15,000 Turn Out for Nixon Rally Here
By Charley Butler
October 26, 1960
City Editor of the News
15,000 Turn Out for Nixon Rally Here
By Charley Butler
“The issue of greatest importance is the survival of America. We need a president to keep the peace without surrender of America.”
Vice President Richard M. Nixon, speaking to a crowd estimated by Secret Service men at 15,000 persons stressed the importance of a strong America, stating that “The road to war is paved with weakness.”
“Nothing is more important than peace,” Nixon said at his Parkersburg appearance yesterday morning, when the largest crowd ever assembled in the city appeared for the Republican rally held in Court Square.
“The road to peace is not easy,” the Republican candidate for President continued. “We have to be strong, willing and able to deal with world problems.
“We have to get over the inferiority complex which has been talked by the opposition. The people who campaigned here in the primary and created the impression that West Virginia was the most backward, depressed state in the nation just didn’t know what they were talking about,” Nixon said, drawing tumultuous applause.
“I am tired of hearing out opponents not only run down West Virginia but running down the United States of America,” Nixon said, adding that “it is just plain nonsense to suggest that the United States is lagging behind Russia.
“I have seen Russian schools, factories, homes and living conditions – it is just not true that they are ahead of us.”
Citing the Big Red band of Parkersburg High School, which played for the rally, as one of the best he has seen he called attention to the famous football teams of the Big Reds, which he said he has heard about, and said “The Big Reds do not win games if they think they won’t. They have confidence in themselves and their ability to win, and they do win.
“We need the same confidence and belief in ourselves.”
Comparing America with the Soviet Union, he said “The Soviet threat is great – but we will win. We are on the right side; we have freedom, justice and ideals. Militarism always underestimates the power of ideals.
“We have faith in God and in our ideals, and we will work for them here and over the world,” the Vice President said.
“This is the most important election of our lifetimes,” he said. “It will determine your future and the future of the world. And we want to be around to enjoy the good life we have in this country.”
In opening his address Nixon cited Governor Cecil H. Underwood, who had introduced him to the crowd, as “rising above the average: he will be a great senator – West Virginia needs him in Washington, and I want him there.”
He said “Harold E. Neely, your candidate for governor, will follow the tradition of Cecil Underwood in administering an honest government with integrity, efficiency and sincerity.”
Returning to the national level of government, he called attention to Khrushchev’s attempts to “push us around, but he hasn’t gotten away with it,” and said “you know how Mr. Lodge and I will react, because we have sat with Mr. Khrushchev.”
Nixon appeared visibly impressed with the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. “This is one of the greatest rallies of the entire campaign, and it is an inspiring thing to start off the final two weeks of the effort.”
The crowd greatly exceeded anticipations. The head of the Secret Service detail accompanying Nixon, in asking for local assistance in handling the situation, said that is so far exceeded what they were prepared for that they were astonished.
Nixon’s party was delayed in reaching Parkersburg from Marietta by the dense crowds of people which line the route through Vienna and the upper section of Parkersburg. Their schedule through this area was for a speed of 35 miles per hour; instead the caravan was forced to travel at about half that speed by the throngs which lined the route, it was reported.
Schools were not dismissed for the occasion, but teachers in schools along the route took their pupils to the schoolyards to see the caravan pass.
Hundreds of students had secured excused absences to attend the rally. Arrangements for this were made ahead of time, and on presentation of parental requests the children of older classes were excused to attend.
The Big Red band arrived at Court Square at 9 a.m. after parading down Market St. from 9th. Several selections of music were played, and the audience accompanied the band in singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Several thousand persons were in the crowd at this time to hear Governor Underwood, candidate for U. S. Senate, Harold E. Neely, candidate for governor, and Clyde Pinson, candidate for Congress from the Fourth West Virginia District.
All local candidates were introduced by State Senator Joseph M. Handlan, master of ceremonies, early in the program.
Referring to adverse national said [sic] ‘We need constructive action publicity [sic]', Governor Underwood [sic] – we need to work while others talk, and we need further stable government in the state for industry. We can’t afford another Marland administration.
“We are running as a team to ‘Forward West Virginia’ all working together for the good of the state and its citizens,” Underwood said.
He referred to the announcement of Monday concerning new uses for coal, and said that “West Virginia lost out in the post-World War II cycle of defense spending – we got less than any other state except Vermont in defense dollars. We tried to get an Atlas missile site here, but we lost because we have no military bases in West Virginia and these sites are located near such bases. Hence we must look to other forms of progress.”
Both Neely and Pinson made brief remarks while the crowd awaited the arrival of the Vice President and his party.
Nixon was accompanied here by his wife, Pat, who was presented a large sheaf of red roses on her arrival, by Mrs. William P. A. Nicely.
A cordon of “Nixon Girls” lined the Vice President’s approach route from car to platform, and as Nixon and his wife passed through, he shook hands with as many of the teen-aged girls as time permitted.
His appearance brought loud and sustained cheering, to the obvious delight of the Vice President and his party.
Immediately on mounting the speakers’ platform which had been erected on the east steps of the Wood county courthouse, Nixon greeted those on the platform whom he knew, was introduced to others, and endeared himself to the audience by solicitous attention to Mrs. Underwood, Mrs. Neely and his wife in the chill early morning air before turning to the microphones. He made certain that all the ladies on the platform were comfortably seated before beginning his address.
From the moment he turned to the audience, he had complete sympathy of those present, and many of this statements were interrupted by applause.
Many persons present were heard to comment on the magnetic personality of the man who addressed them, contrasting it with impressions gained otherwise when he appeared in person.
Handlan said after the rally that he was told many times of the impression of sincerity created by Nixon in making his address.
Area officials who planned the rally said that the overall results were gratifying to a high degree. The size of the crowd, the enthusiasm shown, the attention given the speaker, and the general atmosphere of the occasion all contributed to a feeling of elation on the part of those who sponsored the rally.
Nixon’s special train left shortly after the end of his address for a series of stops in Ohio en route to Cincinnati, where he was to make a major address last night.
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