Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

November 04, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. I imagine that today there are a lot of political questions tucked away all ready to spring, and I will give you my answers in advance.

Quite naturally, I am not completely pleased and happy with some results in some places, but I tell you, as I told you before, I believe the job of the administration in Washington is to provide a dynamic and forward-looking program for the United States. We are going to continue to do it, and believe that in the long run it will win.

One other point, I have lost skirmishes before. [Laughter]

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, may we quote that line, "I have lost skirmishes before"?

THE PRESIDENT [laughing]. All right, says Hagerty; I guess it is all right. I just don't want to start some precedents.

Now, I sincerely believe that the programs that are developing are for the welfare of 160 million people.

I believe the farm programs, the tax programs, the foreign aid programs, the expenditure programs, the programs of cleaning up Government, getting honesty, decency, efficiency, and good management, I believe all of them are going forward. They are slow, of course, but they are coming forward; and when they are exposed in their full performance to the American people, I have every confidence that they will approve of them.

Now, dropping that subject, I will read you one little statement on an important subject, and you can get this copy after you leave, so you don't have to copy this down. I believe they will be mimeographed. This is about the Soviet note.

[Reading] We are now studying the Soviet note received yesterday. 1

1 The Soviet note of November 3 is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 29, p. 745).

It is negative and rejects the proposal which the United States, the United Kingdom, and France made for an early conference on Germany and Austria.

It seems further to seek to prevent such a conference by injecting impossible conditions regarding the European Defense Community, the NATO system of collective security, and the position of Communist China. The Soviet note manifests no intention to get together but an intention to create as many difficulties as possible.

Everywhere we have been trying to get to grips with the Soviet regarding the serious problems which exist between the free world and the Communist world.

We have tried time after time to get a meeting about Germany that will bring unification.

We have been trying to get a meeting about Austria which would liberate that country.

We are trying in Korea to get a meeting to deal with the problem of unification of Korea and withdrawal of our own as well as other foreign troops.

In the United Nations Armament Commission we have been trying to bring the Soviets to deal realistically with the problem of limitation of armament and restriction on the use of methods of mass destruction.

Peace for the world is the primary goal of the American people and the administration. As a people, we shall continue to be ready to discuss any issue with the Soviet under conditions which provide a clear and dependable basis for agreement. [Ends reading]

That is the only formal statement of my own I have to make today, so we will go to questions.

Q. Mr. Smith: Mr. President, getting back to the subject of the voting yesterday, Representative Clarence Brown, a Republican of Ohio, said just a little while ago, "The people voted for a change"--this is a direct quote--"and they don't feel that they got it." I wonder what your reaction to that is, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, I never comment on what someone else has to say. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and, I should think, to express it.

My own opinion is that the kind of change the people wanted is an orderly and progressive change, not just any other kind, that they are going to get it, and are getting it.

Q. Anthony Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, I think you gave us an unfinished statement. I think you said you had lost skirmishes before. Does that mean you expect to win the war?

THE PRESIDENT. I never went into one to lose one. [Laughter]

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, Mr. Hagerty on Friday told us, in supplementing your own press conference remarks of last week, that you favored the election of every Republican in every election for any office anywhere.

I wondered, does that carry through into 1954, and without regard to the record of a Republican, let's say, in supporting your program?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I'll tell you: there, the statement, after all, had to be based necessarily on a certain assumption which takes into consideration the statement that I have made time and again, which I sincerely believe--a man standing for public office must have a clean record for honesty, integrity, before the public, and you must have confidence in his character.

Now, it is conceivable, of course, that those conditions will not always be met. Under such conditions I should think that it would be improper to go out to support any such person. But I want to bring this out: I have never said I was going in and endorse anybody by name anyway. I said I am going up here to say that I am working for the kind of support and teamwork the Republican Party can give me, and I am going to work for the production of a program of accomplishment that they can support; but I never by any manner of means said I was going out and name each man and say I support them. Let's don't have any mistake about this, because I saw myself misquoted last week.

I have said I believe in party responsibility, and I want to see Republicans come back here with a good comfortable majority so that parties can be held responsible by the American people for what we do.

But when you intimate that in advance I am going to take up every single individual and say "That person I believe in," that is another thing.

Q. Mr. Lawrence: Well, I wanted to, if I may, just carry this a bit further, sir. I was not getting so much at a dishonest candidate or one of bad character; I was trying to draw the line as to whether you would support Republicans who do not support you.

THE PRESIDENT. You bring that question up sometime when you have got a little--I don't want to try to answer it now. I just don't think I can give you a good one.

Q. Robert W. Ruth, Baltimore Sun: About a year or so ago, Senator Jenner called General Marshall a front man for traitors, and the other day he said that he was standing by that statement. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I am sure that you people get weary of me repeating and repeating that I don't comment on what other people say.

I have time and again gone on record as to my admiration for General Marshall. To my mind, he is one of the great patriots I have encountered. He is one of the ablest men I have encountered; certainly one of the most dedicated men I have encountered. So, that is my answer to anyone who wants to talk about General Marshall in derogatory terms. I do not mean to say by any manner of means that I have forever agreed with him. I have sometimes disagreed with him, undoubtedly as you do with anybody, but I consider him one of the real public servants of our times.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, in view of the election results, do you contemplate any reappraisal of certain portions of your program, as it were, a new look on the program you will present to the next session of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. No. My problem is to devise a program that meets the composite convictions of the group that is associated with me, that it is for the welfare of the United States; and some vicissitudes of politics here and there would have no effect on it whatever.

I don't mean to say we are not going to try to put it up forcefully and in good packaging. Of course, we will, but we are going to try to make it, mold it, on the same principles that I have talked ever since I was tempted to say I would enter the political field.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, do you believe that yesterday's results reflect any dissatisfaction with administration policy?

THE PRESIDENT. That is one I will let you answer yourself, Mr. Arrowsmith; you make those comments, I don't.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Back to your program, sir: you said that this program, you hoped would be an umbrella under which your candidates could stand. I am wondering if you think it is at all possible or conceivable that a Democrat might sneak in under that umbrella? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I am told that several of them said they were under that umbrella. Actually, there are certain areas in the United States, as you well know, where a man could believe in the general political field exactly as I do, and be under another political label. So, that is the answer there: he would run on such a program.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, some of those areas presumably would be Texas and Louisiana. What if a Republican were running against a Democrat who you consider was under your umbrella; would you then support that Republican against that Democrat?

THE PRESIDENT. Now, you people are always trying to take me either into Texas, Kansas, or Maine or somewhere, and put me in a specific campaign fight.

I just don't think it is wise for me to comment about such things in advance other than to say my job is here, and I am very, very busy, I assure you, right here. Normally, I think those things will have to be left to the localities to battle out themselves.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, after we have gone over State to State here in a rather superficial manner, I wonder if you could tell us your ideas for correcting the situation that led to the result of the voting yesterday--from a party viewpoint?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you, as you people know, I am a novice in politics; I have never claimed to be a politician.

I must pin my faith to this: I believe in the commonsense of the American people when they are informed. I believe we not only have to inform them as to the basic facts--some of them are rather stark and disagreeable facts in all these several problems-but we have to devise and put forward and enact a program that the mass of the American people will say is a good one.

Now, I don't know of any other way--not only to win votes; I don't know of any other way that deserves votes.

I don't believe you deserve votes unless there is a record of progress, a record of real accomplishment that can attract them.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, do you think that the policies of the Eisenhower administration were involved in any of these elections yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. Again, I should say you have to answer that question; I don't know, I really don't know.

Q. Mr. Wilson: The reason I was asking was because of your original statement in which you said that you lost skirmishes before, and I wonder if that implied

THE PRESIDENT. They asked me from the sense of the party; and as the titular head of the party, that was the answer I gave.

Q. Mr. Wilson: But you are not making a reference as to whether this was a test of your policy?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no, I wouldn't, no.

Q. Charles T. Lucey, Scripps-Howard Newspapers: Do you think, Mr. President, that failure of Republicans to get enough jobs and patronage so as to cause dissatisfaction in local organizations might weaken the party at election?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will say this, I have been told so. [Laughter]

That is the only thing; further than that I really have no opinion on it. I have no opinion on it.

Q. Mr. Lucey: Are you going to do anything about it?

THE PRESIDENT. This is what I believe very thoroughly: I believe that any administration coming in has to move as rapidly as is feasible and practicable to get policy-making positions and the very highest administrative positions properly filled by people who believe in the general policies pursued by that administration; but I also believe that unless we observe the sanctity of the civil service that our country will be in a very, very bad spot.

Now, the job is to steer your way through these two sometimes conflicting considerations.

Consequently, what is going on in these localities is a rather difficult, a rather tortuous, job of getting in between and protecting the civil service and getting rid of people that are trying to use civil service jobs for politics, which is prohibited by law, and also to get policy-making positions filled by people who believe as the administration does.

Q. Mr. Lucey: May I ask one more question?


Q. Mr. Lucey: Are you planning legislation to take care of that situation--to free more jobs, that is?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there has been none submitted to me, and I don't know whether any is necessary or not; I couldn't say for sure.

Q. Ruth S. Montgomery, New York Daily News: Do you think the prospects are very bright for a peace conference in Korea?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't guess that; that is too filled with imponderables, unknown factors.

I would say this: I can't see any reason for what we have done there recently, except as it does lead toward a political conference. That is what you are talking about, the political conference. So I am hopeful, and I would say in my mind the chances favor it; but there are so many possible obstacles, so many things that could upset the thing, that I would hesitate to put it as a fiat prediction.

Q. Doris Fleeson, Bell Syndicate: You have given about 7 dinners at the White House for I 15 people that have been described as dinners for the leaders of America; none of those 115 guests have been women. How do you square that with your antidiscrimination policy?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you, Miss Fleeson, I tried to get two or three for dinner, and they told me I would have to be very careful because the women couldn't decide who should come. [Laughter]

Q. Miss Fleeson: Did women tell you that or did men tell you that?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, exactly, women. I wouldn't take a man's advice in such a thing. [Laughter]

Q. Miss Fleeson: Were they women leaders of the Republican Party?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I will identify them.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, will you personally take the lead in submitting the farm program to Congress when Congress convenes?

THE PRESIDENT. I won't take the lead in submitting the details of the program. Unquestionably by the time that the State of the Union Message is ready that will be sufficiently outlined so that its purport and its general scope will be ready; but, of course, the exact program itself which is worked out by all of these groups, including this bipartisan advisory commission which I have met with already, that program will be presented by others.

Q. Mr. Leviero: Well, presumably, you would send that up though in a separate message, though later on?


Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, were you consulted with respect to the reorganization of the Soil Conservation Service?

THE PRESIDENT. Why, of course, they couldn't do that without consulting me.

Q. Mr. Wilson: And did you approve it?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes; and I might say that my advisory commission, which I just spoke of, unanimously approved it. And there were, I think, 23 out of 24 major farm organizations approved it.

Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo Evening News: Mr. President, the question has arisen as to what degree the congressional Agriculture committees are a part of this consultation process on a farm program. I have specifically in mind, could a situation arise in which there would be two farm programs, the executive department's farm program and the program of the committees in Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can say this only: over those people who I have any influence, I shall do my best to devise a program that will work for the long-term benefit of everybody that is touched by that program--the farmer--the farmer of all kinds; because, remember, there are conflicts among farmers themselves. One wants high-priced feed, one wants low-priced feed; and this conflict goes on in many areas. Of course, there are conflicts between consumers' interests and farm interests. My own idea is that we must develop a program that can be depended on to stand a long time, because it tries in a very definite and clear way to meet the best interests of all. There are unquestionably going to be conflicts and differences of opinion, and some of them will probably be hotly debated, as they should be; but that is going to be our purpose.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Times: Mr. President, one of the major Republican campaign promises last year, one, I think, which was borne out in the election results was that the Republicans had pledged to clean up the mess in Washington.

I wondered if it is your understanding that any of the election results of yesterday might have applied to local messes?

THE PRESIDENT. Again, I think I will stay in Washington, if you don't mind. [Laughter]

I think I see the connotation of your question. I will say this: I believe that the American people do want, and properly want, honesty and integrity in every single dealing of their Government and all the people that have to do with it.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, the Republican Chairman, Leonard Hall, in commenting on yesterday's election results, said that there was no question about it, "That as of today we are in trouble politically." Do you agree with Mr. Hall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, again, I give my own opinion, I don't refer to his: the Republican Party has for many years been a minority party in the United States. The only way they can possibly win elections is to win support from people who class themselves as independents or, let us say, like-minded people within the Democratic Party.

That means you don't do it merely on a basis of going out and a party machinery turning out the vote or anything of that kind. There has got to be something solid, progressive, and real on which to base your argument.

Now, I am not going to talk about whether we are in trouble or not. I never have gotten any great satisfaction out of looking backward, except to find out where I made my own mistakes. I do believe we are on the right line in attempting to produce a program, and that I am going to stick to.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, one more question: Columbia University is planning a bicentennial celebration, and has adopted the theme of man's right to knowledge and the free use thereof. I wonder if you have anything timely to say about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I had a committee meeting, I think that came down yesterday morning, and gave me a book that they have published about New York City, a picture book, a very marvelous sort of thing.

The program was adopted before I left Columbia. Instead of just putting on the usual, you know, celebrations up there, we decided to conduct a campaign during 1954 among the universities of the world, all the world that we could reach, to support that theme--man's right to knowledge and the free use thereof. That is what is going on. For myself, when I left last fall, last winter, when I left New York, and one date I now have on my books, I promised to go back and participate in one of the ceremonies trying to advance this idea, this concept. So I will be back there sometime next June, the Lord willing and letting me live that long.

Q. Martin S. Hayden, Detroit News: Carrying out your thought again on the Republican Party needing the vote of independents, do you attach any significance, sir, to the fact that both in the Wisconsin and in the New Jersey congressional elections, the seats were vacated by very liberal Republicans, and more conservative Republicans were unable to hold them?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you give a certain basis for your question that I didn't know to be the fact, because I didn't know either of the gentlemen running for office, and I never had a chance to talk to them.

I do believe this: I don't believe that the United States wants to return to 1892, I believe the United States wants to take a look at us where we are and see what to do now for the benefit of this whole and great Nation, its, as I might call it, equilibrium among its different parts at home and its standing abroad, to include certainly its safety and its security and its growing prosperity. Now, what these reasons were, again, I must leave to you for your own decision.

Q. Peter Edson, Newspaper Enterprise Association: Mr. President, on these political questions, I wonder if they could be stated another way. Do you think the results of the election were entirely the results of local conditions, and that national politics did not play an important part in them?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't give you an honest answer to that because I am just not familiar enough with it. I tell you again, I just don't have time to study these things in the detail that you would have to, to have a worthwhile opinion on such a subject. I don't know.

Now, I am advised here and there by individuals who come in, but you have the same access to them as I do. You are asking for my opinion, and I don't have it.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, do you feel that in the statements that you made about wanting the election of Republicans everywhere, the statements made by Mr. Hagerty, do you feel that these added up to an endorsement of Mr. Troast who was running for Governor of New Jersey?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say this: in the absence of any knowledge to the contrary of the fitness of such a person--and I was assured he was a fit man--I would think that my general statement that, by and large, I wanted to see the party made responsible in a definite way, I would consider that was that much of an endorsement, at least.

Now, that doesn't mean you go out and make speeches for an individual or get down into the local issues involved.

Q. Arthur Sylvester, Newark News: Mr. President, you said a moment ago that you had confidence in the good sense of the American people. Do you think they exercised it yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, I do. I think that any district that goes and gives a majority, they know what they are doing. Now, they might be poorly informed and, possibly, one side's advertising or publicity, or whatever you want to call it, is better than the other, and they may get their case presented in better fashion.

I believe in the jury system, and I believe, by and large, there is no jury in the world as accurate as the entire American people, even if they can make errors occasionally. By and large, they were exercising good sense because they went to the polls and voted.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's nineteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 3:00 to 3:26 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, November 4, 1953. In attendance: 162.

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/232344

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