The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.
The only announcement I have this morning is that the Vice President is going to Brazil at the head of a 14-individual mission, leaving here Sunday afternoon, to be present at the inauguration of the new Brazilian President. Aside from that, questions.
Q. Marvin Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, if you should decide to seek re-election, would you favor Vice President Nixon as your running mate again?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, my admiration, respect, and deep affection for Mr. Nixon, I think, are well known.
Now, I have never talked to him under any circumstances as to what his future is to be or what he wants it to be, and until I confer with him I wouldn't have anything to say.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, Secretary Dulles says he is trying to avoid having certain matters involving foreign affairs disputed in the coming national campaign. We have heard mention that among these matters is the Israeli-Arab situation.
Do you think it is possible, sir, to exclude specific issues from a national campaign; and do you think it should be done?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you ask a very large question, and then put it in a very small frame. [Laughter]
Now, this is what I believe, and I think that Secretary Dulles and I are in complete accord on this--I know we are--that the great principles and policies that guide your foreign relationships should be absolutely a bipartisan affair, so that other countries do not have to fear too much a change in the political party occupying the executive branch of Government.
When it comes to many things as to method or personalities-for example, many people may not think that I have the personality or the proper approach to other individuals in handling very delicate problems. If they do think so, it is certainly their privilege to criticize and to try to make the change.
But when we are coming and talking about the policies, the aims and purposes and the aspirations of the United States, and the methods, the broad methods, by which we are pursuing those, those are the things that I think should be above politics.
Now, when you take a specific question such as the one you mentioned, where does it belong, in policy or just in the personal ideas of an individual?
So there I wouldn't attempt to answer it in those terms. But I think my position is clear on it.
Q. Edward H. Sims, Columbia (S. C.) State and Record: I have two questions, sir. What do you think, Mr. President, of Congressman Richards' proposal that Congress approve of the general principle of long-term foreign aid but not bind itself to commitments? Would that be an acceptable substitute?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you have asked one question that takes a little time to answer; I don't know about your second.
I think there has been a great deal of misunderstanding about the administration's viewpoint toward long-term aid.
The great portion of our aid is put down in specific items for specific countries, and is fixed and authorized by Congress.
Now, there are certain projects in certain countries of the world that cannot be executed quickly. If you start them, you have to give some pledge of going on to the end or some assurance that you will go on to the end. And it is only through such assurance that the International Bank, for example, will step in and do its part in those projects.
Now, the whole purpose of the so-called long-term plan is to have Congress and the Executive together. It's their agreement, and their statement, that these certain types of projects could be extended, that agreements could be made extending over a given period.
Of course, there can be no appropriations made now. The appropriations are made year by year. But if Congress and the Executive together say something to the people of the world, we feel it ought to have more authority, give more confidence, than if the Executive alone states it.
Q. Mr. Sims: Mr. President--
THE PRESIDENT. He has a double-barrelled question.
Q. Mr. Sims: I just have one very short one. Do you intend to follow the rotation custom this time that if there is another vacancy in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals--and by rotation by custom that nomination will be to a South Carolinian--do you intend to follow that?
THE PRESIDENT. Normally--I will say this--in the circuit courts we try to keep a proper representation from the broad areas, and with particular reference to the areas in which cases are normally originated.
However, this one, you are asking me a question that is purely hypothetical. I have not studied it at all.
Q. Edward Jamieson Milne, Providence Journal: There is at least a lively possibility, I believe, sir, that your income estimates in the budget may be fairly substantially exceeded. If we should come up with another billion or two, would you give priority to debt reduction or to tax cuts, or do you think that, perhaps, you might find purposes for which you would have to spend more money?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, any one of these three could happen within a modest amount. I suppose you are talking about this fiscal year '56?
Q. Mr. Milne: That is right.
THE PRESIDENT. I think that we believe our estimates are pretty accurate, but I notice that they always seem to be off in the final accounting. But I do feel this: that until we start to accomplish some reduction on our great tax burden that we really haven't got our financial house in order.
So, I never try to state what the amount would' be, but I would like to see the intent on the part of the American people, after their attention is drawn to this thing, to cut it down somewhat each year, a little bit whenever it is possible.
Q. Mr. Milne: I think, sir, you said reduction on tax burden. Were you speaking of debt reduction?
THE PRESIDENT. I am talking about cutting the debt.
Q. Mr. Milne: Debt; yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Now, after you have cut the debt, everybody wants to cut taxes; goodness knows, I want to cut them.
Q. Earl Mazo, New York Herald Tribune: On the basis of your 3 years' contact with politics and politicians, could you tell us, sir, some of your present impressions about the business of politics; specifically, do you like it any better, do you feel more proficient, and do you have any advice for professional politicians?
THE PRESIDENT. Would you mind asking me that question some time at the beginning of a conference where everybody will agree we can talk that the whole half hour? After all, it is very long.
Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, may I return to an aspect of the foreign aid program, and say it is evident there has been some highly false opposition to the long-term concept from Senator Knowland and Senator George. And I wondered whether you felt that you had a chance of winning for your program, and whether you expect to make a maximum stand and pressure on Congress to try to bring it off?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have never really understood thoroughly this expression "pressure on Congress," Roscoe. But I do say this: I believe this is in the best interests of the United States. I have proposed it after thorough study; I believe in it, and I recommend it, and I am going to stand for it on my part just as long as there is a chance to get it.
Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, last year, if I remember correctly, you opposed an anti-segregation amendment to a military reserve bill. I think you said it was extraneous. How would you feel about an antisegregation amendment to the school construction bill?
THE PRESIDENT. Some of you seem to have a genius this morning for asking questions that take a great deal of explanation, rather than merely to say yes or no. These things aren't that simple.
Now, when it comes to my devotion to the Constitution--what it provides--my devotion to the decisions of the Supreme Court, particularly when they are unanimous, I hope is complete.
I believe in the equality of opportunity for every citizen of the United States.
Now, it isn't though quite as simple as that. If we go to the other end and begin to talk about laws, I believe that every law, every important bill, and every important purpose from Congress should be in a bill of its own, so that we don't get a confusion of issues and, therefore, don't know for what we are voting or what we are not voting for.
The Supreme Court, in reaching its decision as to what the law was, provided, and specifically provided, there be a gradual implementation, and referred it back to the district courts so that it should be gradual.
But, in the meantime, the need of the American children for schools is right now, immediately, today. So I think there should be nothing that is put on this thing that delays the construction.
Now, when you come down though to ask a man to vote against something that he believes to be in furtherance of Constitutional provisions, then you have got a tough one. But I just think that is the way I would handle it, to put it very clearly, because we want the schools now; and as much as the decision of the Supreme Court must be implemented, they said themselves, implemented gradually, because they recognize the deep ruts of prejudice and emotionalism that have been built up over the years in this problem.
Q. Mr. Folliard: Mr. President, I gather then that you think the school construction bill should be freed of any amendment that might block it?
THE PRESIDENT. This is what I believe: the school construction bill should be passed. Now, if Congress wants to put the other on, and does it, I will understand why they are doing it. But I just simply say, let's get the school bill; that is what I want.
Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: This one won't take more than 10 minutes, I don't think, sir.
In your press conference in Florida, I believe you said that you had all the factors about your political future marshaled in order in your mind. I wonder if you could indicate to us what those factors were, and in what order?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you, Mr. Reston, I won't take the time except to say this: we are not talking now about a man who has been ill and who has had, let's say, a full year to decide what he can do in the next 4 years. I think it was yesterday it was 4 months since I had this illness that started all this type of questioning.
Now, I have to guess as to the next 5 years. The problem is what will be the effect on the Presidency, not on me; that is the problem. You can yourself, without any long dissertation here, just lay out all of the factors of the energy, the intensity with which you can attack your problems, the zip and the zest that you can take into conferences when you have to get something done for the good of the United States.
This morning I may feel very zestful, but I do know that I have had an attack.
That is my problem, and I hope I am not going to dillydally too long about it.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: This is a fragment of Mr. Reston's question. Mr. President, have you now set a date for your February medical examination, and is it safe to assume that you will not announce your intentions regarding '56 until after that examination takes place?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think there is anything safe to assume about any of my impulses. [Laughter]
But I will say this: I asked the doctors myself when they wanted to hold this examination, because I am hopefully looking forward to a little southern trip, and they told me they thought it would be possibly before the middle of February; they thought it would most likely be before the middle of February.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, Mr. Edmund Mansure, who administers, I believe, about $9 billion in the General Services Administration, has been under attack by the Brooks subcommittee of the House for the manner in which he allowed subcontracting and fee-splitting to take place at the nickel plant down in Cuba. I wonder if you made any study of this relative to firing him?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you add a postscript to your question that's completely--well, I assure you I will just ignore it.
But the fact is that as quickly as I saw evidence of this, I asked for a complete investigation on what has happened. I will get it in due course; and that's as far as I have gone.
Q. Martin S. Hayden, Detroit News: Mr. President, I am sure you will recall, sir, that these questions as to your political future were going on before you went to Denver and became ill. I wonder now, sir, if you could take the lid off and tell us what your intentions were then, if you had any intentions? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. You'd really have me in a jackpot if my answer then was "no."
Q. Oscar W. Reschke, German Press Agency: Mr. President, the German Foreign Minister suggested yesterday, urged the West to seek a new Big Four meeting. He said that the last meeting at Geneva failed for lack of sufficient
THE PRESIDENT. He said what?
Q. Mr. Reschke: He said the last meeting at Geneva failed because of lack of sufficient preparation. I was wondering whether you could give us your opinion on that?
THE PRESIDENT. The last Big Four foreign ministers meeting?
Q. Mr. Reschke: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I should say that it didn't fail for any lack of preparation. But I haven't even heard a suggestion of any new one.
Now, it is always easy to say these things fail for lack of preparation. But, remember, that meeting had been advocated by many for at least 2 years, and there was plenty of time to prepare. So if it wasn't sufficient preparation it was merely because of lack of ability somewhere.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: You sort of left us hanging on the date of this next physical examination.
THE PRESIDENT. They told me they didn't know the exact dates because they wanted to get all the doctors together, but before the middle of the month. I would say maybe between the 10th and the 15th.
Q. Mr. Clark: Can you tell us when you hope to go South?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know exactly; I don't know.
Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett News Service: Mr. President, Senator Johnson of Texas says your farm program has been a failure. Do you have any comment?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'm not going to comment on what he says. I didn't read his comments. But I will say this: it would appear that all farm programs, starting way back right after the close of World War II, have not succeeded in reaching a stated objective, which was to bring the farmer up to his fair share of participation in the productivity of this country. And the only time since the close of World War II where that was relatively true was right in the middle of the Korean War.
Now, the program that we worked so hard on just went into effect in '55. Its first effect on the farmer was with the wheat crop in '55, not before that.
So, always recognizing it is a very broad problem, not one to be solved merely by one thing we could call a panacea, we have gone right across the board with the farm bureaus, the Grange, every farm leader we can get a hold of, and devised what we believe to be a farm program that offers a real future to the family-sized farm throughout the country; and if it does that, it's certain that commercial-sized farms will prosper.
At the same time, recognizing that they are now at this moment behind the rest of the economy, it provides features that begin to bring in money instantly, such as the refunding of the gasoline taxes, the increased money for the purchase of pork, the increased prices on flax seed and a few other, soybeans; and the extension and provision of credit for the farmer to carry him when he is in a bad hole. All of those things, and then on top of that the acreage reserves, if they will go into that as quickly as the Congress can pass the law and certificates can be issued, arrangements made, they can start getting money on it even late this spring and early summer. So I think there is a broad program here that if Congress will act on it promptly, the farmer will begin to experience real relief.
Q. Mr. Scheibel: Does that mean, sir, that if the Congress this year votes to reinstate the 90-percent support, you would reject it, as part of an overall bill?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe I will speculate. I am just telling you I put in a program and I want to see that passed.
Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard: Mr. President, I hope I can get away with this question--[laughter]--I wanted to ask.
THE PRESIDENT. I just wanted to see how long I had left.
Q. Mr. Tully: I just want you to say yes or no to this: do any members of your family object to your running again, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. Marguerite Higgins, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, in light of Khrushchev's disparagement of your aerial inspection plan put before the Supreme Soviet, do you still have hopes for disarmament and a disarmament agreement with the Russians at some time soon?
THE PRESIDENT. Do I have hopes for what?
Q. Miss Higgins: A disarmament agreement with the Russians at any time soon.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as everybody has always known, any move for disarmament is going to be slow, tortuous, and certainly gradual, even at the best.
Now, as a preliminary to disarmament, the great thing I was trying to promote was some confidence in each other that there would be an elimination of opportunity for surprise attack, which would set the stage for definite steps and proposals in disarming.
I would say as of now we have only one recourse, to remain strong, to remain true to our own moral concepts of right and justice in the world, to make no compromise on those, but to do the best we can in negotiations, whether they are big or little, to reduce these tensions and pave the way for future disarmament.
As of now, I would say you couldn't go any further than that statement.
Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: Mr. President, you have told us in this room before that your home in Gettysburg is the first one you and Mrs. Eisenhower enjoyed in something over 40 years.
During your recent illness you have had some time to spend at your farm and your now permanent home. If it isn't too personal, sir, did you miss the bustle of the Presidency while you were there?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it seems to me to be a fair question, although I don't know if it is terrifically important.
Anybody who has been busy, when he doesn't have immediately something at hand, has a little bit of a strange feeling. But to say that I was bored to death at Gettysburg--there are so many things that I have to do. I have piled up stacks of books I never have had a chance to read, and I am trying to get through. I, as you know, daub with paints. I like the actual roaming around on a farm. I love animals. I like to go out and see them. I have got a thousand things to do in this world, so I don't think I would be bored, no matter what it was.
Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, on the foreign aid matter, some of the resistance to the long-term part of the proposal at the Capitol among members of both parties appears to stem from the implication that the administration looks to foreign aid, economic foreign aid, as more or less a permanent thing.
Do you consider that in this present so-called competitive coexistence phase that economic aid must be more or less a permanent part of our foreign policy?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, some words are difficult to use. It is like "never" in bridge, or "How long is a piece of string." When you say "permanently," I don't know.
Now, this is what I say: honest people who have studied problems ought to sit back and say, "In what way can we spend our money to achieve the maximum of national security to give our people the confidence that will enable them to go about their ways in their day-to-day life raising their families, making good citizens, and so on?"
Now, I think that as of this time, and certainly for the near future, the near time, part of that money has got to go in helping friends.
For example, friends in certain instances--take Korea: Korea, I suppose, gets the largest single bite out of all this money. But they are keeping up an army of some 20 divisions. All right, their economy has to be supported or they can't do it. In other words, it is just that simple.
Now, we want them to keep those divisions there, for the moment. So it is a question of where do we get the most for our dollar. And I believe that that means we not only go out and show these people our common purposes to achieve freedom and maintain independence, but that when necessary we help them to make a living and to carry out their part of the program.
Q..Joseph R. Slevin, New York Herald Tribune: To return to the tax question, sir, will you make a fresh appraisal of the prospects for tax reduction after you have seen how large the spring tax collections are?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it is fair to say this: this is a matter that is appraised, certainly every week and sometimes every day. I meet constantly with my financial advisers, with the economic advisers, where are we going?
Now, I really believe that you stimulate a greater productivity when you can lower taxes as far as possible. But we have got our bills to meet. And so I would go very, very slow in this fiscal year in which we now are until I see what is going to happen. And I certainly would not, on the basis of the slim surpluses we can show in prospect, I would certainly not be advocating any tax reduction at this time.
Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register: Mr. President, within the last week some middle western Congressmen have been at the White House discussing the low pork prices and beef prices, and stating some things about the drastic political situation that exists. I wonder if you could tell us what you think about the political situation surrounding this farm problem, and if you think it is a real problem for the Republican Party or if it is just imaginary?
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, Of course, any time any group believes--and, particularly, with reason--that they are falling behind the average of the Nation in their returns they are getting for their products, there is trouble. We ought to do something about it.
The depressed areas are just another example of the same thing we are talking about. So, since in all these latter years governmental action has had so much to do with some of these things, of course there is a problem presented to every political leader. The problem is to solve it for the good of the United States, and just that one factor. That is the problem that is always there.
Q. Frederick Kuh, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, would you say what you consider a correct definition of the desirable bases for a common American-British policy regarding the Middle East?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, no, I don't think I would want to undertake here this morning a discussion along that line, and arrive at a conclusion which could be stated as such.
I do believe this: from the beginning I have pursued one policy. I told friends from both sides of that quarrel before I was elected, indeed before I was nominated, meeting them in Europe, I believe there is only one solution: America must be friends with both sides, and by doing so use all of its good offices every day of the year to promote some kind of friendship, at least cooperation, between the two sides of the quarrel. There is just no other answer.
Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Sir, if you don't seek reelection, would you attempt to pick your successor or would you favor a wide-open convention?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that until we answer the first question, let's don't go beyond that.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Chief Justice Warren is one of those mentioned as a possible Republican candidate if you decide not to run. There is a school of thought, however, that it is bad policy under our form of government for the Chief Justice to return to active politics.
Can you tell us how you feel about this view with particular application to Mr. Warren?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will answer that, if you will pardon a personal allusion.
The second I was nominated by the Republican Party, I resigned from the Army; but the day I left Europe I retired from the Army, and went without pay until nominated, and then I resigned.
Now, I just don't believe we ought to cross over, we oughtn't to get the military and the civil powers tangled up. We shouldn't get too great a confusion between politics and the Supreme Court.
I will put it this way: on every official there lies a responsibility to do his part in keeping these separations and keeping each part of the organization, each part of the Government, respected in the eyes of the people.
Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Could you tell us how you might plan to make your announcement on your political plans? Will it be at a press conference? Will it be a speech?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I suppose it will be just as dramatic as I can make it. [Laughter] I must tell you, though, that is one thing I haven't given any thought to.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Papers: Mr. President, most of the farm legislation deals with helping the farmer. I would like to put in a plea for the consumer. Can you do nothing so that American people can eat the surpluses cheap? My family would love to have pork chops.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact--of course you don't qualify under this bill for the very low income groups. [Laughter] There is already a program that is being more widely applied right now. I think New York State has just gone into it. Michigan is contemplating the subject, and there these surpluses do go out.
Now, the difficulty is how can you support prices up to a certain place and then give them cheaper than that to the consumer?
I do believe this: we should never give over the study of the differential between the price that the farmer gets and you pay, and see how we can reduce that. I believe that differential must be just as low as we can make it.
Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, this is in the interests of clarity. In answering a question about Vice President Nixon, whether he would be on the ticket with you, you said until you confer with him you would have nothing to say. It sort of seems to me to imply that you would confer with him.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, this is what I said: I will confer with Vice President Nixon no matter what my own decision is because, as I told you, he has my respect, my admiration. Never has there been a Vice President so well-versed in the activities of Government. He has attended every important meeting. He has gone to numerous nations, been widely and favorably accepted in those nations; so I wouldn't possibly move on anything that affected his future until I knew his desires, and I don't. I don't know his desires at all.
Q. Edward Jamieson Milne, Providence Journal: One further question on health, sir. Is health now the only problem with which you are wrestling with respect to your future decision or are there still some other factors?
THE PRESIDENT. I think you asked a question that no one can answer. If you take into question your own health, you begin to think of a lot of things, and they are all pertinent. So I don't think I can answer that.
Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's seventy-eighth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:09 o'clock on Wednesday morning, January 25, 1956. In attendance: 224.
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/233134