Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

October 27, 1954

THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, it, of course, has been some time since I have seen a great many of you. I have nothing to announce, no speeches to make, at least unless provoked. [Laughter] And so I came over because it occurred to me there might be a question or two that some of you might have on your mind.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, to put it mildly, there has been some confusion about your plans for this weekend. I wonder if you could tell us whether or not you plan any last minute tour in behalf of the Republicans on Friday and Saturday?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, an examination of my schedule, which of course has to precede any decision of this kind, shows that the only possible day that I could leave Washington is Friday. Whether or not I can go has not been quite definitely determined. I should like to dramatize my desire to see everybody vote in this election. I should like to do a little bit of stirring up, but whether or not I can do it, whether all of the details can be worked out, I am not certain at this moment.

However, certainly within the course of the next few hours it must be determined. The second that it is, I will let Mr. Hagerty know; and he will notify you, and exactly what points would be involved.

Q. Harry C. Dent, Columbia (S.C.) State and Record: Mr. President, do you have any comments on the race in South Carolina between the two Democrats, Strom Thurmond, who is a write-in candidate, and Edgar Brown, who is a committee nominee running for the United States Senate?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think my comment is contained in your question, they are two Democrats running for Congress. [Laughter]

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Len Hall, turned a new word or phrase just recently regarding the Federal housing scandals. He called it a "stealaway."

THE PRESIDENT. A what?

Q. Mr. von Fremd: He called it a "stealaway" and attributed it to the Democrats, which probably has something to do with the close proximity of November 2d.

I wonder, sir, if you feel that there is any laxness on the part of your administration regarding the Federal housing disclosures, and also what the people of the country may expect now that these disclosures have been made. Is there any chance of getting back some of the windfall profits, any chance for lower rents?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I thought that the Attorney General had made some announcements in this field.

Let me make clear, I am not a court of law, I am not trying to adjudge guilt, and neither by implication or direct statement do I mean to say so-and-so was guilty.

My report from him is that he has secured a number of indictments, that he is instituting civil suit to recover the money that innocent tenants suffered as a result of the so-called windfalls.

As you know, the law under which it was done expired back as far as 1950, and I think that all building operations under that law must have ceased, say, by the end of '52 or somewhere along there--maybe it was before that.

But in any event, the Attorney General is progressing with all of the facilities available to him to do what he can to correct what has happened, one, to recover the money, and the other to punish people that are guilty. That is all there is.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, the forecasters have all made their predictions, and most of them say the Democrats. I wondered if you would care to risk a prediction on the event of next Tuesday?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I have ever predicted. You people know what I believe, and I am not going to take up this entire period to repeat it to you. I am working for something, I believe in it, and I want to continue during these next 2 years to get that done as nearly as possible. So I am not going to predict, but I can certainly hope.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown Times: Continuing that thought, sir, several months ago you told us that you thought the major issue of this campaign should be your legislative program, and indicated at the time that you did not think the Communist issue should be a major one in the campaign.

Now, of late, the Republican leaders who have been campaigning around the country, with the exception of yourself, sir, have seemed to shift emphasis from the accomplishments of the Congress and your legislative program to the Communist issue. I would like to know, sir, first, whether they have consulted you on that decision and, second, whether it has your approval?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you base your whole question on a statement that you say appears to be a Republican attitude at the moment. I have not read the speeches. I have listened lately to two or three talks here in town, and I didn't hear the word "Communist" mentioned--I mean they have originated here in town.

As far as I am concerned, none of these people have come to me about the details of their talks. They know what I believe, and they are going out doing their best in their own way and, I suppose, answering questions or attempting to answer or to present the case as they see it. But I couldn't possibly comment in detail on the whole generality.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, on another subject, Prime Minister Churchill said yesterday that he would be willing to meet with Premier Malenkov of Russia at an appropriate time and place, but he spoke out against any meeting of the Western powers with Russia before ratification of the Paris agreements. Could you tell us what your position is on a possible meeting with Malenkov, either before or after ratification?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, in both cases I would have to answer what has been said before. I believe that this is not a time to project or to hold a four-power meeting while these discussions and this plan have gone to this stage of development.

Now, as far as appropriate time for talking with the Communist authorities, whenever that time is appropriate and we have a reason to believe they are sincere, why, we will talk any time with anyone who wants sincerely to promote peace.

Q. Joseph A. Loftus, New York Times: Mr. President, the Budget Bureau last June distributed a memorandum to all Federal agencies having to do with surveillance of the behavior of Government employees. It has nothing to do with security. The Bureau up to this moment has declined to answer any questions about it, and only a few days ago made public the text, after it had already been published.

My question, sir, is does this secrecy have your approval and, in a larger sense, would you comment on the question of secrecy in Government where security is not involved?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, in certain activities it is obvious that secrecy must be maintained, let us say, in the departments that are working out the forecasts of crops for next year, and so on. Until the thing is ready for publication, to release it to any individual ahead of time would be a gross violation of the public trust. So I want to be understood that my general attitude toward this thing is not to run contrary to commonsense in specific cases. I am against secrecy where the security is not involved in the ordinary sense or in the ordinary case.

Now, what this order is--if I have seen it and gone over it, it slipped my mind; I don't recall it and, consequently, I could not comment on what this thing is.

As we know, the Director of the Budget Bureau is the business manager of the Government. What he has published in the way of procedural affairs for handling personnel I don't know at this moment, so I would have to have more details before I could comment.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post and Times Herald: Sir, one of the officials in Governor Adams' office has recently sent out a letter and some charts on personnel management program having to do with employment of new Government employees, through the Republican National Committee. One of the documents issued over the name of the Office of the Assistant to The Assistant to the President says in the corner: "Checked and/or approved by the President."

Could you tell us, sir, whether you have, in fact, approved this method of recruitment through the party machinery?

THE PRESIDENT. Indeed I have. It is nothing in the world but an effort to get the best kind of people applying for governmental service that you can get, to get the White House out of the channel, so far as possible, to get these people recommending to the Civil Service Commission or to the departments in question, and to make a record of the people who do so recommend these individuals so that if we have any difficulty we know exactly who is responsible. Now, it is a generality, it is a long detailed thing, but it is to get it away from the White House as far as we can.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, you spoke in a speech the other night of the continued reduction of Government spending and tax cuts to the limit that the national security will permit. Can you say anything more definite at this time about the prospects of future tax cuts?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't.

Now, I do have constant reports from officials within the Defense Department that there are still areas in which, in the administrative and logistic fields, we can save a bit more money without being hurt and without reducing our combat strength. So to the extent that savings can be made, well, of course, they will be passed on. But I would say as of this moment we could not expect any major diminution in security strength, which bars any talk of great reductions in major sums; although, of course, there will be additional money found every month as there has been for the last two.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: On this secrecy of documents, and so forth, why can't we get the Dixon-Yates contract? We got a copy but other people didn't. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I probably, if I had anything to do with it, would discipline the person that gave you the copy, if I knew them. I don't know.

Here are the facts. I promised all the documents in the negotiations leading to the making of this contract and, as far as I know, everybody has been able to see them. Next, there is a contract made. The law provides that that contract, when made, is placed before the Congress, and is to remain there until, I believe it is the Joint Committee, the Joint Atomic Energy Committee, has the full opportunity to investigate it and go through its details. When that is done, then it will undoubtedly be made public. But until it has finished its tour in front of the Atomic Energy Committee, I doubt that it would be proper to release it.

Q. Mr. Brandt: On that point, sir, do you wish the Joint Committee to waive that 30-day period for inspection and have the contract--

THE PRESIDENT. No one has asked me to ask them to waive any period. Now, this is what I do know: the Federal Power Commission says this is a proper contract and fair to the Government and all concerned; the TVA authorities have gone over it and say, after incorporation of certain changes they wanted, that it is perfectly satisfactory; the Congress has the last word in the situation, and can go after it if they want to. So I feel that the Government is perfectly and splendidly protected.

Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register and Tribune: The Senate Committee has raised some question about the ethics of the actions of some subsidiaries of the Dixon-Yates group. I wonder if that has any effect on your thinking on the Dixon-Yates people, and the fact that the contract was let without bid?

THE PRESIDENT. I Can't think of any man in Government whom I trust more as to his integrity, his commonsense, and his business acumen than Lewis Strauss.

Now, he was the one that was at the focal point of making this contract. I quoted the Federal Power Commission, I quoted the TVA; the congressional committee has its right to go over it in detail. If they find anything wrong, I am sure there will be someone that will make it public. Up until that moment, I have nothing further to do with it. I haven't seen the contract in its detail, and I haven't any more comments to make about it.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, the Census Bureau last night reported that nonfarm employment rose by 285,000 in October, but there was a decline of 288,000 farm jobs which more than offsets the gain. Do you care to comment on that in relation to the other figure in which unemployment is reported as going down 358,000?

THE PRESIDENT. That is right; it went down to 2,741,000.

Q. Mr. Herling: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. The figures you just gave me have not been brought to my specific attention. I suggest you take it to Secretary Mitchell and ask him to explain them.

Q. Mr. Herling: This is Secretary Weeks, sir. But I would suggest that usually both figures on unemployment and employment are released at the same time, but this was a little early for that type of report. And interpretations by some of the experts indicate that the decline in unemployment, taken in connection with these other figures, would indicate there was actually a withdrawal of people from the labor force rather than actual return to work.

THE PRESIDENT. The report made to me--and, after all, I would hardly defend myself against the charge that I am [not] an expert in this field--the report made to me was that this is not merely a seasonal upturn; this is obviously the result of an upturn in the entire economy, in construction, in purchasing, in renewed and increased activity.

Now, as I say, if there is any detail of this thing, I suggest you take it to the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Labor, and see what the answer is; I haven't heard of this seeming paradox that you quote.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, following Mr. Roberts' question about this personnel management chart that came from Mr. Willis' office, you said that was an attempt to get the best kind of people that you could get; but this is all geared to working through the Republican National Committee and the Republican Congressmen and Senators. Do you feel that only through the Republican National Committee and Republicans can we get the very best people?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no doubt that others will make their recommendations-not at all.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, one of our subscribers in Rome, Italy, has requested that we ask you about your views about appointing an American ambassador to the Vatican. Could you say something about that, please?

THE PRESIDENT. Who did you say asked for it?

Q. Mr. Scali: One of our subscribers in Rome, Italy.

THE PRESIDENT. I have expressed myself on it so emphatically and so often that I think I would merely ask you to go back and see what I have said about this in the past.

Q. Hazel Markel, Mutual Broadcasting System: Mr. President, you have a very distinguished visitor coming today. I wonder if you care to make a comment on his visit.

THE PRESIDENT. You mean Mr. Adenauer. I have Mr. Adenauer coming, Mr. Yoshida of Japan, Mendes-France from France, and, of course, the Queen Mother. At least two of them are old and good friends of mine, which, of course, adds a personal pleasure along with our official satisfaction.

I consider Mr. Adenauer one of the great statesmen of our time, and one of the best informed men on Western European affairs that I have met. I find him a man animated by good sense, dedication to his people and to the peace of the world. I can only say that it is with tremendous satisfaction that we will have him here.

Q. Lawrence Fernsworth, Concord (N.H.) Monitor: Mr. President, I refer to the vacancy in the United States Supreme Court. There have been criticisms of the political nature of some of these appointments. The question is raised whether judges with distinguished records on the State or the Federal bench may not aspire to promotions to the highest court of the land, whether the selection of judges from among the judiciary might not be a desirable practice or policy. Would the President care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. You say "some of these appointments"; you must be referring to someone else, I have made only one.

Q. Mr. Fernsworth: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. From my viewpoint, in the average case, the normal case, for the Associate Justices, I should think it would be a good practice to bring in people who have had real experience on the courts. I think at the same time the Chief Justice presents a very special problem, and everybody has to follow his own conscience when he is in a position of responsibility to solve that problem.

However, I do believe that the Supreme Court, as a whole, ought to offer great opportunity to judges who have served on a court.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, I wondered if we could get your personal philosophy about the meaning of this election. There has been some controversy on that point. Do you, for example, regard the election as a vote of confidence in you personally and in your administration?

THE PRESIDENT. No. As a matter of fact, I am now quoting the messages that come to me from all over this land, which are to the general effect that people won't put me into the election; that seems to be the complaint that I, at least, get from the Republican side.

I don't know--the biggest complaint I get is one of apathy. This I don't understand, but this is probably because I am working every single day of my life in these vital problems, domestically and in the foreign field, that affect us so seriously. Possibly I lose a little bit of a sense of perspective, which is one reason I like to get down with people and talk to them about the things that are occupying their mind.

So I can't understand the apathy at this time, but it does seem to be there. And I will go back and say that one of my reasons that I would really like to get out and sort of dramatize for a day, for 1 day if I can, the need for getting out the vote is sort of to emphasize the importance of this election as well as those when the Presidency is at stake. I can't comment on it much more than that.

It does occur to me, though, as this political question recurs and recurs, I should have said in answer to one question about this business of appointing individuals to Government service, there is no responsible official in this department that hasn't had orders that, in recruiting for the civil service, a man's party affiliation will make no slightest difference and give him none. Those orders have been issued emphatically.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Papers: Mr. President, will you send any nominations, treaties, or other matters to the special session of the Senate beginning November 8th?

THE PRESIDENT. I think there will be some little things they can take care of; I mean little in volume, important in the individual cases.

Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register and Tribune: Mr. President, there have been some security-firing figures released recently, and there has been some effort to obtain information as to whether that is Democratic appointees or Republican appointees; and there was one story which said figures would indicate that 75 percent of those were Republican appointees. I wonder if you could comment on that and tell us whether there is any reason why there should be any secrecy around whether these were Republican or Democratic appointees.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think the answer there is, when were these people appointed. I don't know. There have been Democrats in positions, I guess, that carry appointive power in the organizations today, and there have been Republicans, undoubtedly, in the past. I believe that there is a number, it is in the small hundreds, that were appointed, but only tentatively appointed, since January 1953 that are included in this group. It may be 275, something of that kind. They got provisional appointments pending the completion of their total field inspections, and when those were done and there was reason to believe that they were not good material, they were let go. But that is the only one, so far as I know, involved since January 1953.

Q. Elie Abel, New York Times: Can you tell us, sir, whether the recent Soviet nuclear explosions indicate any change in the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union in atomic technology?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I would not think so. As a matter of fact, I don't have anything to say about that at all, other than the mere announcement that Admiral Strauss made either yesterday or the day before on the subject.

Q. George E. Herman, CBS Radio: Mr. President, Dr. Vannevar Bush has commented recently that the morale among our scientists, especially those working for Government in military installations, is dangerously low, and he gave it as his opinion that we may be a year or so behind where we should be in continental defense for that reason. I wonder if you would comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Dr. Bush is entitled to his opinion. But I must say this, the scientists who have come to see me exhibit no such attitude.

Q. William M. Blair, New York Times: Mr. President, you mentioned a moment ago your receiving reports of apathy among voters. To what do you ascribe this apathy? Is it a disenchantment with the program of the last 2 years, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. What would you expect me to answer to that? [Laughter]

I answered Mr. Reston's question as fully as I knew how. I don't know why there is apathy. I will tell you what one reason given to me is: that the United States feels that they have gotten what they want, and why worry; that is the reason that is given to me. Far from disenchantment, it is just too much satisfaction from it. [Laughter]

Q. Alice F. Johnson, Seattle Times and Alaskan Papers: Mr. President, the Republicans recently experienced an almost 100 percent disaster in the Alaskan election; and both the Republicans and the Democrats, those who won and those who were defeated, attributed the Democratic victory to the feeling of Alaskans' disappointment that they were not included in the statehood move. Will this lead you to explain further to the people of Alaska your position?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't say what I will comment on this. As a matter of fact, I haven't seen all of these records, I haven't seen these statements; but if I have anything to say, I will say it, I assure you.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, speaking of these nominations to the Senate, might the new Comptroller General be named then?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not certain. You see, there was a Joint Resolution passed that I could fill that when I found the right man, without regard to that law which requires if a vacancy has existed 30 days before the termination of the Congress you can't fill it as an interim appointment. I do have authority to make that ad interim, and I am not sure therefore whether I will send it up.

Q. Joseph C. Harsch, Christian Science Monitor: I would like to ask the President a nonpolitical question, if I may. Last week you made two speeches in which you mentioned matters of foreign policy. In one of those you referred to the persistently aggressive design of Moscow and Peiping which you said shows no evidence of genuine change; and in another one of your speeches you made a remark to the effect that there is no longer any alternative to peace. I was wondering if you could open to us any thinking you may have in that area that lies between those two matters.

THE PRESIDENT. First of all, the latter of those two statements certainly ought to stand without argument. There is just no real alternative to peace, as I tried to express it. The results of any war, as I see it, would be only the choice between destruction and defeat and the averting of complete defeat.

I also believe that these fanatic pursuers of the communistic theory have not changed their mind.

But there has been evidence of a growing realization in the free world as to the very great importance of the basic issues on which we are united--the need to preserve freedom, the need to conduct ourselves so as to support our systems of government. That means to hang together, it means to be united in that conviction and, therefore, united in our strength to support that conviction. I believe that that strength, as it grows--and I think there is all sorts of evidence that it is growing. If we start right in and go around the world, to include such trouble spots as Iran and Suez and Trieste and Guatemala, even Korea and Indochina, SEATO, and this new and great advance in Western Europe, there is evidence that we are drawing closer together in fundamentals.

That, to my mind, is the channel or the direction that we must pursue and explore in all its angles to see whether finally there is some diminution of the intractibility of the other side's position, and finally better chances for negotiation.

I think one of the sort of auxiliary activities that ought to go along with this is the peaceful use of the atom, something we are pursuing with our friends. If the Soviets won't come in, it is too bad; we are not going to stop.

We are going to keep it going--every kind of thing to show the world that we are not just sitting off here alone and trying to protect our own money and ourselves, but we are recognizing that the freedom of the world demands we all hang together, and we are going to do it.

By the way, in this foreign field, let me repeat again so I am not misinterpreted: basic foreign policy must be a bipartisan, nonpartisan, affair. The thin line or the thread of direction that dictates objectives and aims, it must be an American thing. The handling, the operational, and the day-by-day work--that, of course, requires a certain set of leaders, and they have to take their responsibility when they are in power. But the whole thing, the basis of it, I am not trying to quote any partisan side; I am trying to quote what I believe is strictly American policy.

I believe America's success, therefore, over these last 2 years in that foreign field, and at home in going from a war to a peace economy without real depression--which has been customary and historical and is almost expected--those two things are the great significant events of our time.

I believe we have got better reason to hope today for peace than we did. One of the reasons is we are maintaining our strength at home in order to help this whole amalgamation of the free world around basic principles.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, to get back to the trip for a moment, if you do make this trip Friday, will it be a flying trip that covers several cities?

THE PRESIDENT. If I make the trip it will be in a chartered plane. It would be, I would say, covering a maximum of four stops, and merely at airfields; no attempt to leave the airfield, I simply haven't the time.

Now, as I say, whether I can dramatize what I would like to dramatize, whether I have the time and whether it would fit in, are all questions that are not quite settled yet.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, to get back to foreign affairs for a minute, does it follow from your answer to Mr. Harsch's question that you consider that foreign policy has not been an issue in this campaign, and that the result--

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no. As a matter of fact, so far as I am concerned, there seems to be no issue you can keep out of a campaign, because they challenge the method, the way it is done; they challenge the attitude and the personality of the individual conducting these things. So you can't really keep it out.

The only thing I am trying to say is that our broad basic purposes of solidifying the free world around concepts of freedom and human dignity, leading them forward into better standards of living so that we have got greater intellectual, economic, and military strength to oppose this great menace, that must be nonpartisan; and it has been, so far as I know. I have never heard any quarrel on the basic principles in the long months I have been here.

Q. Mr. Roberts: May I ask the other part of the question, sir: does it follow that that basic principle, as apart from the actual conduct of it, would be unaffected whichever way the election turned, in your view?

THE PRESIDENT. If ever I attempt to make foreign policy, basic foreign policy, a partisan issue, I wish one of you people would remind me very forcefully. I simply reject it with everything I have; and as far as I know, every leader on both sides, when you come down to these fundamentals, has expressed that same view and feeling.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's fiftieth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 11:05 o'clock on Wednesday morning, October 27, 1954. In attendance: 203.

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/233101

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