Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at an Airport Rally in Wichita

October 29, 1964

Mr. Chairman, distinguished platform guests, my neighbors here in the great State of Kansas:

One great resource that you have in Kansas is able, dedicated men--men like Harry Wiles who is going to be your next Governor. Harry is an action man. He is determined to make Kansas a more prosperous and a stronger State. Kansas citizens can perform no more beneficial service for themselves and their families than to make sure next Tuesday that Harry Wiles is their leader and is elected.

You have a good many good men running for Congress. I urge you to work for them, to support them, to vote for them, men like Bill Bork from the First Congressional District; John Montgomery from the Second Congressional District; Clayton Dial from the Third Congressional District Jack Glaves from the Fourth District, here in Wichita.

In the days ahead you are going to need these men in Washington. I need them in Washington. So please send them there next Tuesday.

I am glad to see my old friend Frank Theis and Mrs. Marie Vickers, and my old friend Mrs. Georgia Gray, and Mrs. Olive Ann Beech.

My friends, I have been in Wichita before. You are a very hospitable people. I shall never forget the visits that I have had with some of your leading citizens with regard to your reservoir here when I was majority leader of the Senate. But the yellow rose of Texas has turned into a sunflower today.

We are so hopeful about Kansas, and we think so much of Kansas, that both Hubert Humphrey, the next Vice President, and I are both Jayhawkers this afternoon. Actually, we almost met here in Wichita this afternoon, but Hubert told me that he thought it really wasn't necessary to meet in Wichita because we ought to be seeing a lot of each other after next Tuesday at the White House.

These are good times in our country. These are good times in Kansas. For almost 45 months, that is nearly 4 years, we have had the longest and the strongest peacetime expansion in the history of our Nation, and we have maintained the most stable prices of any nation in the Western World.

The old rhythm of recessions and depressions seems to have been broken. This administration is the first in more than a century not to have either a recession or a depression, or even a downturn in our prosperity. This record is not the record of Washington alone. This record is the work of a united and a happy and a responsible people working together to assure the success of our system in every section.

We are going to keep right on that course of responsibility. And let's give a little thought at this serious meeting this afternoon on what this responsibility has meant to the good people who live in Kansas, the people who have put their faith in America's private enterprise economy by cutting taxes this year.

This tax cut that I put into effect when I signed the bill this year giving back $12 billion to American taxpayers--this tax cut put money into Kansas pocketbooks, $22 million more in Wichita alone, $80 million more in the State of Kansas alone. That tax cut is helping to create more jobs. It is helping to put more Americans to work.

Here in Wichita where we meet today, there are 13,000 more jobs than there were 3 years ago. The unemployment rate was 4.6 percent 3 years ago. Today it is down to 3 percent, well below the national average for the other States. When the tax cut is fully effective it will mean 22,000 more jobs for Kansas workers. Yes, responsibility is serving America, and I think and I hope, and I believe, that you people in Kansas want it to continue next Tuesday.

Americans are proud that their country stands as the strong and the stable and the steady center of a changing world, and we are determined this will not change. You here in Wichita know that America is strong because you are helping to build the strength that makes this Nation second to none. We are the strongest, we are the mightiest nation in all the world today.

We are proud of the contribution that Kansas has made to the cause of preserving peace and that contribution is great. Kansas ranks in the 50 States 31st in the Nation in total manufacturing, but Kansas ranks in the 50 States 20th in the Nation in defense contracts.

There is talent here, there is ability here, there is capital here, there is management here. There are workers here. And we put them together in Kansas and they build America's strength. I pledge you that we plan to continue to build that strength, for so long as there has been an America, our people and their Presidents have worked for peace. That is not going to change.

We have a moral responsibility to lead all the nations toward the goal of a peaceful world, toward the goal of a just world and a free world, and we are not going to shirk that duty, and we are not going to fail that responsibility.

When the people of America go to the polls next Tuesday in all our 50 States, I believe that they are going to vote their pride and not their partisanship, and certainly not their prejudices.

We want to be citizens of a country that all the world respects, not a country that all the world fears. We want to be a part of the building of a better world. We don't want to be part of tearing down what men have labored so long and so patiently and so hopefully to raise up.

We know that in this nuclear age there is always a choice, a choice of wiping out human life or wiping away human want and human suffering.

Eleven months and three days ago, when I assumed the awesome responsibilities of the Presidency, after that tragic day when we lost our fallen leader, I told you people then that with God's help and with your prayers, I would do the best I could. The next week the transition began to take place. Eighty five leaders from the world came to the White House to talk about their relations with America, to talk about their problems with each other. Since that time we have continued to try to build a program for all the people.

I do not want a business government; I do not want a labor government; I do not want a government that is fighting with either business or labor. I want a government of all the people, and I want to be President of all the people. I want to be progressive and still be prudent. I want to be conservative without being reactionary. I want to put a stop to all the waste that I can find, and I want to put a start to using all the resources we have.

I think I know something about your State. I have plowed the fields in a neighboring one. I have roamed the hills and herded the cattle and spent my lifetime in the pursuit of vocations that a lot of Kansans enjoy. I think that your people are a people with vision and a people with foresight, and a people with patriotism who are always ready to defend themselves but never want to provoke anyone else into an unnecessary fight. We do not seek any land that belongs to anyone else, or any additional power in the world. We do not intend to bury anyone, and we do not intend to be buried.

We believe in the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, and we love thy neighbor as thyself.

We do not preach hate. We do not preach division. We preach faith and hope and love. And in this critical time, when a nuclear holocaust can cost you 300 million lives, it is a time for us to walk and work in the search for some way, somehow, for a plan that will bring peace to the world and permit man to live with man without dropping bombs and destroying him.

My political philosophy is that I am a free man first, and that I am an American second, that I am a public servant third, and a Democrat fourth--and in that order. I always put my country before my party.

So I appeal to the people in Wichita, in this progressive city that turns out so many products that make our Nation strong and great--I appeal to the people of this city to take the leadership that is theirs now, to get out between now and next Tuesday and talk to your neighbors and your kinfolks and your friends. And let's try to unite this country because we need to be united as never before.

Divide and conquer--that is the slogan of one of our adversaries of a few years ago. We have new governments taking over in different places. This is a time for Americans to stand up and be counted, be counted in the American way with peace as our objective, with prosperity as our desire, and with the hope that all Americans can love each other instead of hate each other.

And finally, next Tuesday, you, the masters and not the servants, you the masters will select the servants. It will be one of the most responsible decisions that you ever made in your life.

I sat in the Cabinet Room for 37 meetings during the Cuban missile crisis. I saw Mr. Khrushchev bring his missiles into Cuba, 90 miles from our shores, and point them in our direction. I saw Mr. Kennedy bring in all the men with the stars on their shoulders and the gold braid on their uniforms. I saw the great diplomat, the Secretary of State, the Rhodes scholar, come in and make his recommendations.

I never knew a single morning when I left home that I would see my wife and daughters again that night. It looked like that it was just about the time, the clock was ticking. But I am proud to tell you after we were careful and cautious, and deliberate and sober, and sound, the coolest man in that room was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, your President.

We do not know what the future holds. Anyone can start a war, but no one can ever recoup the damage it has done in the first few hours when 300 million lives are wiped out.

The kind of leadership America has in this period is a matter for you to decide. I haven't come to say anything ugly about anybody. I spent 12 years in the House of Representatives; I spent 12 years in the Senate; I spent almost 3 1/2 years as Vice President; I have spent almost a year as President. If God is willing and you approve, next Tuesday I will tell you what I told you that terrible night when I walked into the White House and that office was bare and our leader was gone: With God's help, with your prayers, I will do my dead level best to make this country safe and secure and prosperous. I believe in a nation where we have equal opportunity for all and special privilege for node.

You owe me nothing; you have already given me much. Next Tuesday you owe a lot to yourselves and to your family. I am not here today to do your thinking for you, because when we all think alike it means that one man is doing all the thinking.

So I just want to leave this thought with you: Between now and Tuesday--and I will be waiting Tuesday night to hear from Wichita--you ask yourself what in your heart is right for you and your family. You ask yourself what course, what leadership, you think would be safer and saner for your Nation. And then, by all means you and your family go and register your vote, that priceless privilege that is not enjoyed in many lands today, and you select the kind of leadership that you think will weather the storm and that will carry us forward to peace abroad and to prosperity at home. And whatever your judgment, whatever your decision, it will be all right with me.

I will be waiting to hear from you. Thank you and good night.

Note: The President spoke at 12:35 p.m. at a rally at the Wichita Municipal Airport, Wichita, Kans. His opening words "Mr. Chairman" referred to Frank Tice, Democratic State committeeman. During the course of his remarks he referred to, among others, Harry Wiles, Democratic candidate for Governor, and Bill Bork, John Montgomery, A. Clayton Dial, and Jack Glaves, Democratic candidates for Representative, all of Kansas.

The text of remarks of Mrs. Johnson, who spoke briefly, was also released.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at an Airport Rally in Wichita Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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