Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

November 03, 1954

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. I hope you have had some sleep. [Laughter]

There are, of course, a lot of things we could talk about, about this election, if we wanted to devote a half hour to that subject. I will frankly admit in a lot of cases I am absolutely astonished and surprised; I have even heard a few of you people say that you were a bit that way. So I suggest with that one we just wait and see what happens.

There is a very important development in one field, and I wrote out a statement to read to you. It is about the progress on this use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes in establishing an international agency. I will read it so I don't make any error even in wording.

[Reading] Today the Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, is delivering to Mr. Zaroubin, the Soviet Ambassador, our reply to the Soviet aide memoire of September 22d.

You will recall that this Soviet message indicated that they apparently wanted to renew the negotiations to implement the proposal that I made to the United Nations last December for an international pool of fissionable material and information. Now, I hope that this will start a new phase in the U.S.-U.S.S.R. negotiations which will be more fruitful than the first phase, during which the Soviet showed a lack of interest in cooperating with the United States to further international cooperation in developing peaceful uses.

Later on this week, Ambassador Lodge is going to give a report on American preliminary plans in connection with the international agency and the political committee of the United Nations.

This project, of course, is very close to my heart. I am glad to see that we are making good progress toward establishing the agency. We are determined to get on with this international project whether or not the Soviets participate; although, of course, we are very anxious for their participation.

I am glad to be able to tell you that Morehead Patterson of New York has agreed to serve under Mr. Dulles--to head up the United States group, act as our representative--to conduct the diplomatic negotiations looking toward United States participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I am going to see Mr. Patterson tomorrow to tell him about the importance I attach to this project. [Ends reading]

I thought you would be interested in that statement. Now, we will go to questions.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, do you see any disapproval of administration policies in the Republican loss of the House?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't. As a matter of fact, Mr. Arrowsmith, I haven't attempted to make any analysis of my own about this development as yet. I shall, of course, when I get the complete returns and statistics on the districts to see what was made the principal issue in each district, but I haven't done so yet.

Q. Joseph A. Loftus, New York Times: Mr. President, the one branch of the Congress will be Democratic. Can you tell us what your plans are with respect to meeting the legislative leaders regularly? Would you meet with the Democratic leaders alone or with the Republicans?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have no specific plans. As you know, other Presidents have had this same job. I suppose that one of the things that one would do would be to look up historical precedents on how these things have been handled in the past. I just assure you of this: I have certain beliefs, you people know what they are. I believe in certain programs which, I think, represent progress for America. I am going to continue to work for them; and if there are any roadblocks thrown in the way of cooperation, I am not going to be responsible. I am going to do my very best right down the line to keep the business of the Government moving as well as we possibly can.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Sir, in whatever thinking you may have about 1956, does the result today affect it at all?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, certainly it hasn't so far. [Laughter] No, I wouldn't say that any results of today would. I suppose you are referring to my own personal plans and ideas?

Q. Mr. Donovan: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. As I have told you before, I don't try to predict too far in advance, even with respect to myself. I am trying to do a job, and I think we will have plenty of time to see what I will do.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, during your campaign recently you said that you found it difficult to work with some of the Democratic committee chairmen in the House. You mentioned Ways and Means as one. Do you think you will have any trouble working with Mr. Jere Cooper on the Ways and Means Committee?

THE PRESIDENT. A lot of these people are my personal friends. I have been around Washington, as some of you may know, in and out, for a good many years--far too many.

Now, I quoted this: the number of times that on specific divisions, where the leaders of the two parties in the Congress divided, how often these particular chairmen voted with the administration program; I said that represented a difference in philosophy.

I have always cheerfully admitted their right to have this different philosophy. I was talking about smoothness in cooperation.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, you had such good personal relations with the individual members of the House last year, and especially they all seemed to enjoy your luncheons, I wonder if you feel--I mean they enjoyed the personal visits. [Laughter] I don't mean they just enjoyed the food; it was good, too. [Laughter] But, sir, do you feel that your campaigning for the party, as you did, will have any effect on your personal relations with these people?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I don't see why it should. I have never in my life spoken badly of another individual in public, that I know of. I have never attacked any man's motives; I have talked about policy, about beliefs, about convictions or about the practices of an administration. I have never assaulted any man's good name, and I don't see any reason why these people shouldn't be my friends, that have been my personal friends in the past.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: While you haven't attacked people by name, sir, during the course of the campaign, I believe you forecast a degree of political chaos in case the Democrats won control of the Congress. Do you still feel that way, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, no. As a matter of fact, "chaos" is possibly a bit strong, I should think, Mr. Smith.

What I have said, I don't see how we can expect people of differing political faiths, with different party loyalties, to produce the same degree of cooperation as if those leaders belonged to the same party.

I am talking about the business of the Government and getting it done; and I repeat, there is going to be no initiative on my side that can possibly lead toward lack of cooperation.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Sir, when you said at the outset that you were astonished and surprised, did you mean at the total picture or in individual cases?

THE PRESIDENT. AS a matter of fact, I was thinking really of a number of individual cases. Of course, I was pleased with all the reports I have seen as to the size of the vote. I asked the last minute for an estimate of the number of people who voted, I didn't get it. We haven't it, maybe you people have. I was quite astonished with that, and very pleased about that one.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, I don't want to belabor a phase of this subject you have already discussed, but, sir, you did use the word, the expression, during the campaign of a "cold war" between the legislative branch and the executive branch in case of the Democratic leadership. Do you anticipate any overt or covert action of that sort, or do you feel that--

THE PRESIDENT. AS I recall, I used the expression that a cold war of partisan politics could develop; and I have no doubt my expression was too strong for what I had in mind. I merely meant that there were new forces and influences thrown into the relationship, that tended toward pulling apart rather than pulling together. If I used too strong a term, why, I would regret it, because I don't mean that we apply the "cold war" as between forces in the world which is a great deal more antagonism than there is between me and some of my friends in the other party.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown Times: Sir, have you any comment on the close New York gubernatorial election where Mr. Harriman narrowly defeated Senator Ives?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't want to comment on particular races. I don't know anything about the local influences that affected these races.

I find that some people get up in front of the television and say, "This has national influence," and another one says, "This was wholly local."

I know nothing about it, and I would rather not comment on particular races.

Q. Joseph A. Loftus, New York Times: Mr. President, I am not sure that I followed the reading of that paper closely, but I am wondering if there is any information or intimation you could give use of what is in your reply to the Soviet or when we might expect to get something, or does it modify the United States position?

THE PRESIDENT. AS a matter of fact, I didn't check the point with the Secretary of State. But obviously, I wouldn't give anything out until the Soviets have had it and studied it. So I think it will have to be confidential for a moment.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Papers: Mr. President, are you considering calling back the present House for action on legislation before the new Congress comes in, in January?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't thought of it; I hadn't even considered it, no.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, to go back to Mr. Arrowsmith's question, Chairman Hall was talking last night about the closeness of this election. It is very close, probably one of the closest in our history. He pointed out that the party in power usually loses seats in an off-year election, and pointed out further that the average loss is about 40 seats; and in this election the Republican loss is nowheres near that. Hall said that this proves to him that there has been no breakaway from the Eisenhower administration. Could you go along with that without looking into these causes in the various districts?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, without trying to interpret the election, after all, I have been in a very great number of States. In some of those States I have talked to people who are rather astute. I firmly believe, without any apology whatsoever, that the great mass of the people believe in the, you might say, the moderate attack on this great problem of governmental relationships to our economy and to our people. I believe that they feel that they want to avoid extremes. That is what I stand for, and try to implement that thought by putting it into definite legislative programs. I honestly believe the people approve of that.

I have talked to people. Some of you that were in Denver know I had groups of workmen together; I talked to them, I talked to businessmen, I talked to political leaders and publishers, and I find a very great sentiment that way. I think that the United States really--I believe that is its general political conviction these days; that is what I think.

Q. Mr. Folliard: Yes, sir. You are saying that-

THE PRESIDENT. I am just saying that I hesitate to interpret elections. You people know how little experience I have had with elections. This was really my second one that I know anything about, and so I don't want to interpret figures where I would be talking a little bit beyond my field. But I do believe that I can sense the feeling of people pretty well; that I have been trying to do for a good many weeks now.

Q. Mr. Folliard: Is this a correct interpretation of that, Mr. President--that there has been no repudiation of the administration program?

THE PRESIDENT. So far as I can see, no.

Q. Mr. Folliard: Pretty general agreement with it?

THE PRESIDENT. That is what I think.

However, in an election as close as this one, as you point out, traditionally one where the party in control usually loses seats, every kind of local crosscurrent comes into it.

Last night, when I went to bed, one of our Senators was so far behind, I believe they were talking of conceding; the other side was claiming. This morning I find our man is a few hundred ahead. When we left Colorado, you remember the odds that were quoted against Republicans. Well, one of them looks like he has done pretty well.

All of these things are sort of local things which I think don't have much to do with the national sentiment.

Q. Robert W. Richards, Copley Press: Mr. President, about the forepart of October the experts were predicting a Democratic landslide. Do you think that if you had moved into the picture earlier in the campaign-- they said the Republican campaign moved up when you entered into it about 2 weeks ago--do you think you might have turned it?

THE PRESIDENT. Actually, I don't know just what the influence of a particular individual dropping into a particular place, I don't know what that influence is; and I must say that there are always plusses to be weighed against minuses, and you finally decide such-and-such is a good thing. But we were particularly anxious to have a big vote, and it was thought I could help that way.

Now, I didn't enter this campaign just 2 weeks ago. I think it was the day after I got to Denver this year, I went on the television to tell what the record of the Republican-led 83d Congress was. As far as I am concerned, that was trying to show the people the things that I believed ought to be the issues of this campaign, do they approve of that program or do they not.

If you mean if I had stayed with that kind of thing would it have made any difference--I mean all summer long--I don't know and I am not going to guess, either.

Q. Harry C. Dent, Columbia (S.C.) State and Record: Mr. President, I notice the Republican Party seemed to do pretty well in the South. In fact, in the House election they seemed to do better in the South than they did anywhere else. [Laughter] And I just wondered if you don't think there is a good possibility now, in an off-year election gaining a seat in Florida and holding one in North Carolina and some in Virginia, that maybe a two-party system can be

THE PRESIDENT. Don't forget Texas.

Q. Mr. Dent: Yes, sir--a two-party system might be entrenched a little deeper than it is down there, sir? Do you think there is much possibility of it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, we are always hopeful that the South will develop a two-party system; because I feel that until they do, the South is not exercising the influence in the affairs of this Nation that it should. It can be too often ignored. So I would be hopeful at least that these are signs of some break in that solid wall, and that the South is really going to adopt a two-party system so they can really exercise the kind of influence they should.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, I think one of the figures of speech you used in one of your addresses was that you couldn't have an automobile trying to drive in opposite directions. Would it not be possible to plan with the Democratic leaders on the course you are going to have?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am certainly going to try, no question about that.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Are you going to try to plan with the Democrats, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I am.

Q. Robert W. Richards, Copley Press: Were you speaking of it from the past record of divided Government?

THE PRESIDENT. Of what?

Q. Mr. Richards: Of the past record of divided Government. President Truman had one, President Taft and President Hoover.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Wilson had one. The history of them is, I think, summed up about as well in Mr. Hoover's book as almost any place I have seen them. The history is that such experiences are filled with frustrations and difficulties.

But I say this: the harder the problem, the harder you have to try to solve it, because the business of the Government just won't wait.

Now, the quest for peace in this world is too important to let any particular political situation here stand in our way. There is the one field, hopefully, and I really believe, the one field where we ought to have the greatest possible chance to get ahead, because all through these last 2 years there have been frequent, incessant consultations with the leaders of the other party in order to establish the basic directions and channels of our foreign policy.

But the business all the way through is too important just to say, "Oh, this is difficult," and, therefore, hide behind an alibi. I say to you I am not going to do that, and I am sure the others won't.

Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register and Tribune: Mr. President, I wondered if you thought the vote in the Midwest gave any indication of a support or a repudiation of your farm program?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say again that you would have to wait for the actual returns by districts. I had two or three reports from Indiana where the districts were, let's say, one-third industrial, two-thirds farm, and they have looked very, very fine; and then I saw one which seemed to be the other way. I think you would have to wait and make a real analysis; I couldn't guess.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, could you give us any indication of the mechanics whereby you will consult with the Democrats in the development of a program?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think that after I have made up my mind on that point completely, I will invite them to do so-and-so. After all, they are of another party, and they may have ideas differing from mine, but I will invite them to do certain things, and to meet me on certain basis.

Now, I don't know just how often that will be or how that will be. Naturally, I am going to continue to meet with the legislative leaders of my own party, I am sure you understand that. Just how it will work out I can't say.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, you spoke of planning with Democratic leaders--I didn't get all of that; is that what you said?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember what word I used; I meant conferring.

Q. Mr. Burd: What I meant to inquire on that basis was, would you consult with them in advance on domestic policy decisions?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if they control the House, they certainly control the order in which bills can come up.

It would seem to me to be the part of wisdom when you are dealing with humans to meet with them and see what you can get done; just to butt your head up against a stone wall is no good. So I think there has to be conferring probably on every important measure--"Are you ready to take this up, .... Will you take it up if I send it down"; there are all sorts of things that strike me will be the subjects of conferences, necessary conferences.

Now, I can't at this moment establish the limits as to how far you go and how far you don't go.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Papers: Mr. President, might I ask a second question, please? I am interested in your approval of the two-party system in the South. Would you also approve the two-party system in the reverse, for instance, in Maine? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know, strangely enough, I do. [Laughter] I do. I believe in the two-party system.

There is an old saying in the military services, "That which is not inspected deteriorates." I believe that in the political life, you have got to have two groups, one watching the other all the time. I just think that is a matter of philosophy, and I believe that almost everybody that I know of in this political life would agree to some such aphorism or statement.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, another question. Do you expect the first 2 years of your administration to be inspected by the new leadership of the Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. By the what?

Q. Mr. Herling: By the new leadership of the Congress, such as the--

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I have tried to conduct the business of the executive department--and I think all of its principal officials will so tell you--so that to the greatest possible extent they not only can be laid out for the inspection of anybody in the Government, but the entire public. I find at times my policy runs into a roadblock here and there, and has to be straightened out; but that, nevertheless, is the policy we try to effect.

Q. George E. Herman, CBS Radio: Mr. Herman, George [laughter]--I got in reverse there--sir, you were widely quoted on the famous remark of having said that "sometimes a man gets tired of all this political clackety-clack." Now that it is out of the way, I wonder if you will tell us about your personal plans, of what next you will tackle in the major fields before you

THE PRESIDENT. In the program?

Q. Mr. Herman: - . either in the program or your personal plans or problems or what you will bring up next.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll tell you. I find this: the whole problem of foreign relations is engaging the attention of every thoughtful person in Government almost every day; that always takes precedence. Because here is, as I say, not only the quest for peace, but it is the day-by-day security of the United States, the firming-up of friendships, dealing with old friends. I am having, as you know, new heads of state coming here, or governments, soon--of course, the Queen Mother is not the head of a state, but Premier Yoshida comes right after.

Everything we are doing, all the time, that seems to color everything; it sort of dictates the size of our budget, it affects us in many ways, this whole multitudinous array of problems.

Now, behind that, I think that the general outlines of the program, except for certain specifics in the economic field, foreign economic field, have been rather well laid out already. I will pursue that same program, trying to get it enacted.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's fifty-first news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 10:54 o'clock on Wednesday morning, November 3, 1954. In attendance: 148.

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/233222

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