Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

June 16, 1954

THE PRESIDENT. A week or so ago I made a pledge to this group that every, time I appeared publicly, privately, or anywhere else, I was going to mention my support of the administration's program before the Congress. For fear there will be no questions asked about it today, I say that now and get it off my chest. We will go to questions.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, I wonder if you could elaborate a little for us on Prime Minister Churchill's forthcoming visit, tell us a little more about the background of it.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will be glad to.

Mr. Churchill has, during the 12 or 13 years I have known him, been one of the greatest supporters of close British-American cooperation and, in my opinion, has been one of the most effective supporters of that field.

Now, in dealing with such a question you are often reminded of a sort of figure of speech I saw, talking about such things, to this effect: there is a bridge here across the Potomac, and thousands of people use it every day, and that is not news; but let the bridge fail or fall some place, and it is instantly news.

Now, we are not trying to make news; we are trying to keep the bridge between America and Britain strong.

We communicate all the time. In one of his communications to me was a suggestion that a meeting between us would certainly do much by itself to combat the theory that there are such great rifts occurring among us. He pointed out that such stories could be of value only to our common foes. And I promptly invited him over.

To make it a friendly, informal thing, I invited him to come to the White House and spend a weekend.

He is an old, old friend, as you people know. I haven't the slightest idea of exactly what we will talk about. But I will tell you, very frankly, that I doubt whether there is a subject that anyone could ask a question about this morning of any international concern that we won't talk about. We will talk about everything--I have been in these before.

As you know, again I repeat, I like and admire him, and I look forward to his visit with the greatest of pleasure.

That is the general background today, a feeling that a meeting can do nothing but good.

Q. Mr. Smith: Mr. President, physically, where will the meetings take place? Inside the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. There are going to be no meetings as such. I expect him to stay at the White House with me, and there will be people coming in and out. Mr. Eden, by the way, is staying with me, too, because he is another old wartime friend, as you people well know. The two of them are going to stay with me in the White House, and there will be people of ours in and out. There is going to be nothing formal, no social things or anything of that kind; it is just going to be as informal and comfortable as we can make it.

Q. Alan Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Times: Governor Dewey of New York visited you here 2 weeks ago, sir. Would you tell us if at that time you urged him to run for re-election this fall?

THE PRESIDENT. At that time? No, I said nothing to him at that time.

Q. Mr. Emory: At any other time, sir? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I have often talked to him about his own situation and convictions, but he has to make his own decisions. I never urge anyone past the point of their own convictions to do anything.

Q. Mr. Emory: Sir, may I ask you one last question on that subject?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Mr. Emory: Would you consider Governor Dewey's presence at the head of the ticket in New York of substantial benefit to the Republicans this fall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can say this: obviously in the past it has been; and I think he is still a pretty strong person. However, let us not forget he has been plugging away in public service for a good many years, and I would think he had earned the right to make his own decisions without any question. 1

1On September 7, after Governor Dewey's withdrawal, the White House announced that the President sincerely regretted the Governor's decision, and that as a voter of New York and personally as a friend the President had hoped that Governor Dewey's great abilities and years of experience would continue to be at the service of his State.

Q. Pat Munroe, Salt Lake City Deseret News: Mr. President, have you any comments on recommendations of the U.S. Tariff Commission to you to invoke higher duties on several imports, including lead and zinc?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they are all under study now, and they have not yet come to my desk. I believe there are five of these cases now pending. They have not come back to my desk, so I wouldn't want to comment on them now.

Q. Charles von Fremd, CBS Television: The House Agricultural Committee on Monday, sir, came up with a compromise butter and dairy products proposal that would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to give dairy farmers 80 percent of parity instead of the 75 percent, while allowing dairy products to go down in response to supply and demand. Does this proposal have your endorsement?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, as a specific measure to be adopted, it hasn't been brought to my attention or brought up to me in that way.

During all of the period of consultation on this thing, we went over the matter with dairy advisers and groups that congregated here.

I don't know exactly what would be a final decision on this particular point because I have not read its exact language; but, as you do know, I am very much in favor of gradualism in everything that the Government does with respect to agriculture.

The thing that hurts agriculture more than anything else, in my opinion, are rapid fluctuations, particularly of course, the rapid downward fluctuations. If you have rapid upward ones, you usually have, sooner or later, rapid downward ones. We are trying to level off those curves, flatten them out; so anything that would operate to do this gradually, without violating the basic principles and leading you into more and more trouble, would always get good consideration from me.

Q. Marvin Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, Sherman Adams suggested the other day that loss of control of Congress to the Democrats in the November election might cause you to decide not to run again in 1956. Would such a development have that effect on your plans?

THE PRESIDENT [laughing]. Mr. Arrowsmith, to my knowledge, the matter of 1956, and as it possibly develops, has never yet been discussed in the White House since I have been there or by me with anybody else in anything except some most facetious vein.

Now, I am not one to predict. Actually, as I see it, sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof. [Laughter] We have got an awfully big problem to solve today: it is strength at home to give us a chance to do our part in solving these critical international problems, and to make certain that our own people are strong in spirit, strong in understanding and in their determination, and, of course, with the economic and military means to support and implement their determinations.

I am not, by any manner of means, casting my mind forward to '56 at this point.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Not casting your mind what?

THE PRESIDENT. Casting my mind forward to '56. I am talking about these problems of today, that's what I am interested in.

Q. Mr. Smith: You mean you have made no decision?

Q. Ray Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. Adams also suggested there were two other contingencies under which you might not offer yourself for re-election, but he didn't name them. Would you--

THE PRESIDENT. A funny thing--I will tell you this much: as I started over here this morning he said, "You are probably going to get a question about something," and he said, "I have two secret contingencies that I haven't told you about, and someday I am going to tell you." So I am just as ignorant as you are.

Q. George Herman, CBS Radio: Sir, with the Korean phase of the Geneva conference apparently now terminated, would you care to tall us a little about your administration's view of the future of Korea and American troops there, and the unity of that country?

THE PRESIDENT. I think, first, we must get clearly in our minds just exactly what did happen at Korea, and know all of the, you might say, background of this affair.

I am expecting General Smith home next week, and as quickly as convenient thereafter, I am going to invite into the White House members of both Houses, members of both parties, and let them listen to a detailed explanation of everything that went on. I think there are probably gaps even in my understanding of this thing.

Now, the Korean problem itself: I believe the next step is that the 16 nations report to the United Nations their failure to reach a--I am talking now on the terms of the armistice as I remember them--they have to report their failure to reach a satisfactory agreement, and then the United Nations has to take some action. What that will be, of course, I don't know.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, Congressman Martin Dies told the House yesterday that if we really wanted to stop communism dead in their tracks right now, and not just give lip service to it, that we would cut off from Russia the nonstrategic goods, food, and fiber which she needs most, because he says she is spending 80 percent of her productive energy now in making armaments. What would you say about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is very difficult to know exactly what would occur with any attempt to cease all trade with the Iron Curtain countries, because, you must remember, the satellites--including Red China--are, after all, different from Russia.

Let us assume there is no trade with anybody in the world through that Iron Curtain; the satellite countries, as I see it, then have only one place to go, and that is to Russia, for anything they need. Consequently, you are building up and strengthening ties that gradually become stronger and stronger, because that vast area includes, generally speaking, the raw materials, the skills, and everything else that is needed to produce a highly productive life.

Now, what you really want to set up in that whole complex, if you can, by every means possible, are centrifugal forces; you want the interests and attention, let us say, of Czechoslovakia and of Bulgaria and of Red China even, looking to the outside world and trying to set up forces there, an attraction away from the center instead of toward the center. I would call it centrifugal as opposed to centripetal forces, what you are trying to devise.

If you just cut off all trade and say, "Go your own way," I am not just so sure as to what the result will be. And the only reason I say this, ladies and gentlemen, is this: there are no easy, simple generalizations to solve the problems of the world today. You have got to take each one, you have got to try to hold it against the background of all possible tangents of direction, all possible results of this action, and then do your best with whatever talents you are endowed to find a decision in this case that will advance you a little bit toward the objective we have--which is to establish a stable peace.

So, I shy away from every single generalization. To say, "Just do this and that is peace," that just isn't true.

Q. Harry Dent, Columbia (S.C.) State and Record: Mr. President, now that the farm fight is getting fairly hot, some of your opponents are charging that in 1952 you told the farmers that you favored farm price parities all the way up to 100 percent of parity. I just wondered what you could tell us this morning--

THE PRESIDENT. One hundred percent in the market place is what I said.

I never said rigid governmental supports at 100 percent, make no mistake. I have been thoroughly consistent on this from the beginning of my understanding of this farm problem; I have never implied or insinuated that I would support 100 percent rigid price supports by the Government.

Q. Mr. Dent: Well, the other day, I think Senator Aiken, in debate with Senator Ellender of Louisiana, said that even if Congress did pass a 90 percent extension for 1 year, that you would veto it; and I just wondered if he was speaking with any authority from you or just on his own when he said that, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I have made a statement to this group time and again, and I hope I am not, at my age, going to be guilty of making wild statements and then repudiating them. I have said I don't predict in advance what I am going to do about vetoing bills. I take the bill when it comes to me, and then study it.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, last Thursday night in your address to the Nation you referred to the importance of unemployment insurance, what you called one phase of income insurance, and hoped that Congress would extend the coverage of it as you indicated. Now, another phase of your message early in the year had to do with the duration of unemployment insurance and also the amount. That depends on the States. Now, only 14 of the 48 States have had sessions, and only one or two have done anything about that. Since the problem is a continuing one, do you plan to urge special sessions on the part of the States to deal with this specific problem?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I would intend to urge upon them the great advantages of dealing with this problem in this way. I wouldn't presume to tell Governor Arn of Kansas that he should have a special session; he ought to know his own situation better than I do. But I would urge the problem itself and the great advantage to Kansas and to all the Nation of solving it.

Q. Mr. Herling: Do you plan to take that up at the Governors' Conference in July?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are always so many things to take up that I am not going to promise now that that is going to be included. I probably will deal informally with the thing, of course.

Q. Norman Carignan, Associated Press: Yesterday Secretary Dulles said that there is a reign of Communist-type terror going on in Guatemala; also there are reports that the Guatemalan army has asked the President to get rid of the Communists in government. I was wondering whether you would comment on the general situation in Guatemala?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, it is very disturbing to Americans what has happened here within the last few days; the constitutional guarantees and rights to citizens have been suspended, there have been arrests, apparently, of anti-Communists, and others apparently have fled the country.

You have here a situation developing that is in a pattern that we have looked at with great dismay in more than one country. So this is the kind of situation that the Caracas resolution was intended to deal with; and, consequently, our Government is in touch with other countries in the Americas, calling their attention to the problem, asking for their suggestions and ideas. It is a matter that is under the most earnest and urgent study.

I couldn't go beyond that in talking about the situation.

Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo Evening News: I won't mention names in connection with this, but a member of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee on the Hill, the other day, made the statement that if a majority of the members of the Atomic Energy Commission vote to accept the minority report on Dr. Oppenheimer, that then the members of the Commission will be questioned by the Joint Committee, but that if the majority report is accepted, the Joint Committee will not question the members of the Atomic Energy Commission. I would like your views, if you are willing to give them, on the question of the propriety of that sort of action or statement in the Congress.

THE PRESIDENT. I have not heard before this statement you make; consequently, I don't believe it would even be logical for me to start any wild or quick answers to such a question. I would want to look at it. After all, the Atomic Energy Commission is part of the executive branch of Government, and I would have to look at my own responsibilities and see what this is all about. I haven't heard of it before, and I would have to talk with the Commission itself.

Q. Mr. Finney: Will you do that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know; it depends on what I find out from my preliminary inquiries, how serious this is.

Q. Chalmers Roberts, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, when Mr. Churchill was over here some years ago on one of his trips, one of your predecessors managed to get him into a White House press conference. I wonder if, when he comes this time, you would ask him if there would be some way that we could see him or if you could bring him--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether this would satisfy the situation, but I was reminded by a British friend the other day that every time he comes over he is always a luncheon guest at the Press Club downtown. Would that meet the situation? I hadn't thought of this, so I am not going to commit myself to putting pressure on my old friend. But if that would meet the situation, why, I would assume that--

Q. Mr. Roberts: We are greedy, sir; we would like to have him both ways.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, I would say that would meet the situation if the men's Press Club lets the women correspondents attend that luncheon.

THE PRESIDENT [laughing]. Look, you are taking up questions now that somebody else is responsible for; I am sure I am not responsible for that.

Q. Ethel Payne, Defender Publications: Mr. President, recently two foreign students in Alabama were subjected to discrimination on a bus in interstate travel. There are several bills before both Houses that are in committee on banning segregation in interstate travel, and I understand that the Attorney General was asked to render an opinion on this. I would like to know if you plan to use any action to get these bills voted out of committee?

THE PRESIDENT. The Attorney General hasn't given me any opinion on the bills; I haven't seen them; I know nothing about them.

I think my general views on this whole subject are well known, and you also know that I believe in progress accomplished through the intelligence of people and through the cooperation of people more than law, if we can get it that way.

Now, I will take a look. I don't know what my opinion is, really, at this minute on that particular law.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's forty-first news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 10:53 o'clock on Wednesday morning, June 16, 1954. In attendance: 138

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/232169

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