amount of hard money, that loans that otherwise would be impossible to make, but which have a very worthy project, would have a very beneficial effect, why, they could take place.

So, this new International Development Association is the name, and it is only in the study period as my letter made very clear. We are studying it to see what can be done, but it would have no effect whatsoever on the other groupments.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: As you know, Mr. President, the Congress is so hostile to any discussion of a possible surrender by the United States in a nuclear war, they forbade spending any military money for study of it. In your opinion, can the United States be defeated in an all-out first-blow nuclear war, and is it your position that we must take the first blow?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you say we must take the first blow--wars have a way of coming about in circumstances that have not been foreseen by humans.

For example, the Pearl Harbor attack is a case in point. Of all the places in the Pacific that apparently the planners and the political leaders thought might be attacked, that was probably the last one.

I don't see any reason, therefore, for saying we necessarily have to take the first blow. But I do say this: always we must be alert. And I think it is silly to say that we can be defeated in a first-blow attack, for the simple reason that we have so much strength, retaliatory strength, that any nation foolish to resort to that kind of an effort--that is, the exchange of nuclear attacks--would itself be destroyed. There is no question in my mind.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Sir, do you feel that the record of the Democratic-controlled 85th Congress will be a help or a hindrance to your party this fall, and what do you think the outcome of the elections will be this fall? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. It was one that I didn't--of course, I expected, but I didn't hope for. [Laughter]

Actually, there are still two hundred pieces of legislation, many of them rushed through in the last hours of Congress, that I have not yet had a chance to examine. Quite manifestly, I couldn't go over the record of this Congress.

I would say, though, generally, in the foreign field, it did a constructive job. My greatest disappointment was in the amount in which they cut down my estimates for the mutual security of the free world; and I can only hope now that those funds will be sufficient. But I do think they should have done better.

I was disappointed, of course, that there was no effective legislation for the prevention of corruption and racketeering in the labor-management field; and in one or two other areas I was disappointed in lack of action.

Now, on the other hand, there was a tendency throughout the year, happily curbed in two or three very large bills, for expending more money than should be spent; because I tell you that we must get the size of these deficits down. fortunately--and here I certainly must give some credit to the Republican leadership that a couple of those bills were finally--I say, put it with the help of Republican leadership where those bills were shelved because, manifestly, as a minority party in the two Houses, we couldn't possibly be completely effective.

But, all in all, I would say that the general appraisal is something I would want to make in another week or 10 days when I have had a chance to study the final record.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, in view of the current shelling of the off-shore islands by the Chinese Communists, I would like to ask this: since the last flare-up in that area 2 years ago, the Nationalist forces on Quemoy and Matsu have been considerably beat up. Some people are reading Secretary Dulles' statement of last Saturday as indicating that this means we consider the islands more important than ever to the defense of Formosa itself. Would you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they have this increased importance: what we call the Nationalist Chinese have now deployed about a third of their forces to certain of these islands west of the Pescadores, and that makes a closer interlocking between the defense systems of the islands with Formosa than was the case before that. Before that, I think, they were largely thought of as outposts, strongly held positions, but nevertheless outposts.

Now, apparently the philosophy is to hold the whole thing. It is part of the territory from which they hope to make their living, so there is a closer relationship than there was before.

Q. Mr. Roberts: Does that affect, sir, your judgment or any judgment that you might have to make under the Formosa resolution?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Roberts, you simply cannot make military decisions until after the event reaches you. Now, it might affect it under a whole series of circumstances--but there are all sorts of permutations and combinations of these factors, and I would say you couldn't make any arbitrary answer to that.

Q. Felix Belair, New York Times: Could you tell us, Mr. President, what is the area of discretion of local commanders in the use of tactical atomic weapons, if they have any discretion?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think not. I think that there can be no atomic--I shouldn't say "I think." It is not possible to use these weapons except with the specific authority of the President.

Q. Mr. Belair: I thought, perhaps, in--isn't there an exception in the case of an immediate threat to the command?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been a long time since I have gone through all of these directives, and many of them go into tremendous detail.

I am not going any further than that, and if it is possible, I will take a look again, because there is one exception, but I don't believe it mentions atomic weapons: that if the United States itself or any of its armed forces are under attack, that they can use any measures necessary for their defense, but I would have to make certain. My memory is not quite that good this morning.

Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard: Sir, the Washington Ball Club is threatening or promising to leave town. [Laughter] Do you think, sir, that such a move would be justified under the circumstances?

THE PRESIDENT. I would like to answer with one "if."

If the Nationals here, the American League Club here, would have a club that had a fighting chance, on the average, of getting into the first division, I, for one, would be down at a good number of their evening games to see them, and I would be one of their customers.

Now, unfortunately, because of my present position, I am not a paying customer and, therefore, I can't help keeping this club here. But if we could only have that, I am practically certain this city would demand that they stay here, and I think they should. But I think they should have a little bit better club. [Laughter]

Q. Dave Burnham, Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal: Mr. President, I notice Secretary Benson is taking a very active part, or perhaps a more active part than any high Government official, in the congressional campaign this fall. In your mind, is he the kind of man you would like to see in one of the top places in the 1960 race?

THE PRESIDENT. The men that are going to be in the top places are going to be selected by a convention.

I can give you a whole list of men who, in my opinion, are capable of carrying very heavy responsibilities, and in line with the great middle-of-the-road philosophy that I believe is logical for this country, particularly for the Republican Party. So any of those men, if selected by the convention, would have my support.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, could you tell us what you think of the various State bills to close the schools?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand.

Q. Mr. Scherer: The various State bills to close the schools in the integration situation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say this, Mr. Scherer. This, of course, would be a very terrible outcome, but I would think this: there would be a very great deal of litigation that would follow any such action.

I believe if schools were closed, there would be great pressure to open them under whatever conditions the inhabitants believed would be best, and I think there would be a whole basketful of litigation that would take place.

So, I don't want to make more than that one generalization, because no school yet that I know of has been closed.

Q. Dayton Moore, United Press International: What action are you going to take on the humane slaughter bill?

THE PRESIDENT. Someone told me it was going to be up before me in a day or two. I haven't got all the recommendations.

Q. Mr. Moore: Midnight tonight is the dead line.

THE PRESIDENT. Midnight tonight? Well, then I have to work this afternoon, don't I?

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: To return to the far East for a moment, sir, how seriously do you view the stepped-up Chinese Communist artillery attacks in the Quemoy area, along with the air bombardment; and, secondly, do you see any danger at this time that American forces might get involved, in keeping with our desire to help protect Formosa and the Pescadores?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, again, you talk to a certain extent in hypothetical terms.

Quite naturally, we are supporting the Nationalist regime; we still recognize it and, as a matter of fact, it is still a member of the Security Council in the United Nations. So we are not going to desert our responsibilities or the statements we have already made. I think that about the best thing that can be said at this moment is the Secretary's letter of about a week ago or something of that kind.

Q. Alvin A. Spivak, United Press International: Mr. President, is there any one key point that you believe Republican candidates for Congress could stress in their campaigns for election this year?

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you what I am going to stress, if that is good enough: getting down these deficits and keeping our money sound so that America can have a good, healthy, thriving, progressive economy.

Q. Thomas V. Kelly, Washington Daily News: Mr. President, Arlington, Virginia, looks like it will have to close its schools in the integration crisis and, at any rate, the State money is going to be cut off. They may let the counties run the schools on their own. The federal Government contributes money to the support of the schools there because of the great number of federal workers in the area. I was wondering if you would favor increasing, in case the counties are left to run the schools, increasing the federal contribution to bring it up to its current budget level?

THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't give you an answer right off, shooting from the hip that way, on that one. I hadn't thought of it but I'll say this: whatever we would do, it seems to me, would have to be done by the federal Government in any other area regardless of local action. I think the federal Government must observe an equality of treatment any place.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, in view of the deficit and the fact that the testimony about the debt ceiling showed that within about 4 or 5 years we would face serious inflation, I wonder if you would tell us this fall as you go through the budgets and make your budget for next year, what areas do you plan to cut?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the budget is already under study and in the process of development. I am going to take each one of the major expenditures, study it, and see whether it can be, to the benefit of America, diminished; that is what I am going to do. I am not going to pick out any one area and say, "We are going to cut this one," and not another.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, Adlai Stevenson, in the paper this morning, quotes Premier Khrushchev as saying that we, presumably you and Khrushchev and others, should get together and sign a paper that there would be no interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Would you welcome such an agreement?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I submit, that you are using the wrong word. It wouldn't be an agreement; it would be some pronouncement, and certainly it couldn't be more because an agreement, to my mind, connotes something that is going to be kept.

And I will say this: you will recall when the Hungarian resolution was put in the United Nations, I believe that it was argued very bitterly by the other side that they would not allow interference with their internal affairs, meaning Hungary.

Now, this is not the kind of definition of internal affairs that the United States could accept.

Now, if it were a legitimate resolution of that kind I, for my own part, would be ready to sign anything with that legitimate purport. I would state we would not interfere in the affairs of other people, and we would keep people, other people, from interfering with ourselves.

Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Sir, is there still a chance of a meeting between you and Governor Almond of Virginia before the Virginia schools open?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I haven't had any intimation of that.

Q. Mr. MacLeish: Well, would you still be willing to have such a meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. I've always been willing; I have stated that many times, and I hope I don't have to state it again.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, in the light of the Geneva agreement on inspection, has our disarmament policy been revised or are we still standing on the last policy placed before the Russians about a year ago?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the principle of the policy has not been abandoned at all.

Now, we did say this: that in order to facilitate the possibility of negotiations in this field, that if both sides would accept this report and would each agree to begin instantly to meet--October 31st is the date we mentioned--to start negotiations for measures that would lead further, then for one year we would not make any more tests.

But we did couple that with the policy that we believe in, that the cessation of tests must be related to the cessation of production of this material for weapons purposes, and even further on than that eventually.

Q. Mr. Reston: What I had in mind, sir, was if we were going to talk on October 31st, have we revised the policy, for example, brought it up to date, on the new inspections findings in Geneva, and the new developments in rocketry?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think there is no change because we have believed--maybe I don't understand your question exactly. We said you cannot have an agreement on cessation of tests unless there can be technical methods that will make certain each to the other that we are acting in good faith.

Now, that is the thing that the technical experts were deciding: is it possible; and if it is possible, what is the minimum system that will do it?

We say, "All right, we are accepting that, now let's move on to the next negotiation," and, while we are doing that, that negotiation is the actual establishment of this system.

That being done, now you have got it with that much of a testing, it looks like you have a step made into penetrating both these countries on an official basis--a good many stations in Eurasia, a good many stations here.

Now, it would seem, there ought to be another step. But I think that for each one of the things that still has to be negotiated out, we have not changed our general program or plan.

Q. Don Oberdorfer, Charlotte Observer: Mr. President, over a hundred American cities have applications stacked up over at the Urban Renewal Administration for funds to help clear out their slum areas.

The agency doesn't have any money available for these because the Congress did not pass the housing bill. However, they tell us that the Administration has an authorization of $100 million which is available to be released at your discretion for this purpose. Would you tell us whether you have given any thought to releasing this money under this emergency situation, and what you think about it? [The President confers with Mr. Hagerty.]

THE PRESIDENT. It is still under study. But the question you bring up is being earnestly studied, because we do believe there is something that could be done in spite of the lack of appropriations.

I was hesitating only because I am never quite certain when a thing has been finished and when it has not been finished. I can talk to you in another week, possibly.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, the current issue of a national news weekly contains the following item:

"White House. Here is what Ike wouldn't say at his news conference about his personal views on school integration. He wishes the Supreme Court had never handed down its decision. He also thinks integration should proceed much more slowly. That is what he has told friends in private."

Is that story correct?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that story is not correct. But the story is this: I have said here, I think, that I would never give an opinion about my conviction about the Supreme Court decisions because such a statement would have to indicate either approval or disapproval, and I was never going to do it about any of their decisions.

Now, with respect to the other one, it might have been that I said something about "slower," because I do say, as I did last week, we have got to have reason and sense and education, and a lot of other developments that go hand in hand if this process is going to have any real acceptance in the United States.

Q. Garnett D. Horner, Washington Star: Mr. President, in connection with what you might have said about slow movement toward integration, could you say, without trespassing on your injunction about talking about your conviction, whether you would advise the Justice Department to argue for a delay in the Little Rock case before the Supreme Court, to support the District Judge's original order?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think that I would instruct them to argue one way or the other. I think the fact is that, as lawyers, as an officer of the Court, they have to voice their honest convictions.

What I do say is this, and this is just a generality in governmental procedure and organization: if there develop great differences between the President and any branch of Government, why, the President has only one recourse, and that is very obvious.

So I would assume that any brief would try to reflect the views that all of us, so far as I know, have held from the beginning.

Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: Recently, Secretary Anderson did not rule out a tax cut next year when he appeared before the Senate finance Committee.

In view of the rising costs for our defense and everything else in the budget, do you think this might be a possibility to stop unbalanced budgets?

THE PRESIDENT. What, to reduce taxes?

Q. Mr. Shutt: To increase taxes.

THE PRESIDENT. Increase taxes? Oh, I thought you said decrease.

Q. Mr. Shutt: No, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as of this moment I wouldn't have any comment on that at all.

Q. J. F. Ter Horst, Detroit News: Sir, a few moments ago you mentioned your feeling that any position taken by the administration on integration should preserve the equality of treatment for all communities and States.

Does this mean that the Justice Department's position before the Supreme Court will be applicable to, say, Virginia, or North Carolina, or Tennessee, as well as Little Rock?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that you are making some unwarranted assumptions.

The Justice Department has been ordered to file a brief on one particular decision by the appellate court, and I don't think it has anything to do with the rest of the problem.

I was talking only on this: if the United States funds are going to be used some place for any purpose, I believe it has to be on some kind of a basis of equality because all of us pay the taxes to put that money in.

Now, are you going to pick out some particular place which, because of some political decision in its own area, would change this ratio? There might be some reason that I cannot now think of, but that is my basis of saying they ought to be treated equally.

Q. John R. Gibson, Wall Street Journal: Mr. President, in light of what the United Nations Security Council has done on the Middle East situation, and since it did not endorse some of the proposals you made in your speech up there, could you say what you think the chances are for a longtime peace settlement out there are at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say this: they were better than they were before. I don't believe that you could possibly evaluate them in absolute terms at all. The thing is relative. I think there has been an atmosphere created that may give us a better chance to make progress.

Q. William H. Stringer, Christian Science Monitor: In Senate debate and in General Gavin's book, there has been an allusion to a missile gap in the early 1960's, where it was said the Soviets would have great numbers of missiles, long-range missiles, and we would have few. Could you comment, without breaching security, on whether you see any peril ahead, of that sort?

THE PRESIDENT. I say only this: when I came here, you will remember, we were talking about the "New Look." We were trying to get away from mere reliance upon manpower, and to use the latest in scientific inventions to defend this country, hoping thereby to save manpower. This took a long study, and after the first months, I finally appointed scientific committees, two in succession. finally there was brought forward a belief that we should go very heavily into ballistic missiles of long range, which had never before been brought to the fore in military planning.

I believe--I think I am right--there never was more than $1 million a year used until that year. But in the spring of 1955, I believe, I listened to this latest scientific report, and this went on the very highest priority-expenditures put on a priority higher than that of any other of our defense things.

From that moment on, there has been no place that I can see where there has been any possibility of gaps occurring.

Development has been extraordinarily rapid in view of the few years we have had, and while procurement should never go so wild that it wants to purchase great, vast weapons until they are approved, I am quite certain that the Defense Department's programs are not only adequate, but really are generous in making certain that the United States in this one particular field is going faster than we could have expected.

I want to bring this out: up to this moment, I don't see how you can begin to eliminate the manned carrier, the airplane, merely because there can be demonstrated a capacity for sending a warhead by a guided missile. There is still a long ways to go before the airplane, I would say, is made completely obsolete. So while, if there is any gap, I am quite certain that our enormous strength in fine long-range airplanes is--it isn't a "gap"; if the rate of development is not as rapid as you might see it, if you are talking just about money, and money won't do it in my opinion, the airplane takes care of that deficiency.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and forty-first news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 11:04 o'clock on Wednesday morning, August 27, 1958. In attendance: 141.

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/233880

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