The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Jefferson-Jackson Day Brunch, Middletown, Ohio
October 17, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman, Governor Di Salle, Chairman Holbrooke, distinguished Democrats, ladies and gentlemen, in the first place, I am grateful to the Governor for what he said. There used to be an old expression that Ohio is the mother of Presidents. You have run more candidates for the Presidency than any other State of the Union. But in a very real sense, I believe that Ohio has had a maternal effect on my candidacy. When the Governor announced his support for me last January, it was the first major support we had received after becoming a candidate, and his support and the support of the delegation in July, his present support and your support, and I hope the support of the State of Ohio, in November, I think will let us win. [Applause.]

I would like to congratulate the Butler County Democrats. This is about the size program that they have in New York City or Philadelphia, at some major evening meetings, at which all the important Democrats from around the country come up. But to do all this for breakfast in the morning, arrange this program, and for all of you to contribute the way you have, I think shows that you really believe that a political party should serve the Nation, and this time the Democratic Party can serve not merely ourselves as a political exercise, but is serving a great national purpose, and I believe that your contribution here in this county, here in the State of Ohio - I hope you will feel if we are successful that it has contributed to the well-being of our country, which is our object.

In addition, I have never seen this quotation of Andrew Jackson's. I think it is ideal for this campaign at this time. "The eyes of the people are fast opening, fight on." We will use that as our slogan for the next 3 weeks. [Applause.)

I assume that your presence here indicates that you are all politicians. Artemus Ward from Massachusetts, my own State, 50 years years ago, said, "I am not a politician and my other habits are good, also." [Laughter.] This time we are politicians. We are politicians in the sense that we believe political action through one of the political parties, in our case the Democratic Party, is the best means of achieving service for our country. By participating in the Democratic Party as you have done, and as the people before you in this county have done, you made a direct contribution to the success of Woodrow Wilson's new freedom. The Democrats like you in this county and State before made a direct contribution not merely to the election of Franklin Roosevelt, but all the things that flowed from that election. Those of you who participated in the election of President Truman in 1948, when he carried Ohio by 7,OOO votes, you contributed to the NATO, the Truman doctrine, the Marshall plan, point 4. These matters do not end on election day. All this is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and the end is service to our country, its well-being, its strength, its prosperity, jobs for our people, better homes, better working conditions, strengthening the cause of freedom. That is what we are engaged in. That is the purpose of our assembling together, and I congratulate you and I express my appreciation to you. [Applause.]

Forty years ago this year a young New Yorker journeyed to Ohio and called on your Governor, James Cox. He was, of course, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was running in 1920 for the Vice Presidency of the United States, with Governor Cox of Ohio. Governor Cox and Franklin Roosevelt then journeyed to Washington, D.C., and went to see Woodrow Wilson, sick, aging, and at the end of his career. After Woodrow Wilson talked for a few minutes however, with great feeling and great fire of his desire for a unified world and a world of peace, Governor Cox broke in and said, "We are behind you 100 percent," and they fought that campaign in part to implement the ideal of Woodrow Wilson for the establishment of the League of Nations, and lost. But Governor Cox and Franklin Roosevelt in losing that election in 1920 held before themselves and the people their concept of the service that they can render in an election, of attempting to turn the attention of the people to the great issues that face us, and the great possibilities that lie in action in the future. And I believe in this election 40 years later we merely do not run for office, but we also seek to establish a basic point, that what this country is now doing is not good enough, that in the 1960's, if we are going to maintain our freedom, if we are going to meet our commitments at home and abroad, we have to do better, and that is the basic issue which has separated Mr. Nixon and myself. [Applause.]

They have not noted a sense of urgency, they have run on the slogan of peace and prosperity, they have run on the slogan of "You never had it so good." If Mr. Nixon honestly believes that, then in my judgment he has completely misread the trend of the times. If he does not believe it and runs on those slogans merely as a device for winning this election, then he makes the same mistake that Stanley Baldwin made in 1935 in England, which cost the British so heavily and almost resulted in the enslavement of Europe. I believe that on this occasion this year, in this election the Democratic Party is on the side of right, because our basic feeling is that unless this country is prepared to move again in the 1960's, we will not lose only our position as the leaders of the free world, but we will also endanger our security. Therefore, being on the right side, win or lose, I believe we contribute to the well-being of this Nation and my judgment is we will win. Thank you. [Applause.]

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Jefferson-Jackson Day Brunch, Middletown, Ohio", October 17, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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