Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference at Key West, Florida

January 08, 1956

THE PRESIDENT. The Press Secretary has told me there has been some curiosity about the sojourn here in Key West and its effect on me. The question seems to be numerous enough that I had the idea that even you people might be slightly interested, so I thought I would come over and tell you about my reactions.

First of all, the doctor tells me that what he calls my vital capacity is very much improved. I don't know the meaning of the term, and so there's no use asking me about it.

But I feel very much better--stronger--and much more able to get about.

The whole experience has been a pleasant one.

You people have experienced, as well as I have, the hospitality of the base and of the people of Key West, both official and unofficial. To all of them I am grateful, as I am sure you are.

On the work side, there have been a number of things that had to be done in the early part of the visit here; of course, the state of the Union talk, and then more recently the detailed program on the farm problem, which remains with us as a very difficult spot in our economy.

What I have liked about the program that will go to Congress tomorrow, just after we all get back to Washington, is its imagination. It approaches the problem in the effort to relieve the economic difficulties of the farm community at present, but it does so with an eye to the future, particularly in the conservation field, in conserving our soil and resources, getting land into the proper kind of crops, instead of into those that bring and pile up our surpluses.

The whole plan is a nine-point program and will attack this problem on a many-sided front and, we believe, represents a very splendid and effective addition to the farm legislation now existing.

Finally, of course, it has been a very splendid period of just sheer recreation for me, and I am going back tomorrow, I think, as ready to go to work as a person could be, after the physical experience I have been through.

Now, while this is far from a general press conference, still if there are any special questions any of you have, I will be glad to certainly consider them and attempt their answer.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, are you-will you entertain some questions about your political future?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think, Mr. Smith, there would be very little reason or very little, you might say, benefit--value in discussing it this morning, for this reason: all of the considerations that apply to such things are complicated, and it takes not only a thorough studying of each one before you are ready to talk on them, but naturally I will want to confer with some of my most trusted advisers. This particular thing has not been greatly talked about by me with my own people up to date.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, does that mean, as of this moment, you have not made up your mind as to whether you will run for a second term?

THE PRESIDENT. It means as of this moment I have not made up my mind to make any announcement as of this moment. [Laughter]

Q. Robert W. Ruth, U. S. News and World Report: Mr. President, do you consider the Presidency the most physically taxing job you have ever had?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know whether you can give a straight yes or no answer to that, and I'm sorry--but you do have this situation: every problem that you take up has inevitably a terrific meaning for many millions of people, so there is no problem that comes up in the Presidency--even some that appear trivial--that is handled as easily as you would handle your own daily living, or even something in the military, or in other activities in which I have been engaged.

I would say that the Presidency is probably the most taxing job, as far as tiring of the mind and spirit; but it also has, as I have said before, its inspirations which tend to counteract each other.

So I really can't say. There have been times in war where I thought nothing could be quite as wearing and tearing as that with lives directly involved. But I would say, on the whole, this is the most wearing, although not necessarily, as I say, the most tiring.

Q. Larry Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, some Republican leaders have suggested that if you are able, you might run again out of a sense of duty, and if you feel able and the doctors concur in that, do you feel a sense of duty to run again?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I certainly sincerely trust that all of my actions with respect to public duty over the past 40 years have been inspired and directed by my own sense of duty. So of course that would have something to do with it.

But I really believe that there are factors which I will be ready to talk about publicly at a particular time. I have them all marshaled in the proper order in my mind. I will be ready to talk about them. And one of them is a sense of duty. But where does the sense of duty point, and who determines what the duty is? That is a very tricky question when you are in this position.

Q. Ray Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, can you suggest when it would be propitious for us to raise these factors and probe for this answer?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say this: you really don't need to. As quickly as my own mind is made up, either as to making a statement or as to the proper moment to make a statement, I will tell you people very frankly. I have nothing to hide here. I am certainly not trying to be coy. I just think that it is something that is not settled just in a brief offhand conversation.

Q. Francis M. Stephenson, New York Daily News: Mr. President, I wonder could we expect any statement from you before the middle of February, when the doctors say they will give you the final word?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't want to pin myself down to a yes or no there. I will do it as soon as I feel that the whole thing is completely clarified and that I can see where the path of duty is, and as someone pointed out, as well as all other factors should indicate the answer to be.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, up in Gettysburg, Dr. White said that he wanted you to have this holiday here in the sun with exercise before you resumed the full burden of the Presidency.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Mr. Lawrence: Now, what is your immediate schedule? When you go back Monday, is it a full schedule or is it something that you work into gradually?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a very fair question. I am going back into the full duties of the Presidency tomorrow morning, but I think that it is only fair to make this one statement, that I have done many things in the past because I didn't have that sense of fatigue, or have any feeling at all I had to care for myself. I lived that way, as most of us do, through my life, and consequently I have done many things that were probably unnecessary. I would say that both my staff and I will scrutinize the problems, but as far as the duties of the Presidency are concerned, I will be in full swing.

As a matter of fact, I have been in fairly close touch with them for a good many weeks now, and been handling them. But now I will be back in the office as per usual.

Q. Marvin Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, the last time you met with us, I think on August fourth, you said that the state of your health would be an important factor in making up your mind. In view of what you call your experience, we can assume that that will be an even more important factor now, I suppose?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct, because--after all--remember this: it is not merely what the doctors say to someone else, or what the doctors say to me. It is a very critical thing to change governments in this country at a time that it is unexpected. We accustom ourselves, and so do foreign countries, changing our government every 4 years. But always something happens that is untoward when a government is changed at other times. It is a rather startling thing. They tell me that there was even some disturbance in the stock market at the time I got sick--I didn't know it till six weeks later--but they told me there was.

Q. Earl Mazo, New York Herald Tribune: Sir, during your stay here, did you and Doctor Eisenhower ever permit your conversation to stray into the region of your political future?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course.

Q. James Deakin, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Along that same line, you spoke of trusted advisers, in the plural. I wonder if you could tell us who some of those trusted advisers are, and if you have talked with them already, besides Doctor Eisenhower?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, there have been a few of them here. One of them is sitting here, Mr. Hagerty. And another one is my brother. There have been others down here. But I was talking about bringing this subject right up to the forefront now and talking about it objectively and intensively. We haven't done that. Apparently they haven't wanted to bother me.

Q. Robert W. Ruth, U. S. News and World Report: Mr. President, recently, Dr. White said that hard work never killed a healthy man. From your observation of life, would you agree with that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have always agreed with that. I believe that hard work is not only a very, very fine thing for most humans but it keeps them healthy. Also, things happen to the human body so that after all maybe the man isn't. described fully as healthy, and then there's another calculation to make.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, I don't want to press this point, but I find myself somewhat confused as to whether you have made up your mind at this time on whether to run for a second term?

THE PRESIDENT. No. My mind at this moment is not fixed. If it were, I would say so right here this second. But my mind is not fixed in such and such an extent that it can't be changed.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, last March you said you thought it would be just about a year. Do you still think that is about the time, early in March? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you must remember, one morning they asked in a press conference whether I'd talk about it. I said, "You ask me in about a year," and I think I did say about, didn't I?

Q. Mr. Burd: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think we have to wait for that exact date. We might go past it. You never can tell.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, have you approved new H-bomb tests in the Pacific this spring?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think the announcements as to future tests, not especially of H-bombs but of any kind of atomic action, should come officially and directly from the Atomic Energy Commission--where they always have come from; and while this matter has been--well, it's up perennially--the fact is that I don't remember exactly when or how they expect to announce it, and when they are to take place. So we had better wait for the official announcement.

Anything else?

Mr. Smith: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll be seeing you all in Washington.

Note: President Eisenhower's seventy-sixth news conference was held in the lobby of the Bachelor Officers Quarters, U. S. Naval Base, Key West, Fla., at 9:00 o'clock on Sunday morning, January 8, 1956. The attendance was not recorded.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference at Key West, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233010

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