Richard Nixon photo

Transcript of Remarks of the Vice President, Rear Train Platform, Altoona, PA

October 24, 1960

This is the first appearance during this campaign when we've had snow, so to have this wonderful crowd is an indication that, whether its raining or snowing or the sun is shining, we're going to carry Pennsylvania this year.

Second, to be introduced by Jimmy Van Zandt again is always a great pleasure to me. As you know, I'm sure, he and I have been close friends since the time I came to the Congress in 1946. He was there before I; and I look to the time when he will have the rightful position of one of the most important Members in the Congress, not just as the minority member, but as the chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. This will happen with the election of a Republican Congress, if we can do that this year.

While I am in Altoona, I want to say just one other thing of a completely political nature, I say "political" from the standpoint of our opponents, but from the standpoint of this city and the people here, of tremendous importance.

Altoona has done one of the most magnificent jobs of any city in the country - not just waiting for the Federal Government to come in and help you, but helping yourselves and bringing business into this area. But there is a job the Federal Government can do. President Eisenhower has been trying to get the Democratic Congress to do something about this, and over and over again they have refused.

The only bills they have sent up to him have been the typical pork-barrel bills that would cost you money and wouldn't do the job. Now, there is a bill that will do the job. It is one that Jimmy Van Zandt and Hugh Scott and others have worked out. It is one that I support. It is one that will produce on the promises that they make, and all that I can say is: They have had a chance. They have struck out, so it's time to give us a chance, because, may I say, we're not interested just in an issue. We are interested in solving this problem, and we will do it.

Certainly, on the record, we can only assume that their only interest is in an issue, because in every instance when they have brought their bills up, they wouldn't deal with the specific problems with which you are concerned to the same extent and with the same amount that our plans would.

Now the third point that I want to touch upon is one that will be of interest to everybody in this audience, to every American throughout this Nation today, and in the years to come. It's more important than any other issue. It was the issue that Senator Kennedy and I discussed in our debate last Friday, which some of you heard. On that occasion I said, and I say again today, that the most important qualification of the next President of the United States will be: "Does he have the judgment; does he have the background; does he have the experience to keep the peace for America and keep it without surrender?"

I submit to you that Cabot Lodge and I, our team, knows what peace demands. We know those who threaten the peace of the world. We have dealt with them. You know, and I say, that the American people today do not and will not take a chance on untried and inexperienced leadership, when you know you can go the way that we will go in the years ahead.

I say that by his statements in this campaign to date that our opponent has, in effect, disqualified himself as one who could handle this tremendous problem in the years ahead. I'll tell you why.

Not because of intentions.

There's no question about everybody's wanting peace. There's no question about everybody being against communism. There's no question about everybody being against surrender. The point is judgment. The point is: "How are you going to react when you have the tough decisions?"

How has President Eisenhower kept the peace? I'll tell you. I know. I have been there. I remember the decision on Lebanon. I remember the decision on Quemoy and Matsu. I remember all the decisions in these critical years. A man less wise, a man less firm, could have made the fatal error that would have resulted in war or surrender.

After having seen what is required, and also after having been around the world and having seen in the Kremlin the tough, ruthless men that confront us; my friends, I know we cannot afford to take a chance on someone who would be inconsistent, someone who would suggest, as my opponent did, that President Eisenhower could have apologized to Mr. Khrushchev at Paris - he couldn't do that - someone who would have sliced off a piece of the free world, someone who would have sliced it off at Quemoy and Matsu, doing the very thing that resulted in war in Korea - we can't have a man who would have made that kind of mistake - someone who would have made the critical error on Cuba that he would have made in our debate the other day, an error that would have lost us all of our friends in Latin America. That would have resulted in our prestige falling throughout the world and would not have solved the problem.

I could go on, but time, of course, is short, particularly because of the situation in which you find yourselves with this weather, but I can only sum it up in this way: I don't promise you that in these years ahead it is going to be easy, because, my friends, while it would be easy for me to make such a promise, I know what the world is. I have been to 55 countries. I know what the enemies of peace are up to, and I know that the best effort of America is needed, not just by our President, but by you, each and every one of you. It means every American doing his best for America, so that America can do its best for the world.

You see, these next 4 years are going to determine whether we have a world of peace, of great progress, one in which we can wage a winning war on poverty, misery, and disease, because we can do that. Or it's going to determine whether we have a world in which our children and grandchildren will grow up in war or surrender or disaster.

It can be a good world. It can be a world of peace. It can be a world of freedom. I believe this. I have faith. I have it because I have seen America, and I know how strong our people are. All of this yakking about America with no sense of purpose; all of this talk about America being second-rate - I'm tired of it and I don't want to hear any more talk about it. I have seen the second-rate country, the Soviet Union, and we want no part of what they have got, and we're not going to have it.

I say that as long as Americans do have faith in themselves, if we also have faith in our God, that we will defeat the atheists, the materialists, and those who oppose peace and freedom throughout the world, but that is the critical issue, and it is on that basis that we present our case to you today.

There is one other thought that I would add. In this world America can be even richer and stronger with better life for our people than we have had, and we must move forward, and we will. And all Americans, in all parts of America, must move forward together. I pledge that. And I pledge it not simply because I am running for President.

I just saw today a man who reminded me of my father and my own background. My father always used to say when we were growing up that his youngest brother was the smartest Nixon of them all. He was speaking of me, too, incidentally, and my brothers when he referred to him.

Today, in this audience is my uncle, Ernest Nixon. He's over 75 years of age, but he's the best potato grower in all of Pennsylvania. And I want to add this: I remember my Dad also used to say, "I don't want to go back to the good old days. I remember what they were, and we're never satisfied with things as they are in America."

We want to move forward. We want a better life for our children than we've had for ourselves and for those who say, as my opponents do, that I don't care about the people who are unemployed, that we don't care for the oppressed, that we don't care for those people who do not have the good things of life. Believe me, they don't know me; they don't know this country, and they don't know our party, either.

I'm proud to be running on a record. But I'm also proud to stand for a program that will move America forward, but move her without robbing you of your savings through inflation and taxes, as our opponents would do with their program.

I'm also proud to say here today that in 1952, when I campaigned from this same spot - all of you will remember there was a mess in Washington. You know what caused it, because there were bosses who were calling the turn at the White House for the President of the United States.

I say that if our opponent is elected, we will go back to boss rule in the White House. I think the people had enough of it in 1952. They don't want any more of it now, and I can assure you that if I'm elected, the only bosses I will recognize are the American people who did elect me on this election day.

So, with thanks again, for your patience, for coming out and welcoming us, we express our appreciation. I only wish we had the time to mingle with you, to shake hands, to sign some autographs. But then, if we did that, and if we stayed too long, some voters might catch pneumonia and we need every one of you on election day.

So thank you and goodby.

Richard Nixon, Transcript of Remarks of the Vice President, Rear Train Platform, Altoona, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project