Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

September 05, 1956

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

Before starting this morning, I think it is appropriate for me to express, on behalf of all of us, our very deep regret that Tony Leviero will not be here in these meetings any more.

I knew him in the war as an officer, since then through my personal contacts here; and I am sure that all of the rest of you that knew him had the same respect for him and admiration and liking that I did.

We will go to questions.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, are you in a position yet to tell us something about your campaign plans beyond this meeting a week from today at Gettysburg? For example, can you tell us when you will make your first nationwide TV and radio address?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, you have a number of invitations you have to consider. Tentatively, and I wouldn't put this down as the law of the Medes and Persians, but tentatively I want to accept an invitation to go to this year's Ploughville, which is at Newton, Iowa, to visit that day with the community that will be representative of agriculture, in which part of our economy I have so much interest.

I will not make a major address there. I am going there to visit with friends for the day. About a week later I expect to make a major address to the Nation, and probably the major subject of that address will be dealing with the agricultural community and economy.

Now, beyond that I haven't gone for the moment.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, first, sir, could you give us the date on the Newton, Iowa, appearance?

THE PRESIDENT. Let me see--it's Friday, I think--[confers with Mr. Hagerty]--Jim says he thinks it's the 21st, and I believe that is the date.

Q. Mr. Smith: Well then, that would mean, sir, then you make your major speech on the 27th or the 28th?

THE PRESIDENT. Somewhere along on that line.

Q. Mr. Smith: And where will that be, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. That I am not quite sure yet. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty]

Oh, yes--excuse me--I did forget one point. I think that probably right after Gettysburg, within a week, I may make a very short address which will not be before a great group, crowd, such as I was mentioning but sort of a studio address.

Q. Pat Munroe, Florida Times-Union: Mr. President, the Democrats are giving special treatment to the few southern States you carried in '52. For instance, Senator Kefauver will be barnstorming in GOP strongholds in Florida next week. Are you disturbed by their activity?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not disturbed, no. I applaud their efforts to get out and work for every vote they can get.

The only thing that I would like to see is every American vote. I have got unlimited faith in America as long as America will express itself. And if everybody will get out and register and vote, why, I should say, let them carry their message in their own way to every corner of the land. Certainly before it is done, I think our own group will do the same.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Mr. President, yesterday, in commenting on some remarks of Adlai Stevenson, your Press Secretary said the Democrats would rather have unemployment for purely partisan reasons to try to win a few votes. Do you agree with this characterization of the party?

THE PRESIDENT. From all I have heard of that incident it seems to be a great deal of misquotation, and I am not even sure that yours is exactly correct. But I will let you go to him, as he advised, I believe, that you should go to another individual, to get his interpretation of his statement. So you go back to the Press Secretary.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, there have been several instances of violence and near violence on the segregation issue as the fall school term begins. In some cases Negro children are risking physical injury to attend school. Do you think there is anything that can be said or done on the national level to help local communities meet this problem without violence?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, in each case I think the local governments have moved promptly to stop the violence. And let us remember this: under the law the Federal Government cannot, on the ordinary normal case of keeping order and preventing rioting, cannot move into a State until the State is not able to handle the matter.

Now, in the Texas case the attorney for the students did report this violence and asked help, which apparently was the result of unreadiness to obey a Federal court order. But before anyone could move the Texas authorities had moved in and order was restored, so the question became unimportant.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, in doing so, Governor Allan Shivers sent Rangers to defy the court order, reassign out the Negro pupils, and said in a public statement which was carried in the newspapers, "I defy the Federal Government." He said, "Tell the Federal courts if they want to come after anyone, to come after me and cite me in this matter." I wonder if you have discussed this with anyone in the Department of Justice?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not discussed it because you are quoting both an order that I have not read and a statement that I have not seen.

We have actually sent for the district court order to know what it says. I don't know what it says. Remember that the Supreme Court placed in the hands of the district judges the primary responsibility for insuring that progress in every sector was made.

Now, just exactly what Governor Shivers said I don't know. This is the first I have heard of it.

Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, when you accepted the Foreign Affairs Intelligence Reports from Mr. Truman in 1952 it was with a stipulation that you would still feel free to criticize his conduct of foreign policy. Did you find during the campaign that your knowledge of those reports changed your attitude any? Did it make you more or less critical?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't, Mr. Kent, but for a very peculiar reason.

You must remember that up until June of 1952 I was in the middle of the military organization that had access to all of the type of information that I could possibly get; so the additional information that I received, because of my peculiar status, was very limited, indeed.

But I did make it clear to Mr. Stevenson that while the information itself was of a secret character and could be imparted to no one else, that he was under no obligation otherwise.

Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Mr. President, referring back to Mr. Clark's question of a moment ago, regardless of politics, you seem to have a tremendous reservoir of good will on the part of young people all over the country. With the schools opening up this week and next in places of serious tension, I wonder if there is anything you would like to say through us to the younger people who are going to school regarding this problem?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can say what I have said so often: it is difficult through law and through force to change a man's heart. It seems to me that all of us who are so interested in this question of equality of rights regardless of religion and of race and color should do more about it. I try to miss no opportunity to urge people--I have done it; I have asked the clergy in, and I have asked them to help. I have asked educators in, I have asked them to help. Whenever I see a governor I ask him to help.

But I do believe that we must all, regardless of our calling in this world, help to bring about a change in spirit so that extremists on both sides do not defeat what we know is a reasonable, logical conclusion to this whole affair, which is recognition of the equality of men.

The South is full of people of good will, but they are not the ones we now hear. We hear the people that are adamant and are so filled with prejudice that they even resort to violence; and the same way on the other side of the thing, the people who want to have the whole matter settled today.

This is a question of leading and training and teaching people, and it takes some time, unfortunately.

Q. Arthur Sylvester, Newark (N.J.) News: Mr. President, in view of your statement just now, do you endorse the finding of the Supreme Court on segregation or merely accept it as the Republican platform does?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it makes no difference whether or not I endorse it. The Constitution is as the Supreme Court interprets it; and I must conform to that and do my very best to see that it is carried out in this country.

Q. A. Eliyahu Salpeter, Haaretz, Tel Aviv: Mr. President, last week you described, through Mr. Dulles, the terms set forth in the 18-nation conference in London as indispensable to the restoration of confidence that the Suez Canal will continue to serve its purpose. Does this mean that the United States will support Britain and France if they insist on nothing less than the London proposals?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not going to comment on the contents of that proposal while it is being discussed in Cairo.

I will repeat what I have said, I think, each week here before this body: the United States is committed to a peaceful solution of this problem, and one that will insure to all nations the free use of the canal for the shipping of the world, whether in peace or in war, as contemplated by the 1888 convention.

Q. Robert L. Riggs, Louisville Courier-Journal: Mr. President, returning to Mr. Hagerty's incident yesterday, in the last few weeks the Press Secretary has evolved into more than a mouthpiece for the President. He has become a policy man himself. As a result, at the Democratic Convention, the keynoter, Governor Clement said of you, "He cannot Jim Hagertyize his way through this campaign."

Now, what I wanted to ask was whether the Press Secretary has become--his function to speak on his own, or is he only your spokesman, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, he is not--I don't think he is exclusively either one, because he is certainly not my sole spokesman; and he is also an intelligent, capable staff officer who cannot be expected on every question to come in and ask me verbatim what my answer is to every question, and carry it out to the press.

Now, for my part, he has done his job well. And I say in this one, you just go back to him and talk to him about it.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, yesterday Mr. Emil Rieve, who is the leader of the American Textile Workers Union, told a British Trade Unions Congress now in session that President Eisenhower has learned "what little he knows about the domestic economy from the big businessmen, the big bankers, and the big manufacturers whom he so greatly admires." Do you care, sir, to comment on this estimate of your position and how do you think this compares with the new Republicanism now being advocated?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I will comment. If that man has that opinion--first of all, I doubt whether that is his real opinion. But if it is, why, he may express it.

Q. Martin S. Hayden, Detroit News: Mr. President, Labor Day in Michigan every Democratic speaker somewhere in his speech said, "We are losing the cold war," just as a flat statement. I would like to ask you, sir, do you think we are losing the cold war?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have gone over this a number of times.

Why can't we take the situation of January 1953 and compare it with today? The French then were involved in a hopelessly losing war in Indochina, with the prospects repeated to me time and time again, that we were going to lose the whole peninsula, possibly to include the Kra Peninsula.

It was settled on a basis that at least gave the free world a firm foothold and under stronger leadership that has been there, and we have removed the taint of colonialism from any assistance that is given in that area.

The Korean War was going on, and under conditions where it was impossible to win; we were fighting and suffering losses merely to hold the line that we then had. It was settled, and we still hold that line.

Every week, if you will look up your own headlines of those days, we were expecting to lose Iran to the Tudeh Party in that country, which was communistic. The problem was settled.

Trieste was a point of great friction and great uneasiness to the free world, and that problem has been settled.

Austria was divided, and we couldn't seem to do anything about it. That has been settled.

Guatemala finally brought us all sorts of trouble. Communism was repelled there.

Now, all over the world there have been advances of that kind.

At the same time, there has been a change in the whole Russian Soviet approach to this problem. They have changed into more, apparently, of an economic propaganda plan rather than depending upon force and the threat of force. This requires intelligent, fast work on our side to put our own case better before the world and to operate better, and I think that that change has been made or is being made effectively, and that the Soviets are not doing as well in this new plan as they first thought they could.

Now, all the way through these things have occurred. Some of them have been not too fortunate, but some have been advances.

Notably, the Israel-Arab question has very little progress, although at one time we thought the Johnston plan had been fully accepted--and it was fully accepted in a technical way; it was merely the political aspects that kept it from being approved.

So I would say that the situation for the free world is a stronger one today than it was in January 1953, and I don't see how anyone can look at the facts as they exist and deny that.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, in your association, sir, with Jacob Javits as a Republican, as a Member of Congress, and as an elected official of what was until recently your home State, have you formed any opinion, sir, as to his patriotism, his loyalty, and his character?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Lawrence, you can know a person a long time and not know him too deeply. Therefore, I will give you my opinion, my feeling, my reaction, but certainly it is not something that I can prove.

I first met Mr. Javits, as I remember, when he was part of a body of Congressmen who urged me to run for the Presidency when I was still a soldier, and at least I thought he was a man of great discernment then. You can understand that. [Laughter]

Now, from that time on I ran into him occasionally. I have never heard him say anything except expressed in terms of the greatest concern for the United States, for the people of the United States, for the little fellow who he seems to represent so ably; and I have never heard him say a word that wasn't that of a loyal, fine American. I was pleased that he volunteered or asked for permission to appear before some committee down here to go into the charges that have been made against him.

That is what I know about Mr. Javits, and as of this moment I think he is a fine American.

Now, if I am proved wrong, I would be greatly astonished.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, Governor Stratton of Illinois told us at San Francisco that he had asked you to come to Illinois during the campaign. Is that still open or do you plan to go there?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't say for sure, but certainly Illinois is one of the States that is under consideration for one of my very infrequent trips, journeys, from this city during the course of the campaign.

But I must say that although Governor Stratton did do that, and I was very appreciative, a lot of governors did the same thing.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, in connection with meeting the Russian economic policy changes, some months ago, I believe, both you and Secretary Dulles indicated that you were going to appoint a committee to study or reappraise American foreign economic policy. As yet, nothing has been announced. Is that idea still alive?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I am meeting the Committee this morning.

Q. Mr. Roberts: Is that the Randall Group or a special group?

THE PRESIDENT. No; a special group--meeting them this morning.

Q. Mr. Roberts: Will there be an announcement of that group?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if there has been no announcement yet, it will be made, I have no doubt, when they come in to see me this morning.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, I don't want to labor this point, but I would like to return to the civil rights matter for just one moment.

Governor Shivers, when he made his announcement last week, ordered the removal of Negro students from the Mansfield School after mob action had been in effect in that area. I wonder if you think that that is a surrender to mob rule?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you don't know for how long he has ordered this. I don't know whether he has ordered the permanent transfer of these people or until the situation is under control.

I want to re-emphasize this: certainly every liberal will be very jealous of protecting the locality's right to execute the police power in this country.

When police power is executed habitually and exercised habitually by the Federal Government, we are in a bad way. So until States show their inability or their refusal to grapple with this question properly, which they haven't yet, at least as any proof has been submitted, we'd better be very careful about moving in and exercising police power.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, may we have your views on the general proposition that a President known to be serving his last term suffers a certain erosion in power and influence?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Ray, it's perfectly obvious I don't know anything about it from experience. [Laughter] I haven't been that kind of a President.

I would say this: the American people seem to support pretty firmly anyone that they believe is honest and working for all the people, and that I think is the reason that the charge is hurled at a man so often that he is a special interest President, that he is either for the rich or he is for somebody else, for the baldheaded people or any other group. [Laughter]

What I am trying to say is I believe that any President, as long as he is honestly and earnestly trying to serve 168 million people, is not going to be without influence.

Q. Paul Scott Rankine, Reuters: Mr. President, could you tell us about this group you are meeting with this morning? Is that at Cabinet level or is that an unofficial level?

THE PRESIDENT. This is a group I have asked to meet with me from civil life. They are not governmental officials.

Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: Mr. President, Senator Mansfield apparently does not agree with the state of the world conditions as you recently outlined, and has suggested that it might be time for another Summit conference. You have met with the powers, including the Russians, in the past, during times of stress. Would you say it would be advisable to meet with them during a rather peaceful interlude to continue the peaceful times as you indicate we now have?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I recall, the period of the Geneva Conference could certainly have been classified as one of rather peaceful interlude. Now, in that one, it is true that the American delegation--I personally--placed before the Russians the great problems of today that must be solved before we could agree that there was a promise stretching out before us of a truly peaceful world: the rights of all of the enslaved countries of Europe to vote for governments of their own choice under free elections, the foreswearing of force, the general and effective means of disarmament, the reuniting of countries that are divided, the inspection of each country to make sure that limitations on security measures were effectively carried out.

All of those things have been laid before them, and as of this moment I wouldn't see any advantage to be gained by merely renewing the opportunity to lay that before them, because it's never been fixed otherwise, never been stated otherwise.

Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register and Tribune: Mr. President, in the last week the AFL-CIO leadership has come out against your administration, and Mr. Reuther specifically was rather critical on the special interest charge over the weekend. I wonder if you could tell us specifically, rather than the general prosperity, as to why the rank and file of labor should desert their leadership and should vote for the Republican administration?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know why they should do it, because they could have any number of reasons for believing that someone else should take my position, any number that might seem important to them. But if they base it merely upon the economy of this country, which they are seeming to do, and the dispersion of the productivity of this country, the products that have been produced, to all our people, then they are on very weak ground because the statistics can prove that they are absolutely wrong.

And I must say I received one letter only yesterday that came to me from a man who was in a union in New Jersey, and he protested in the bitterest terms the efforts of his leaders to tell him how he should vote.

He said, "I will obey my leaders in everything that touches labor. If they tell me to strike, I will strike, even if I don't agree. I will go hungry, as I have, many times. I will obey every order they give me in the labor field. But no one can tell me how to vote."

And I think that is probably a very good American spirit.

Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, do you have any plans to meet with Prime Minister Nehru of India before the election?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's been published that my invitation to Mr. Nehru has been renewed, and he was very receptive to the idea. But I believe we have been unable so far to fix the exact time.

After all, the election is now about 2 months away, and I think it would be rather unusual if it could be done before that.

Q. Essell P. Thomas, Jr., Charlotte Observer: Mr. President, there have been reports that the United States is urging Japan to cut her cotton textile exports to the United States even below this year's level in 1957. I wonder if you could confirm this?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that hasn't been reported to me. What I do get in is reports of the cotton, raw cotton, consumption in Japan; and, of course, there is some shipping back here of textiles, and many individuals in the textile industry believe that this is in too great volume.

Now, they haven't reported to me on it, and I have had nothing from the Tariff Commission.

Q. S. Douglass Cater, Jr., Reporter Magazine: Mr. Walter Reuther has petitioned the Atomic Energy Committee--the Commission, that is--on behalf of the United Automobile Workers living in the Detroit area to hold a public hearing on the building of this atomic reactor at Monroe, Mich. He cites the report of the Atomic Energy Commission's Safety Committee that this reactor will, might possibly be dangerous. He says that it should be aired in public. Do you believe that such a hearing should be held?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know at this moment of any reason why it should not be held. But I do know this: the reason they took so long in studying that plan was to make certain that there could be no chance of any accident of the kind the people have discussed occurring in connection with it.

Q. Charles W. Bailey II, Minneapolis Star and Tribune: Mr. President, in relation to something you said last week at your conference, I wonder if you could tell us how you happened to be reading the speech of President McKinley?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I read a lot of these things, and I saw in a book by a man named Moos, which was the history of the Republican Party, some reference to the great speech of President McKinley. I sent to the Republican Library and got--to the Congressional Library--[laughter]--now I suppose I will be accused of putting the Library in partisan politics. [Laughter] I sent to the Congressional Library, got this speech and read it.

Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's ninety-fourth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 10:59 o'clock on Wednesday morning, September 5, 1956. In attendance: 191.

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/233130

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives