John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Cheyenne, WY, Frontier Park

September 23, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. My friend and colleague, Senator McGee, your distinguished Governor, Governor Hickey, Secretary of State Jack Gage, your State chairman, Teno Roncalio, your national committeeman, Tracy McCracken and Mrs. McCracken, your next U.S. Senator, Ray Whitaker, your next U.S. Congressman, Hep Armstrong, ladies and gentlemen; I first of all want to express on behalf of my sister and myself my great gratitude to all of you for being kind enough to have this breakfast and make it almost lunch. [Laughter.] I understand from Tracy that some of you have driven nearly three or four hundred miles to be here this morning. Yesterday morning we were in Iowa, and since that time we have been in five States: South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, and now Wyoming. We have come, therefore, all of us, great distances, and I think we have come great distances since the Democratic convention at Los Angeles. I know that Wyoming is a small State, relatively, but it is a fact that Wyoming, which was not talked about as a key State in the days before the convention, when they were talking about what California and what Pennsylvania and what New York and Illinois would do at the convention, not very many people talked about what Wyoming would do, and yet, as you know, Wyoming did it. [Applause.]

So you can expect in other days, other candidates, will all be coming here. I don't know whether it is going to be that close in November. I don't know whether Mr. Nixon and I will be three votes apart, but it is possible we will be. If so, Wyoming having gotten us this far, we would like to have you take us the rest of the way on November 8. [Applause.]

My debt of gratitude, therefore, to everyone in this room, and everyone at the head table, goes very deep. As Gale said, I have been to this State five times. My brother, Teddy, has been here 10 times, and I think that the Kennedys have a high regard and affection for the State of Wyoming. [Applause.]

Bobby has been here, I guess, several times. We have been here more than we have been to New York State. I don't know what the significance is, but in any case, I am delighted to be back here this morning. [Applause.] I am delighted to be here because this is an important election, and because Wyoming elects not only a President of the United States this year, but it elects a U.S. Senator and a Congressman. The electoral college and the organization of the States is an interesting business. New York has 15 million people, Wyoming has 300,000 people; you have 1 Congressman, they have many Congressmen - you have more than that? [Laughter.] Odd people? Well, they have a few in New York, I guess. [Laughter.] But in any case, you have two Senators and New York has two Senators. This causes a good deal of heartburn in New York but it should be a source of pride and satisfaction to you that when Wyoming votes, it votes the same number of U.S. Senators as the State of New York, and the State of Massachusetts, and the State of California. All States are equal, and therefore, the responsibility on the people of Wyoming is to make sure that they send Members to the U.S. Senate who speak not only for Wyoming, who serve not only as ambassadors from this State, but also speak for the United States and speak for the public interest, and that, I think, has been the contribution which Senator O'Mahoney has made to the U.S. Senate and Gale McGee now makes. They speak for this State, they speak for its interests, they speak for its development, they speak for its needs, but they also speak for the country. And, therefore, our system works, and Wyoming and the United States flourish together. [Applause.]

I think we have a chance to carry on that tradition. To send as a successor to Senator O'Mahoney, who grew up in Chelsea, Mass., and who saw the wisdom and came West, I think we have a chance to carry on that tradition when you elect Ray Whitaker as U.S. Senator next November 8. [Applause.]

Actually, as you know, the Constitution of the United States confines and limits the power of Senators. We are given the right to approve Presidential nominations, and to ratify treaties. But the House of Representatives is given the two great powers which are the hallmark of a self-governing society: One, the power to appropriate money, and the second is the power to levy taxes. If you don't like the way your taxes are, if you don't like the way your money is being spent, write to the House of Representatives, not to the U.S. Senate, because our powers and responsibilities are somewhat different. Therefore in sending a man to fulfill these two functions, we want a man of responsibility and competence and energy. I therefore am sure that the people of this State will send to the House of Representatives to share in the great constitutional powers given to that body, Hep Armstrong, with whom I served in the Navy and hope to serve in the Government of the United States next November. [Applause.]

During this campaign, there are many efforts made to divide domestic and foreign problems and I don't hold that view. I think there is a great interrelationship between the problems which face us here in the United States and the problems which face us around the world. I think if the United States is moving ahead here at home, the U.S. power and prestige in the world will be strong. If we are standing still here at home, then we stand still around the world. I think in other words, as Gale McGee suggested, that the 14 points of Woodrow Wilson were the logical extension of the New Freedom here in the United States. [Applause.] And the good neighbor policy of Franklin Roosevelt had its counterpart in his domestic policy of the New Deal. And the Marshall plan and NATO and the Truman Doctrine carried out in foreign policy under the administration of Harry Truman and point 4, all had their logical extension in the domestic policy of President Truman here in the United States. I say that because I think that there is a direct relationship between the efforts that we make here in the sixties, here in the West, here in the State of Wyoming, here in the United States, and what we do around the world.

Two days ago I spent the day in Tennessee. I think that there is a direct relationship between what was done in the Tennessee Valley by Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Party in the thirties, and what other countries in Africa and the Middle East and Asia are attempting to do to develop their own natural resources. I stand and you stand today in the middle of the Great Plains of the United States. There are great plains in Africa, and in my judgment Africa will be one of the keys to the future. The people of Africa want to develop their resources. They want to develop their resources of the great plains of Africa, and they look to see what we do here to develop the resources of the Great Plains of the United States.

I don't think that there can be any greater disservice to the cause of the United States and the cause of freedom than for any political party at this watershed of history to put forward a policy for developing the resources of the United States of no new starts. I don't say that we can do everything in the sixties, but I say we can move and start and go ahead, and I think it is that spirit which separates our two parties. [Applause.]

I come from Massachusetts, but it is a source of satisfaction and pride that the two Americans who did more to develop the resources of the West both came from New York, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, and they did it because they saw it not as a State problem, not as a regional problem, but as a national opportunity, and it is in that spirit that I look to the future of the Great Plains of the United States in the sixties.

We are going to have over 300 million people living in this country in the year 2000. Many of them will live in this State. We are going to have to make sure that we pass on to our children a country which is using natural resources given to us by the Lord to the maximum; that every drop of water that flows to the ocean first serves a useful and beneficial purpose; that the resources of the land are used, whether it is agriculture or whether it is oil or minerals; that we move ahead here in the West and move ahead here in the United States. I think that there is a direct relationship between the policy of no new starts in developing our water and power resources, and irrigation and reclamation and conservation, and the fact that our agricultural income has dropped so sharply in the United States in recent years, and the fact that we are using our steel capacity 50 percent of capacity. Pittsburgh, Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin are allied together. A rising tide lifts all the boats. If we are moving ahead here in the West, if we are moving ahead in agriculture, if we are moving ahead in industry, if we have an administration that looks ahead, then the country prospers. But if one section of the country is strangled, if one section of the country is standing still, then sooner or later a dropping tide drops all the boats, whether the boats are in Boston or whether they are in this community.

I can assure you that if we are successful that we plan to move ahead as a national administration, with the support of the Congress, in using and developing the resources which our country has. This is a struggle, not only for a better standard of living for our people, but it is also a showcase. As Edmund Burke said about England in his day, "We sit on a conspicuous stage," what we do here, what we fail to do, affects the cause of freedom around the world. Therefore, I can think of no more sober obligation on the next administration and the next President and the next Congress than to move ahead in this country, develop our resources, prevent the blight which is going to stain the development of the West unless we make sure that everything that we have here is used usefully for our people.

The Tennessee Valley in Tennessee, the Northwest power development, the resources of Wyoming, all harnessed together, the Missouri River, the Columbia River, the Mississippi River, the Tennessee River - all of them harnessed together serve as a great network of strength, a stream of strength in this country which is going to be tested to its utmost. So I come here today not saying that the future is easy, but saying that the future can be bright. I don't take the view that everything that is being done is being done to the maximum. I think the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats in 1960 is that we both think it is a great country, but we think it must be greater. We both think it is a powerful country, but we think it must be more powerful. We both think it stands as the sentinel at the gate for freedom, but we think we can do a better job. I think that has been true of our party ever since the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, and I think we can do a job in the sixties [Applause.]

I have asked Senator Magnuson, who is the chairman of our Resources Advisory Committee, to hold a conference on resources and mineral use here in the city of Casper in the State of Wyoming during the coming weeks, because I think we should identify ourselves in the coming weeks with the kind of programs we are going to carry out in January. If there is any lesson which history has taught of the administrations of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, it is the essentiality of previous planning for successful action by a new administration. Unless we decide now what we are going to do in January, February, March and April, if we should be successful, we will fail to use the golden time which the next administration will have. I come here today speaking not for Wyoming or Massachusetts, but speaking for a national party which believes in the future of our country, which will devote its energies to building its strength, and by building our strength here we build the cause of freedom around the world. Thank you. [Applause and standing ovation.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Cheyenne, WY, Frontier Park Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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