Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

October 28, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. I think you know, ladies and gentlemen, that the King and Queen of Greece are to be here this afternoon. They will spend the night with Mrs. Eisenhower and me. It gives us a certain personal pleasure in this case--as we ourselves were guests of the King and Queen at dinner some months ago, when I occupied a different status, of course, when I was head of NATO.

Quite naturally, it will be a pleasure to be the representative of the American people in giving a welcome to the heads of a state to which we owe so much in our civilization and our culture.

I was in conference this morning with the Secretary of State, and was delighted to learn that the State of Israel has accepted the approval that was given by the Security Council to the findings of the United Nations supervisory--I forget the exact name of the commission, but you will know it--over in Israel--that has been dealing with this water question.

As the result of that, we can proceed with our arrangements for the economic help of Israel, and I think the Secretary of State is to bring forward a specific recommendation, plans, very quickly, possibly today.

What was the third subject? Oh, yes, there is a mimeograph waiting for you when this conference is over. It deals with the United States Information Service, what we are trying to do in clarifying our purposes and objectives in this whole program of information. The mimeograph itself will contain a letter from Mr. Streibert, which is quite detailed, listing exactly what we expect to do.

The main thing is that in these factual programs that we intend to put out, we are trying to make the great objective the legitimate aspirations, the culture, of the people with whom we are dealing, and not trying to leave the imprint of our own pattern on them or to force any such imprint.

We are trying to cooperate with people in giving out factual information that will tend to show what we are striving for and what they are legitimately striving for are one and the same.

I think I won't go into that one any further because the mimeograph stands by itself.

I think those are the only three items I had in my mind when I came over here, so we will go right to questions.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, is it fair to say regarding Israel we have agreed to resume economic assistance for Israel?

THE PRESIDENT. Made a decision to resume, yes.

Here, Mr. Smith, from the beginning it was merely this: that we do these things under the, you might say, policies laid down by the United Nations. We attempt to support the United Nations. We don't attempt to prejudge anything, but we do believe that the United Nations must be supported in all of these activities, and the thing will be carried out exactly as originally programmed.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, would you give us your reaction to the statement which Winston Churchill made in the Commons yesterday saying that there are few things that he would like more than the occasion to have some quiet informal talks with you?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Drummond, of course, we are very old friends; Winston Churchill and I have been warm friends for years. I have certainly the admiration and respect for him that the ordinary American does; in addition, I have very great affection for him; I like to talk to him.

We have kept up a correspondence, kept in touch with each other through messengers, through occasional notes or telegrams.

We are constantly, you might say, looking for a chance where we might have informal friendly chats.

There is no plan though--I should make very clear--there is no plan now in being or that is under study for arranging such a meeting.

Put it this way: It is an expression, I think, of hope on both sides.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, in view of the drop in farm prices, would you care to comment upon the general economic outlook, at least, for the next 6 months?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the whole general economic outlook is something on which I don't believe I would comment without almost the latest prepared and distinct suggestions, recommendations, studies of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Treasury, and Labor and Commerce and the other departments concerned.

The drop in cattle prices and farm prices, as you know, is something that has been going on for a long time, and something that has engaged the attention of a great many people during these late months.

We have moved into this, particularly in the cattle area, and particularly in the drought area, in every possible way that was open to us with the resources at hand: you know, with cheap feed, reduction of freight rates, the extension of credit and guaranteeing of credit, and lately, recently, even in making available certain amounts for helping in hay importations into the States where this is necessary.

Actually, out in Missouri, $1 million was made available as quickly as the program of cooperation between the State and the Federal Government was worked out.

Now, there has been, of course, some effect. The prices have been apparently, in the cattle market, largely stabilized; and the last few days have seen a steady rise, but they are far from satisfactory yet.

Last week and this week our intensified purchase program is just almost at its peak, 20 million pounds a week.

So, with the Government in to purchase, looking ahead to purchase supplies and stocking up for all of its lunch programs, its needs and requirements in other lines, we are hopeful that this cattle market is going to, and we believe that the cattle market has reached its peak, and is on the way up.

The cattle population next January 1st will certainly be no larger than it was on last January 1st, which is a great change. Consumption of beef is 30 percent, almost, above the comparable period of last year.

Now, the whole farm program has all sorts of difficulties and all sorts of complications. That is why we have had these studies going on.

I met only Saturday noon, as you know, I think, with the Agricultural Advisory Commission, and had a long talk with them. They are studying, and there will be a program ready to submit to the Congress when it comes in. It will try to be a comprehensive one that takes into consideration the needs not only in all areas, but in the various commodity groups, which is the thing that is so difficult. How do you balance off meat against grain, and still have respect for the consumer?

It is a pretty tough problem, but we will have a program.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, New England Press: Mr. President, in relation to the low prices that farmers are getting, I would like to ask you about the high cost of living to the consumers, and I would like to speak to you as consumer to consumer. Has Mrs. Eisenhower told you anything about your high cost of living in the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not going to take up the time of this group by telling what I have heard about it--plenty. [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. Craig: Sir, I believe that you do have to pay individually the cost of meals for your staff; you do get rent free, but that is still your high cost of living, and I believe you said the other day that you expected to lose money on your term in the White House.

THE PRESIDENT. You know, Mrs. Craig, let's not bring that up. Anyone that goes into such position as this, I think if there is a sacrifice there that is the least of the troubles.

Q. Mrs. Craig: Well, sir, aren't you going to pay any attention to the consumer's side of it?

THE PRESIDENT. Why do you suppose we are working so hard? If you wanted to just take the easy way, guarantee everybody that comes in and wants anything, guarantee them everything. I am trying to work for 160 million people, I assure you. And I assure you that everybody around me is doing it, and the consumer is very, very important.

But let us remember this: farmers are also consumers, and you can't take this problem--I have emphasized time and again-and isolate it and deal with it in a vacuum. There are 160 million people, and when Government does intervene, finds it necessary to intervene, that is the reason you must go so cautiously, you must have so much help from every possible sector of this economy; because otherwise you are going to get out of balance, and you create trouble instead of curing trouble. So what we are trying to do is to make certain that the level of employment, the distribution of productivity of this country all works out so that it is fair to everybody. And that means, of course, everybody is a consumer.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, there have been a number of stories lately that as changes in atomic weapons come along and our arsenal increases, this would make it possible for us to decrease the manpower in our Army and at some future date cut down on the number of our troops overseas, including those in NATO.

Could you tell us how far along--if this is true--how far along the thinking is, and whether there is any time element that you could speak of?

THE PRESIDENT. There exists no plan for reduction of any combat forces of the United States anywhere.

Now, we all know that the need for economy is very great. We all know that these new weapons have entered into the arsenals of the great powers, and they have a tremendous effect. To say that they would have no effect on the composition of your military forces would be shutting your eyes to all history and to the logic of a situation of which certain factors are rather apparent.

Now, there is no plan of any kind at this time for reduction of combat forces anywhere. On the contrary, as far as the Air Forces are concerned, as you know, they are occupying their bases, I believe our forces abroad are probably on the increase.

I assume you were talking about the conventional divisional type of military force. There is no plan now existing, I repeat, for their reduction.

Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard Newspapers: Andrei Vishinsky made a speech in New York yesterday in which he said he saw no need for the Soviet Government to give any evidences of good faith before a Big Three meeting. Would you still insist upon such evidences before you attended such a meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't studied in detail any remarks he made. I think that what I have said in the past on this subject is perfectly reasonable and logical.

We have had many examples of different meetings in the past being used merely for propaganda purposes.

Now, I should like to call attention to a peculiar situation of the President of the United States vis-a-vis, let's say, a Prime Minister of one of these other countries. He is the ceremonial head of the state; he leads the hospitality brigade, in other words, he has to be the leader in the entertainment--[laughter]--he is the ex officio head of a political party; and, finally, he has exactly the same work that all these other people do in trying to make political decisions that work for the good of his country.

Now, it is not so easy for him to talk lightly about these meetings as it might be for someone else.

So when we say "evidence of good faith," first of all, Mr. Dulles--I am sure I am right in this--has offered time and again to meet with anybody, and has been meeting, to discuss any problems.

The only thing I would say is this: if there is anything in the situation that can give us conviction that people are meeting in good faith, I will, in spite of any kind of handicap, I will do anything in the world that I think will be productive of advancing the cause of peace. I don't care what it would mean in inconvenience, what it would mean in anything else; I shall do it. But it is perfectly hopeless to do this thing until we know that there is honest purpose behind it.

Now, I don't define what we have to have in order to convince us on this purpose. It might be any one of a hundred things, I should think, but that we have got to know.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, there were approximately 350 cattlemen here this week from over 26 States, and they said they had asked to see you, and you would not see them. Will you say why?

THE PRESIDENT. That is not true. I offered to see these people if there was time or if there was any real reason for my seeing them, and no one suggested to me that I should see them.

This is the first I have heard of it, and when I say it is not true, I mean they may have asked somebody; certainly no request came to me, because I have informed my people that if they thought it was necessary or highly desirable for me to see these people, I would do it.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, there have been suggestions that you call a special session of Congress to deal with the farm program. Have you given that any consideration?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, we have watched all this developing farm situation, and especially the drought that is developing; and if the emergency character of that problem goes far enough, I assume you would have to call a special session.

As far as the general farm program, no, because we have several groups working as hard as they know how. If they have their program ready for submission to Congress on January 1st, from my viewpoint they are doing a magnificent job. So I would see no reason for dealing with the general farm program by special session.

Q. Bernard Mullady, Labor Press: Mr. President, we understand that Secretary Durkin had decided to advise the recommendation that the minimum wage be raised to $1 in place of the present 75 cents, that Acting Secretary Mashburn submitted that to the Bureau of the Budget. Will you tell us how you feel about that?

THE PRESIDENT. No such recommendation has ever been made to me. I have frequently talked about minimum wages to various people, but no recommendation has ever reached me of that kind, no suggestion has yet been made to me of raising the minimum wage or the amount by which it should be done, if done.

What has been suggested to me several times is the extension of minimum wage laws, and I was promised that this thing would be thoroughly studied in its probable effects upon our economy. Now, that is as far as we have gone.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, you had a conference Monday with the Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. Will you tell us the outcome of that conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember whether I promised to keep that confidential or not. [Laughter]

The only thing is, I don't remember whether we promised to keep this confidential. He brought to me an invitation. Now, I won't discuss the time and place and all of that sort of thing, but he brought me an invitation to go somewhere.

Q. Mr. van der Linden: Mr. President, you didn't say whether or not you accepted it.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the timing was such I could not possibly accept it now.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Sir, in view of certain published accounts which seem to have caused some concern in the country, I wonder if I could presume to ask how you are feeling these days.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you: as you people know, or some of you know, I have had sort of a sore elbow which has prevented me from getting my exercise to which I am accustomed, which I think I need, and which I love.

Aside from that, if I am not in good condition, the doctors have fooled me badly, because I feel fine. As a matter of fact, I underwent quite a series of tests just before we came back from Denver, and the reports given to me were cheering to a man of my age.

Q. Fletcher Knebel, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, yesterday you saw the Republican candidate from Virginia. Do you feel that that is in any way a departure from your policy of not interfering in local elections?

THE PRESIDENT [laughing]. I found out that Mr. Dalton is, of course, the Republican candidate for Governor. He came to see me about a drought in Virginia that you probably heard about.

There was not one word of politics that I recall mentioned. If there was, it was something inadvertently and in passing. The subject was the drought.

Now, at the risk of being just a bit verbose, let me recall to you people what I did say about this business of Presidential participation in local elections.

I doubt whether there is anyone here that would think it humanly or physically possible for me to go into 435 districts and electioneer. So, I should think, first of all, there is a physical limitation on what can be done that should be quite clear to all of us.

But secondly, if the President, as such, would have to acquaint himself with the local conditions under which people are running locally, I would think there would be a suspicion arising that he is not paying much attention to his main job, which is trying to be President for 160 million people.

Now, having said that, let me get this clear, quite clear: I said in my other statement, of course I am interested in the Republican organization and seeing Republican majorities come back. And I pointed out, I thought quite clearly, that I conceive it to be my job with the leaders and the members of my party in Congress, and all those we can get to go along with us, to produce a program that is so dynamic, so forward-looking, and so adapted to the needs of the United States, that everybody running under the umbrella of that program will have a great big bulge on anybody else. That is what I mean, and to say that I have no interest in these things is like saying I have no interest in drawing the next breath. Of course, I have.

I am trying to do it in a way that I believe is not only logical and necessary but in the only way that is meeting American needs and requirements.

Q. Robert L. Riggs, Louisville Courier-Journal: Mr. President, do you feel it would be improper for you to issue a request for the election of Republican Congressmen? You are the head of the Republican Party in the country, and the election of a Congress is a national event.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't say in what form any statement of mine might take, and I doubt whether just a request that wasn't based on more logic than just a personal request would be effective.

What I do hope to do is with these people, these leaders and the members of this party, to produce a record that can stand on itself, and we can show what it is in all its details.

Q. Mr. Riggs: What I mean, you wouldn't feel debarred, would you, from taking issue with such requests?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't believe I will shoot from the hip on that one.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Following up Mr. Riggs' question, you have made the point to us here today, sir, that it would be physically and mentally unwise to try to absorb the problems of all 435 districts. This doesn't bar you, however, in the course of the next year, if you happen to be in somebody's congressional district, from giving him a pat on the back, does it?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I don't object; I am always complimented when somebody comes up and wants to have their picture taken with me. [Laughter] It sort of means they think I am not going to damage them.

So I think, I think that is sort of a compliment.

Look, I don't see why I have to take an extremist view on this thing. I repeat--I have got certain conceptions of what the President of the United States can logically and properly do.

Those things I shall do, but behind it all, I believe in party responsibility. I believe in it, and when we talk and give merely lip service to a two-party system in the United States, and then say there is no party responsibility, we are just guilty of self-contradiction.

Of course I believe in it, and I shall do my part from my place and within the bounds that I think should limit the President of the United States.

Q. Joseph A. Fox, Washington Evening Star: That would not prevent you, sir, then from going out and putting in a good word for the Republican Party, so to speak, citing the accomplishments of the administration?

THE PRESIDENT. The question is that this limitation I have placed upon myself would not prevent me from any proper platform of reciting the accomplishments of the Republican administration.

I think it would be more proper to say the accomplishments of Congress and the executive departments under the leadership of the Republican Party, because we are now, by the elections of last year, charged with the leadership; and I see no reason on earth that we shouldn't constantly try to lay out this record in front of the American people, because eventually they can make wise decisions only if they are properly and fully informed. That is what I try to do.

Q. Mr. Fox: If I might pursue this same subject a little further, sir: there was a story out of New York yesterday that Governor Dewey might be stepping out of Albany after he finished his term. Is there a possibility that he might be brought into the administration after that?

THE PRESIDENT. This question involves Governor Dewey. There was a story in the paper to the effect that he was going to step out of the governorship, and does this mean any possible connection with the national administration.

I should say this: my news of Governor Dewey's decision came from the newspapers. I haven't the slightest idea of his plans or his personal plans, of his availability for any kind of duty.

Of course, I think that in the great qualities of Governor Dewey--they are well known, and we don't have to take time here to eulogize him; but I have nothing at all of information that could give me any other kind of an answer to your question.

Q. Arthur Sylvester, Newark News: Mr. President, when you entered New Jersey a couple of weeks ago and had your picture taken with the Republican candidate for Governor, did you realize that he was under fire for having written Governor Dewey to pardon the labor racketeer, Mr. Fay?

THE PRESIDENT. I think at that moment I had never even heard of Mr. Fay, and so I knew nothing about it.

Actually, I went up to address a group of churchmen, and I was asked by the Senators, I think it was--yes, the Senators-whether I would meet a group in the building there, which I did.

Now, just as I said before, someone wanted a picture taken. I quite agreed; I was quite, as I say, complimented. That is all I know about it.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, might I ask whether your discussion with Senator Knowland this morning bore in part upon the problem and the ways of strengthening party responsibility in developing a legislative program?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we talked about the methods for bringing promptly before the Congress the views of the administration, coordinated with the leaders, and so on, as to timing, their needs, their priority, and so on.

In other words, I suppose Senator Knowland and I talked about the general subjects applying to the future problems of the Congress and the Executive, exactly as you would expect. Now, that is as far as I know; there was nothing outside of that.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's eighteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 10:56 o'clock on Wednesday morning, October 28, 1953. In attendance: 152.

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/232284

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