Richard Nixon photo

Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Governor's Mansion Steps, Jackson, MS

September 24, 1960

Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mayor, all the distinguished guests on this platform and also the man who has just introduced me so eloquently, Mr. Emmerich: I can only say that to see this vast throng standing here in the sunlight, willing to listen to one of the candidates for the Presidency is, indeed, for me and for Pat, a very humbling experience.

We appreciate your taking the time on a Saturday afternoon when I'm sure there are some pretty good football games on the radio and the television and the like that you may be looking at or listening to or other things that you might be doing, to come out and welcome us, as you have, to Jackson.

May I say to the man who just introduced me so eloquently I'm very honored by the fact that he was the first editor in the South to endorse me for President of the United States, and I thank him for that.

I noted, as you did, his reference to the fact that this was the first time in a century that a candidate of either the Republican or the Democratic Party had come to Mississippi. I want you to know that I don't think it ought to be the last time in a hundred years, if that should happen, for either the Republican or Democratic candidates to come to Mississippi. I don't think it's a good thing that in the case of Mississippi, as well as in some of the neighboring States, the Democratic Party takes the people here for granted and the Republican Party concedes them to the other party. I think that situation ought to change.

That's one of the reasons that I am very happy to be here on the platform with my colleagues who are members of my party who are trying to give the people of this State a choice in their election campaigns.

That's one of the reasons, too, I am very honored that on this platform are also members of the Democratic Party, people who are thinking of the future of the Nation and the future of this State and thinking not simply in partisan terms, but thinking in terms, when we elect a President, of what is best for America.

May I say to you, my friends here, and to all of you listening on radio and on television, that it has been the tradition of the American people when we elect a President of the United States to think of the country first, the party second, and I present the case for our ticket on those grounds to the people of Mississippi and to the people of the South who are listening by television to this program today.

Now, I realize that in this audience are some Republicans. I realize that in this audience are some independent voters, and I realize that in this audience are some Democrats, May I say that in speaking to you I want to direct my remarks to all of you - Republicans, Democrats, independent voters - and I particularly want to speak at this point to those who may be members of the Democratic Party and who have the problem of wondering what you can do in this election campaign insofar as supporting a candidate for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency who is not a member of your party.

I know that you will hear it said over and over again that a Democrat can't vote for a Republican candidate for President because if he did so he would not be loyal to his party. My answer is this: My answer first is that the country comes before the party. My answer second is that those who wrote the platform of the Democratic Party at Los Angeles forfeited the right to ask for millions of Democrats to vote for them and to be loyal to their party.

I say, further, that if you read the platform of our party, the Republican Party, adopted at Chicago, if you compare it with the platform of the Democratic Party adopted in Los Angeles, you will conclude, I am sure, those of you who are Democrats, that what we stand for is closer to what you stand for than that which was adopted at Los Angeles.

Putting it another way, my friends, I say that the party of those who apparently were writing the platform and directing much of the strategy and the braintrusting for the Democratic candidates in this area, the party of Schlesinger and Galbraith and Bowles is not the party of Jefferson and Jackson and Wilson.

I might say I don't believe that that party is the party of Jackson, Miss., either.

So, today, to present this case to you, I want to tell you what I believe. I'm going to tell you what I stand for. I want to tell you what my colleague, Henry Cabot Lodge, believes in, what we stand for, and then I ask all of you, whatever you are - Republicans, Democrats, or independents - to decide on the basis of what we stand for. Does what we stand for - is that closer to your views than the other party? Does what we stand for - is this better for America than what they stand for?

I want to begin, incidentally, with a very difficult issue. It is one in which you will find that what our party stands for and what our candidates stand for is not in agreement with what many of you in this audience will stand for. I refer to the issue referred to by Mr. Emmerich in his introduction, the issue of civil rights.

I know that all of you are aware, all of you who saw our convention in Chicago, of my deep convictions on this issue. I know that you are aware that those convictions are ones that grow out of my experience and my background and that there are many reasons that I feel as I do about it.

I would like to say on that issue today that it would not be appropriate for me to come before an audience like this and talk one way in the South and another way in the North. A presidential candidate should say what he believes in all parts of the country, and I do that today to you.

I want to say as far as that issue is concerned, I know that it is difficult. I know that it is complex. I know, too, that it is not just an issue for the South. It is one for the North. It is one for the West. It is one for the East. All Americans, as they speak of this issue, must look to their own house before they point the finger at people in some other part of the country to look to their house as well.

But, my friends, may I just make this one suggestion to you: We saw America represented at its eloquent and magnificent best by President Eisenhower at the United Nations just 2 days ago. We saw the opponents of America and the opponents of freedom represented, as we might expect, by Mr. Khrushchev. I don't think there's any question where the verdict of the peoples of the world will be. It will be on the side of the man who really stands for peace and for freedom for all people - President Eisenhower; but, my friends, if you read Mr. Khrushchev's speech you will note that he did what he has often done before. He pointed the finger at the United States and said that we preach one thing abroad as far as recognition of equality of opportunity and practice something else at home.

I say that one reason that we in this country on this issue must continue to work for progress on it is that we must not allow this man, who has enslaved millions of people, who has slaughtered thousands, to point the finger at the United States of America in this area or any other.

So, on that issue may I say, while you may not agree with my convictions, with my position, I know that you will respect it for the reasons that I hold it and I present it to you today in that spirit.

Now, may I turn to the other issues where the difference is clearly drawn.

Why did I say at the outset that the Democratic Party in their platform at Los Angeles, in effect forfeited the right to ask for the support of millions of Democrats in this country.

I'll tell you why. Because in the programs that they adopted for economic progress in this country they violated the precepts for which the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, for that matter, has always stood.

Let me tell you what I believe in this respect.

I want, as you want, progress for America.

I know of the tremendous progress of this city, and the mayor was telling me in the period of 12 years that he has been mayor you have had practically a doubling in population.

Where has that progress come from?. That progress has come not primarily from government, but it has come from the activities of hundreds of thousands of individual Mississippians given an opportunity to develop their own lives.

I want for this country and I want for the people of this State, for the people of all of our States, the kind of government in which we can have better jobs, better housing, better schools, better medical care. All these things I want.

What is the difference as far as our opponents are concerned? They want the same things, but the difference in the means is the significant thing. They say the way to get the jobs and the schools and the housing and all the things that spell progress for America is to turn first to Washington and the Federal Government and to work down to the people.

We say the way to progress in America is not to start with Washington, but to start with the people first and work up to Washington and go there last.

We say that the way to progress in this country is not to weaken the power of our States and our local governments, but to strengthen the power of our local and our State governments throughout this country.

We say the way to progress is not through expanding the size of the Federal Government in its functions, except where that is necessary and where the job cannot otherwise be done, but that it is through expanding opportunities for 180 million free Americans.

I say to you today that, as you consider what we stand for, my friends, as you consider what our opponents stand for, we have the secret for progress, and they do not have it. I say that what we stand for is in the great traditions of Jefferson, of Jackson, of Wilson, as well as the great traditions of the Republican Party, which I represent today.

So, on this issue, I say: Consider it. Consider where I stand, what I believe, where our opponents stand, and then if you believe our way is the best way to a bright future, then we ask for your support on that issue.

Now may I turn to a third issue - and, incidentally, this is more important than all the rest.

The man who introduced me already implied that.

I would like to spell it out in this way. I'm sure that some might well say, "Now, just a minute, Mr. Nixon. What could be more important than a good job? What could be more important than good schools? What could be more important than adequate medical care; all these things I have described?"

My answer, of course: What could be more important than a good job and good schools and good medical care and progress in all those fields is being around to enjoy them.

So, I say to you today that the primary test that you should apply in determining which candidate for the President and Vice President to vote for is this: Which of the candidates, by experience, by background and on his program, can best keep the peace without surrender for America and the world?

This is the great issue of our times.

Now, I want to present our credentials on that issue.

First, we have a record, a record of which we are proud.

There are many things that I think the people of America will be grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for. They will be grateful to him because he brought such tremendous dignity and stature to the highest office of this land, the Presidency of the United States.

They will be primarily grateful to him because this man, such a great leader in war, is a man who has been a partisan of peace. He is a man who has ended one war, has kept the United States out of other wars and who has given us peace without surrender today - and America will forever be grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for that accomplishment.

I am proud of that record. My colleague, Cabot Lodge, is proud of it, and we present it to you today; but we do not stand on it, because a record is never something to stand on, but something to build on.

Let me go now to experience.

I should not and will not talk about my own experience. That is for you to judge, but I can talk about my running mate's, and I will say this about him: In the 7½ years that he has been at the United Nations I don't think that any man in the world could have had more experience and could have done a better job than he has done standing for the cause of peace and freedom - Henry Cabot Lodge, our candidate for Vice President.

I pledge to you today that he will be a working Vice President. He will be a partner with me, working in strengthening the instruments of peace, working in carrying out the great policies that President Eisenhower spoke about in his speech at the United Nations on Thursday, and together we will devote our best efforts not only to holding the line so that we can hold our freedom, but to extending freedom, because we must remember that in this world of change in which we live it is not enough to stand pat. We must constantly move forward and extend freedom and the cause of peace through - out the world - and this we pledge that we shall do.

Now may I turn to how we plan to accomplish that.

What must America do to keep the peace? What must we do to extend freedom?

First, in view of the kind of men that we are dealing with, my friends, America, above everything else, to begin with, must be stronger militarily than any nation in the world - and I pledge to you we will keep America's preeminent position in this field.

I also say that we must ask the American people to pay whatever is necessary to see that we retain that position.

Why? Because with our strength we keep potential enemies of peace and freedom from ever gambling on using their strength.

So, strength militarily is the first essential.

Also, we must keep the economy of this country strong and sound and productive and free, and on this point I say we can and we will do a more effective job than our opponents.

There is a third area I would like to mention. It is one that may not have occurred to you, but in the final analysis it will prove to be more decisive than even our great military strength and our great economic strength. It is the kind of strength represented by the invocation which we just heard.

Let me tell you what I mean. When Pat and I visited the Soviet Union, we stopped in Poland on the way back. There was no notice of when we were to arrive in Warsaw, it was not a Saturday afternoon, but a Sunday afternoon. When we arrived in the streets of that city, we expected no crowds; but, you know, in a totalitarian country the word goes around by word of mouth, and, as a result, there were over a quarter of a million people on the streets that day. They were enthusiastic, like this great crowd. But it was more than that. They were throwing flowers into our car, hundreds of bouquets. They were crying, many of them, with tears coming down their cheeks, tears of joy. They were singing, and they were shouting at the top of their voices, "Niech Zyje America - long live America."

Why were they saying this? Not because we were famous, because we were not, as President Eisenhower would have been. Not because America was strong militarily and economically, because Khrushchev had been there representing strength that he claimed was as great, and they had not cheered like this. No. They cheered because they knew that America stands for more than military strength more than economic strength, that we stand for moral and spiritual strength, for ideals that caught the imagination of the world 185 years ago - still live in the hearts of Americans and still are the hope of all the world.

I say to you today, my friends, this strength must be maintained if any President is going to lead this Nation and our allies in

the cause of peace and freedom, and it can only be maintained with your help, because the strength, the moral and spiritual fiber of a country, our faith in God, our recognition of the dignity of man, our recognition that the rights of men come from God, our recognition of freedom, not only for ourselves, but for people everywhere, must come from the home, the church, from the school - and I know that you will not fail America in keeping the moral and spiritual fiber and the flaming idealism of America strong in these years ahead in the great battle in which we are engaged.

To those who question the power of this kind of strength, may I say that the materialists and the militarists have always underestimated the power of ideas, but ideas, but ideas have always prevailed.

And now to my last point: Are we going to win this struggle in the world for peace, for freedom?

What about the criticisms that we've heard of our strength? What about the talk that we've heard to the effect that American prestige is at an all-time low?

All that I can say is this: That I think we've really had too many naive comments that seem to believe that the greater the Communist hostility, the lower the prestige of our country.

The Communists run a riot in Tokyo. We blame it not on them, but on ourselves and on our friends, the Japanese. They run one in Caracas. We blame it not on the Communists, but on ourselves and on our friends, the great majority of the Venezuelan people.

All I can say is this, my friends, as far as American prestige is concerned: They pay off on the score, and that's true in football, baseball, and it's true in international relations.

We had a pretty good test the other day in the United Nations, and the score was pretty good, too.

I noted here that Ole Miss won its first game of the season 42 to 0. The Governor and the mayor told me they expected to go through and be No.1 this season.

Now, that's a pretty good score, but you know what happened the other day in the United Nations? There was a vote on the Congo in which the United States said we must work through the United Nations and we must not have any nation work unilaterally in this particular area, and on that vote the Soviet Union was against us. The United States was supporting the other position. The score was 70 to 0 on behalf of the United States of America.

I say that that is the best answer to those who say that American prestige is low around the world. When the chips are down, our friends stand with us. So, in this whole area might I suggest in a political campaign we need criticism of those things that are wrong, but we must not allow that criticism to obscure the greatness of America.

This is a country that is not wallowing in indecision. It isn't facing retreat. It isn't losing respect of our friends around the world.

I believe that the charge that America's prestige in the world has been impaired, that it's lowered or declining, is absurd; I think it's irresponsible.

I believe it's bad for the country abroad - and, my friends, I say that those who make that charge will find it unrewarding at home, here in America as well, because, you see, as we dwell continuously on America's shortcomings, we serve to shake our friends' confidence in us and to undercut our confidence in ourselves.

Just putting it in a nutshell, I say it isn't necessary to run America down in order to build America up.

Now may I conclude with this thought: Obviously, time has not permitted me to discuss all of the issues in which you are interested. I have appreciated your patience, your coming in the first place, your listening, as you have, and I want to urge each and every one of you to consider what I have said, to consider the things that I believe in, to consider the record, my own record, as well as the record of my colleague, compare them with the records of our opponents and then, my friends, I say: If you believe what we stand for, what we will do, can best meet the great challenges of leadership for America in the sixties, if you believe that what we stand for will best have the opportunity to keep the peace without surrender, if you believe that we can best lead the forces of freedom to victory in this struggle with communism, without war, then I ask for your support. I ask for your support not as just Republicans or as Democrats, but as Americans.

I say to you, if you believe as we believe, won't you go out and carry this message throughout the State of Mississippi, carry it to the people of this State?

I know this is a hard State to win for a Republican candidate, but I happen to believe that what I stand for, what my colleague stands for, is bigger than the Republican Party. I think it is as big as America itself, and on that basis we ask for the support not only of Republicans, but of Democrats in this great State of Mississippi.

We thank you for coming out and giving us the opportunity to talk to you.

Richard Nixon, Transcript of Remarks by the Vice President, Governor's Mansion Steps, Jackson, MS Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project