John F. Kennedy photo

Excerpts from an Address Delivered by Senator John F. Kennedy In Pocatello, Idaho

September 06, 1960

* * * To assert leadership abroad requires that we assert leadership at home. It requires that we move ahead on every front - on every frontier. And we have not been moving ahead in recent years.

One reason we have not been moving ahead is because the Democratic Party needs a few more votes in the U.S. Senate. Idaho can help meet that problem this November by sending Bob McLaughlin to join Frank Church in one of the best teams any State could have in the Senate.

Another reason we have not been moving ahead has been the obstructionist tactics of the Republican members of the House Rules Committee - who have voted as a unit to block action on housing bills essential to Idaho's timber, education bills essential to Idaho's schools, and other matters essential to Idaho's progress. And this State can help take care of that problem, too, by electing Ralph Harding to the Congress.

But if we are to really move ahead in this country - if the mineral and resource potential of this State and region is to be fully realized - then a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate are necessary but not enough. The Congress can urge administrative action, the Congress can appropriate money, the Congress can pass legislation, but without Presidential leadership, Presidential initiative, and Presidential cooperation instead of vetoes, the Congress cannot do the job alone.

Last week in Washington we had a striking example of what I mean. Both Houses of the Congress were determined to do something to help our distressed lead and zinc industry. In the last 7 1/2 years our domestic production of lead and zinc has declined by more than one-third. Our output of zinc has never been this low since the depression. Our output of lead has never been this low in the 20th century.

Almost all of the small mines have been abandoned - and most of the middle-sized mines have either closed or are on the brink of closing. In Idaho alone, lead and zinc production since 1952 has been cut almost in half.

There was disagreement as to the solution. Many proposals were controversial. But on one bill the Congress was in agreement - the Small Mines Stabilization Act. This was a bill authorizing assistance to small lead and zinc mines to enable them to hold their heads above water at a time when imports were driving market prices down. This bill was not a final solution, but it would have helped several hundred smaller mines in Idaho and throughout the West. And it would have helped several thousand miners who have lost the only job they knew how to perform - the only means they had of supporting their families.

The House passed the Small Mines Stabilization Act. The Senate passed it. But last week we were told that it would be vetoed - that it would never become law - that nothing would be done to help our distressed mines and miners, their families and their communities. I was shocked - I know the people of Idaho were shocked, and we can agree on one further fact: that bill would never have been vetoed by Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, or any Democratic President.

Unfortunately what has happened in lead and zinc has happened in other mineral and resource areas vital to the economy of this State - in tungsten, aluminum, cobalt, lumber, uranium, and all the rest. Perhaps the most striking example was the decision to shut down the largest cobalt mine in the country, located in Lemhi County, with its $2 million payroll on which Idaho depended. The Government said this mine was no longer needed. They admitted that cobalt was essential - they admitted we needed a safe supply - but they said we would be able to get all the cobalt we needed from such friendly countries as Cuba and the Congo. They were wrong about Cuba - they were wrong about the Congo. They were wrong about cobalt - and the American people will prove them wrong next November.

But I do not want to dwell on the past. I want to stress the future. For the election is to decide for the future, not the past. And not far from where I speak is a place which may hold the future in its hands - the National Reactor Testing Station at Arco. Here is the key to the future of our military mobility - but here also is the key to the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. This station is an important outpost for the new frontier of energy and resource development.

The Nation can be proud of what is going on at Arco. But the Nation should also be concerned about what is not going on at Arco. That station is doing an excellent job in testing atomic powerplants and reactors. But if we were moving ahead with more vigor and vision in this field, Arco today would be testing on an extensive scale, advanced reactor concepts for rocket propulsion, space vehicles, and civilian atomic power.

If this Nation were moving ahead with more aggressive research and development in this field, the benefits would be felt throughout the West. For in this region alone are three- fourths of the free world's known uranium reserves. Uranium mines which are now plagued with cutbacks and stretchouts could be tapped to their full potential.

But even more importantly, that kind of aggressive atomic research and development is needed if this country is to win the race for competitive atomic power - a victory which can have a more profound effect throughout the world than the Soviet sputnik or missile to the moon.

The hard facts of the matter are that today we do not have that kind of research and development program in atomic energy - and neither do we have them in mineral resources. The National Science Advisory Committee on Mineral Research has recommended intensive studies into new techniques of mineral discovery - to find new ways of locating and reaching the immense wealth which lies beneath a covering of sediments throughout our Western States. Our methods of exploring mineral deposits on the surface, or near the surface, are no longer sufficient - particularly if we are to compete with foreign producers working in richer deposits of high grade ore.

Similarly, our research in the peaceful uses of atomic energy has fallen far short of expectations. There has been too much bureaucratic redtape and too little budget - too much time between the drawing board and the production line and too little time spent on looking ahead with vision.

It is time for this country to move ahead in the resource and energy field - and to undertake the research necessary to move ahead - and to stay ahead.

We have not hesitated in the last few years to spend more than $1 million for mineral resource development in Afghanistan. I do not see how we can continue to hold back on our development here at home.

These are not small problems - and they will not be solved by small men with small plans. Neither will they be solved with big words. We need men who can look ahead, men who believe in the future, men who are willing to try something new, and the Democratic Party has those men. This is what this campaign is all about. That is the kind of leadership this country needs on the new frontier. I cannot promise that the future will be easy. But those who crossed the mountains to Idaho 100 years ago seeking land and gold and a new way of life - did not expect that life would be easy. Lewis and Clark did not travel this area on a mission they thought would be easy.

Today the frontier they explored bas been pushed aside. We stand on the edge of a new frontier - and we need more men to cross the mountains. I am here to ask for your help. I am here to ask for new pioneers. With your help, with many hands, we can make for all the Nation a living reality of this States inspiring motto: Esto Perpetua - may this State endure forever!

John F. Kennedy, Excerpts from an Address Delivered by Senator John F. Kennedy In Pocatello, Idaho Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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