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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, City Square, Mount Clemens, MI

October 26, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Lt. Gov. John Swainson, Congressman Jim O'Hara, Pat McNamara, Mennen Williams, ladies and gentlemen, let me say that I am delighted to be back here in Michigan, mostly because I am running in this State with distinguished public servants, your Senator Pat McNamara, who sits next to me in the U.S. Senate and votes for Michigan and the public interest, and I know he is going to be reelected by a large majority in this State. [Applause.] By your Congressman Jim O'Hara, who has served this district and served the United States. He is the kind of young, vigorous leader that this country needs, and I am confident that this district will endorse his record, and John Swainson, who has fought for this country in war and peace, and who I am confident will be elected the Governor of Michigan. [Applause.]

We are now going into the last 13 days of this important presidential campaign. Two weeks from today the people of Michigan and the people of the United States will make their judgment as to what they want their country to be. I want to make it very clear that there are sharp differences between Mr. Nixon and myself. They go to the future of this State, they go to the future of the country, they go to the future of freedom all around the world.

Mr. Nixon runs on a program "We've never had it so good." He was nominated by a political party, the Republicans, who have opposed progress for the last 25 years. [Applause.] I would like to ask Mr. Nixon one single piece of new, progressive legislation, benefiting the people that the Republicans have put forward in the last 25 years. Ninety percent of the Republican Party in 1935 voted against the minimum wage of 25 cents an hour, and 80 percent of them voted against $1.25 in 1960. The fact of the matter is that this State and the United States cannot sit still in the 1960's. You are going to have to find and we are going to have to find 25,000 new jobs a week every week for the next 10 years in order to provide full employment, and we are going to have to do that at a time when machines are taking the place of men. Do you believe as an American citizen of this State and country that we can be led by a political party, the Republicans, who have stood still, who have opposed progress at every turn? Or don't you agree we have to move forward again in Michigan and across the country? [Response from the audience. Applause.]

One of the arguments and one of the issues which divides Mr. Nixon and myself is the question of our position in the world, which goes to the hope of peace and goes to the security of the United States. If people in Latin America and Africa and Asia and Western Europe ever come to the conclusion that the future belongs to the Communists and not to us, then our hope of leading a great world alliance begins to fade. That is why this question of American prestige is so important.

Mr. Nixon has stated on many occasions that he believes that our prestige is at an alltime high, and that of the Communists at an alltime low. Now, yesterday the newspapers carried the report of a survey made by the U.S. Government in 10 countries of the world, and they asked them the question, "Do you believe the Soviet Union or the United States is first in military power and science?" And a majority of the people in 10 countries said the Soviet Union was first.

Now can we possibly hope to lead a world which begins to think that we are losing our influence and our power, that begins to think the tide of history is moving in the direction of the Communists? I believe that this report should be made public. I believe that the American people in 1960 are entitled to the truth, the truth with the bark off, the facts of the matter. [Applause.]

The fact of the matter is that either Mr. Nixon was uninformed about the report or he has misled us, because in the last debate he said that this report dealt with a survey made in 1957 after sputnik, and now yesterday it was revealed that these reports were made this summer. They dealt with the time after the U-2 incident, and they go to the question of the future of this country as the leader of the free world. And now we learn that this administration, which has been in the leadership of this country for the last 8 years, of which Mr. Nixon has been a part, now finds itself and our country in a position in the world where people begin to wonder what the future holds for us and for them. I believe the people of this country are strong enough and tough enough and courageous enough to know the truth, and when the truth is told to us, this country is going to make up its mind as a people that it is time we start moving forward again. That is the question at issue. [Applause.]

You have to decide as citizens one question on November 8: Are you satisfied? Do you believe in Michigan and the country that we are moving ahead with vigor? Do you believe that the Republican Party is capable of meeting the problems which will face us in the sixties? [Response from the audience.] If you do, Mr. Nixon is your man. [Response from the audience.] But if you agree with me that it is time that Michigan and the United States picked itself up and started looking to the future, on that basis I ask your help on November 8. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, City Square, Mount Clemens, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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