February 21, 1958 – Richard Nixon was in the news this day – the vice-President was being considered for a tour of Russia as a way of preliminary arrangements for a Summit Conference, scheduled sometime in the next year. It was also being seen as a counter to the new “friendship campaign” being developed by the new Soviet Ambassador to Washington and also as a opportunity to build Nixon as a skilled negotiator in Foreign Policy, as it was a given that Nixon would be running for President on the GOP ticket in 1960 and needed to get more visibility in that area and knowledge on how to deal with the Soviets. The Soviet Union had recently installed Mikhail Menshikov as Ambassador, and his outgoing and engaging personality were seen as one-upping the U.S. who, up until now was keeping a cool distance from a popularity contest. And it was also seen as evidence the Soviets were actively looking for a Summit meeting to take place as soon as possible, rather than Eisenhower’s insistence on having private talks first, as prelude to the bigger summit.
There was also the issue of the mid-term elections coming up in the U.S. later on in the year, and with Senate Majority leader Lyndon Johnson actively promoting the position that the Democrats were the party of peace. It was adding pressure to Eisenhower to make a strong gesture that the GOP were, in advance of the mid-terms.
The debate was whether or not it would ultimately do much good to have Nixon visit Moscow in the Summer of 1958. Ironically, and as a historic footnote, the decision was made instead to send Nixon on a goodwill tour of South America; a tour that had the exact opposite effect on Nixon’s Foreign Policy grooming.
And that’s how some of it went, this February 21, 1958 as reported on NBC Radio’s News Of The World.