Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference at San Francisco

August 22, 1956

THE PRESIDENT. Sit down, gentlemen. Good morning--good morning.

I have a couple of short announcements, ladies and gentlemen, before we go to questions.

First, this morning early, I was called up by the Vice President who told me that his father was very seriously ill, and was called to Los Angeles. I expressed my regret, of course, on my own behalf--those of all our associates--but of course he had to go. And I do know that I speak for all Americans in expressing the great hope that the illness will prove not too serious and his father will recover.

The next announcement is this: some weeks ago, both the Vice President and myself expressed the very great hope that this would be an open convention--I said as far as it could be for the nomination of the Presidency, and he said certainly for the office of the Vice Presidency.

I talked to the chairman--permanent chairman of the committee-this morning, and he said in order that there could be no suggestion of a freezeout, he was going to call the roll of States, there would be no nomination and designation accepted until everybody had his chance to say something.

But as you know, the only individual who has made any great effort to produce another candidate has been Mr. Stassen.

Mr. Stassen called to see me a few minutes ago. He said from the beginning that he had great admiration for the Vice President, respected the work he had done in government, but that he believed there were individuals who would add greater strength to the ticket than would Mr. Nixon. And in that belief he had proceeded with his effort.

He also said that no matter who the Republican Convention should name as their ticket, that he wanted to be one of those who supported it enthusiastically and right down through the campaign and on from there.

So he said this morning that after several days here, he had become absolutely convinced that the majority of the delegates want Mr. Nixon. In these circumstances, and particularly since his own candidate had withdrawn so decisively, he saw no reason for going further with his effort. He thought in order to get his own position clear before the convention and the American public, he was going to ask the convention chairman for permission this afternoon to second--is it today?--yes--this afternoon, to second the nomination of the Vice President, Mr. Nixon, for renomination.

I repeat that Mr. Stassen has from the first stated and expressed his admiration for the Vice President, and he merely believes now that there is no possibility of bringing in any other candidate who he believes would be strong enough.

Those are the only announcements I have to make, gentlemen, and now we will go to questions.

Q. (Questioner unidentified): Mr. President, could you tell us what you told Mr. Stassen this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. I told him that I would come right down and announce it to this group, so that I could express my confidence that the Republican Convention would receive his statement exactly as he stated it and meant it, and that they would accord him the courtesy of a real hearing.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, is it your intention, sir, to have Mr. Stassen back on your staff and on the team again--

THE PRESIDENT. He has never left it, except to take leave.

Q. Mr. Lawrence: -- when his leave expires?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. So far as I am concerned, I have no other plans.

Q. Charles Shutt, Telenews: Mr. President, do you believe that now he is going to second the nomination, that the Republican Party does now have one hundred percent harmony within its ranks?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't mean to say that there may not be someone else nominated. There may be. I don't know. Because, after all, I have been here much less than you people have. But Mr. Stassen is convinced that the mass of the delegates wants Mr. Nixon; therefore the best service he can perform now is to show that he is a team player, getting onto the job in this way.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, did you at any time prepare any list of other Republicans who would be acceptable to you as your running mate?

THE PRESIDENT. No. As I told you once in Washington, everybody knows in 1952 that I did prepare a list of some five or six--I have forgotten the exact number--and gave it to the group that visited me to notify me of my nomination.

Actually, having been in office 3 1/2 years, I have a record on which to stand now. Those people, I think, are well known that support the progressive platform in which I believe; therefore any of them that the convention would believe to have national stature, and who I would hope would be younger than I am, would be acceptable to me.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, have you ever thought or considered anyone else but Mr. Nixon as your running mate this year?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you will remember for quite a little while, Mr. Smith, I didn't know that Mr. Nixon was going to run again. He took quite a considerable time, after he and I first talked it over, to make up his mind; and during that period I thought of a whole group. I told you once the only reason I didn't name them--because I was proud of them all--is that finally someone might bring up a name and I would say "No, I wouldn't want to run with that person"--it would be only for some reason that I couldn't think of, but I didn't want to run that risk.

Q. Marvin Arrowsmith, Associated Press: As you know, the Democrats made some pretty sharp attacks on you and your administration last week. There are some reports around that you are pretty burned up about that. Can you tell us what your reaction has been to that criticism?

THE PRESIDENT. I have never answered criticism in my life. In war I was called reckless one day and a coward the next. And you get used to it.

Now, as I say, the Republicans have a record. I think I have something of a record. I stand on it. And I don't believe that that kind of attack will do anything but rebound upon the people who make it.

Q. Ray Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Your colleagues say there is a lot of enthusiasm out in the Cow Palace. Do you see any danger of complacency about November?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, the party in power always runs the danger of complacency, but I think that our people are all roused up to the very great necessity of continuing the kind of program that they have been supporting for the past 3 ½ years, and that you will find in every State of the Union and indeed down to every precinct the kind of work that is needed.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: To clear up this Vice Presidency matter, is it true that you came here with the intention of interviewing prospective candidates for the Vice Presidency?

THE PRESIDENT. Not the slightest.

Q. Don Whitehead, New York Herald-Tribune: How actively do you plan to campaign this fall, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, Mr. Whitehead, won't you let me be nominated before I start making plans for that? [Laughter] Really, I haven't any plans beyond those that have already been discussed and announced.

Q. Robert Richards, Copley Press: Mr. President, you look awfully well, sir. Will you just lay that scurrilous rumor that you were going to have to go back to the hospital after the election?

THE PRESIDENT. I never saw it, but Mr. Hagerty came in and rather laughingly asked me if I was going to have another operation, and I said never. No, no doctor has ever suggested it. Never.

Q- Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, have you now or will you talk with Governor Dewey about running for the Senate, in view of Senator Lehman's withdrawal?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I never have. Now Mr. Dewey came to see me just 2 or 3 days before he came out here--maybe the day before. I recall that the only thing he said about politics was some expression of the thankfulness that he was out of it. So it didn't occur to me to bring up that subject, and I haven't heard it discussed.

If I thought it were a good thing, why I would discuss it with him personally, but I have nothing to do with New York politics.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, down in Panama you made the remark about not having recovered your strength. How do you feel now, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I told you at the same time, though, Mr. Folliard, that I was getting stronger every day.

Now I find that when I get out behind the White House and I try to hit some balls, after a little while I seem to begin to drag the club, which I don't like. But otherwise I feel about as good as ever.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Can you tell us, Mr. President, what you think of the candidates chosen by the Democrats?

THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't express an opinion at all. Of course not.

Q. (Questioner unidentified): Mr. President, did Mr. Stassen give you the reasons for this move to second Mr. Nixon's nomination?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I thought I expressed them very clearly. He said that the mass of delegates unquestionably wanted Mr. Nixon, and since from the beginning Mr. Stassen had said "I am going to support the Republican ticket no matter who is on it," this was the best way he thought he could show his determination, his enthusiastic determination, to do just that.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, Governor Stassen has said repeatedly here in San Francisco for the last few days that he believes Mr. Nixon would detract some millions of voters from the ticket if he ran. Now, has he changed his mind about that?

THE PRESIDENT. He didn't even mention that. He said that--exactly as I have told you. He said that he was convinced that the mass of delegates wanted him. He wanted to show his readiness to support the ticket no matter who is named and this is the best way to do it.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Do you think it might be possible to nominate a stronger candidate than Mr. Nixon?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't know. Personally, as I have told you people many, many times, I felt justified in commenting on Mr. Nixon because he had held the job. I thought he did it in extraordinarily good fashion. As a matter of fact, as you all know, he has been brought into the affairs of government much more closely than, so far as I know, any other Vice President that has ever been brought in. He has done everything I asked him, beautifully. So that from my viewpoint, as far as efficiency, dedication to his job, loyalty to his country is concerned, I think he is as good a man as you can get.

Q. (Questioner unidentified): I understand former President Hoover said that there are some members of both parties who are out of their proper spiritual home. Do you feel that there is anyone in the Republican Party who is in the wrong spiritual home?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think I had better comment on that "shooting from the hip." I guess some people have said I am. I believe certain things very earnestly, and it seems to me that the mass of the Republican Party has come along and believes in general the same thing.

Q. (Questioner unidentified): You don't believe President Hoover was talking about you, do you?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think he was, no.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Did anyone else ever come to you to suggest that he would like to run for the Vice Presidency?

THE PRESIDENT. No. The only people that ever came to me said that they did not want to. They said they had been named, or been suggested--one or two cases where clubs had been started. And this includes, indeed, Mr. Stassen himself--where clubs started. And these individuals had merely said we don't believe--he didn't believe that he would be the man to do it.

Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Would you comment on the platform adopted last night? Is it satisfactory for you to run on?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it is.

Q. (Questioner unidentified): Mr. President, would you care to comment on the importance of electing a Republican Congress in the fall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have discussed this point numerous times. This is what I will say at this moment: I believe that as a normal thing, our country will be best served when the White House and the Congress are both run by the same political party, for the simple reason you can then fix responsibility.

Now I am not going back and compare the different qualities of various Presidents at times in the past. I merely say that if there is a Republican President elected, then I think there should be a Republican Congress on both sides of the House.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Sir, did you ever at any time make any objective check on the Stassen assertions that Nixon would weaken the ticket--you or anybody in the administration?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have seen--you say objective test--I have seen polls of various kinds, some of them in one area indicate one thing, in other places they indicate another.

Now frankly--this could get a little bit embarrassing because all the polls that I saw showed this: that any Vice President seemed to reduce my percentage just a trifle. [Laughter]

I don't, by any manner of means, want to say that there aren't many younger men in this party that could do even my "chore" as well or even better. But the fact is that was the case on all of the polls I saw.

Q. (Questioner unidentified): Did you discuss any California politics with Senators Kuchel and Knowland this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I recall. We talked, generally speaking, about national politics, and what we were going to do.

Q. Fletcher Knebel, Cowles Publications: If you were a delegate from Pennsylvania, would you vote for Nixon for Vice President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that I can be excused from answering "iffy" questions, and for this reason only: not that by any manner of means, knowing what I do, would I consider him unfit for the office, but there are many people that could be brought up and there would be many questions that I would have to take into mind, if I were in that position. So I am not going to express an opinion one way or the other. I think Dick Nixon knows what I think about him and I think you know what I think of Dick Nixon.

Q. Henry Brandon, London Sunday Times: I wonder whether you could tell us what sort of impression you are getting from Mr. Dulles' reports about the Suez Canal conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, frankly I am a little bit nervous about talking because I am not sure how much of these reports has gotten into the public press. And I certainly wouldn't want to be in the position of damaging progress that has been made in these by any immature disclosure. So if you would just pardon me, I won't say anything except this: in many ways they have gone much better, I think, than we could have possibly expected 3 or 4 weeks ago when this thing first blazed up on the headlines of the world.

Q. Lawrence Davies, New York Times: Mr. President, has the name of Governor Goodwin J. Knight ever been presented to you in any form as a possible candidate for Vice President?


Q. Gene Wortsman, Rocky Mountain News: Mr. President, I will ask the same question, sir, about Dan Thornton?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Governor Thornton was one of the men that came to me once and said that there had been some talk of this kind, but that he would prefer not to be considered--told me this some months ago.

Q. (Questioner unidentified): Did you hear Governor Langlie's keynote address, and do you think he adequately presented the Republican case?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know whether any one address can present adequately the Republican case, because the Republicans like every other body in this world are composed of members of diverse types of humans and individuals. I thought that taking it by and large, it was a very good, forceful speech. That's one speech I got to listen to all of it.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: You have said, sir, that you believed in an open convention and a free choice, and that all of the people who have come to you in connection with the Vice Presidency have said themselves that they did not wish to be candidates. Would you, on the other hand, have talked to people, had there been such who wished to be?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would certainly have listened to their case. As a matter of fact, Mr. Nixon is one of those who urged me to do so. He said by no manner of means did he want to be a candidate where it just looked like it had been a steamrollered affair.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's ninety-second news conference was held in the Italian Room of the St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, Calif., at 11:45 o'clock on Wednesday morning, August 22, 1956. The attendance was not recorded.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference at San Francisco Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233093

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives