Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Orlando, Florida

October 26, 1964

Governor Bryant, Mayor Cart, my old friend Martin Andersen, my fellow Americans:

I would like for the record to show this morning, plainly and clearly, and I want to say it loud and clear: I like Orlando! After that warm and friendly welcome last night, and your wonderful hospitality this morning, I am quite ready to accept Orlando citizenship.

It is good to have your next Governor on this platform with me, Haydon Burns, an able, energetic public servant, who can do what Florida needs to have done for the future of this great State.

I am deeply indebted to my old and true friend, Governor Farris Bryant, for his gracious and wonderful introduction, and for his friendship through the years. My longtime friend, George Smathers, has been so kind to me on this trip that I am glad that Florida has the good judgment to send him to the United States Senate and to keep him there. Spessard Holland, your senior Senator, has been my friend ever since I went to Congress, and there is no more dedicated, no more honest, or no more effective public servant in Washington than Spessard Holland.

I am so pleased and proud to receive the full endorsement of the great Florida State cabinet--Tom Adams, Ed Larson, Ray Green, Jim Kynes, Tom Bailey, and Doyle Conner. And I am mighty pleased to have welcome me outstanding citizens of Florida like Warren Goodrich, Tom Fleming, and Mrs. Annette Baker.

I am glad to be here in Orlando. I can now understand why Martin Andersen says it is a privilege to live in central Florida. And it is also a privilege to visit with you as your President, and with your help November 3d I will visit with you again someday.

When I come back, I will still be with Senator Spessard Holland, because I know you are going to keep him up there, that fine Florida habit of sending back Senator Holland to Washington where he does so much for the people of all of this State.

I understand that another colleague of mine, Syd Herlong, will also be back. We need and we hope that you will send Tom Kenney to represent you in Washington. You need him in Washington and the free world needs him in Washington.

You have far too much at stake not to send the strongest possible team to your Nation's Capital.

In the last 4 years, per capita income in Florida has gone up twice as fast as the previous 4 years, and unemployment has been cut almost in half. Our new tax cut will increase family income in Florida by an average of $374 and add $79 million to local revenues, and create 52,000 new jobs for this progressive State. But this abundance is not an end in itself.

The real test of America is the larger purpose to which we turn our prosperity. We must, in the words of the Bible, "Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."

In that pursuit, we will give special attention to the problems of the older Americans in our country. Today there are 18 million Americans over the age of 64. By 1980 there will be 25 million. We must make sure that these older Americans can spend their later years in security and dignity, and not deprivation and fear.

That is one of the major choices in this election. The issue was clearly drawn in this State. Programs to protect older people against the crushing cost of illness were attacked. The entire social security system supported by every President of both parties has been threatened. To strike at the hopes of older Americans is not courage, and when you make social security voluntary, you do strike at the social security system. It is callousness; it is not conservative. It is a radical departure from the whole course of American policy.

A voluntary plan would destroy social security as we know it. The payment of benefits to older Americans depends on receiving premiums from working Americans. So a voluntary program would drastically cut these premiums. The entire system would soon be on the edge of bankruptcy. The protection you have counted on over the years would be menaced.

I intend as your President to follow a different course.

I offer a new charter of opportunity for older Americans. We will make constructive use of the wisdom and the energies of older Americans as volunteers in the Peace Corps and our war on poverty.

We will end discrimination against older Americans in Federal employment.

We will increase benefits under social security to the 20 million now receiving benefits, and to the 2 million receiving oldage assistance.

We will expand our housing programs for the 50 percent of our people 65 and over that are living in substandard homes or housing unsuited to their needs.

We will provide medical care through social security to help 17 million Americans meet the crushing cost of hospitalization.

With this charter of opportunity, we can move toward the day when advancing years will bring a renewal of hope and personal happiness.

These programs are not charity and they are not handouts, and they are not undeserved blessings.

They are insurance programs, paid for over years of labor. They are a recognition of the fact that a prosperous Nation has an obligation to those who have fought its wars, to those who have built its industry, to those who have developed its country, and to those who have fed its people.

And they will help all America by giving older citizens a chance to keep contributing to the life of the Nation.

This is your choice, a choice between steady progress, building on the gains and the programs of the past, or tearing down all that we have done, leaving our citizens to face a retirement of fear and hopelessness and poverty.

I have no doubt which course the Florida people will take. One week from tomorrow you, the masters--not the servants--will go to the polls and select the leadership for this country and for the free world for the next 4 years.

I think you want responsible leadership. I think you want experienced leadership. I think you want prudent leadership.

I think you want a bipartisan foreign policy, where the Democrats and the Republicans can work together, as Senator Arthur Vandenberg worked with Harry Truman, as Lyndon Johnson worked with Dwight Eisenhower, as Bourke Hickenlooper and Senator Dirksen worked with John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

I think that you want a Nation of peace, and I think you must understand that in order to have peace, we must be prepared. We cannot be second in space and first in the world, and this is the first space State in the entire Nation. Florida leads all the way.

There are some in the past who have laughed at our space effort. They have talked about basketballs "Beep, beep, beep" in the air. But I say to you that the work that you people in Florida are doing, the work that our Nation is doing, is absolutely essential to our survival. And I think you are going to lead the way, and I think you are going to support the effort on November 3d.

Today your State is prosperous. Today 72 million men and women work in this country. Today the average weekly wage is $104.

Today our farmers have an income that far exceeds what it was when President Kennedy took office.

So I say to you the businessman who last year received $12 billion more after taxes than the year before, the workers who received $60 billion more after taxes than they did the year before, I say it is your duty, it is your obligation, you do it for yourself, when you go to the polls November 3d and vote for peace, vote for space, vote for prosperity, vote for Florida to continue to be one of the fastest growing States in all the Nation, in all the world.

When you select the man as your President to lead you, you want to select the person who loves peace and has the knowledge, has the experience, and has the desire to try to achieve it.

When you select your next President, the man who must sit there with his thumb close to that button, the man who must reach over and answer that telephone, that "hot line," when Moscow is calling, you want to select the person that, in your conscience, you know has the experience, has the judgment, and that you know will do what is best for his country.

We are fortunate in this country to have two great parties. You have a nominee from each party to choose from. You have the intelligence to weigh the experience, to look at the training, to determine in your own mind and in your own heart what is best for your country.

If you will go and vote next Tuesday week for what is best for your country, you will vote for what is best for yourself.

Thank you. Goodby and good luck.

Note: The President spoke at 9:45 a.m. at the Colonial Plaza Shopping Center in Orlando. In his opening words he referred to Governor Farris Bryant of Florida, Mayor Robert S. Carr of Orlando, and Martin Andersen, publisher of Orlando daily newspapers. Later he referred to Mayor Haydon Burns of Jacksonville, Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida; Senators George A. Smathers and Spessard L. Holland of Florida; the following members of the Florida State cabinet: Tom Adams, Secretary of State, J. Edwin Larson, Treasurer, Ray E. Green, Comptroller, James Kynes, Executive Assistant to the Governor, Thomas D. Bailey, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Doyle E. Conner, Commissioner of Agriculture; Warren Goodrich, chairman of the Florida State Democratic Executive Committee, Thomas F. Fleming, State campaign coordinator, Mrs. Annette Baker, State Democratic committeewoman, Representative A. Sydney Herlong, Jr., of Florida, Thomas S. Kenney, Democratic candidate for Representative, Arthur H. Vandenberg, U.S. Senator from Michigan during the Truman administration, Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa, and Senator Everett McK. Dirksen of Illinois.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Orlando, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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