John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, City Park, Lewiston, Maine

November 06, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Senator Muskie, Congressman Oliver, Congressman-to-be Donovan, Senator-to-be Lucia Cormier - I hope; she will be a wonderful one - Dave Roberts, the next Congressman from his district, ladies and gentlemen; I come here tonight with a good deal of regret. I am sorry we were late. We were not playing golf. We have been out carrying the message. [Applause.] And I am grateful to all of you, more than I can say, for having been willing to stay here. Ed Muskie's voice is just about gone, but we stay here because we believe it important for Maine and the country on Tuesday, November 8, that a Democratic President and Vice President be elected to lead this country. [Applause.] Maine and the country have a very clear choice on Tuesday. You have to decide between a candidate and his party who opposes progress, a candidate and his party who have opposed those measures which make it possible for us to maintain the employment of our people in Maine and across the country. [Applause.] Mr. Nixon believes that the program which we have recommended, of medical care for the aged tied to social security, is extreme. He believes, and has said so, that $1.25 an hour minimum wage is extreme. [Response from the audience.] He is part of an administration whose administration has seen a recession in 1954, a recession in 1958 and again in 1960, the beginning of a slowdown in our economy.

Maine has a chance, and so does the country, to choose progress. I have been all over this State, and I represented Massachusetts, which shares all of the problems that Maine has, for the last 14 years in the Congress. The needs of Maine and the needs of Massachusetts are very much the same, and the needs of the United States are very much the same. We need employment in our textile mills. We need development of our natural resources. We need to provide education for our children, jobs for our people, medical care for our aged tied to social security. We need to do all these things in a country and in a society that is on the move. If we are going to be strong abroad if we are going to win the peace, if we are going to maintain our prestige, it will be not only by speeches and debates and good will missions; it will be by building in this country a strong and vital and progressive society, committed to finishing the unfinished business, building here the kind of country which will serve as an example to freedom all around the globe. Mr. Nixon has stated if he is elected President [response from the audience] - he has stated if he is elected President that he will go to Eastern Europe. I want to make it clear that if I am elected President of the United States, I will go to Washington, D.C., and begin to work. [Applause.]

This is where the job must first be done. If we are going to negotiate with Khrushchev, if we are going to help freedom around the globe, we first have to build our strength here in the United States. [Applause.]

I come here to Maine, not a State which has been overwhelmingly Democratic in presidential elections in the past, but I come here to Maine and ask your support in this campaign, to build this State, to build our region, to build our country, and move it forward. [Applause.] And I hope Maine will send to the U.S. Senate my distinguished friend and colleague who is standing here tonight, who will make a great companion in the Senate of the United States with Ed Muskie in representing Maine and the country, Lucia Cormier, and who will serve with Frank Coffin as the Governor of the State of Maine. [Applause.]

We are engaged in a close and hard-fought campaign. This State, it is not easy. Everybody who votes, every bit of support we can get will be most helpful. We are running as the candidates who believe in progress for our country. Mr. Nixon is running as part of a team - [response from the audience]. You have seen these elephants in the circus [laughter] - and as they move around that circus ring, the only way they can get around is to grab the tail of the elephant in front of them. [Applause.] Well, there is no elephant in front of Mr. Nixon this year. He is running, and you have to decide, as citizens of this State and citizens of this country, you have to decide what your view is of Maine and the country, what you think ought to happen, whether you are satisfied with things as they are [response from the audience], whether you believe that things are being done in their own good measure, whether you are satisfied with our economic growth at home, whether you believe our prestige in the world is rising [response from the audience]. If you are satisfied, if you are comfortable, Mr. Nixon is your man. [Response from the audience.] Not really.

But if you hold my view that the United States as the great defender of freedom in the 1960's has to move ahead, has to provide opportunity for its people, has to develop in this country a strong and vigorous society which it cannot possibly do under the administration of a candidate who reassures and comforts the people in a time of hazard and a time of peril, I believe this country has a great destiny in the sixties. I don't know any assignment it cannot meet, any responsibility it cannot bear. But it has to first recognize that it needs to move forward, that it needs action, that it needs direction, that it needs to finish the things that are still unfinished. I come to Maine and ask your help in doing that. I ask you to join us. [Applause.]

In 1789 - [cheer from the audience].

May I say that as Maine goes, so goes Vermont, and I hope so goes the Nation. We are going to leave it up to you. [Applause.]

In 1789, in nearby Hartford, Conn., the skies at noon turned one day from blue to gray. By midafternoon the city had darkened over so densely that, in that religious age, men fell on their knees and begged a final blessing before the end came. The Connecticut House of Representatives was in session and many of the members clamored for an immediate adjournment and the speaker of the house, one Colonel Davenport, came to his feet, and he silenced the din with these words: "The day of judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. But if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought."

I hope that all of us in the coming days, months, and years, in a difficult and trying time in the life of our country, in the cause of freedom, may bring candles to help illuminate our country's way. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, City Park, Lewiston, Maine Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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