|The American Presidency Project|
|• John F. Kennedy|
|Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Kitanning, PA|
|October 15, 1960|
Senator KENNEDY. Senator-to-be, I hope, Donald Oesterling, William Patten, who I hope is going to be elected the Congressman from this district, Wade Reeser, Lewis Poundstone, candidate for the State legislature, my colleague in the U.S. Senate, Senator Clark, your distinguished Governor, David Lawrence, ladies and gentlemen, I understand that there are a few Republicans who live in this community. [Laughter and applause.] We ought to have a testimonal now. How many Republicans do we have here today? Would you hold up your hands. [Response from the audience.] Well, we are going to talk to you.
We do have one of their representatives here today and we appreciate her coming. We have a few Democrats. We have a few people in 1960 who believe it is time that the United States began to move forward, and I am glad - [applause].
We are divided, as you know, in this country into two parties. One is the Republican Party and one is the Democratic Party, and at different times in the history of our country a majority of the American people have put their confidence in one party, and then on other occasions they put their confidence in another. And I think the reason they choose one party at one time and another party at another is because history and events and the mood of history swings like a pendulum back and forth. I believe that in 1912, the pendulum swung for the New Freedom of Woodrow Wilson, and in 1932, certainly a majority of the American people decided it was time they began to move ahead again, and they voted for Franklin Roosevelt. Now the question which you have to decide in 1960 is which mood of the world, which kind of a world, which place in world history are we in today, and which political party happens to fit the needs of our country. And that is the question which you as citizens of this country must decide.
It is not merely a question saying, "I am a Democrat, and I vote Democratic," or being a Republican, "I vote Republican," but which candidate in your judgment fits the needs of our country in 1961 and 1962. [Response from the audience.]
I want to make it clear so that you can make your judgment how I stand on the great issues which face our country in 1960. My own judgment is that what we are now doing in this country is not good enough, that when Mr. Nixon runs on a slogan of "You've never had it so good," that isn't a good enough slogan in my opinion, because what we are now doing in this country, what is now happening in the State of Pennsylvania, what is now happening around the world, is not good enough from the point of view of our own security, and on this issue Mr. Nixon and I separate. [Applause.]
Secondly, I do not believe that the United States is increasing its economic growth and development at a fast enough rate to provide full employment in the State of Pennsylvania and full employment in the United States. This matter of so-called growth is at the heart of your job. This country has grown in the last 8 years on the average of 2 1/2 percent a year. That means that we have increased our strength each year 2 1/2 percent, but because machinery has come in, because our productivity has increased at a faster rate even than our economic growth, it means that we have in 1960 4 1/2 million people out of work. We are going to face the same problem in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965. Some of you may work in the glass factory. You know that every year we increase the productivity capacity of our glass factories, and if we don't provide economic growth at least twice what we now have, you are not going to find as many people working in the United States as work today. We have 50 percent of our steel mills producing, 50 percent stand idle, and yet we produce almost as much steel today as we did with 100 percent of capacity 7 years ago. The reason is that new machines make it possible to produce more steel. Therefore, not as many men are needed, and, therefore, 100,000 steelworkers are out of work.
Now, Mr. Nixon and I have discussed economic growth on these debates. I have pointed out that the Soviet Union is growing two and a half times as fast as us. But that is not the most ominous sign. The fact is that Western Germany, which is a great competitor of the United States in all the markets of the world, is growing at twice the rate we are. Italy, which we helped on its feet in 1947, 1948 and 1949 is now growing at a faster rate than we are. We are going to have to find 25,000 new jobs a week every week for the next 10 years in order to maintain full employment in this country, and, therefore, I don't think what we are now doing is good enough. I don't think the monetary and fiscal policies which this administration has followed are good enough. I believe that when they stand against the minimum wage of $1.25 an hour, I think they are standing in the way of progress. We have high interest rates and as a partial result we built this year 200,000 less homes than we needed in this country to stay up with our population. We are going to double the population of the United States in the next 40 years, and yet slums are developing faster than we are building new homes, and partly because of the high interest rate policy that this administration has followed which has held our economy back. So the first difference with Mr. Nixon and the Republicans, and this is the question you have to decide, are you satisfied with the rate of growth in this country, do you feel that we are moving ahead fast enough, do you feel that our strength is increasing, do you feel we must do better? [Response from the audience; applause.]
The second matter that I think is of great importance to us as citizens is in our security around the world. I believe that we face two problems in our security around the world, and they both affect your decision on November 8. One is the question of whether we have and are developing sufficient military strength. I believe that the present rate of growth of the Soviet Union in military strength, particularly in long-range missiles, is greater than ours, and while I believe that today the United States is secure, I believe there is a danger in 1962, 1963 and 1964, that unless we move ahead at a greater rate, we won't meet it. That is only one of the dangers. The other danger is that the Soviet Union and the Communist system will move into these areas of the world like they did in Cuba, like they are now doing today in Laos, and will extend their influence without any military action.
In the last 2 years, five countries, once independent, now support the Communist foreign policy line, Cuba, Guinea, Ghana, Iraq, and there is every evidence in the next week that it will include Laos. Five countries that the Communists now control in the fields of foreign policy that 3 years ago they did not influence. In other words, there is every chance that the pattern of conquest of the Communists will not be military action, but will be by subversion, by fear, by persuading the people of those countries and their leaders that the Communist system represents the way of the future. I don't believe the administration has recognized that danger. I don't believe that our influence has increased as fast in recent years abroad as that of the Communists. When we had the issue in the United Nations a week ago on the admission of Red China, only two nations in Africa voted with us. When we had that same issue, more countries in Asia voted against us. We have lost about 10 votes in the last 4 years on that one issue, and I think all this indicates that our position in the world is not as strong as it needs to be if we are going to maintain our security. So I want to make it clear that on these two issues, the development of the economy of the United States, the problem of full employment, the problem of increasing our economic growth, and the problem of maintaining freedom around the world on these two issues, the parties disagree.
Mr. Nixon says our prestige has never been higher. I say it isn't high enough. I say the tide is not moving in our direction. We haven't beamed a single program in Spanish to all of Latin America in the last 8 years, except during the Hungarian revolution. We bring less students to the United States than we did 10 years ago. We offered more scholarships to the Congo in one day, we offered them 300 last June, than we gave to all of Africa the year before. We have the Development Loan Fund to assist the underdeveloped countries. We gave less than 2 percent of all of Africa from that Fund last year. We have ignored Africa. We are in danger of ignoring others. We have ignored Latin America and the result is that a candidate for the Presidency of Brazil felt it necessary to go to Havana and pay a call on Castro in order to secure the support of Castro supporters in the last election.
Now, these are problems that face you in this city. They go to the security of our children. They go to the future of freedom, not only here, but around the world. Therefore, let me say in conclusion, the question you have to decide on November 8 is, Is it good enough? Are you satisfied? If you look at this State, this country, and the world, and decide that the foresight and vision and long-range planning that this administration has carried out and that Mr. Nixon promises to continue is good enough - I don't think it is, and if you don't think it is, I want your support. If you think it is you should vote for Mr. Nixon. That is the issue that you have to decide on November 8.
Let me say finally that I appreciate your coming. This is an important election. These are serious issues. They involve us all, and regardless of whether a Republican President or Democratic President wins on November 8, this country is going to move through difficult times which will require the best of all of us. As the leader of the party in the minority, I present to you our belief that in these serious days this country has the last great hope of freedom, but we must move. I can assure you that if we are successful on November 8, this country will move again. [Applause.]
|Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Kitanning, PA", October 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74042.|
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