The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks at the Court House, Washington, Pennsylvania.
October 13, 1962

Governor Lawrence, Senator Clark, Dick Dilworth, ladies and gentlemen:

I want to express to you our very great pleasure for coming out on a Saturday morning. I think you probably know why we are here. We are here for the Democratic Party; we are here to elect Democratic candidates.

Your Congressman, Doc Morgan, who is in Washington where they hope to adjourn the 87th Congress at this noon, is there in Washington instead of here because he is working for the passage of a public works acceleration bill, which will provide jobs for this State and country, and I think it is a good thing he is there because when this bill came up in the House of Representatives, 88 percent of the Republican Members of the House voted "no."

Can you tell me how any citizen of this State who has lived with unemployment, one-half million people out of work in this State, the highest rate, with the exception of West Virginia, in the country, can you tell me how they can elect Republican candidates who vote against public works, who vote in the Senate as they did against nationwide standards of unemployment compensation, who vote against housing, who vote against minimum wages, who vote against area redevelopment--will you tell me what they are for?

I ask anyone in this State, after 30 years, to tell me one thing the Republican Party is for, one thing which they can point to and say, "This is a Republican program for the people." I can tell you all afternoon what they are against, but I have yet to see--and I was in the Congress for 14 years, and as President--one great program which serves the people, which they can say, "This is ours." They can tell you what they are against, but they can't tell you what they are for, and I think in 1962 we need a Democratic House and Senate who are for programs, not against them.

Doc Morgan is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the three or four most important positions in the country. In this last 2 years we passed the Peace Corps, the Disarmament Agency, the Alliance for Progress. We put our foreign aid on a long-term basis. All of these programs came out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by your Congressman, a Congressman from this district, who speaks for the United States, and all people stretching around the world are affected beneficially or adversely by his good judgment. I hope you send him back because he is a distinguished Congressman and, more important than that, he is a distinguished American who stands for the best that is in this country. And I know that you are going to return him--we need him--and I hope the rest of them, Congressman Holland, who wrote the manpower retraining; Congressman Dent, and all the rest of these Democrats.

I know it is customary for Democratic Presidents to speak for Democratic candidates, but that is not just the issue this year. The issue is what kind of a Congress are we going to have in January 1963. Every program we send up in the next 2 years--are we going to lose as we lost the medical care for the aged, as we lost the department of urban affairs, as we almost lost minimum wage, as we lost supplemental unemployment compensation, as we lost our agricultural bill, as we lost our higher education bill? Are we going to have vote after vote which this country needs defeated by 3, 4, or 5, or are we going to elect a Congress which is committed to progress, which this country so desperately needs in a difficult and dangerous world?

Senator Clark, who wrote the area redevelopment bill, who wrote the public works bill, who speaks for Pennsylvania and the country--you already have one Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and that is enough--I hope you reelect Senator Clark. Stand up. Here he is. You just send him back by a big vote.

I hope also you elect a distinguished Democratic Governor, a man who was mayor of Philadelphia twice, and district attorney, who served with the marines in World War I and World War II, who I think stands for the best that is in the Democratic Party, Dick Dilworth, who can make a great Governor of the great State of Pennsylvania. Will you stand up?

None of these candidates want to stand up. They just sit there and watch me work!

But I want you on November 6th to come out and vote for them, not just because we want Democrats or Republicans, but because the record shows, as it has shown for 30 years, that every time we try to do something for jobs, and for security, and for education, the Republicans vote "no," the Democrats vote "yes," and, therefore, we want your help.

Eighty-four percent of the Republicans against unemployment compensation, in a State which has had 500,000 people unemployed; 89 percent against a minimum wage of $1.25; 88 percent against a housing bill. What kind of a party--what does that stand for in 1962? What kind of a country do you want in 1962 and 1963 and 1964?

There isn't anyone here who isn't the beneficiary of what Franklin Roosevelt did in the thirties. Now, what are we going to do in the sixties?

Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to come back here to this community. I am glad to come back to this State. And I am proud to stand here, although I am not a candidate for office, and in all good faith ask you to give us some people who in 1963 and '64 will build a strong America upon which the world. depends.
Thank you.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks at the Court House, Washington, Pennsylvania.", October 13, 1962. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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