John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Douglas Plant, Long Beach, CA

November 01, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Gould, Mr. Mayor, Pat O'Hearn, the next Congressman from this congressional district, Mr. Douglas, ladies, and gentlemen, I come here to California in the last 7 days of this campaign to ask your help in retiring the Republicans and sending them out of Washington. [Applause.] I come to this plant, in this State of California, in this country of ours, and I ask you what in the last 25 years, or in the last 8 years, the Republican Party has ever done for the working people of this country. [Response from the audience and applause.]

I understand that the Republicans here in California are showing some spots on television which say that if I am elected President, all of the defense industry is going to go away from California to Massachusetts. That is typical. These plants were built, most of them, before and during World War II. Do you know who was President? Franklin Roosevelt. Do you know where he lived. [Applause.] Do you know where Franklin Roosevelt lived? In New York. And the plants were in California. How could anyone be so stupid as to think in the most dangerous time in the life of our country somebody would run for President in order to take defense plants from one State and put them in another? That about as well describes their campaign. That is about what they are reduced to.

Mr. Nixon takes a ride through New York City tomorrow. He has with him Governor Rockefeller, Henry Cabot Lodge, President Eisenhower. Where is Barry Goldwater? [Response from the audience and applause.]

I think it is only fair that they all get in the car and ride down Broadway. [Applause.] Yesterday I understand Mr. Nixon spent 2 hours and a half in the White House asking the President to go with him to Pittsburgh and Cleveland. [Laughter.] Mr. Eisenhower is not a candidate. Mr. Nixon is. And if he can't stand up to the American people, if he won't come and meet me in a fifth debate, how is he going to stand up to Mr. Khrushchev? [Applause.]

The fact of the matter is that the defense industries of California have been moving out. We passed in the last session of the Congress $370 million for the B-70. The administration would not do it until 7 days before election they finally decided to support the program. That is about the responsibility of the party that we have come to know in the last 8 years. Here in this plant, and I want to make it clear, long before I came to this plant, I said that it was incumbent upon the next President of the United States to provide airlift for the conventional forces if we are going to protect our commitments around the world, and to make them jet. [Applause.] When we transported the United Nations forces to the Congo, the British flew some troops in in jets and so did the Russians. We took them in in the props. I believe that the United States is going to meet its commitments to 50 countries. The next President of the United States, whomever he may be, is going to have to recommend to the Congress sustaining and increasing the airlift, if we are going to move this force of ours around the world. [Applause.]

Now I come here - you are all going home and I am not going to hold you up, except I want to say three things:

First, I want to ask you what you know from your own experience in the last 25 years or in the last 14 years, what Mr. Nixon or the Republican Party ever suggested in the field of progressive legislation for the people of this country. Social security? They voted against it. Minimum wage? Unemployment compensation? Housing? Name it. This administration has stood still, and the result is that the image of America as a moving society throughout the world has stood still. I come here to ask your help in rebuilding that image, in rebuilding the United States as a strong and vital forward-looking society, a society on the move. The reason Franklin Roosevelt was a good neighbor in Latin America was because he was a good neighbor in the United States. [Applause.] And therefore I come here today in the last 7 days of this campaign, asking you to make your judgment as responsible citizens of this country, where we stand in the most difficult, hazardous time in the life of our country, at a time when the United States is still the only hope of freedom, and I ask you to join with me in committing this country to progress, in moving this country forward. Mr. Nixon is saying that he is a conservative. I believe in 1960 and the 1960's the United States is going to have to be progressive, we are going to have to move again, and I come here and ask your help in doing it. [Applause.] Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Douglas Plant, Long Beach, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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