November 16, 1971
STATEMENT BY LOS ANGELES MAYOR SAM YORTY ON
HIS CANDIDACY FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION FOR THE PRESIDENCY
Encouraged by the advice of many friends and supporters, I have decided
to become a candidate for President. Our campaign is already well
underway in New Hampshire.
We have no intention of trying to raise the huge sums of money necessary
to enter all of the primaries. We will be selective. The California
primary will climax our campaign. Other states may be added as the
I have no illusions concerning the magnitude of this undertaking or the
difficulties involved, but borrowing a line from the old hymn, “Lead
kindly Light,“ let me say -- “I do not ask to see the distant scene –
one step is enough for me.“ The first step is New Hampshire. After that,
we shall see.
My position on issues will be that of a moderate Democrat -- a position
I hope will appeal not only to a majority of Democrats but also to many
Republicans who are disillusioned with the current resort to sheer
political expediency by the Nixon administration in its effort to win
re-election at all costs or by any means in 1972. Prior Nixon promises,
positions or commitments, seem to mean nothing as 1972 approaches. I am
sorry to see this. I do not like to see any President fail because when
a President fails the nation suffers.
I have tried to help the President when I thought he was right, as, for
instance, the seizure of Communist supplies in Cambodia. All of the
other announced and unannounced Democratic candidates opposed this
action. I advocated it. I think it was a major factor in making our
withdrawals less hazardous to our Allies in Southeast Asia.
On another occasion, I tried to explain to our people President Thieu’s
purpose in pushing election laws to limit the number of candidates
seeking the presidency. All of the other Democratic contenders
castigated him as if he were an enemy.
I would never have voted to help the Communist enemy by telling in
advance what we would not do. The Cooper-Church Amendment did just that,
yet all of the other Democratic candidates voted for it. In fact, if I
had been President, I would have strongly resisted it and taken my case
directly to the American people and asked their support. Instead,
President Nixon caved in and of meekly sign the bill to which it had
Lack of American Air liaison officers on the ground in the Laos
operation increased South Vietnamese casualties 20%, according to expert
opinion. So Cooper-Church and those who supported it not only sentenced
many young South Vietnamese to their deaths, but also jeopardized a very
important step toward our disengagement from Viet Nam.
I think if the President had opposed Cooper-Church and given our people
an explanation of his position, it could have been defeated. But one of
President Nixon’s serious weaknesses is an apparent lack of confidence
in the common sense of the American people. This is coupled with a
rather obvious lack of confidence in his own ability to inspire the
confidence of the people by reasoning with them instead of playing
To lead this nation successfully, it is necessary that a President at
times go over the heads of the obstructionist politicians and appeal
directly to the people as President Harry Truman did so effectively.
I firmly believe that our best chance to avert war is through strength.
In this regard, President Nixon’s speech writers evidently do not talk
to his policymakers. The speeches are strong, the policies are weak. As
time goes on, I shall discuss this issue more fully.
We must not risk bungling or stumbling into another war because of
weakness which might cause miscalculations by aggressors. Strength
provides insurance against war. Weakness invites it. This is a lesson of
history we should have learned by now if we don’t want to have to learn
I do not think the so-called doves can succeed in “fastening the war
around the President’s neck.” The commitment to our objective in Viet
Nam goes back at least to President John F. Kennedy. In fact, Nixon is
doing what the doves want. He is withdrawing but calling it
“Vietnamization“– a typical example of Nixon’s political gamesmanship.
I have never approved of our conduct of the war in Southeast Asia. I
opposed our connivance in the overthrow of President Diem and I said so.
Only now are the facts about this tragedy beginning to get some public
I opposed the severe political restraints on our military operations
while young men’s lives were at stake. I said so publicly and
emphatically. I personally urged President Johnson to relax some
political restraints and get the war over with. I went so far as to tell
President Johnson I felt he had no right to send 19-year-old Americans
to Viet Nam to risk their lives under political restrictions depriving
them of the use of American technology to save their lives and punish
Our foreign policy is in disarray. Our friends are confused. Our
statement of purpose lack credibility and free world solidarity is
diminishing. As an example, when Red China was admitted to the United
Nations with our consent and Taiwan ousted over our apparent objection,
there was doubt in the minds of many concerning our real desire.
In the Middle East, we are pressuring Israel to make another piecemeal
settlement with the Arabs including withdrawal in the Sinai and opening
of the Suez Canal -- a move that would facilitate movement of the
growing Russian naval fleet to Indian Ocean bases available to it and
also greatly shorten the Russian naval supply line to Hanoi via this
route. The problems we face in this area are complicated but there is a
clear need for face-to-face negotiations between the parties themselves
and an understanding on our part of the Israeli reluctance to be
pressured into another interim stop-gap arrangement with no real peace
The most obvious failure of the Nixon administration is in the field of
economics. The early deliberate drastic reigning-in of this economy
snowballed downward so fast the administration panicked as the 1972
election loomed over the horizon. All promises were promptly forgotten.
Fiscal irresponsibility and political expediency became the order of the
day – anything to get by ‘72 with no thought of what comes after.
Too many Washington politicians learned they can finance programs with
printing press money by piling debts on this and future generations.
This is not only fiscal madness, it is grossly unfair to young people
coming into the economy saddled with a huge tax-eating debt.
In eight years under President Harry Truman, the national debt was
increased $1.6 billion. This year alone, the Nixon administration will
cause a deficit of $30 billion and maybe even more. A previous Nixon
deficit budget was deceptively labeled a “full employment budget“ and a
“self fulfilling prophecy.“ It was neither. Now even the pretense of
fiscal responsibility has been brushed aside. While the administration
fuels the fire of inflation with one hand, it is forced to hold the
other hand on the lid of the boiling pot in a desperate effort to
postpone the consequences until after 1972. As a result, the marvelously
productive American free enterprise system has been placed in a
straitjacket -- its future clouded with uncertainty -- its performance
threatened by political manipulation. And yet, we see Democratic
candidates insisting that the administration spend even more and tax
less. They do not hesitate to propose politically popular spending
programs but they do hesitate to vote for the taxes to pay the costs. It
is easier and more expedient just to pass the costs on to future
generations by piling up the national debt and let others worry with it
Obviously, to generate the kind of revenue required to finance Federal
programs, we must drastically overhaul our tax system. It cannot be done
merely adding to our present hodge-podge. Many of these Democratic
candidates destroyed thousands of useful jobs when they forced the
costly abandonment of our supersonic transport program. Our people’s tax
money invested in the program was thrown down the drain, our leadership
in commercial aviation abandoned, and an important export item lost to
politics. Senator Jackson, who comes from Washington, did support the
Boeing SST, but he refused to help save the Lockheed L-1011 which is now
providing useful work for thousands of our aerospace workers.
I believe most Americans want and are entitled to a responsible
alternative to the Nixon administration. I don’t believe the current
crop of Washington politicians can provide an acceptable alternative to
moderate Americans, both Democrats and Republicans.
I am entering the contest not because of any personal desire to wield
power or to seek glory. I have had, thanks to the people, an opportunity
to serve in state, national and local government over of time span going
back to 1936. I’ve taken my lumps for saying what I believe, such as in
1940 when I advocated a declaration of war on Hitler. I was soundly
defeated, but what I predicted came to pass. I voluntarily give up my
career, joined the armed forces and spent three years of my life in a
war that could have been avoided if political leaders had put politics
aside and leveled with the people.
I do not want to see another generation of young Americans march off to
war because of short-sighted politicians. If the American people wish me
to use my long experience to help correct our national course, I am
ready. I will not use a coterie of researchers and speech writers to
tell me what to think and say. The views I express will be mine. The
image alone will be my own and not something fabricated for a campaign
by public relations experts.
Courtesy: Yorty For President Committee