The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Nixon as "Practical Progressive," New Castle, PA
October 15, 1960

Mr. Nixon's new definition of himself as a "practical progressive" enunciated in Los Angeles yesterday further adds to the confusion of just where the Vice President stands on the key issues facing our country. Only 5 months ago Mr. Nixon wrote a friend, Clarence Budington Kelland, that "I have consistently and outspokenly classified myself as an 'economic conservative.'"

If the American people are confused by this abundance of personal definitions, it is not surprising, for Mr. Nixon's record of public actions is so changeable and contradictory that his political philosophy defies definition. With all this talk about an old Nixon and a new Nixon, it should be remembered that there was no old Lincoln or a new Lincoin, no old Wilson or new Wilson, no old F.D.R. or new F.D.R. I cannot believe that the American people in these difficult times will choose a man with this fuzzy image of his own political philosophy. Rather, I believe they will elect a candidate whose own philosophy and that of his party - the Democratic Party - has been consistent in the people's interest at home and abroad.

Mr. Nixon can call it practical progressivism or economic conservatism, but the label does not hide the package - which has been Mr. Nixon's and the Republican Party's constant opposition to meeting the needs of our people, opposition to $1.25 minimum wage, opposition to aid to education, opposition to medical care for the aged under social security, opposition to decent housing, opposition to adequate aid to the Nation's depressed areas. Mr. Nixon can apply any label be wants to this record, but the record speaks far more eloquently than his changing definitions, tailored to suit the needs of his audiences, one label for the South, another for the North, another for the West, and still another for the East.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Nixon as "Practical Progressive," New Castle, PA", October 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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