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Rear Platform Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Modesto, CA

September 09, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor Brown, Mayor Hammond, ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my appreciation to all of you for having come down to the station to meet us. This is an important election in a very difficult and trying time in the life of our country. Today we celebrate the 110th anniversary of the admission of the State of California into the Union. It seems to me that the great story of California has come about because people were not satisfied with things as they were. They liked Massachusetts and they liked Ohio and they liked Oklahoma, but they thought they could do better and they came to California. [Applause.] I don't know why they felt that way about Massachusetts. [Laughter.]

I think we are moving in 1960 in a similar time in the life of our country. I don't have any disagreements with the desire of our Republican Party to secure a better life. But what I think the basic issue between the two parties is really in a sense the same issue it has been ever since the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, in the time of Wilson, in the time of Coolidge, in the time of Roosevelt, in the time of Truman and today, and that is that the Republicans think that things are as good as they can be. We think they can be better. [Applause.]

Here in this valley you have shown what can be done. The work that you have done in harnessing the land and water and the power I think shows what can be done with the resources of the entire United States. [Applause.]

I don't run for the office of the Presidency promising that if I am elected that life will be easy, but I do run for the office of the Presidency with the greatest possible confidence in this country, with the great vision of what its role in world leadership can be, with a recognition that the cause of the United States in a real sense is the cause of all mankind. This is a trying time in the life of our country, but I think in a very real sense if we do our job here, the future can belong to us.

We can take care of our people, and we can meet our responsibilities to freedom around the world. I ask your support in this election. I can promise you that if we are successful, we shall move, not only in the State of California, but we shall move across the face of the United States. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

My wife is at home. She is going to have a boy in November. [Laughter.] My sister, who used to come from Massachusetts, and who saw the bright light of California, who now lives here is with me. I would like to have you meet my sister, Pat Lawford. [Applause.]

(Question from the audience.)

Senator KENNEDY. There is a question of do I believe all Protestants are heretics. No, and I hope you don't believe all Catholics are. [Applause.]

May I say that it seems to me that the great struggle today is between those who believe in no God and those who believe in God. I really don't see why we should engage in close debate over what you may believe and what I may believe. That is my privilege and your privilege. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Rear Platform Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Modesto, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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