John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Baker Park, St. Charles, IL

October 25, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. My friend and Colleague, Senator Douglas, my sister, Eunice - have you met Eunice Shriver? She lives in Illinois. Meet her again. Mrs. Sargent Shriver. She said yesterday I never used to introduce her, so I want to be sure to do it today.

Here is Otto Kerner [applause]; Otto Kerner is going to be your Governor, I hope. [Applause.] Hayes Beall, the candidate for Congress, Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen: I want to express my thanks to all of you for coming today. I am sorry we are late. But we have been campaigning very hard through all of those Republican areas of Illinois, spreading the truth. There was some resistance, but nevertheless we arrived. I campaign for the Presidency with a full recognition that that office will bear more responsibility than it has in the last 100 years since the administration of Lincoln. All of the problems which center upon the United States finally come to rest, in a free society, upon the desk of the President. He is not only the Commander in Chief, he is not only the head of his party, he is not only a legislative leader, he is not only charged with the power of appointment, he also is charged by the Constitution and by the force of events with the maintenance of our relations across the seas. We have two great problems that face the President, and because they face the President, they face all of you.

First, can we in this country maintain full employment, build a stronger and more vital society, that demonstrates that freedom and productivity go hand in hand together? Secondly, how can we maintain the peace and maintain our own security around the world and strengthen freedom?

Now, these two questions are interrelated with our productivity, our industrial strength, our sense of purpose. All these help the cause of freedom, not only within the United States but all around the world. One of the issues which divide Mr. Nixon and myself in this campaign and one of the questions which you will be called upon to render your judgment on November 8, because all Mr. Nixon and I can do is present our views of what our country requires, and then you decide on one day, is the question of whether what we are doing now is sufficient, whether our power and prestige in the world is growing in relation to that of the Communists or deteriorating. That is the question that involves us all. It involves our children, it involves the future of our country. I have made the charge in this campaign that our prestige has been declining, and our prestige is important, because it involves the question of whether other countries will follow our leadership. Will the countries of Africa and Latin America and Asia and Western Europe and Eastern Europe, will they decide that the Communist system represents the future and we represent the past?

Mr. Nixon and I have differed completely on this question. He says that our prestige is at an alltime high. He said it on the debate and I say it has been declining, and this is an important issue. Now, this morning the papers reveal, and I have the New York in my hand [laughter] that the Information Service of our State Department has been conducting polls throughout 10 countries of the world to try to find out their view of the United States. These polls have been confidential, but the papers evidently got hold of them. Here is what the headline says, and it really goes to the whole issue of this campaign:

"The U.S. Survey Finds That Others Consider the Soviet the Mightiest." Subheadline: "Summer Poll Shows Belief Is Nearly Unanimous Among the Nations Sampled and the Lead Is Expected to Hold, and Some Expect the Gap to Widen."

Here are the countries:

The survey was made in 9 or 10 countries, including France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Indonesia, Britain, and Pakistan. According to these sources the survey also disclosed unanimity among the free and uncommitted nations of the world that the Soviet Union would maintain and possibly widen its lead over the United States in the next decade.

You are citizens of this country. You have to decide. Do you want to endorse the leadership of Mr. Nixon and this is the decision you must render, who now says and has said it as a basic issue of his position, that our prestige has never been higher, and that of the Communists lower or do you take the view I take, that I don't seek to please you, but we seek to serve you, and in my judgment honesty compels us to say [applause] honesty compels us to say that we are going to have to do better. That is the question. This is a great country and I have unlimited confidence in it, and I have served it for 18 years. But my judgment is, as an American, and you must render your judgment 2 weeks from today, as an American, that this country is going to have to build an image around the world of a strong and vital and progressive society and convince a watching world, as we sit on a most conspicuous stage, that we represent the way of the future. I believe we do, and want them to know it. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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