John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Airport, Lubbock, TX

September 12, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Congressman, my friend and colleague, Congressman George Mahon, Senator Johnson, Speaker Rayburn, Senator Yarborough, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, the attorney general of Texas, national committeewomen, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen: I come to this State of Texas in good company. I come with Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn, and George Mahon, and I travel this State of Texas asking you to once again put your confidence in the Democratic Party and put your confidence in the leadership which Texas has given that party. [Applause.]

Some years ago when I was out of the Senate in the hospital, I wrote a book on eight U.S. Senators who I thought had set a standard for public service, who had served the public and not always their own private careers. One of those eight Senators, and I selected them from all sections of the United States, was a distinguished Texan, Sam Houston, and the reason I selected Sam Houston was because though he was a faithful son of Texas, he was also a faithful son of the United States and even though he strongly believed and helped found the Texas Republic, he journeyed to Tennessee to tell Andrew Jackson that he was leading Texas into the U.S. Union. Even in the end of the 1850's, when forces were dividing Texas from the Union, Sam Houston to the end of his career, even though his son finally was wounded at Shiloh, he fought for Texas as part of the United States.

I come today not as a citizen of Massachusetts, but as a fellow American. You know yourselves that in spite of your great pride in Texas, you have sent to Washington men like George Mahon, who leads the U.S. House of Representatives in a fight for a strong national defense. You have sent from Texas Sam Rayburn, who every Member of the House of Representatives for the last two decades has chosen to speak for them as the leader of the House of Representatives [applause]. You have sent to the U.S. Senate Lyndon Johnson, who every Member of the U.S. Senate, not just those from Texas or from Georgia, but from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and California have voted to have him lead the U.S. Senate [applause]. In other words, the distinguishing characteristic of Texas leadership has been that they have concerned themselves with the interests of Texas and have also concerned themselves with the interests of the United States. That is why we have confidence in them. That is why I come here today asking your help. That is why I wanted Lyndon Johnson to serve with me as a partner in the powerful, influential position of the American Presidency in the executive branch, not because I thought we could do it by ourselves in Massachusetts, but because I wanted Massachusetts, Texas, and the United States and a national Democratic Party to join together and defend the interests of the people of this country.

You have powerful resources in Texas. You grow cotton and grains in this congressional district, but every cotton farmer and every grain farmer in this district knows that he is successful or unsuccessful, depending upon the policies of the U.S. Government. [Applause.] One-eighth of all the national defense projects of the United States are located in Texas. But you know in Texas that you live or die, that you are at war or at peace, that you are secure or in danger, not based upon the policies of one district or one State, but based upon the policies of the United States.

I am asking Texas to join as it has so many years in the past, to join again with the Democratic Party on this occasion. The Democratic Party and Texas have been joined throughout our history. You play a powerful role in it. You lead the Democratic Party. You supported me, the Texas delegation, in the 1956 campaign. You supported Lyndon Johnson on this occasion. Lyndon Johnson and I are united now, leading a national Democratic Party on the road of progress, not the road of standing still, not the road of second best, not the road of diminishing prestige, not "first, if," not "first, but," not "first, when," but "first." [Applause.]

I don't run for the office of the Presidency saying that if I am elected life will be easy, but I do assure you that if we are elected we will cause this country to move again. The Republican Party, since its earliest inception, has been a party which has stood still. I was in Havana, Cuba, 3 years ago, and I was informed that the American Ambassador was the second most powerful man in Cuba. Today the Soviet Ambassador is. In 1952; the United States was the most powerful military country in the world. If this administration continues in office, we will be, in 1961, 1962, and 1963, in a position of being second best.

I ask your help in this campaign. I think together, Texas and Massachusetts and the United States, can begin to move again. Give me your help. Give us your voice. Work with us and we will carry this country. [Applause.]

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

Simple Search of Our Archives