Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

August 17, 1954

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated, ladies and gentlemen.

The only announcement I have is that I have just seen word from the Czechoslovakian Government that they accept the American offer to assist the victims of the great Danube floods through their areas, and are ready to discuss methods of implementation.

Now, we will take questions.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, Stephen Mitchell, the Democratic National Chairman, said yesterday you personally ordered the Dixon-Yates power contract awarded to a firm in which one of your closest friends has an interest, and at $90 million more than a competitor syndicate. His office later identified the friend as Bobby Jones. Do you care to comment on that matter?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I knew when I once went into political life that I would be subjected by many types of strange characters to many kinds of innuendo and allegations.

In this case, I must say, I am a little astonished that any kind of such innuendo should include a private citizen of the character and standing of Bob Jones. I think there is no gentleman that I know whose integrity and probity I am more certain of than I am of his.

Now, as to my own actions, I am not going to defend myself, as I have told you time and again I shall not. I merely say this--of course I approved the recommendations for this action--every single official action I take involving the contractual relationships of the United States with anybody, except only when the question of national security is directly involved, is open to the public. Any one of you here present may, singly or in an investigation group, go to the Bureau of the Budget, to the chief of the Atomic Energy Commission, and get the complete record from the inception of the idea to this very minute; it is all yours.

Now, that is all I have to say about it.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, can you give us your views on the conflicting bills passed by the House and Senate to outlaw the Communist Party?

THE PRESIDENT. Things happened so fast in that procedure, Mr. Clark, as to keep most of us, I think, a bit confused. I thought the bill as it came out of the House yesterday was satisfactory. Now I think all America is just a bit confused.

We recognize the Communist Party as a conspiracy and not as a political party in the accepted meaning of that term here at home. We think, therefore, it has no place on our ballots. But we are puzzled as to exactly how we do this and show the same concern, the same interest, in all of the civil rights of the individual citizen, whoever he may be and wherever he may be, that are required under our form of government.

So I felt that--any act that would tend to vitiate or to obstruct--the great work that has been going on in the FBI and in the Department of Justice under the authority of the Smith Act and the internal security acts should not be interfered with. I think the purpose of the bill that came out yesterday, moving to the outlawing of the party as such, made very sure that none of the work, the accumulated results of that work, under the FBI and the Department of Justice would be vitiated.

I hear, just before I came over here, another amendment has been enacted in the Senate. I don't know its exact language, and I can't comment on it. But I thought the one that came out yesterday was generally satisfactory from my viewpoint.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, there have been reports recently of a buildup of Chinese Communist strength across on the mainland from Formosa. There have been reports from the Far East that the Chinese Communists may attack Formosa. What would happen, sir, if the Communists did attack Formosa in force?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, in January or February of 1953 instructions went out to the 7th Fleet. Those instructions regarding the defense of Formosa merely reaffirmed orders that had been in force in that fleet since 1950• Those orders are still in force. Therefore, I should assume what would happen is this: any invasion of Formosa would have to run over the 7th Fleet.

Q. Neal A. Stanford, Christian Science Monitor: Mr. President, it has been suggested that the British Labor Party leaders now in Red China visit the United States on their way back to Britain. Have you considered inviting them or do you see any merit in inviting them?

THE PRESIDENT. Did you say it has been suggested? It had already been suggested?

Q. Mr. Stanford: There have been comments in the paper suggesting it.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh; I hadn't thought about it.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, my question has to do with the reserve program and the manpower utilization programs which the Defense Department is preparing, I believe under your direction, for presentation to Congress next year. In this connection I asked Mr. Wilson recently if he would agree with this idea that practically all of our citizens just as well prepare themselves to fit in by either skills or combat training in some sort of military organization. He said yes, he would agree to that. Will you please comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I think you could approach such a question from many different angles. Let me give you one.

War has unfortunately been a phenomenon of the life of every generation in our whole history. One of the reasons for this preparation of which Mr. Wilson spoke is to give the individual maximum chance for survival, not only through fitting his own efforts in with the joint efforts of the Nation so as to insure victory and, therefore, promote his chances of survival, but in the actual combat, learning how to take care of himself and what to do to make himself a better individual.

So I would say, as a matter of general philosophy, with the world in the state it is, that some form of military training or related training for every individual was an advantage to him and to the Nation.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, Columbia Broadcasting System: There has been deep concern, sir, in some circles over the far-reaching amendments proposed by the French Premier to the European Defense Community Pact; indeed, so much concern that some people wonder whether or not the EDC will ever become a practicing reality. I wonder if you might give us your evaluation of this serious situation.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is one of those questions that I would rather not discuss in any detail.

I suppose most of you know that from the day I was sent back to Europe in January of 1951, I had the task of working for EDC. Because of the prejudices and the tensions that prevailed in Europe, I came to believe it is the only process by which Western Europe can possibly get together on a reasonably effective basis to protect themselves militarily and to support the kind of units they should have.

Certainly, it was the only way I could see that Western Germany can be brought into such a concert of nations without creating, well, such additional tension as to upset the whole equilibrium and, therefore, destroy the object you are seeking.

So, at this moment, when again it has been brought forward by a French Premier, I would not want to express myself too positively on any particular one of his proposals.

I merely say this: there has been a long legislative process that has been gone through by other nations; and if proposals would be so drastic that each of those nations would again have to enter an entirely new process, then I would say it would be quite serious. I do not believe that that would be the purpose of the French Prime Minister.

Q. Charles L. Bartlett, Chattanooga Times: Mr. President, back on the Dixon-Yates thing for a minute, it has been suggested that because you just appointed a new TVA chairman, and because various alternatives to the contract have been proposed, that you might order the contract to be deferred until the new chairman had time to look over the situation and give his evaluation. Is there any truth in those reports?

THE PRESIDENT. As to the exact timing of the execution of that contract, I believe that is a point that has never been brought to my attention.

But I do know this: the new chairman, I believe, is to take over on the 1st of next month. As I think I told you people once before, he has only one instruction--to do his honest best to find the facts there and to make his recommendations according to his own professional training and what is needful in the region.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, a number of Republican Congressmen are expecting political repercussions in the elections this year over the farm program. Do you look for political reprisals or do you feel the rank and file farmers are going to support your flexible plan?

THE PRESIDENT. AS I have so often explained, the plan that went to Congress, the farm plan, was made up through consultation with every single farm group that we could get hold of.

There was one farm group, I recall, that never agreed really with any part of it; it is not as large as the others. But the main farm groups, representatives of the agricultural colleges, of actual farmers themselves, people who are most experienced both legislative-wise and executive-wise in the governmental phases of this thing, were brought in. So, from my point of view, the majority--I am certain that the majority of farmers in the United States support the bill as a whole; although, I suppose, it would be true that in each district you could possibly find a majority that might object to some specific feature of it.

But the bill is not merely one feature; it is a very broad and comprehensive program designed to produce markets and to get supply and demand back into our farming problem.

Q. Mr. Scheibel: Sir, if you find there is a need at the next session of Congress for changes in the program, would you suggest further amendments?

THE PRESIDENT. Indeed I will. I don't believe I have yet gotten stupid enough to believe I am so smart that I know all of the answers in advance.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Back to Formosa, sir, in the event of a Communist invasion, are we prepared to use any other forces in addition to the 7th Fleet to defend Formosa?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't been brought up. I haven't had a conversation with my military advisers.

Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo Evening News: Mr. President, I wonder if you would help me in straightening out a bit of the record. I believe that in your atomic message to Congress, it was stated that the bill on which work is now being completed was not to be considered covering the legislation needed for an international pool. Now, I wondered whether you presently consider that the provisions in this bill--which, I presume, will pass--are adequate to permit you to go ahead on a domestic law basis on an international pool?

THE PRESIDENT. I could speak, I am sorry, only by impression; it is one that I think I should prefer to speak both to the Attorney General and to the AEC chief before I would give you a definitive answer. I will try to do so through Mr. Hagerty before I get away from Washington.

Q. Alice Frein Johnson, Seattle Times: Mr. President, when you issued, or rather, when your Air Coordinating Committee issued the report on Civil Aviation Policy last May, you had a covering letter in which you said you would be guided in the future by that policy in making decisions on civil aviation. Senator Thye and other Republican Senators recently have said that the policy will allow the revival of the "chosen carrier" instrument or monopoly in international trade. Do you believe that that policy will allow competition to be stifled and monopoly to be in force?

THE PRESIDENT. I am afraid you are asking me to be a little bit too accurate in my legal interpretations this afternoon.

I will say this: I don't believe in monopoly; and if that is permissible or encouraged by that act, I would want to take another look at it and decide what to do.

Q. Edwin L. Dale, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, the economic statistics you gave us last week dealt, as you know, primarily with the past. I am wondering if your advisers, in light of the fact that business has been rather steady for 3 months, expect it to pick up soon--perhaps in the fall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it happens that this morning I was on a plane, and I read a little article by W. I. Myers from Cornell, you know, dean of agriculture from Cornell.

He says business, he believes, will have an upturn this fall; and he says he believes it will be of a character that won't lead us into any inflationary process, but it will be a good healthy upturn.

So far as I can determine, and I do not want to quote anybody else, the mass of opinion from the experts seems to be that we are in a general mild upswing.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, Vice President Nixon recently told some of us reporters that he didn't plan to campaign in South Carolina this year for congressional candidates because he didn't think the Republicans had much of a chance down there. I wondered if you planned to campaign in some southern States this fall for Republican congressional candidates?

THE PRESIDENT. I thought that my entire itinerary for the fall had already been published. Hasn't it?

Mr. Hagerty: Not quite. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, I know of no reason why it should be secret. I think that I promised that the second that it is fixed--I suppose there are still one or two tentative dates on it; but I have no plans, so far as I know, to go south.

Q. Harry W. Frantz, United Press, Foreign Service: Mr. President, the Senate Armed Services Committee, I believe, sent a committee resolution recommending in general terms that some United States expedition should resume exploration in the Antarctic. There has been some unofficial discussion of further Antarctic exploration. Has that received your attention as yet, or would you--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, so far it has merely been in the conversational and discussional stage. No specific recommendation has come to me at all.

Q. Norman Carignan, Associated Press: Mr. President, have you made any decision as yet on recommendations by the Tariff Commission for an increased tariff on lead and zinc?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not made any.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, is the legislative picture such now that you can say when you will leave for Denver?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there still are some measures before the Congress which, of course, I would like to have out. There is the reinsurance bill; there are certain parts of the Social Security Act; there is the Renegotiation Act; of course the farm bill has not yet been enrolled and brought up.

But I will tell you what I am doing: I am hoping to leave this city at 9:30 on Saturday morning. Now, if I am too optimistic, why, I will have to give you notice when I find that out; but that is when I am hoping to go.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, do you plan to go to the Iowa State Fair?

THE PRESIDENT. I am to--[confers with Mr. Hagerty]--I'll tell you what: I am coming here to address the American Legion, and on the way back I am to stop at the Iowa State Fair for a matter of an hour or so, something like that.

Q. Mr. Wilson: What day is that?

THE PRESIDENT. The 30th of August.

Q. Mr. Wilson: Thirty-first?

THE PRESIDENT. Thirtieth, isn't it? Mr. Hagerty: Thirtieth of August.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Sir, just on these plans, are you still contemplating a broadcast on the record of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Mr. Donovan: That would be before leaving Washington, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think probably it would have to be done from Denver next Monday or Tuesday night, Wednesday, something like that.

Q. Mr. Donovan: Sir, without pinning yourself down to memory on dates, could you give us just, in general, a little bit of your itinerary this fall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well--

Q. Mr. Donovan: The good dates.

THE PRESIDENT.--Mr. Donovan, I don't want to cross up my staff. I promised that when they get these plans fairly well in line they will announce them. Now, that does clean up the August dates, doesn't it?

Mr. Hagerty: August, yes.

THE PRESIDENT. All the August dates; that is all of them. The 19th in Illinois with two appearances, the 30th coming back here and then going on to--

Q. Mr. Donovan: Iowa.

THE PRESIDENT. And back to Denver; and then, of course, this talk in Denver early next week.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowels Publications: I just wanted to ask you one more question, sir, with respect to your visit to the Iowa State Fair. Do you expect that the Republican candidates for Congress will be there at the time you are there? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that wasn't in the bargain, Mr. Wilson, but I will tell you this: from all the questions that come to me about such things, I just assume they are going to be. I just don't see any other--[laughter]

Q. Mr. Wilson: Did you say, sir, that you would like to have them?

THE PRESIDENT. Surely I do. After all, they are my associates here, I work with them; I like them.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, in New York your former Army mess sergeant, Marty Snyder, is running for Congress as an Eisenhower Independent. I wondered if you would say whether you think he would be a useful Member of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Marty Snyder, as you say, was a sergeant in my headquarters; he ran the headquarters mess.

So far as I know he has been a fine citizen. I don't know anything about him before that moment. He was a good soldier. He certainly got it in his head early to try to make one Eisenhower President of the United States, and stuck with it, and possibly thinks he is a bit responsible. Maybe he is.

Now, I would deduce from that that he would be a loyal supporter if he were down here. [Laughter]

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

Note: President Eisenhower's forty-ninth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 3:01 to 3:25 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, August 17, 1954 In attendance: 144.

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/232538

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