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

September 12, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Senator Yarborough, Senator Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, my sister, Pat, Speaker Rayburn, Congressman Rutherford, ladies and gentlemen: There is a story about a Texan who went to New York and told the New Yorker that he could jump off the Empire State Building and live. The easterner said, "Well, that would be an accident." He said, "Suppose I did it twice?" The easterner said "That would be an accident, too." "Suppose I did it three times?" And the easterner said, "That would be a habit." [Laughter.]

Texas twice, in 1952 and 1956, jumped off the Democratic band wagon. We are down here to see it is not going to be a habit [applause]. We had Lyndon up in Massachusetts last week and we turned out a pretty good crowd in a small town of Boston, but I think El Paso has it stopped. I want to express my thanks to all of you. This is not only the gateway to the North, the pass to the North; it is the pass to the South, the East, and the West [applause]. I wanted Senator Johnson to run on this ticket for two reasons. First, because I thought it vitally important that we maintain the Democratic Party as the national party, speaking for all the people, in Texas and Massachusetts, in California and New York, speaking for a powerful and great country as it has through the greatest crises of our history. Secondly, I serve with him in the Senate. He has on three separate occasions been chosen unanimously by Senators from all sections of the United States to be their leader. Texas has led the Democratic Party in the Congress. It is, therefore, appropriate that Texas play a role in leading the country in the next Democratic administration. [Applause.]

Texas has a Democratic Governor. It has two Democratic Senators. It has 21 Democratic Congressmen. What reason would you want a Republican President for. [Applause.] That is like getting in a car, stepping on the accelerator, and turning it in reverse. [Applause.] For everything that the Congress does, everything that the Democratic Party stands for, the Republican Party is opposed to. Now, if you have confidence in a Governor, and confidence in your Senators and confidence in the speaker and confidence in Congressman Rutherford, why do you say for the key office of the Presidency and the Vice Presidency for the great powers which the President and the Vice President have, the power to veto, the power to represent the United States in foreign policy, the power to speak for the United States - why do you then say, "We don't want to move with the Democratic tide. We want to go against it."

I see no sense in it. I am confident that this State of Texas, as it did in the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, when John Garner associated himself with that administration, I am confident that in 1960 Massachusetts and Texas, the United States and the Democratic Party, will be associated in a great national effort. [Applause.]

Texas looks north and Texas looks south, Texas is a bridge. I think that there is no problem which should occupy the attention of the next administration in foreign policy more immediately than reestablishing the harmonious relations which existed in the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. The administration of Franklin Roosevelt looked south. They held out the hand of friendship to Mexico, to the Argentine, to Peru, to Brazil. They recognized that there was no security for the United States unless there was a happy atmosphere existing, a good neighbor policy existing between Latin America and the United States. And it is an unfortunate fact that this administration has waited to the last month, when their time is running out, when their days are on the yellow leaf, before they have looked south, before they have held out the hand of friendship to the people of Latin America. We together with Latin America are one. [Applause.] When the United States moves in a different direction from Latin America, we adversely affect the security of every American. I ask you to join up with us in this effort. The Democratic Party has a great past, but I believe the Democratic Party has a greater future [applause]. The Democratic Party belongs to all the people. It has spoken for the people in the great moments of crisis which our country has faced, Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman, and spoken on behalf of the men and women of this State and the men and women of this country. I ask you to join us now, to join in establishing once again the kind of progressive administration which has served this country so well in the past. In the American Constitutional Convention there was a painting behind the desk of George Washington of the sun low in the horizon, and many of the delegates wondered whether it was a rising sun or a setting sun. At the conclusion, Benjamin Franklin stood up. He said, "We have now signed the Constitution. We now know looking at that picture that it is a rising sun and the beginning of a great new day."

I think in 1960 if we do our job, if we meet our responsibilities, if we recognize our obligation to serve our country in a hazardous and dangerous period, we can look out and see not a setting sun, but a rising sun and the beginning of a great new day. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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