John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Breakfast, Cortez Hotel, El Paso, TX

September 12, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Thank you. I was just relaxing to hear Lyndon Johnson make a 15- or 20- minute speech here this morning. [Laughter.] I can see it will be a hard day for me. [Laughter.]

Senator Johnson, Speaker Rayburn, Mrs. Price, Mr. Mayor, Senator Yarborough, ladies and gentlemen, I want to express our thanks to you, both for the breakfast this morning and for the reception last night at the airport. This really starts an important experience for Senator Johnson and myself traveling through the State of Texas. I felt that I was most fortunate at the Democratic Convention, as I said last night, that he would agree to run, because if the Democratic Party has a great national function, which I think it does, I think more than anything it is due to two things: First, that it is the oldest political party in history, and, therefore, it has its roots deep in American history, stretching all the way back to Jefferson and Jackson, and also it is the only national party in the United States, and therefore includes within its ranks Texas and Massachusetts, Florida, and Oregon and Washington, and the Middle West. I think that the Democratic Party can continue to function if it looks not only to the past, but to the future, and if it looks to all sections of the United States for support. When we do that, in other words, we speak not just for one section or one interest; we speak for all sections and all interests.

The Democratic Party is a multi-interest party. It includes ranchers and farmers from Texas, it includes textile workers from Massachusetts, it includes businessmen in California. Therefore, in the Congress, and we hope in the executive branch of the Government, we can speak for all the people, and I think it is most appropriate that we begin this very significant part of our campaign in the State of Texas, and that we come into Texas through El Paso, the pass of the North.

This city is also the pass to the South. This happy combination of geography and experience make El Paso an admirable link not only with the western United States, but also with the countries to the south of us. I can think of no assignment more important for a new administration than to try to reestablish the atmosphere which was so happily established in the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, the Good Neighbor Policy. [Applause.]

Times and the problems since the Good Neighbor Policy have changed, but the thing that was most important about Roosevelt's administration was the atmosphere that was established, the feeling of interest and support he gave to the people of Latin America, the feeling of sharing in this country their aspirations for their own country. I think this administration until the last 6 months has almost ignored Latin America. They have forgotten that here is the bulwark of American security, the bulwark of American stability, and carrying on as we do in a great tradition, I think that this would be an opportunity early in the administration of the Democratic President, to go and stretch his hand out once again to the south of us, to build strong those chains and then look to the rest of the world for action to protect our mutual security. I start in this campaign in this State, in this city. I am grateful to all of you. I am grateful to the mayor. I think it bodes as a happy omen that Texas and Massachusetts and the Democratic Party are once again on the move together. Thank you.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Breakfast, Cortez Hotel, El Paso, TX Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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