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, City Hall Steps, New York, NY
October 19, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mayor Wagner, Members of Congress, Governor Harriman, city officials, ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my thanks to Mayor Wagner for being generous enough to invite any wife and me here today. He has promised he is going to do the same for the Vice President some time late in November or December and we are going to welcome him. [Applause.]

I stand today as the standard bearer of the Democratic Party, which is the oldest political party in the world today. The Democratic Party was founded late in the 18th century when Thomas Jefferson and James Madison came to New York, met the leaders here in New York, and founded the alliance of the rural part of the United States with the cities, which has served this country so well in the last 160 years, and we seek to serve it again. [Applause.]

Grover Cleveland once said, "What good is a politician unless he stands for something?" And I say what good is a political party unless it stands for something? [Applause.] I want to make it very clear what we stand for in 1960. We stand as we have always stood for the service of the people. We believe that this is a great country, but it is incumbent upon us as Americans who bear responsibility to make this the greatest country on earth. [Applause.] We believe that this is a powerful country but it must be more powerful. I want to get Mr. Nixon, who campaigns in the most dangerous time in the life of our country, who campaigns on the slogan, "We have never had it so good" - I don't think it is good enough. [Applause.]

I believe the issue before the people of this country is to make their judgment on November 8 about the world in which they live, their country, what it can be, what it must be, what our responsibilities are, what our burdens are, what our obligations are if we are going to bear the burdens of being the leader of the free world.

My disagreement is with those who run on slogans which do not represent the facts, who run on a slogan of peace and prosperity, who say that our prestige has never been higher and that of the Soviets never lower. That is not the way we are going to survive. That is not the way we survived in the past. It has been on our willingness to face facts, to tell the truth, to tell the truth in New York and in Arizona and in Florida and in California, to stand for the same things, and we stand for strengthening this country of ours, making it stronger here at home, building the kind of society in this country so that people around the world who wish to be free, wish to follow us, wish to identify themselves with us, wish to follow our leadership.

Abraham Lincoln said in the election of 1860 that this Nation cannot exist half slave and half free. I don't think in the long run the world can exist half slave and half free. And whether it moves in the direction of slavery, whether it moves in the direction of the Communists or whether it moves in the direction of freedom will depend in the final analysis upon us, upon our vigor, upon our energy, upon our determination, and on that basis, on our commitment to build a strong country and a free world. I come to New York City on the steps of this old city hall and ask your support. [Applause.] Thank you. [Applause.]

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, City Hall Steps, New York, NY", October 19, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74110.
 
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