John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, City Square, Fort Dodge, Iowa

September 22, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Lieutenant Governor McManus, who I hope will be the next Governor, your distinguished Congressman who has spoken for the needs of this district, and the country, Merwin Coad, Herschel Loveless, your present Governor and I hope your U.S. Senator, ladies and gentlemen: I want to express my appreciation to all of you for a very generous welcome. I come here today as the nominee for our party - if we can just get organized, we will go ahead with the speech. [Laughter.] Can you hear back there? [Response from the audience.]

Senator KENNEDY. I come here today as the candidate for the Democratic Party, and I come in a most important time in a most significant election. I think in many ways the election of 1960 is more important than the election of 1932, because what was at stake in 1932 was the preservation of freedom in the United States, and I think what is at stake in the election of 1960 is the preservation of freedom around the world. There is one issue in this campaign, there is one great decision, which the American people must make in the coming 6 weeks, and that is which candidate, which party, which program offers the best hope for a stronger America. I don't think that there is any American, Republican or Democrat, and I would not cast any aspersions upon any American, and I do not cast them by innuendo or by implication, upon my opponent - I think he wants what I want. He wants a just peace for the United States and so does his party, and so does all America. [Applause.]

The question is: Which party, which candidate, which policy can insure a stronger America and a just peace I I think we can, because I think we believe in a strong America, which, by being strong here reflects its strength around the world. I think the question for the people of this district, and the question for the people of Iowa and the question for the people of the United States is a simple one: If you think that we are doing as much as we can do, if you think the balance of power is moving in our direction rather than the Communists, if you are satisfied with the position of the United States in the world, if you feel our policies toward Latin America and Africa and Asia are as vigorous and imaginative as they can be, if you feel the policies which affect this Nation, if you feel the agricultural policies of this administration are as good as they can he, then you should vote Republican.

But, if you think we can do better, if you think we can move ahead, if you think we can reverse the downward trend of agricultural prices, if you think we can build a better educational system and more security for our older people, if you think we can build a better defense, if you think that the United States should reestablish the atmosphere which existed through Latin America in the 1930's of the good neighbor, if you think the power balance in the world is turning against us, not with us, then I want you to join with us. I want you to move with us. I want you to decide in 1960 that we say "Yes" to the next decade, and not "No"; that we want to move ahead, not stand still. I want your help in this campaign. I want your support, not because I run for the Presidency, but because I think we can make a contribution to the future of our own country - to its strength.

I ask your help. [Applause.] I don't say that life is going to be easy in the 1960's, but I think we can do better. I do think we can do more. I don't underrate this country. It is a great country. And I have served it for 18 years. But I think it can he a greater country. I think it is a powerful country, but I think it can be a more powerful country. I am not satisfied as a citizen, let alone as leader of my party. I am not satisfied as a citizen to have any question of whether the United States is first. I want Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Castro, and those who wish to follow on your road, to know that the United States is the leader not that the United States stands still but that we move ahead. [Applause.]

I want you to join with us. I don't preach the doctrine of ease. I preach the doctrine of vigor and vitality and energy and force. This is a great country and we are going to make it greater. I ask your help in this effort. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, City Square, Fort Dodge, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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