John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Courthouse, Terre Haute, IN

October 05, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mayor Tucker, Judge, Dutch Letzkus, Senator Hartke, your next Governor, Matt Welsh, your distinguished and hard working Congressman who has worked for this district and for the United States, Congressman Wampler, ladies and gentlemen, I understand that today is the Opening day of the world series. I would hate to think that politics is taking the place of baseball as the national sport, but I do think it indicates that the people of this country are concerned about what is happening, are anxious about what we are going to do are willing to join with us in building this State and building this country. The Pirates may win today, or the Yankees, but I think the Democrats are going to win on November 8. [Applause.] And I believe that here in this State of Indiana, in the heartland of the United States, along this Wabash River, I believe all the issues which are as significant to us as Indianians and as Americans are gathered here in this State. This State depends upon agriculture, and for the last 8 years farm income has gone steadily down. At the beginning of this first administration 8 years ago, corn in this State was selling for $1.50. It is selling now for 93 or 94 cents. And under the support program put forward by Mr. Nixon 10 days ago, where the support price is tied to the market price, corn next year will be selling at a lower price and at a lower price, and there isn't anyone in this community whose employment is not affected by the decline in agricultural income. It is no wonder that in the 1920's the recession and depression of 1929 was preceded by the sharpest decline in agricultural income that the country had seen up to that date. And now here in Indiana, and in this city of Terre Haute, you have unemployment of nearly 7 percent, you see steel mills in Gary and elsewhere in this State which are working 55 or 60 percent of capacity, and every merchant and every banker in the State of Indiana can tell you that this September and this October have been as difficult and hard as the September and October of 1957, and the September and October at the end of 1953, which preceded the recessions of 1954 and 1958.

I don't believe this country can afford another recession. The demands placed upon us are too great. Every time that we fail to meet our problems, every time that we fail to move our economy forward, we fail not only our own people, but we fail all those who look to us for leadership. My judgment is that there is a very clear choice between the Republican and the Democratic Parties. They stand for different things, and they have stood for different things all through this century. Woodrow Wilson, running in 1912, said that the Republican Party idea of policy is to sit on the lid. Franklin Roosevelt carried the fight in 1932 and 1936 and Harry Truman carried the fight in 1948, and on the issues which matter, housing, social security, medical care for the aged minimum wage, development of the resources of this country, I believe the Democratic Party looks forward. I believe it has presented to this country programs which move the economy of this country.

Indiana does not exist by itself. There is no business in Indiana that does not sell to the rest of the country, and if the rest of the country is standing still, if our economy is not moving forward, where are all the young men and women going to school in this State going to find jobs? We are going to have 25,000 people coming into the labor market every year, every week every year, for the next 10 years, and we are going to have to find them jobs, 25,000 new people a week for 10 years, looking for jobs. And unless this economy of this country moves forward, unless the Federal Government gives leadership we are not going to find jobs for those people or the people now working.

I believe the issue is very clear, and the issue is whether the American people are satisfied with things as they are, whether they feel that the 1960's are a time to really conserve and stand still and gather our energy, or whether the 1960's are a time to move forward again, as 1932 was, as 1912 was. Here in this State which has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1936, I recognize that this is a tough, uphill fight. But I believe that Indiana and the rest of the United States are going to choose in 1960 to look forward again, to put their confidence in the Democratic Party which, in other days in other years, in other crises, has produced leadership and has moved this country off dead center. [Applause.]

I want to emphasize that what we do here, and the kind of society we build here, affects our position around the world. The strength of the United States depends on the strength of Indiana, Pittsburgh, Detroit, California. If this country is moving forward, if we are producing to our maximum, there is no country in the world that can catch us. The United States produced about one-third of the rate of economic growth last year as the Soviet Union, one-half that of Germany. If we were using our steel mills to the fullest, if we had an agricultural program that maintained farmers' income, if small business in this country was prosperous, if the monetary and fiscal policies of this administration did not rest on a high interest, hard money policy, then the economy of this country would move and no one could catch the United States. But if we drift, if we use our people and our resources at slow speed, then at a time when the world is in turmoil and in revolution, people to the South of us, people in Africa, people in Asia are going to determine that the way of the future belongs to the Communists.

Mr. Nixon says I downgrade America. I have served the United States just as long as he has, and I have just as much affection for it and just as high an opinion of it. I downgrade his leadership. [Applause.] I downgrade the Republican leadership. And anyone who thinks that the prestige of the United States is increasing as fast as it needs to should look around us. A Gallup poll taken in February in 10 countries scattered around the world showed that a majority of people in 9 of the 10 countries believed that the Soviet Union would be ahead of us militarily and scientifically by 1970. Why? Forty years ago the Soviet Union was the sickest country in Europe. Forty years ago the Soviet Union had no scientists and engineers. Now suddenly, in 40 years, they make the people of the world think they are going to be ahead of us, and if the people of the world feel they are the way of the future, then they turn to them, not to us.

I want leaders in Africa and Asia and Latin America to be quoting American statesmen. I don't want them to just quote Jefferson and Lincoln. I want them to be quoting American leaders who stand for freedom, who will build a strong country, who will extend the benefits of that prosperity to all Americans. I ask your help in Indiana. I ask your help in a tough fight. But I can tell you that we are going to win in this country, and I want Indiana to join us. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Courthouse, Terre Haute, IN Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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