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John F. Kennedy: Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, U.S. Grant Hotel, San Diego, CA
John F. Kennedy
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, U.S. Grant Hotel, San Diego, CA
September 11, 1960
1960 Presidential Election Campaign
1960 Campaign:<br>Senator Kennedy<br>Aug. 1 - Nov. 7
1960 Campaign:
Senator Kennedy
Aug. 1 - Nov. 7
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Senator KENNEDY. Senator Fisher, Congressman-to-be Wencke, Mr. Chairman, our National Vice Chairman, Mrs. Price, my old friend and colleague from the Congress, Clint McKinnon, my sister Pat, my old nurse - she is here [laughter] - ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my thanks to all of you for having been kind enough to come together on a short notice of 48 hours. I think if we had given you about 2 weeks we could really run a rally down here after a look at this. [Applause.]

In coming back, I was going to come yesterday, but I only have one voice left in this campaign, so we decided to come today.

This port, this city has been a great launching site for ships, missiles, planes, and you are about to launch me into orbit over Texas later this afternoon. [Laughter.] I come to this city because I think that this State is a key State in the coming election. I think that in many ways the issues are clearer here than they may be in any other part of the United States. I say that because in a very real sense the State of California in the last decade has experienced the same problems which the United States will experience over a period of 50 years, tremendous growth, tremendous economic change, development of your natural resources, the effect of a war economy and a peace economy on this State, the necessity of building new schools, of educating our children here in California, the necessity of meeting the needs of our older citizens, particularly in the field of medical care. I think in a very real sense California has had the problems of the country forced upon them in a concentrated period of time. You have done an extraordinary job under a distinguished Governor, a Democratic legislature, and a Democratic senate. But even the problems that California faces, the problems that my own State of Massachusetts faces, cannot be solved on a State level. They really depend upon national policy.

Here in San Diego, which is particularly dependent upon those industries which serve our national defense, you have seen the effect of a governmental policy which I consider to be shortsighted, and that is a policy which takes risks, I believe unnecessarily, with our national security. I think the United States should be second to none. [Applause.] I say it should be second to none both because it provides for our own security and the security of those who look to us for protection, but also it represents the road to peace. If the United States is strong, then the Soviet Union or the Chinese Communists will not feel that the balance of power is moving in their direction but instead will make a determination that while other kinds of competition will go on, they will not be tempted to take a shortcut road to world domination.

I think we are going to have to have a stronger national defense. The United States will never attack first. We always have to judge our defenses by what they would look like after the Soviet Union had made the initial attack. Would we have the capacity then to defend ourselves, to retaliate? If we have that capacity, then we have taken not a step toward war, but a step toward peace, and that is our objective. [Applause.]

I visited 2 weeks ago the SAC headquarters at Omaha. While I was there the Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Seaton, arrived. He was asked if the Vice President ever visited SAC and he said, "No; the Vice President did not need that kind of briefing, because he was briefed in Washington." Well, I did need that kind of briefing, and I think it would be valuable to any American whether he is the Vice President of the United States, or whether he is a citizen, to have an opportunity to see there the center point of the great shield of freedom around the world. But from my trip on that occasion and from my information as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it seems to me that there are three areas where the United States should strengthen itself, and I think this city has a particular role to play in that strengthening. If you have unemployment here, it is not only citizens who want a job who can't find work; there are some of the most highly skilled people in the United States whose skills as a team and as individuals could be dissipated. Therefore, I think the United States should make a greater effort in the field of missiles, first; secondly, it should do a greater job and a better job in the field of developing an airlift capacity - nearly all the planes that took the U.N. forces to the Congo were American planes, but most of them were planes which are becoming obsolete and they contrasted in some cases to the jets which the Russians and the British used for transportation of U.N. personnel - and thirdly, I think that we should strengthen our retaliatory capacity, the traditional manned bomber, unless the United States is prepared to give up the lead in this vital form of national defense and national security.

I talk about a matter which is not a pleasant matter, but I think the President of the United States, who has many responsibilities, also has the responsibility of being Commander in Chief. He must under his oath of office provide for the common defense. One of the areas is in the field of national security. I think we can do more, and having known, we can do more, I think we should not do less.

This city has a great future and a great role to play. This election will be decided on many issues. Which candidate and which party can provide for our security, can give vigor to our foreign policy, and provide a shine and a fresh force to our image as a friend of freedom around the world, meet the problems of economic growth, developing our natural resources, educating our children, caring for the aged. In that contest on those issues I don't think there is a contest. The Democratic record and history is one that I think the American people will endorse in the election of 1960. [Applause.]

I hope that the incumbent Congressman, Mr. Wilson, and I hope the one who is going to be the Congressman, will debate these issues. I think it will be illuminating. The Vice President and I shall do so on several occasions. But even aside from the debate, the records of the parties are written on the statute books of the United States, on the bills that become law, on the bills that the Republicans prevented from becoming law. I am coming back here to San Diego, but I ask your help in the intervening period to carry our message that the future is unlimited for the United States, and that the help of all citizens is needed. Thank you. [Applause.]

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, U.S. Grant Hotel, San Diego, CA," September 11, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25763.
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