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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Aurora, IL

October 25, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Mayor, Otto Kerner, the next Governor of the State of Illinois, Paul Douglas, present and future U.S. Senator, the Candidate for Congress, Dorothy O'Brien, the candidate from the next district; Lieutenant Governor-to-be Shapiro and my sister, Eunice, Mrs. Sargent Shriver. [Applause.] She comes from Illinois. Ladies and gentlemen, I come here today as the Democratic standard bearer in a most important election. I have served in the House and the Senate for 14 years, and after all that time, without downgrading the importance of the Congress, I recognize that I run for the key office, not only in the United States, but also in the free world. On the desk of the next President of the United States in 1961 will come questions involving our defenses in the Far East, our relations with Latin America, our relations with Africa, the whole question of what NATO is going to become, what it can be, a crisis over Berlin, the position of the United States in outer space, the whole question of our economic growth - all these are questions which disturb the life not only of the President of the United States, but of all of you. I come as the Democratic standard bearer with full recognition - maybe you can just sit down. [Applause.] Let me put in not more than 4 minutes what I consider to be the basic issues which separate Mr. Nixon and myself, and the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in 1960. [Response from the audience.]

First it is a question which involves the future of every citizen of the city of Aurora. This community depends upon industry. The whole question - it is hard to talk, girls, I know - I only have 3 more minutes. One of the questions which Mr. Nixon and I have been discussing in this campaign is the whole question of economic growth. That is not an argument which is of interest only to economists. It concerns the job of every man and woman here. We have to find 25,000 new jobs a week every week for the next ten years to provide full employment in the United States, 25,000 new jobs a week every week for the next 10 years, and we are going to have to do that at a time when machines are taking the place of men. When a machine takes the job of 5 men or 10 men, where are those men going to get jobs. Ten out of the twelve International Harvester plants in the State of Illinois have shut down for a month or 2 months this fall in Illinois. Anyone who does not realize that this is one of the great problems which is going to face us as citizens, anyone who does not realize that today we are only using 50 percent of the capacity of our steel mills, today in the last 5 or 10 years the farmers of Illinois and the farmers of the United States, their income has dropped 30 percent - this problem goes not only to the question of employment, but it goes to the question of our strength in the competition with the Soviet Union. We have increased our economic growth on the average of about 2.5 percent in the last 8 years. Western Germany has increased theirs 5 percent, the Soviet Union 7.5 to 8 percent. Unless we grow more, unless we employ fiscal and monetary policies that stimulate employment, we are going to have a recession in the winter of 1961 and it is going to be difficult to find those 25,000 new jobs a week.

This is only one of the issues which separate our two parties, agriculture, full employment, education, development of our resources, care for the aged, a higher minimum wage, an economy that is moving, a country that is moving, a country which stands for vitality and energy and strength. Those are the issues which separate the two parties. [Applause.]

I have here a clipping from this morning's paper. It represents the results of a survey which was conducted all around the world to ask the people of the world whether they thought the Soviet Union or the United States was the stronger military power. And do you know what the survey found? Do you know what the State Department found? That a majority of the people in all 10 countries thought the Soviet Union was No. 1. How do you like that as Americans, to know that the people of the world [response from the audience] which used to regard the United States as the strongest power, as the great hope for freedom, now regard the Soviet Union as No.1. That is the question which disturbs me as an American, and you have to decide as citizens of this country 2 weeks from today. You have to make your decision of what you want this country to be, what you want Illinois to be, how ready you are to move this country forward. That is the question which separates Mr. Nixon and myself. [Applause.]

It is a contest between a candidate, Mr. Nixon, who argues that our prestige has never been higher, in spite of the record, who says that everything is being done in its good time, who says our influence has never been greater, and between a candidate, myself, who says that we are going to have to do much better. You have to decide which you believe, what you want. It is a contest between the comfortable and the concerned, between those who believe we can do better and those who say we have never had it so good. And all of you as citizens of this country, as defenders of freedom, 2 weeks from today must make your judgment of what you believe, what you hope for our country; your willingness to see us stand still and grow fat or your willingness to pick yourselves up and the country and move ourselves forward and reestablish our leadership. [Applause.]

That is the question. No one can make that judgment except you. No one can make it except you. Two weeks from today you are going to make it. One hundred years ago in the campaign of 1860, Abraham Lincoln wrote a friend - fortunately, as the Bible tells us, it rains on the just and the unjust. There are some Republicans here and it is raining on them, too. [Laughter.]

One hundred years ago, Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend:

I know there is a God and I know He hates injustice. I see the storm coming and I see His hand in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe I am ready.

Now, 100 years later, in the great times of 1960, we know there is a God, and we know He hates injustice, and we see the storm coming. But if He has a place and a part for us, I believe that we are ready. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Aurora, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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