Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

October 11, 1956

THE PRESIDENT. Please sit down.

I think about 12:30, at least some time today, there will be a statement issued on the general situation in the drought field. As you know, it's been very serious for several years.

There will be a recitation of what has been done by Federal and State and other authorities, and what the plans are now to try to increase and, in some certain instances, carry on on an emergency basis until Congress meets again, like the supplying of money for hay, additional subsidies for grain--raise it to a dollar and a half per hundredweight that the Federal Government will pay for grain--and reducing freight rates in the region.

Yesterday the Ex-Im Bank announced a consummation of a plan for lending $5 million to Mexico with which they are going to buy breeder stock out of the southern Texas area.

Finally, for some time before the end of the year, but after the election, I am going to call a conference for all the responsible people in the area, trying to do something more about it than has been done.

It's a kind of a thing that the longer it lasts the more severe it gets. So we will issue quite a detailed statement.


Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, Adlai Stevenson said recently that scientists have a better understanding of his proposal for halting H-bomb tests than politicians.

In a Seattle speech Tuesday night he said, and this is a direct quote: "Republican politicians, including the President, have little understanding or sympathy with attempts to save man from the greatest horror his ingenuity has ever devised." Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Only this: that I admit I have no great knowledge of the processes of nuclear fusion and nuclear fission, but I have been working with scientists for a very good many years in all of this military field, and I have never expressed an opinion involving the scientific parts of it without having the advice and the information provided me by scientists in whom I had confidence.

Moreover, I think for 3½ years the record is there; that we have done everything that is humanly possible, consistent with our own concern for our own national safety, to get this thing under control and use it for peace.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, the possibility of the elimination of the draft and the stopping of the hydrogen bomb have, according to reliable sources, also been under consideration inside the administration and the AEC.

Would you comment, sir, on the widely circulated reports that similar proposals were being planned by Republican strategists for public announcement by you during this campaign if Mr. Adlai Stevenson had not made them first, and does your rejection of them now freeze further consideration of such proposals?

THE PRESIDENT. You are telling me things about my administration that I have never heard, and I am quite sure that it's not true. No one has come up and has suggested to me that we eliminate the draft in my administration.

Now, I tell you frankly, I have said my last words on these subjects. I think I have expressed all that is necessary to express on them for the purposes of any political campaign, and as far as the record of the Government to provide for our security in the fairest, best, most economical way we can, to make certain that we are doing our share in seeing that the free world is kept free from attack, it's right there in the records of 3½ years to read.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, dispatches from both London and Paris reflect the rising feeling of anti-Americanism, our allies apparently feeling that the administration's foreign policy is being inhibited by election-year considerations. My question is: Do you think there is any basis for such a feeling abroad?


Now, I don't believe you can talk about these two countries in the same breath, and we must be talking about the Suez Canal affair, because that is the one that has been alleged to be creating this difficulty.

Populations in different countries understand these affairs somewhat differently, depending upon their own national traditions, their background, and the, you might say, the closeness to the situation.

You will recall, for example, that public opinion in other countries did not at all agree with American public opinion when we announced our determination to protect Formosa and make certain that it did not fall. Public opinion in other countries didn't go along very well with that.

It has been alleged in respect to this Suez Canal affair that the American policy has not been clear and firm. This is an error.

From the very first day that we took up this question there were certain principles that guided us, and those principles were enunciated in that 18-power agreement that was sent by a committee to Cairo.

Those principles were four in number. As I remember they, of course, respected Egyptian sovereignty; they insisted upon the efficient operation of the Canal; and they pointed out as the, you might say, the central principle that the Canal could not be operated for the political purposes of any one single country. They provided, also, for fair and increasing share of the profits to Egypt and profits to no one else.

Those are the principles that have guided us throughout.

The 18-nation program that was sent to Cairo was a plan that, it was believed by those 18 nations, would effectually carry out these principles. But it was never implied by any manner of means that these details were not negotiable as long as the four principles were observed.

Now, I must tell you this: I asked the Secretary of State this morning--he came in to see me--whether he had ever had any intimation from anyone in British officialdom whom he met, that they were dissatisfied with our stand in this thing, or thought that we had been vacillating and not carrying forward as we started out. He hasn't, and I assure you that I haven't.

I do want to make this clear: our friendships with Britain are very, very important to us, not only sentimentally but officially, politically, economically, and militarily.

The same goes for France. But France's attitude is somewhat different, and I can't say exactly the same thing with respect to them because they are already in a war in North Africa, and there you can understand that they are much more tense than even the British population.

So I think these things arise out of misunderstandings, which I hope can be cleared up soon.

Q. Pat Munroe, Albuquerque Journal: Mr. President, the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Company meets here on Saturday, and because of alleged abuses of travel on company ships by Members of Congress and their staffs and families, the Board has been asked to release their passenger lists for recent years. Have you any personal views on what the Board should do, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, there are lots of things go on in this Government and I try to keep in touch with most of them, but I hadn't heard about this possibility of asking this question.

I would say this: when anyone travels on a governmental ship, I know of no reason on earth why the passenger list shouldn't be published the day the ship sails.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: On September 5 you stated that it was not important whether you endorsed the Supreme Court's decision on integration so long as it was enforced. Since then a number of people, mostly Democrats, have said that it is important whether you endorse the decision. Could you amplify your position on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Look, I put that in this way: We start out with article I of the Constitution, and we go on right down to the end, including its amendments, and the Constitution as it is interpreted by the Supreme Court, I am sworn to uphold it.

I don't ask myself whether every single phase of that Constitution, with all its amendments, are exactly what I agree with or not.

I am sworn to uphold it, and that is what I intend to do.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, would you adopt the role of political strategist just for a moment?

THE PRESIDENT. I will try, Mr. Folliard. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Folliard: And tell us how you appraise the 1956 campaign, how do you think it's going, from your standpoint?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I admit that my viewpoint on this is not as broad as is that of some people that can travel further afield than I have.

After all, I have got a job here to do, and this isn't like establishing a summer headquarters in Denver or even staying a week in Augusta. There you can take your staff and you can operate just as effectively as you can here. But when you're out campaigning I assure you you can't be running this office very well, and you have to get back quite frequently.

As you know, so far I have been limited to trips into Iowa, Illinois, a short one in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.

The only thing I have got to go by is the crowds, their reception of me, and their general attitude. And I must say that the receptions I have had are those that warm my heart. I go just exactly as I did in '52, I try to lay out exactly what I believe, what I am for, what I am leading the Republican Party to support. And if that is what the American people want, I am delighted. But I abide by their decision with no question about it at all, just exactly as I said in a question before, I abide by the Constitution of the United States.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, following up that question, we have had a good deal of oratory in the campaign now. What do you think are the real issues that are going to settle this election?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I tried to say the other night, no one is against peace, no one is against progress, and certainly, no one is against prosperity.

Now, the thing comes down, generally speaking, to the management of America's affairs at home.

I think that we are more concerned on our side with trying to follow the Lincolnian dictum of doing for people the things they can't do well themselves, but to avoid interference where people can do things for themselves. That is sort of the underlying basic philosophy.

In order to allow our people to progress in keeping with the new industrial and economic changes that have come on us, we believe that it is very necessary for Government to do certain things, to support the social security, the unemployment insurance plans, and all of that sort of thing, to help the research in health, to help provide schoolrooms, because of the great hiatus in construction that occurred through war and depression and emergencies, get that all straightened out.

At the same time, we believe that if this country is going to prosper and be strong at home, it's got to have a sound dollar. If you don't have a sound dollar this, my friends, is what happens: All of your pension schemes begin to fall to the ground, and our country today, I don't know how many millions out of the 168, but many, many of those millions--most of them--are coming to depend for their security in their old age on pensions and social security. If those dollars don't remain sound, those older people are going to be hurt. They are the ones we are thinking about.

So the sound dollar, which means economic and efficient handling of your fiscal affairs and, finally, the greatest possible decentralization of government. It seems to me today we are following the guidance of Jefferson in this respect. He put it this way: "The least government is the best government," and he said, "The closer government is to the people the better." So that is what we are for.

The partnership policy of which we speak is to give the maximum responsibility into the hands of local and State governments to run their own affairs, with the Federal coming in as a partner, a quick and willing partner, when it's needed.

Now, I believe that the Democratic Party approaches it--I mean, the leaders that are now speaking for them, I don't know whether the Party as a whole, I am not trying to speak for them-as I understand the speeches being made on the other side, they start from the other end: "We take a government and we run things from government, there is where we start."

Instead of trying to release, to guide, and to help the great and illimitable results you get from a free people doing these things, they want to guide and direct; and they are not concerned particularly with the sound dollar because they talk about raising expenditures, cutting taxes, and that means, as I see it, deficit spending. You cannot continue to spend on a deficit basis without hurting your dollar.

So I think that in those things you have got a real issue: How do we manage America's internal affairs? I really believe this.

In foreign affairs, no one has debated, so far as I know, on general broad policy. But the debate has been "Are we competent or are we not competent? Do we know the right people?" I guess, or "What don't we know?"

I don't know exactly what the argument is. But it's not, there, down to issues. In the "home" management, I believe it is.

Q. Paul Wooton, New Orleans Times Picayune: Mr. President, would you be inclined to sign the rivers and harbors bill if the next Congress eliminates the items that were not approved by the Corps of Engineers?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, you're putting a little bit of a tax on my memory. I remember the one that--

Q. Mr. Wooton: It was the authorization--

THE PRESIDENT. A number of them that have not been approved and not gone over. I will put it this way: I am very anxious to preserve the natural resources of this country. I have made this talk to you people several times, no need to repeat it.

I just say this: On Monday I am pushing a button, I believe it will start the earth moving on two dams at once, in the Flaming Gorge, and in Glen Echo [Glen Canyon].

I believe in these things, and so whenever they are done right, are properly studied, properly put in priorities, appropriations made for them, and represent a steady progress instead of just quick and go, political in nature, I will approve them, you can bet on that. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty]

Excuse me--Glen Canyon, not Glen Echo. [Laughter]

Good thing I have a Mr. Hagerty.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, can you tell us whether you are approaching or have reached a decision as to whether aid, economic aid, to Yugoslavia will be continued?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, I have to make that decision on the 16th; in such matters as that, the final decision is never made and published until the last minute because you get every second of time you can to get in tune with the latest intelligence, the latest outlook on the situation. But it will be published on the 16th.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, we have just had a rather brief medical report on Mr. Stevenson. Can you tell us when we will have the final report on your health?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know exactly, Mrs. Craig, what date, but I would say before the end of the month.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, you and other Republicans had warned earlier of the danger of complacency on the Republican side. From your own observation and what you have gotten in reports how do you think that problem is going?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know exactly how to interpret the word "complacency."

What I mean is, I don't want to see America deciding elections on 50 percent of the electorate turning out, or 60 percent. I would like to see us get up and get a truly respectable figure in the electorate turning out.

Now, as far as I have been able to detect any complacency in the places I have gone, starting in San Francisco and right down to this date, I haven't seen a bit. But I have been told that there has been in many sections a real falloff in registration. That disappoints me, and I don't know whether it's Democratic, Independent, or Republican; I don't think that can be known. I am against, I am just against, people not exercising this great right.

Q. Edward J. Milne, Providence Journal: Mr. President, what do Dr. Burns and the other economics people tell you about the increase in the cost of living? Do they feel that it's leveling off or that the time has come for even more direct controls or--

THE PRESIDENT. It's something, I must tell you, that is really never answered. It's a thing that every day, every week is studied with the economic people, and every week reports made to me.

You have to fight, you have to watch, you have to adjust yourself all the time because of our great belief that in this thing is one of the problems that must be dealt with intelligently if the American people are to prosper.

And, as you know, there is one factor that is not under our control. That is the money rates which are provided by the Federal Reserve Board, independent, and I think properly, of the Executive.

Q. Herman A. Lowe, Manchester (New Hampshire) Union Leader: Mr. President, have you received a final report yet on General Swing's trips to Mexico, and could you tell us what they show?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. As a matter of fact, I am sorry, but did I ever promise to get that report here?

Q. Mr. Lowe: I understood you did, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't recall it, but I can. I have never seen a report on them, but I understood they were made to Congress. Wasn't that true? [Addressing Mr. Hagerty]

Mr. Hagerty: I don't know, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I know it came up before a committee of Congress, and I assumed the full report must be before that committee.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: I can explain the General Swing matter. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I am very grateful! [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. McClendon: What happened was that General Swing was investigated by a congressional committee, then the matter was turned over to the Justice Department for investigation, at the request of Mr. Brownell, I believe, and they have heard nothing from Mr. Brownell. So recently Congressman Mollohan, chairman of the committee, appealed to you by letter to see if Mr. Brownell could give them any report on this. And at the last press conference you said you had not seen the letter to you from Mr. Mollohan.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Well, would you mind investigating that to see if you can get something out of the Justice Department?

THE PRESIDENT. Do you think I should go on back for the last 15 years and investigate every single time that transportation is used possibly improperly?

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Oh, no, sir; no, sir. This is a specific--

THE PRESIDENT. Yachts and things like that? [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. McClendon: No, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I just wondered.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: No, sir. This is a--I must qualify my question--this has to do with the specific trips of General Swing into Mexico


Q. Mrs. McClendon: --which were referred to in the letter.

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, I will look them up and I will say this: If the Attorney General has completed a report, I know of no reason why he wouldn't publish it unless he has to give it to the committee and not to the public.

Q. McLellan Smith, Delaware State News: Mr. President, I would like to digress from foreign affairs and the draft and those things, and ask what is delaying the appointment of a Highway Administrator to direct the new multibillion-dollar highway program? Congress passed an act creating the office of Highway Administrator, with practically sub-Cabinet rank, and as yet no appointment has been made. Would you know what has been delaying that?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't this minute, but that could be easily found out. I think it was the Department of Commerce that had the responsibility. I can easily find out.

Q. Mr. Smith: It was to be made by you.

THE PRESIDENT. You might find out--[confers with Mr. Hagerty] I am told it is coming up very quickly.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Your friend Paul Hoffman, writing in Collier's today, says that Senators, whom he calls unappeasables, Malone, Jenner, and McCarthy have no place in the new Republican Party. He also said that you had determined that those who were not with you are against you.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, what about it?

Q. Mr. Brandt: Do you agree that McCarthy and Jenner and Malone fit in with your picture of the new Republican Party?

THE PRESIDENT. I will say this, Mr. Brandt: Let's remember, there are no national parties in the United States. There are 48 State parties, and they are the ones that determine the people that belong to those parties.

There is nothing I can do to say that one is not a Republican. The most I can say is that in many things they do not agree with me. Therefore, in looking for help to get over a program, which is the sole purpose of political leadership, as I see it, for the good of the country, I can't look to them for help. But we have got to remember that these are State organizations, and there is nothing that I can do to say so-and-so is Republican and so-and-so is not a Republican.

Q. Mr. Brandt: Well, in the same article he says that Schoeppel of Kansas and Goldwater are "faint hopes," "men of faint hope," but you are relying on Senator Knowland to bring them over.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, look, the more people that agree with me, of course, the wiser I think they are. [Laughter]

And so I want as many Republicans as I can possibly get going down the line with me, because time is short. You find out how short it is sometimes when you are trying to get these things done before the close of a session, and you need all the help you can get; and I am never going to stop trying.

Q. Robert W. Richards, The Copley Press: Mr. President, the reporters traveling with you have noticed that you draw large and enthusiastic groups of young people. How do you account for it? You campaigned on a couple of college campuses without having any beer cans thrown at you, yet, anyway. Is it because of your plea for the 18-year-old vote or was it because these young people, as in the days of Roosevelt, know no other President? What is your feeling about the young voter?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it is a mere matter of this: for many, many years, I have had a terrific interest in the youngsters. I really believe that we tried to delay too long their taking a very serious and vital part in the running of our country.

As I tried to explain it to them--I used to at Columbia--if I am 60 and they are 20, they certainly own 40 years more of the future than I do, and they ought to be vitally interested right now and begin to prepare themselves.

I think it is merely this: that I have shown this faith and trust in youngsters. I have noted in several articles that people say there is a very great percentage of youngsters. I think it is because of that, not merely because I said I thought that the voting age ought to come down to where we can require a man to fight. That was just an aphorism, I admit, but I felt that way during the war, and I still feel that way. But I think that is just an aside, that's all.

Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: Mr. President, I believe you told us many times here, sir, that you would go anywhere and do just about anything in the interests of peace. If you thought a personal appearance before the U. N. would help solve this Suez crisis, would you make such an appearance, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Why, of course I would. There is nothing in the world that I wouldn't do to preserve peace with justice.

Remember, you must have peace with justice, or it's not peace. Just to win a peace by saying, "Well, we won't fight right now," is not good enough, although as long as you are talking and not fighting, that is a gain.

But what I am saying is as long as you can get a peace based on justice, I would go anywhere, do anything in the effort to do so.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, may I ask you a question, sir, about your philosophy about this campaign oratory?

On Tuesday night, I think it was, you said: "There is only one road worthy of American intelligence, and that is the road of truth." Then down farther in the same speech you went on and compared the rise in the cost of living in the last 3 years with the 7 normally inflationary post-war years, and in discussing the education bill you said you proposed it and the opposition rejected it.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that I said the opposition; I said the opposition-controlled Congress rejected it, as I recall.

Q. Mr. Reston: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. It was controlled by the opposition.

Q. Mr. Reston: My question is this: On this business of campaign oratory, how do you reconcile statements like that with the new morality which you yourself have done more to invoke than anybody else?

THE PRESIDENT. But I would say this: I would say it again because it is true. I worked with the educators of America to develop a plan. I sent it down, and in its first test vote it was defeated, with 215 to 9 voting against it in the opposition party.

Now, from there on they began to load it up with things, many of which I couldn't have accepted, and I wasn't doing anything to get their bill through because there were features in it--

I demanded, first of all, that the buildings that we built would be over and above existing plans. The plan they brought out had nothing of that in it.

I said it would be distributed according to basis of need; if it's not going to be distributed according to basis of need, how are you going to distribute it?

So I said those two things made that plan unacceptable to me, and I am perfectly ready to stand up and say I take responsibility for not allowing that. But I do say that the plan that was prepared with the full approval of this great mass of educators, I think it was almost a thousand, as I remember, that was the one that was defeated in the House.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, there has been some talk this year that the Republicans are writing off the South. Do you have any plans to campaign in the South before you are through?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no definite plans, I think, except one meeting beyond this northwestern trip that is now occupying my attention.

But to say that I write off the South is to say that there is a section in the United States in which I have no interest. Of course I have got an interest in the South; I spent many years of my life there, and I would hope that I would get an opportunity to go back to that area.

Dayton Moore, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's ninety-eighth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:33 to 11 :02 o'clock on Thursday morning, October 11, 1956. In attendance: 198.

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/233364

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