John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Airport, Erie, PA

September 27, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Thank you very much. I want to say how much I appreciate your coming to the airport to meet me tonight. I know the reason that you do it is because you share the view that I have that it is essential to this country and to the State of Pennsylvania that the Democrats win this election. [Applause.]

I think the issue is a plain one and I think we attempted to discuss it last night. [Applause.] That is the question of whether the United States can do better, whether this is a great country that must be greater, a powerful country that must be more powerful. I do not run for the Presidency on the slogan "You never had it so good." I think we can do better, and I hope that all those who share my views that this country has a most important destiny, to be the chief defender of freedom at a time when freedom is under attack all over the world, I hope that you feel as I do, that the Democratic Party which in this century produced Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as a contribution. I ask your help in this campaign. I think here in this State of Pennsylvania this issue may well be decided. It is my judgment that the next President of the United States will carry Pennsylvania on November 8. [Applause.]

I would not have been nominated at the Democratic Convention if I had not secured the support of the Pennsylvania delegation. Now that you have done that, I hope you will go the rest of the way. We have a chance to be of service. This is a great country and I think it deserves the best of us.

I must say, looking back on the record of the past 25 years, that Mr. Nixon has said party labels don't mean much; what counts is the man. I think party labels mean something. The Republicans never would have nominated me, and the Democrats never would have nominated Mr. Nixon. [Applause.] I believe in the Democratic Party because I think it has been of service to the people. I think it looks to the future, and I think it recognizes that there must be placed before the American people during the next 10 years the unfinished business of our society, the things we must do to keep our people working, to provide security for our old people, to provide good education for our children, to provide a defense second to none. I hope it may be said at the end of the next President's first term that during those years the world started to look to the United States again, and wondered what the United States was doing, and wondered what the President was doing, not what Mr. Khrushchev was doing. I am tired of hearing it. [Applause.]

I will close by again expressing my thanks. I think we have a chance to really be of service now. I think that when we serve our country, we serve not only our own people, but we serve the cause of everyone who wants to be free, also. During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine said, "The cause of America is the cause of all mankind." I think in 1960, the cause of all mankind is the cause of America. If we succeed here, the cause of freedom succeeds. If we fail, the cause of freedom fails. That is why I run for office this year, feeling that we must do better that we must be stronger, because what we do I think depends upon the future of the world. This is a great opportunity for all of us. I think if we can rewrite the history of the world in the next 4 or 8 years, we can be of service to ourselves and all those who look to us and historians will later write that these were the great years of the United States. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Airport, Erie, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives