The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please be seated.
I should like first this morning to comment on the bombing of the Israeli Cabinet. I am sure that all civilized peoples deplore such incidents, and the same peoples will take some satisfaction in the circumstance that there were no fatalities and, except for Mr. Shapiro, no one seriously injured. It is the kind of thing that I think all nations can deplore, regardless of any kind of political antagonisms to the particular country involved.
I have one announcement. Most of you have seen in the papers the speculation about the possibility of a NATO meeting at which heads of government might attend. The invitation from the NATO Council, at the instigation of Mr. Spaak, has now been issued, and assuming, of course, that the majority of the heads of government accept, I intend to accept.
The one circumstance that made it possible for me to do so is that it comes after a programmed meeting we have arranged, or are arranging, with the bipartisan leadership of the House and the Senate. We hope to have that at an early date in December, and I wouldn't want to go to NATO until after I had had that opportunity; so we expect to have thorough discussions, and the meeting therefore will be, so far as I am concerned, in the tradition of bipartisan responsibility for keeping the country on a single track in foreign relations.
I have no other announcements.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, could you give us some indication of what you hope to accomplish at Paris, and tell us too whether some of the Members of Congress may go with you?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, taking the first part of your question, as far as I am concerned, the reason of my prompt acceptance is that my experience at Panama last year in meeting with heads of government convinced me that there is much to be accomplished in awakening interest of all our peoples in common, in cooperative problems by that kind of a meeting.
I sincerely want to do my part in keeping all our peoples, as well as governments, interested in the NATO concept of collective security and defense. I believe it is one of our most important organizations for free world security, and I believe that its usefulness can be even further broadened.
That is the reason I want to talk to the leaders of Congress in advance, and it is one of the reasons for going.
Now as far as Congressmen going along, that has not even been mentioned or discussed because this is an annual meeting of the NATO Council just as the bipartisan meeting to which I refer is an annual affair that brings together the Executive and the leaders of Congress to discuss forthcoming programs.
So it being an annual affair, and it has always been an executive group that attends from each country, I would doubt that there would be a congressional representation; I don't think other countries would have it, and therefore I don't think our Congressmen would want to go.
Q. Douglas B. Cornell, Associated Press: In keeping with those remarks about awakening the public, I wonder if you would have any reaction to something that Dr. Vannevar Bush said. He says that he isn't optimistic about our overtaking Russia in outer space developments, although it might be possible if the public is awakened and alerted. He said he can't say more for security reasons, but that the matter of alerting the public is up to the President, and that the advantages of alerting the public must be weighed against the disadvantages of possibly revealing something that would be of value to Russia.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course that is always your problem in this matter of releasing information. It doesn't confine itself merely to guided missiles. It is in everything that we touch upon in the defense security, and sometimes the international political field.
Now I think that most of you know, I had a long meeting a week ago with a group, a very large group, of scientists to discuss some of the problems we are now up against. I was a bit astonished to find this: their chief concern is not the relative position of ourselves today in scientific advancement with any other nation, but where we are going to be in ten years; and what they wanted to enlist my support for was a means and method first of awakening the United States to the importance and indeed the absolute necessity of increasing our scientific output of our colleges and universities, and if necessary helping where it became the proper function of Federal Government to bring about this thing in a material way. That was the great problem that was bothering them.
Now I have talked to different groups of scientists who have somewhat differing opinions among themselves as to needs for security and many other things, and the kind of thing we should be doing, but all do agree that this problem of awakening America is one in which they believe I have a part. And I don't mind telling you that this particular scientific group, which is the Scientific Advisory Committee for the office of Defense Mobilization, is preparing a plan in which they hope to lay out my part of it. I will say this: if it is feasible, I shall do it, because I believe exactly what they said.
Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Some weeks ago you expressed a view that Marshal Zhukov's position in the Soviet hierarchy seemed greatly strengthened. In the light of his apparent removal now, I wonder if you could tell us whether you are satisfied whether the Intelligence estimates you received about that were adequate.
THE. PRESIDENT. Well, of course, as I have I think warned each of you every time I have spoken about this subject, any effort to penetrate the Soviet mind, or at least the mind of the men in the Kremlin, to determine their reasons for doing anything is highly speculative, and that is all it is. I don't think that any Intelligence system can really give you a complete and positive answer on this.
Now, I think our general feeling is something of this kind. There is some reason for the extraordinary frequency of changes in the Soviet ruling group since the death of Stalin. There, as you remember, Malenkov started out, and then we had him replaced. We have had the de-Stalinization of the whole Communist concept. We have had Molotov going to limbo, and others with him. Malenkov has practically been forgotten. Marshal Zhukov seemed to come up from nowhere, almost, and now we don't know whether he is actually degraded, or whether there is some other move that is contemplated.
I did notice that one of the Soviet leaders said at a recent party: "Well, Mr. Wilson resigned as Secretary of Defense, why can't Marshal Zhukov?" My only comment on that is, I hope Marshal Zhukov's resignation was as completely voluntary and personal as was Charley Wilson's. [Laughter]
Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: In connection with your part in enlightening the people, can you tell us more, sir, about your planned speeches, where they are going to be, when, how many, what they will be like?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I must tell you, ladies and gentlemen, it is a very difficult thing to plan, but I think there will be an announcement as to the first talk at a very early date. It happens to be one of those falls where I seem to have a lot of things on my plate, and it is hard to tell which to attack first.
As you know, I always attempt to get a week's relaxation in November sometime, and this year I would particularly like it, in view of the broken nature of my so-called vacation in Newport this summer; but I am afraid it begins to look like I am going to have to give that up, and some of you people that enjoy the area with me will possibly not be able to go.
Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Mr. President, the communiqué ·hich you issued last week with Prime Minister Macmillan spoke in very strong terms about the need for increased free world cooperation in science, military, and other endeavors. I wonder if you would give us your thinking, your tentative thinking, on the specifics that might implement this.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I am quite prepared to do it, Mr. Steele, for this reason: There are certain things, definite, I have in mind but I want to talk over first with a bipartisan meeting to see what their convictions are, whether they are persuaded by the same facts that loom up to me so importantly.
But you must remember that most of the security laws that particularly affect these secret weapons were written at a time when we thought we had a monopoly. Now we are getting to the point where we know that a great many of our secrets are known to the enemy, but they are still secret from our friends, which seems rather an anomalous situation. So in order to get the kind of cooperation we need, I am positive there must be a very much increased cooperation, some of which can be done under existing law; but I would prefer to deal with the congressional leaders first.
Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, while you were at Newport more than a month ago, you agreed, at the request of Adam Clayton Powell, to have an appointment with him so he could present to you the Negro's argument about segregation. And I understand that in the period since then, he has renewed this request at least two or three times. What is the hitch? Why hasn't your staff been able to get him on your schedule?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Lawrence, I don't know there is any hitch, but I am sure you are aware of the fact that he is not the only one who is trying to get in to express views on this subject, and in fact many people have been there, Negro and otherwise.
Now what is actually happening--it's pending business--a group of southern Congressmen want to come in and it is a question of arranging these things in the order in which they can be taken up, studied, and something useful accomplished. There is no indication on the part of anyone that I know of to decline the thing, but we have got to do it where we can.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, the last Government statistics show that the cost of living continues to go up. It has gone up now for thirteen months straight. What advice could you give to the American housewife or the American consumer on how best to cope with these rising prices, particularly in the field of the white collar worker? How can these people defend themselves against rising prices?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you have asked one of the questions that has troubled a free government and free enterprise since the date that men thought of it. Now this last month prices rose one-tenth of one point; and over the past five years now, four and a half, five years, the total rise has been on the order of I think around five and a half to six percent. I think that does represent a flattening of the curve-- know it represents a flattening of the curve of rise, acceleration in the cost of living--and therefore I think it shows the effect of many of the measures that have been taken to stabilize the economy, and particularly to stabilize the dollar.
Success has not been accomplished completely; and indeed, with an economy such as ours, that always seems to be balanced between a possibility of deflation and inflation, the circumstances we have seen are almost inevitable, I think, in view of the pressure of the past few years of every type of business to expand. There has been a dynamic surge throughout the United States for building plants, greater productivity, everybody working, full employment, higher wages. It in some ways, I think, is a bit miraculous that the cost of living has been no higher.
Now when it comes down to advising the housewife what to do, really, I think I have to beg off. I just believe in a period of rising prices like in any other thing, people should attempt to purchase less than when prices are going down. Then you purchase more because that is when they can get them cheaper, and that is what a competitive enterprise is.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, could we get back to the desegregation problem for just a moment? The civil rights issue continues to live in an atmosphere of urgency, and I wonder if you could tell us whether there has been a problem which has delayed your appointment of the Civil Rights Commission provided by the Congress, and just one further point, sir--
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Morgan:--you told us recently that you had, at least in a limited way, approached the clergy to use its good offices to help soften and solve this problem.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Morgan: Has it occurred to you at all to do a similar thing with business and industrial leaders?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have, but probably not on quite as direct a way as I did with the clergy, particularly the Bishop in Little Rock, and so on.
I personally believe, as I have told you so many times, I personally believe this problem is never going to be solved without patience and tolerance, consideration. We just simply cannot solve it completely just by fiat or law and force. This is a deeper human problem than that.
The South has lived for 56 years under a social order that was approved by the Supreme Court, and specifically with respect to education, the theory of separate but equal facilities. Now they are asked suddenly to consider that whole system unconstitutional and, naturally, this causes difficulties.
Now, with respect to the Little Rock situation, it seems to improve daily. I most devoutly hope and pray that we soon can be confident enough of the situation that we can remove all Federal force, and I hope that all future steps in this will be accomplished in a spirit of real conciliation, and it does remain with us as a very urgent problem.
With respect to the Commission itself, we have been working on it for weeks; but to get the people of the national character you want, you have to consult people who are, by the very nature of their standing, so involved in quasi-public work, in private work, in everything else, that it is difficult to get exactly whom you want. We believe the appointment of this Commission can have a very ameliorating effect on these aroused feelings, prejudices, passions, and we want to get the very best one that is possible to get, and that is the reason it has taken some time.
Q. Mr. Morgan: Sir, are there any details you could give us with respect to your conversations with business and industrial leaders?
THE PRESIDENT. No; nothing more. I have said to them exactly the same thing that I have said to the clergy.
By the way, Mr. Hagerty, was my letter to the Bishop of Arkansas--
Mr. Hagerty: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT. That was apparently published, and I have said exactly what is in that letter to business people, to everybody, every kind of professional person that has come into my office. Never do I change. I believe in it.
Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, this relates to the question asked by Mr. Smith on the rise in the cost of living. In addition to that, factory employment has declined and, all together, the combination seems to make for a significant depression in our economy.
Do you think it would be worthwhile to have (1) a meeting of union leaders, labor leaders, and business leaders called to the White House; and (2) does the Administration have any plan or program to cope with the situation?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you make an assumption in your question that there is a depression in the offing. There are all sorts of mixed indications on our economy, and there is no question that the economy is, in effect, taking a breather after a long surge of rising effort of all kinds that have produced almost a miraculous upsurge in the productivity and prosperity of America.
Now there are all of these conflicting factors in it. There is some disappointment I think in the seasonal upsurge of fall buying. There is some increased unemployment. On the other hand, the demand for money is just as great as ever, and every day I have complaints brought to my office why don't I print some money or do anything else and get it out to the public. So not all of the indications are on one side.
And this, I point out, is again indicative of our kind of economy. One corner of one section is prosperous, another isn't. One class is prosperous, another isn't. So all you can do is to get the very finest brains together that you can and see exactly what is the best thing Government can do. And Government generally speaking in the financial world is confined to what the Federal Reserve Board decides to do, plus the rate of Federal spending and the taxation policies, and so on.
So all of these things, these indications in the economy, are watched very closely, and then the Government can be ready to move in when they possibly can.
The final part of your question as to the consultation with all kinds of leaders: This is not something that I do and attempt to do in a spectacular way and get a great big--I avoid White House conferences that have to issue communiqué³ and all the rest of it, as far as I can. But I have preached, I am certain, for five years that business and labor have an equal responsibility with the Government if we are to maintain a stable dollar and keep our economy decently on an even keel. We must all exhibit some traits of statesmanship.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, on the Civil Rights Commission there have been rumors and reports from good sources that you were considering appointing Adlai Stevenson, who is an integrationist, and former Governor Allan Shivers, who is certainly a segregationist. I am wondering if you would tell us what do you think should be the standards for a good member of this Commission.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will say this: I think first of all as far as we can make them they ought to be men of national reputation so that their opinions, convictions, their findings of fact will be respected by America. I think that we should, so far as possible, have represented on the Commission all types of thinking. There should be men who represent, as nearly as we can find out, the true feelings of the mass of the South. There must be men who represent the opinions of, let's say, of those who believe more in law, and I am particularly anxious that we have people of thoughtful mien and type whose reputation is that of being of a judicial turn of mind, watching these things and determining what to do.
In other words, I want to get the spectrum of American opinion on this matter; and I might point out that by law you may not have more than three of one party.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, the word has gone out that you are trying to keep the Defense budget to $38 billion for this year and for next fiscal year.
THE PRESIDENT. You mean, what we are spending now?
Q. Mr. Brandt: Spending; this is expenditure. Now, if the expenditures in the next fiscal year are kept at $38 billion, will there not be a real reduction in men and hardware?
THE PRESIDENT. When the $38 billion figure was hit upon, it was not by any manner or means a sacrosanct figure, and it was a figure that was brought back to this country by the Chiefs of Staff when they went to Puerto Rico, maybe two years ago, two and a half years ago, as representing their opinion of the minimum sum needed to carry on necessary programs. Since that time there has been a rise in prices.
There is facing the military, like the other governmental departments, a necessary raise in wages. Now, already this year, the expenditures for this year, Secretary McNeil--
Hagerty: McElroy. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. --McElroy. I have been calling him "Neil" so much, I got the "Me" and the "Neil" twisted up.
He has been authorized already, and I think has announced that there will be greater expenditures. Now, this touches a very sensitive point, because you know the last Congress did not authorize us even a temporary rise in the debt rate. For the past three years they have authorized that, so in the bleak months of December and January, the first of February, we have been able to get over without declaring the United States, in effect, bankrupt before the world and couldn't pay off its bills. He was supposed to keep within a particular figure for his expenditures for the year; and we now believe--and this is all done in cooperation between the Treasury, Budget, and Defense--that we can allow a $400 million more in the payment of obligations already before us ready for payment than we had previously figured; and on the whole fiscal year there will probably be even something more than that.
Q. Mr. Brandt: Mr. President, on that point, sir, if there is this rise in prices in the Defense, will you be able to keep within your $70 billion figure for total expenditures?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not going to predict now. After all, the meetings of the next month, as you know, are largely on this matter of budget, and I would think it would require very serious retardations elsewhere if we are going to keep within the $70 billion budget.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, is there any chance of your visiting London or other spots in Europe during your Paris trip?
THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you, Mr. Clark. Quite naturally, with my associations with Britain, having launched two invasions from there and all my great friends, I should very much like to stop--and, of course, my respect for the people and for the royal family. I should certainly like to stop, but whether such can be arranged, all of you know of the great difficulty it is for me to stay out of this country very long, so that is the problem I face.
Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, sir, yesterday Representative Cleveland Bailey said there would not be an effort to pass a school construction bill in the next Congress. My question would be two parts, sir: Is that a White House decision, and, if so, is it a philosophical change, or an operable change?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I didn't see the statement and I can't imagine anyone having a right to speak for the White House. This is one of the matters that will be up for discussion in the joint meetings we have coming up.
Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, in a few days the people in New Jersey will elect a governor. Could you tell us what significance you attach to that election?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you one thing: it would be a great big shot in the arm for some people that need it, if we can elect Mr. Forbes as governor, and personally, I am for it. I believe he is the young, vigorous type of candidate we should have in politics. I believe he is a man of fine character. He has a fine family, and I think he would make an effective governor, so I am for him.
Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, this is a personal question, sir, about your health. You mentioned earlier that your Newport vacation had been disrupted. In addition to Little Rock, there has been a new crisis in the Middle East, and also Russian scientific breakthrough announcements.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. von Fremd: Do all of these great problems sap your strength physically or mentally in any way, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you, Mr. von Fremd. If you will go back to July 25th, of a year ago, when the Egyptians seized the canal--I think that was the date, it could be wrong, but it is near that time--if you can point out a day since then that there hasn't been some critical problem placed upon my desk, I can't remember when it was. And I will say this: I find it a bit wearing, but I find it endurable, if you have got the faith in America that I have.
Q. Donald J. Gonzales, United Press: Mr. President, the question has come up again, sir, about official acceptance of gifts from foreigners. It seems all right to accept expensive watches, robes, and so on, but not automobiles. I wonder, sir, if you think there should be one standard and it should be adhered to by all on this question.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, this is what I think. I think the problem should be decided according to good taste--of course always within the law, but of good taste, and its implications and its interpretations by others. When heads of state try to present something and you are entertaining that head of state because you want to cement relations with his country, when he has a different concept of the way things are done than you do, you have a very definite problem.
Now with respect to automobiles, I know that many members of this Government have been offered automobiles, and I hear that the State Department is now wrestling with one. Well, they will have to wrestle with it; I don't know exactly what it is.
Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, we have been talking about economics. What do your economic experts tell you about the condition of the stock market?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, they don't tell me anything except this: at one time I think they thought that the stock market was unjustifiably high, but they realized that any shocking break always destroys or damages confidence in America. They are interested in the element of confidence, in an economy such as ours. The feeling of people--is this the time to buy or is this the time to do nothing--is very important; so they watched the stock market more as an index of the confidence of people than they do as in its direct effect upon our economy.
Q. Lillian Levy, National Jewish Post: Mr. President, in your opinion does the currently increased penetration of the Communists in the Middle East require that the Eisenhower Doctrine be either expanded or amended and if so, in what way?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have not as of now considered the expansion of the doctrine. I doubt whether it could be expanded greatly and be acceptable either to me or to the Congress or indeed, possibly, under our concepts of the Constitution.
Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and twenty-fourth news conference was held in the Executive office Building from 10:34 to 11:05 o'clock on Wednesday morning, October 30, 1957. In attendance: 251.
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/233887