gave this speech on television
) on September
23, 1952 and it is thus in the public domain
, yada yada yada
He was running for Vice President of the United States
at the time alongside
Dwight D. Eisenhower
, who was running for President. Nixon was
in the process of being investigated by the news media under allegations
of accepting illegal campaign contributions from a secret group of wealthy
Californians. He was almost removed from the ticket due to these
allegations, but this speech, in which he claims that the only illegal
gift he received was a cocker spaniel
that a Texas man
bought for Nixon's family, literally saved his political career and kept
him on the ballot. The doggie-related paragraph is highlighted.
Nixon would later be elected President of the United States
in 1968 (re-elected
in 1972) and would resign in disgrace over the Watergate
scandal in 1974.
You can get your hands on an MP3 copy of the speech at http://flag.blackened.net/daver/misc/checkers.html
My fellow Americans,
I come before you tonight as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency, and
as a man whose honesty and integrity has been questioned.
Now the usual political thing to do when charges are made against you,
is to either ignore them; or to deny them without giving details. I believe
we've had enough of that in the United States, particularly with the
present administration in Washington D.C. To me the office of the Vice-Presidency
of the United States is a great office, and I feel that the people have
got to have confidence in the integrity of the men who run for that office
and who might obtain it.
I have a theory too, that the best and only answer to a smear or to
an honest misunderstanding of the facts is to tell the truth. And that's
why I'm here tonight; I want to tell you my side of the case.
I'm sure that you have read the charge and you've heard it; that I,
Senator Nixon, took $18,000 from a group of my supporters.
Now was that wrong? And let me say that it was wrong. I'm saying, incidentally,
that it was wrong, not just illegal because it isn't a question of whether
it was legal or illegal, that isn't enough. The question is "Was it morally
wrong?" I say that it was morally wrong if any of that $18,000 went to
Senator Nixon for my personal use. I say that it was morally wrong if it
was secretly given and secretly handled. And I say that it was morally
wrong if any of the contributors got special favors for the contributions
that they made.
And now to answer those questions, let me say this; not one cent of
the $18,000 or any other money of that type ever went to me for my personal
use. Every penny of it was used to pay for political expenses that I did
not think should be charged to the taxpayers of the United States.
It was not a secret fund. As a matter of fact, when I was on Meet the
Press - some of you may have seen it last Sunday - Peter Edson came
up to me after the program and he said "Dick, what about this fund we hear
about?" And I said "Well there's no secret about it, go out and see Dana
Smith who was the administrator of the fund." And I gave him his address.
And I said "You will find that the purpose of the fund simply was to defray
political expenses that I did not feel should be charged to the government."
And third let me point out - and I want to make this particularly clear
- that no contributor to this fund, no contributor to any of my campaigns
has ever received any consideration that he would not have received as
an ordinary constituent. I just don't believe in that. And I can say that
never while I have been in the Senate of the United
States as far as the people that contributed to this fund are concerned,
have I made a telephone call for them to an agency, or have I gone down
to an agency in their behalf. And the records will show that; the records
which are in the hands of the administration.
Well then, some of you will say and rightly, "Well, what did you use
the fund for Senator? Why did you have to have it?" Let me tell you in
just a word how a Senate office operates.
First of all a Senator gets fifeen thousand dollars a year in salary.
He gets enough money to pay for one trip a year, a round trip that is;
for himself and his family between his home and Washington D.C. And then
he gets an allowance to handle the people that work in his office, to handle
his mail. And the allowance for my State of California is enough to hire
thirteen people. And let me say, incidentally, that that allowance is not
paid to the Senator, it's paid directly to the individuals that the Senator
puts on his payroll.
But all of these people, and all of these allowances are for strictly
official business. Business, for example, when a constituent writes in
and wants you to go down to the Veterans Administration and get some
information about his G.I. policy. Items of that type for example.
But there are other expenses which are not covered by the government.
And I think I can best discuss those expenses by asking you some questions.
Do you think that when I, or any other Senator, makes a political speech,
has it printed, should charge the printing of that speech and the mailing
of that speech to the taxpayers? Do you think, for example, when I or any
other Senator makes a trip to his home state to make a purely political
speech that the cost of that trip should be charged to the taxpayer? Do
you think when a Senator makes political broadcasts or political television
broadcasts, radio or television, that the expense of those broadcasts should
be charged to the taxpayers?
Well, I know what your answer is. It's the same answer that audiences
give me whenever I discuss this particular problem. The answer is "No."
The taxpayers shouldn't be required to finance items which are not official
business, but which are primarily political business.
Well then the question arises, you say well "How do you pay for these?
And how can you do it legally?" And there are several ways that it can
be done incidentally, and that it is done legally in the United States
Senate and in the Congress.
The first way is to be a rich man. I don't happen to be a rich man,
so I couldn't use that one.
Another way that is used is to put your wife on the payroll. Let me
say incidentally that my opponent, my opposite number for the Vice-Presidency
on the Democratic ticket does have his wife on the payroll. And has had
it, her on his payroll for the 10 years, for the past 10 years. Now just
let me say this, that's his business and I'm not critical of him for doing
that, you will have to pass judgment on that particular point. But I have
never done that for this reason; I have found that there are so many deserving
stenographers and secretaries in Washington that needed the work that I
just didn't feel it was right to put my wife on the payroll.
My wife's sitting over here. She's a wonderful Stenographer. She used
to teach Stenography and she used to teach shorthand in high school.
That was when I met her. And I can tell you folks that she's worked many
hours at night, many hours on Saturdays and Sundays in my office and she's
done a fine job. And I am proud to say tonight that in the six years I've
been in the House and Senate of the United States, Pat Nixon has never
been on the government payroll.
What are other ways that these finances can be taken care of? Some who
are lawyers - and I happen to be a lawyer - continue to practice law.
But I haven't been able to do that. I'm so far away from California,
that I've been so busy with my Senatorial work that I have not engaged
in any legal practice.
And also as far as law practice was concerned, it seemed to me that
the relationship between an attorney and a client
was so personal, that you couldn't possibly represent a man as an attorney,
and then have an unbiased view when he presented his case to you, in the
event that he had one before the government.
And so I felt that the best way to handle these necessarily political
expenses, of getting my message to the American people, and the speeches
I made, the speeches that I had printed for the most part, concerned this
one message: of exposing this administration; the communism in it, the
corruption in it - the only way I could do that was to accept the aid which
people in my home State of California who contributed to my campaign,
and who continued to make these contributions after I was elected, were
glad to make.
And let me say I'm proud of the fact that not one of them has ever asked
me for a special favor. I'm proud of the fact that not one of them has
ever asked me to vote on a bill other than my in my own conscience would
dictate. And I'm proud of the fact that the taxpayers by subterfuge or
otherwise, have never paid one dime for expenses I thought were political
and shouldn't be charged to the taxpayers.
Let me say, incidentally that some of you may say "Well, that's all
right Senator, that's your explanation, but have you got any proof?" And
I'd like to tell you this evening that just an hour ago we received an
independent audit of this entire fund. I suggested to Governor Sherman
Adams who is the Chief of Staff of the Dwight Eisenhower campaign that
an independent audit and legal report be obtained. And I have that audit
here in my hands. It's an audit made by the Price Waterhouse and Company
firm and the legal opinion done by done by Gibson Dunn and Crutcher, lawyers
in Los Angeles, the biggest law firm, and incidentally one of the best
ones in Los Angeles.
I'm proud to be able to report to you tonight that this audit and this
legal opinion is being forwarded to General Eisenhower, and I'd like to
read to you the opinion that was prepared by Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher,
and based on all the pertinent laws and statutes together with a audit
report prepared by the Certified Public:
Quote, "It is our conclusion that Senator Nixon did not obtain any financial
gain from the collection and dispersement of the fund by Dana Smith. That
Senator Nixon did not violate any Federal or State law by reason of the
operation of the fund. And that neither the portion of the fund paid by
Dana Smith directly to third persons nor the portion paid to Senator Nixon
to reimburse him for designated office expenses constituted income to the
Senator which was either reportable or taxable as income under applicable
tax laws. Signed Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher by Almo H. Conman."
Now that my friends is not Nixon speaking, but that's an independent
audit which was requested because I want the American people to know all
the facts, and I'm not afraid of having independent people go in and check
the facts; and that is exactly what they did.
But then I realize that there are still some who may say, and rightfully
so and let me say that I recognize that some will continue to smear regardless
of what the truth may be, but that there has been understandably some honest
misunderstanding on this matter, and there are some that will say "Well,
maybe you were able Senator to fake this thing. How can we believe what
you say? After all, is there a possibility that maybe you got some sums
in cash? Is there a possibility that you may have feathered your own nest?"
And so now what I am going to do, and incidentally this is unprecedented
in the history of American Politics, I am going at this time to give
to this television and radio audience a complete financial history. Everything
I've earned, everything I've spent, everything I owe. And I want you to
know the facts.
I'll have to start early; I was born in 1913. Our family was one of
modest circumstances, and most of my early life was spent in a store out
in East Whittier. It was a grocery store, one of those family enterprises.
The only reason we were able to make it go was because my mother and dad
had 5 boys and we all worked in the store.
I worked my way through college, and to a great extent through law
school. And then in 1940 probably the best thing that ever happened to
me happened, I married Pat who's sitting over here. We had a rather difficult
time after we were married like so many young couples who may be listening
to us. I practiced law, she continued teaching school.
Then in 1942 I went into the service. Let me say that my service record
wasn't a particularly unusual one. I went to the South Pacific, I guess
I'm entitled to a couple of Battle Stars, I got a couple of letters of
commendation; but I was just there when the bombs were falling. And then
I returned. Returned to the United States and in 1946 I ran for the Congress.
When we came out of the war, Pat and I, Pat during the war had worked
as a Stenographer and in a bank, and as an Economist for a government agency.
And when we came out the total of our savings from both my law practice,
her teaching and all the time I was in the war, the total for that period
was just a little less than ten thousand dollars. Every cent of that incidentally,
was in government bonds.
Well that's where we start when I go into politics. Now what have
I earned since I went into politics? Well here it is, I've jotted it down,
let me read the notes. First of all I've had my salary as a Congressman
and as a Senator. Second, I have received a total in this past six years
of sixteen hundred dollars from estates which were in my law firm at the
time that I severed my connection with it. And incidentally, as I said
before, I have not engaged in any legal practice and have not accepted
any fees for business that came into the firm after I went into politics.
I have made an average of approximately fifteen hundred dollars a year
from non-political speaking engagements and lectures. And unfortunately,
we've inherited a little money. Pat sold her interest in her father's estate
for three thousand dollars, and I inherited fifteen hundred dollars from
We lived rather modestly. For four years we lived in an apartment in
Park Fairfax in Alexandria, Virginia. The rent was eighty dollars a
month, and we saved for the time that we could buy a house.
Now that was what we took in. What did we do with this money? What do
we have today to show for it? This will surprise you I suppose, as standards
generally go of people in public life. First of all we've got a house in
Washington which cost forty-one thousand dollars and on which we owe twenty
thousand dollars. We have a house in Whittier, California which cost thirteen
thousand dollars and on which we owe three thousand dollars. My folks are
living there at the present time. I have just four thousand dollars in
life insurance, plus my G.I. Policy which I've never been able to convert
and which will run out in 2 years. I have no life insurance on our two
youngsters, Trisha and Julia. I own a 1950 Oldsmobile car. We have our
furniture. We have no stocks and bonds of any type. We have no interest
of any kind direct or indirect in any business.
Now that's what we have, what do we owe? Well in addition to the mortgage,
the twenty thousand dollar mortgage on the house in Washington, the ten
thousand dollar one on the house in Whittier, I owe forty-five hundred
dollars to the Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C. with interest four and
a half percent. I owe thirty-five hundred dollars to my parents and the
interest on that loan which I pay regularly because it's the part of the
savings they made through the years they were working so hard, I pay regularly,
four percent interest. And then I have a five hundred dollar loan which
I have on my life insurance.
Well, that's about it. That's what we have, and that's what we owe.
It isn't very much, but Pat and I have the satisfaction that every dime
that we've got is honestly ours. I should say this, that Pat doesn't have
a mink coat, but she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat; and
I always tell her that she'd look good in anything.
One other thing I probably should tell you because if I don't they'll
probably be saying this about me too; we did get something, a gift after
the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the
fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And believe it or
not, the day before we left on this campaign trip, we got a message from
the Union station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went
down to get it, you know what it was? It was a little Cocker Spaniel
dog in a crate that he'd sent all the way from Texas. Black and white and
spotted, and our little girl Tricia, the six year old named it Checkers.
And you know, the kids like all kids love the dog and I just want to say
this right now that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna
It isn't easy to come before a nationwide audience and bare your life
as I've done. But I want to say some things before I conclude that I think
most of you will agree on. Mr. Mitchell, the chairman of the Democratic
National Committee made the statement that if a man couldn't afford to
be in the United States Senate, he shouldn't run for the Senate. And
I just want to make my position clear. I don't agree with Mr. Mitchell
when he says that only a rich man should serve his government in the United
States Senate or in the Congress. I don't believe that represents the thinking
of the Democratic Party, and I know that it doesn't represent the thinking
of the Republican Party.
I believe that's it's fine that a man like Governor
Stevenson, who inherited a fortune from his father can run for President.
But I also feel that it's essential in this country of ours that a man
of modest means can also run for President. Because you know, remember
Abraham Lincoln, you remember what he said; "God must have loved the
common people, he made so many of them."
And now I'm going to suggest some courses of conduct. First of all,
you have read in the papers about other funds now, Mr. Stevenson apparently
had a couple. One of them in which a group of business people paid and
helped to supplement the salaries of state employees. Here is where the
money went directly into their pockets, and I think that what Mr. Stevenson
should do should be to come before the American people as I have; give
the names of the people that contributed to that fund, give the names of
the people who put this money into their pockets at the same time that
they were receiving money from their state government, and see what favors
if any they gave out for that. I don't condemn Mr. Stevenson for what he
did, but until the facts are in there is a doubt that will be raised.
And as far as Mr. Spartman is concerned I would suggest the same thing.
He's had his wife on the payroll, I don't condemn him for that but I think
that he should come before the American people and indicate what outside
sources of income he has had. I would suggest that under the circumstances
both Mr. Spartman and Mr. Stevenson should come before the American people
as I have and make a complete financial statement as to their financial
history; and if they don't it will be an admission that they have something
to hide, and I think you will agree with me.
Because folks remember, a man that's to be President of the United
States, a man that's to be Vice-President of the United States must
have the confidence of all the people; and that's why I'm doing what I'm
doing. And that's why I suggest that Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Spartman, since
they are under attack, should do what they're doing.
Now let me say this. I know that this is not the last of the smears.
In spite of my explanation tonight other smears will be made, others have
been made in the past. And the purpose of the smears I know is this: to
silence me, to make me let up. Well, they just don't know who they're dealing
with, I'm going to tell you this. I remember in the dark days of the Hiss
case, some of the same columnists, some of the same radio commentators
who are attacking me now and misrepresenting my position were violently
opposing me at the time I was after Alger Hiss. But I continued to fight
because I knew I was right, and I can say to this great television and
radio audience that I have no apologies to the American people for my part
in putting Alger Hiss where he is today. And as far as this is concerned,
I intend to continue to fight.
Why do I feel so deeply? Why do I feel that in spite of the smears,
the misunderstanding, the necessity for a man to come up here and bare
his soul as I have; why is it necessary for me to continue this fight?
And I want to tell you why. Because you see, I love my country, and I think
my country is in danger. And I think the only man that can save America
at this time is the man that's running for President on my ticket, Dwight Eisenhower.
You say why do I think it's in danger? And I say look at the record;
seven years of the Truman/Atchison administration and what's
happened? Six hundred million people lost to the communists and a war in Korea in which we have lost one hundred and seventeen thousand
American casualties. And I say to all of you that a policy that results
in the loss of six hundred million people to the communists and war which
costs us a hundred and seventeen thousand American casualties isn't good
enough for America. And I say that those in the State Department that made
the mistakes which caused that war and which resulted in those losses should
be kicked out of the State Department just as fast as we get 'em out
of there. And let me say that I know Mr. Stevenson won't do that because
he defends the Truman policy; and I know that Dwight
Eisenhower will do that and that he will give America the leadership that
Take the problem of corruption. You've read about the mess in Washington.
Mr. Stevenson can't clean it up because he was picked by the man, Truman,
under whose administration the mess was made. You wouldn't trust the man
who made the mess to clean it up, that's Truman. And by the same token
you can't trust the man who was picked by the man that made the mess to
clean it up, and that's Stevenson. And so I say Eisenhower who owes nothing
to Truman, nothing to the big-city bosses, he is the man that can clean
up the mess in Washington.
Take communism, I say that as far as that subject is concerned the danger
is great to America. In the Hiss case they got the secrets which enabled
them to break the American secret State Department code. They got secrets
in the atomic bomb case which enabled them to get the secret of the atomic
bomb five years before they would have gotten it by their own devices.
And I say that any man who called the Alger Hiss case a Red Herring
isn't fit to be President of the United States. I say that a man who like
Mr. Stevenson, who has poo-pooed and ridiculed the communist threat in
the United States; he said that they are phantoms among ourselves; he has
accused us that have attempted to expose the communists of looking for
communists in the Bureau of Fisheries and Wildlife. I say that a man
who says that isn't qualified to be President of the United States.
And I say that the only man who can lead us in this fight to rid the
government of both those who are communists and those who have corrupted
this government is Eisenhower; because Eisenhower, you can be sure, recognizes
the problem and he knows how to deal with it.
Now let me say that finally this evening, I want to read to you just
briefly excerpts from a letter which I received. A letter which after all
this is over, no one can take away from us. It reads as follows:
Dear Senator Nixon,
Since I'm only nineteen
years of age, I can't vote in this Presidential Election but believe me
if I could, you and General Eisenhower would certainly get my vote.
My husband is in the Fleet
Marines in Korea. He's a Corpsman on the front lines and we have a two
month old son he's never seen. And I feel confident that with
great Americans like
you and General Eisenhower in the White House, lowly Americans like myself
will be united with their loved ones now in Korea.
I only pray to God that
you won't be too late.
Enclosed is a small check
to help you with your campaign. Living on eighty five dollars a month,
it is all I can afford at present but let me know what else I can do.
Folks, it's a check for ten dollars, and it's one that I will never
And just let me say this: we hear a lot about prosperity these days,
but I say why can't we have prosperity built on peace, rather than prosperity
built on war? Why can't we have prosperity and an honest government in
Washington D.C. at the same time? Believe me we can, and Eisenhower is
the man that can lead this crusade to bring us that kind of prosperity.
And now finally, I know that you wonder whether or not I am going to
stay on the Republican ticket or resign. Let me say this, I don't believe
that I ought to quit because I'm not a quitter. And incidentally Pat's
not a quitter, after all her name is Patricia Ryan and she was born on
St. Patrick's Day and you know the Irish never quit. But the decision
friends is not mine. I would do nothing that would harm the possibilities
of Dwight Eisenhower to become President of the
United States and for that reason I am submitting to the Republican National
Committee tonight through this television broadcast the decision which
it is theirs to make. Let them decide whether my position on the ticket
will help or hurt.
And I'm going to ask you to help them decide. Wire and write the Republican
National Committee whether you think I should stay on or whether I should
get off, and whatever their decision is, I will abide by it.
But just let me say this last word. Regardless of what happens I'm going
to continue this fight. I'm going to campaign up and down in America until
we drive the crooks and the communists and those that defend them out of
And remember folks; Eisenhower is a great man, believe me.