January 11, 1956 – this day 60 years ago was all about speculation over whether or not President Eisenhower would seek a second term in office. His health issues had many concerned – a heart attack earlier in September of 1955 was thought to be the clincher in seeking another term. It was thought the stress of the job would be too much to take.
But if he did choose to run, would he stick with Richard Nixon as vice-President. That was the next big question.
But there were other issues going on, this day 60 years ago. The Cold War was at its fever-pitch. Earlier in the day, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles reiterated the administration position that the U.S. would not give up its testing of nuclear weapons, despite suggestions that it be done by such people as Krishna Menon of India and The Pope during his Christmas Day message as well as other comments to that effect in the previous year. Secretary Dulles felt that, until there was an effective inspection and disarmament plan, the United States could not afford to give up testing of nuclear weapons. The Pope made the point that there might be certain dangers resulting from the radioactive fallout which comes after an atomic test. Officials from the government assured everyone there was no danger, that the amount of radiation in the air was very slight. There were differing views from the scientific community, who went along with the Pope’s statement in saying there were harmful genetic affects. And there were still others who felt the continued testing of nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent for any future use of such weapons.
The debate continued – and this was what was on peoples minds, this January 11, 1956, as discussed by a group of reporters as part of the Listen To Washington weekly wrap up series from NBC News.