John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Airport Rally, Amarillo, TX

November 03, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Lyndon, Ralph Yarborough, Mr. Mayor, Senator Anderson, Governor Edmondson, your distinguished Congressman who represents this district and the United States with distinction, Walt Rogers, ladies and gentlemen, Frank Ikard, I come down here to Texas in the closing days of this campaign and ask your support for Senator Johnson and myself in moving this country forward. [Applause.]

In 1932 - That is Dick coming in. [Laughter.] I understand that in the next 24 hours, Mr. Nixon is going to visit Texas, and I want Texas to ask him what the Republicans or Nixon ever did for Texas. [Applause.] Texas has been Democratic for 100 years. Texas is Democratic with 21 Congressmen, and we are going to have Texas Democratic this year on November 8. [Applause.] I understand that the Vice President is arriving in Texas with a rescue squad - Nelson Rockefeller, the President of the United States, Henry Cabot Lodge - and now they are adding three new members to the rescue squad, who are advising him on how to win this election - Landon, Hoover, and Dewey. We can't lose. [Response.]

[Aircraft noise.] They can't stop the truth, anyway. I don't care how much that engine warms up. [Laughter.]

During this stop I have been trying to think what the Republicans have ever done for Texas. I have not been able to think of it. Maybe you have. All I know is that this county, this congressional district, this State of Texas, depends upon a progressive, forward-looking national administration. Whether you work in helium, whether you work in oil and gas, whether you grow livestock, whether you grow wheat or sorghum, no matter what your business is, you prosper or you decline depending upon the state of the Nation's economy. This State of Texas will move forward in the 1960's only if the United States moves forward, and I do not believe that Mr. Nixon or the Republican Party can move the United States forward in the 1960's. [Applause.]

I come here to Texas, which has had the Speaker of the House, who speaks for the United States as well as Texas, Mr. Rayburn, who has had a Texan as the majority leader, Lyndon Johnson, who speaks for the United States as well as for Texas, and I ask Texas to join the Democratic majority this year on November 8. I want Texas to lead the way. [Applause.]

The Democratic Party is the national party. I come from Massachusetts. Lyndon Johnson comes from Texas. We are a team in this effort, and I want Massachusetts and Texas to be in the frontlines on November 8. [Applause.] I think it is far better next January when Walt Rogers speaks for this district, that he speak to a Democratic President, not to a Republican President who calls the standard bearer of the Democratic Party in this campaign a liar, who called another farmer President a traitor. I think we want someone who speaks for the United States, who raises up a banner for our people, not one that attempts to divide us in this election. [Applause.] The fact of the matter is that this country is going to have to move in the 1960's if it is going to survive, and Texas is going to have to move. This country can't stand still. It either falls behind or moves ahead. Nobody stands still in the 1960's. And whatever you may do in the district, whatever may be your occupation, whether you raise livestock, grain, oil, gas, helium, small business - no matter what you may do - you will not prosper unless the United States prospers. Those of you who are farmers have seen your income drop steadily in the last 8 years. [Response from the audience.] What do you think Mr. Nixon offers you? He can drop Mr. Benson overboard but the program continues, the melody lingers on. He promises you just what Mr. Benson gave you, a gradual decline in your income until finally you are liquidated. That is what the Republicans have offered the farmers for 30 years.

The oil and gas interests of this State - how many days are you working out of 30 today? I hear these speeches by Texas Republicans about after all, the Democratic Party doesn't represent Texas. Lyndon Johnson is on this ticket with me. In 1956 when I was a candidate for the Vice Presidency, I received the votes of Texas for the Vice Presidency. Texas is part of the Nation, it is part of the Democratic Party, it has been a part of the Democratic Party for 100 years. It leads in the House, it leads in the Senate, it has an interest in the party. One Congressman is a Republican. You have a Governor that is a Democrat, two Senators that are Democrats, 21 Congressmen that are Democrats, and you are going to have a Vice President of the United States that is a Democrat. [Applause.]

Who speaks for Texas? Who speaks for the United States? That is the question. And I come down here to Texas and ask you to join us. I ask Texas to raise the banner on November 8 and let the word come out of here with a southeast wind that Texas is going Democratic in 1960. [Applause.]

[Plane noise.] This is the busiest airport I have ever been in. [Laughter.]

Let me just say in conclusion that this is a long campaign. It has taken us through all parts of the United States. But it ended up right here in the State of Texas, and I think you ought to decide, those of you who are Democrats, what you want for Texas and what you want for the country, and what you think of this country, and what you think it must do. These are not easy times for Americans. Texas has always met its responsibility in time of war. Now I am asking Texas to join us in building this country in times of peace. I don't think any Texas wants the easy way in the 1960's. Every Texan is willing to face the facts of life, and you know, yourself, from your own long experience, that it is not good enough in the 1960's for a great country to sit down and look at the past. I don't care what speeches you may have heard. You know yourselves, as individuals, as citizens of this country, that this country is going to have to do better. And I don't think the Republican Party is capable of leading the United States the way it should be led in 1960. [Applause.]

Sam Rayburn will be Speaker of the House. Lyndon Johnson will be the Vice President of the United States. Ralph Yarborough will speak for Texas in the Senate and Walt Rogers and the rest of them in the House. I come here today and ask the State which has been leading the Democratic Party for the last 8 years - I come down here and ask your help in this campaign. I ask you to join us in moving this country forward. I ask you to join us in retiring Mr. Nixon to the beauties of California. I ask you to help. [Applause.]

The fact of the matter is Mr. Eisenhower carried him in twice. You have seen circus elephants, their heads full of ivory, thick skins, no foresight, complete memory. You know when they go around the ring in a circus they grab the tail of the elephant in front of them. [Laughter and applause.] Well, Mr. Nixon, he grabbed that tail in 1952 and 1956, but it isn't there any more. Now he has to face the people. [Applause.] And I don't think in 1960 they are going to elect a candidate who runs on a platform of standing up to Mr. Khrushchev, who won't engage in a fifth debate, who requires a President and a Vice President to accompany him through the streets of New York. What kind of a candidate and what kind of a party is that? Is that the party and the candidate for the 1960's? [Response from the audience.] I should say not.

What? They are going to take him piggyback.

Right down here in the heart of Texas, in Amarillo, I am asking the support of the people of Texas. I am asking you Democrats to play your part in a great Democratic victory which will pick this country up off of dead center and move it forward in the 1960's. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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