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John F. Kennedy: Remarks at the Municipal Mall in Flint, Michigan.
John F. Kennedy
437 - Remarks at the Municipal Mall in Flint, Michigan.
October 6, 1962
Public Papers of the Presidents
John F. Kennedy<br>1962
John F. Kennedy

United States
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Ladies and gentlemen; Governor Swainson; Neil Staebler, who I wish would stand up, who is running as Congressman at Large from the State of Michigan, and whom 1 hope you will elect; Don Hayworth, who l served with in the Congress, and who I hope will be the Congressman from this district-I hope he'll stand up. And you're all standing up!

I want to tell you that it's a great pleasure to be here in Michigan. You may wonder if a President of the United States doesn't have something better to do than to travel around Michigan and other States talking about this campaign. Well, I can tell you that I've nothing better to do than to come here and ask your support in the election of Democratic Congressmen, a Democratic Governor, and ask the same thing of the people of this country.

Ours is a very complicated political system. We have a system where the Executive, the President, and the Congress both bear in their various capacities equal responsibilities under the Constitution of the United States. No matter what legislation for the benefit of this country that we may propose to the Congress, in the final analysis it depends upon the members of the House and the Senate. What do they say? What is their view? And because the Members of the House and one-third of the Senate go before the American people for judgment and decision this November, I come here to Michigan and I travel these United States because I believe it vitally important that we have a working majority in the House and the Senate if we're going to carry forward our program.

Now, let's not make any mistake about it. The people of this country have a very clear choice this November, a very clear choice, on whether they will support programs which will make it possible to educate our children, to find work for our working citizens, and to find security for our older citizens. Those are the issues in this campaign. And let's see how the Democratic Party and the Republican Party feel about them.

Last year we passed the most progressive housing bill which had been passed in the history of this country, which provided housing for the elderly and the middle income groups. Eighty-two percent of the Republican Congressmen from the State of Michigan voted against it.

We proposed a bill for urban affairs, to make it a Cabinet position, to make sure that those who live in our cities have a voice in the Cabinet of the United States. Seventy-three percent of the Republican Members from the State of Michigan voted against it.

We proposed $1.25 minimum wage. That's $50 a week for those working in interstate commerce. It doesn't seem very much for a 40-hour week. Do you know what the Michigan Republican delegation-how they voted on it? Ninety-one percent voted against it--91 percent against $1.25 an hour. Eighty-one percent of all the Republican Congressmen in the United States voted against $1.25 an hour for a 40-hour week.

The Peace Corps, which was originally suggested at the University of Michigan during the campaign of 1960 at 1 o'clock in the morning: 73 percent of the Republicans from this State voted against it.

The Trade Expansion Act, which makes it possible for the goods of this industrial State to be sold all over the world: 73 percent of the Republicans from this State voted against it.

They have made the word "no" a political philosophy. We made the word "yes," since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, our political philosophy.

Medical care for the aged--it's not very revolutionary. It came up in the United States Senate. Seven-eighths of the Republicans voted against it. But they were consistent, anyway, because seven-eighths of them had voted against Social Security in the 1930's, and because it was new and because it was good, that was sufficient reason to defeat it.

So I come here today and ask your help in the election of Neil Staebler, Don Hayworth, Jim O'Hara, and the other Democratic Congressmen who stand for progress for Michigan and the country.

The United States had a recession in 1958. It had a recession in 1960. In January 1961 in Flint, Mich., the unemployment rate was 20 percent. Now it's 31/2 percent. How many people in this country think that this country is going to be able to move forward, to find jobs for our people, to educate our children, to provide security for our older citizens, just by standing back and doing nothing? We have to participate, all of us, in all the responsibilities which pour upon us as citizens. Your responsibility is to register. There is nothing more unfortunate than someone who says he is a citizen of the United States, the greatest democracy in the world, and can't take the trouble to register. There are people in this country who've been shot because they've tried to register. We want every citizen of this State to register and we want them to come and vote. We hope they'll vote with us, but we want them to vote.

There should be in this off year--it is called an off year because a President isn't running.

But the Congress makes the judgment in the final analysis of whether we will have these programs from social security and minimum wage, area redevelopment, housing, urban renewal, and all the programs, education, which make it possible for a great country to move forward, the House of Representatives, the United States Senate.

This State has sent two progressive Senators, Pat McNamara and Phil Hart, to the United States Senate. On medical care for the aged, on all these programs, they have voted with us.

This is a close and tight election. In January 1961 we won the crucial vote, in the Rules Committee, on whether these programs should come to the floor by 5 votes. The other day we passed our farming bill--5 votes. We lost our higher education by 28 votes. Vote after vote we have won or lost by 3, 4, 5, or 6 votes. With 85 to 90 percent of the Republicans voting against us, joined by a few Democrats who have opposed progress also for 20 years, they have enabled every vote to be tight and close. Therefore, every seat counts.

I come here to Michigan, a great industrial State whose economic health depends upon the health of the United States--the people of this city of Flint can't find jobs unless this country is prosperous--and I ask you to join with us to make it possible to promote those programs which will keep this country going ahead, and not move from recession to recession, from 3 percent unemployed now to 25 percent 6 months from now, and then back to 5 percent. So this is an important election to you.

I come here, though I'm not a candidate, because I believe the election of Congressmen and Senators who support progressive, forward-looking legislation is vitally important. You have a great chance to re-elect in this State a distinguished Governor, John Swainson. I come to this State--as I say, in January, in Flint, Mich., there was 20 percent unemployed when he became Governor; Detroit, 15 percent. Now Detroit is below the national average, and this city is no longer a distressed area. This party in this State has stood for progress under Mennen Williams and it stands for progress today.

Those who say that a Republican can deal better with the Republican legislature--we know what their record is, and we know what the Democratic Party's record is. So I ask your help. Register and vote. Register and vote, and vote Democratic.
Thank you.

Note: In his opening words the President referred to John B. Swainson, Governor of Michigan; Neil Staebler, Democratic candidate for Congressman at Large from Michigan; and Don Hayworth, Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative from the Sixth District of Michigan. Later he referred to U.S. Representative James G. O'Hara and U.S. Senators Pat McNamara and Philip A. Hart of Michigan.
Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks at the Municipal Mall in Flint, Michigan.," October 6, 1962. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8933.
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