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

September 08, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my thanks to all of you for turning out in this beautiful weather. I follow here in 1960 the same trail Harry Truman took in 1948 when he came down this valley and carried California in the 1948 election. [Applause.] And I am delighted to come here in the shadow of Mount Shasta, and follow in the next 2 days the Central Valley all the way down to southern California, because this valley shows what can be done. It shows what we must do in the future if we are going to develop the resources of the United States.

I can assure you that if we are successful in this election, we will move ahead in the development of the resources of the Central Valley, and also the resources of the western United States. [Applause.]

I come from a State, Massachusetts, which has too much water, but I know enough about the history of the world to know that water is the key to the development of the United States, and it is a source of pride and satisfaction to me that the two Americans in this century who recognized this best both came from the State of New York, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. [Applause.] The fact is that under Franklin Roosevelt we launched the great projects which have given us industrial power, given us conservation and irrigation, given us control of our water resources: TVA, the Central Valley project, Bonneville and all the rest. Today, in a closely knit tumultuous world, the key to the future lies in water. It is the fact of the matter that this administration has failed to recognize that unless this country moves ahead today, we will not have in 1970 and 1980 the same resources which have made our own life so productive.

I want to make it clear that if we are successful in this election, we are going to reverse the policy of no new starts, and move ahead to make sure that those who follow in our trail have the same advantages that we have. Therefore, I suggest that we embark in January 1960 on the following programs:

First, that we reverse the policy of no new starts and move ahead with development of our natural resources, including the extension of the Central Valley.

Secondly, we must reassert the public right to the public domain. We must make sure that the so-called partnership policy does not prevent the maximum use of our country's natural resources. [Applause.] We must defend the integrity of the Tennessee Valley, the Central Valley, and the Columbia Basin, and commence the forest reclamation and antipollution programs begun by the New Deal in the 1930's.

Third, we must get on with reclamation and basinwide development across the United States.

Fourth, we must appoint a Federal Power Commission that represents the public interest and not the private interest. [Applause.] Therefore, in the 1960's we need a whole new concept of resource development, so vast, so complex, and so essential are our natural resources that they cannot be parceled out piecemeal; nothing less than a comprehensive, basin-by-basin, valley-by-valley development of our natural resources to make sure that not one drop of our water goes from the wellsprings of our water to the sea without being used for a public purpose. [Applause.]

And I think it would be most useful to establish for the Office of the President himself a Council of Resource and Conservation Advisers to survey the whole scope of our natural resources so that we can, as a country, not merely as a basin, develop the resources for 1970 and 1980.

And lastly, we must bring to bear the best minds that this country has on the development of our natural resources. We cannot possibly afford not to make a maximum effort to get fresh water from salt water, if this State and the country is going to move ahead. We have to figure out how long-range weather, controlling floods, managing watersheds, and I think we have to recognize that in other centuries, in other areas of the world, great countries which ignored their natural resources now lie buried under sand.

I think we can do better. The Soviet Union has set in this regard a warning bell for us all. By 1950 they were 28 years behind in the development of their hydro capacity. In 28 years from today, at their present rate of growth, with their present emphasis on power and energy, they are going to be ahead of the United States. That is how close this is. And as Khrushchev has said, the electrification of their society has been a basic aim of the Communist Party since its earlier stage. This is only one of the many problems that our country faces. But I think in this area, as in so many others, I think it is time we started to move ahead. This is a great country, but I think it can be a greater country. This State of California is a great State, but I think it can be a greater State. And I am not satisfied as an American to see us stand still while other countries move ahead. I think it is up to us to grasp the future, to recognize the responsibilities that we have in our own generation to move ahead. I can assure you that if I am elected in November, if I am successful in this election, that this great resource of ours here in this State, in the Central Valley, will carry on as it did under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. [Applause.]

This is an important election. I ask your help in this election. I can assure you that this is a young and vital country, but what we do here in our own country affects the security of the United States around the world. If countries in Africa and Latin America and Asia see us standing still, and the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists moving ahead, then they decide that the future belongs to them and not to us. I think the future belongs to us. But if it is going to belong to us, we have to reach forward. [Applause.]

So give us your help. Stand with us in this election and I can assure you that while I do not promise an easy future, I can promise you that the United States will move again. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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