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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Evansville, IN

October 04, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Matt Welsh, Senator Hartke, Congressman Denton, Mr. Mayor, national committeewoman and Mrs. Price, Grover Cleveland's strongest supporter [laughter] and ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to come to this community only 3 or 4 days after Mr. Nixon, because I think this community and this State has a very clear decision to make on next November 8, which affects the welfare of this district, and affects the welfare of this State, and affects the welfare of this Nation. I consider the judgment which you will render on November 8 to be rendered at a most significant time in the life of our country, a year which bears resemblance to 1932, and which bears resemblance to 1912, when the United States elected Woodrow Wilson.

This is one of the great turning points in our history. The whole world in the next 4 or 8 years will be entirely different than it is today. By the end of 1964 or the end of 1968, this country and the world will be in a stronger position or will be weaker, and I believe that the decision which you make on November 8 will affect the lives of everyone here today, will affect their chances for work, will affect their security when they are over 65, will affect the kind of housing you will live in, will affect small businessmen in this country, who rises or falls, depending on the economic prosperity of the United States as a whole.

I know there are those in this State who say that Indiana should cut its ties with the Government, that Indiana should move its own separate way. Who is going to buy your production? Who is going to buy what you produce in this State? Who is going to buy your corn and your hogs and your products, unless this United States is moving ahead? Indiana is not a separate State. It is part of the United States. And Indiana and Evansville and the United States will rise or fall depending upon the leadership which is given to this country in 1960. [Applause.]

Mr. Nixon has placed the issue very squarely and very frankly. He has said, and I use his slogan, "You have never had it so good." Well, anyone who agrees with that ought to vote for Mr. Nixon. But anyone who agrees that we can do better, anyone who agrees that the unfinished business before this country, anyone who believes that the United States has a great and historic destiny to fulfill in the 1960's, to defend its own security, and to maintain freedom around the world, I want their help. I want them to join with us. [Applause.]

If you agree with a policy of no new starts, a policy which does not develop the resources of the Wabash or the Ohio Rivers, if you agree that $1.25 minimum wage in a company making more than a million dollars a year is excessive, and, to use Mr. Nixon's words, "extreme"; if you believe that medical care for the aged tied to social security is too extreme, if you believe that these programs which I believe are essential to the maintenance of full employment, if you believe that they are too extreme, then you should vote for Mr. Nixon. If you believe that the area redevelopment bill, which has been vetoed twice, which would mean so much to this community and other communities, which are hard hit by chronic unemployment, and you want it vetoed a third time, you should vote for Mr. Nixon. If you believe that Thomas E. Dewey and William McKinley and Harding, and Coolidge and Landon are the kind of leaders that the United States needs in the sixties, then you should vote for Mr. Nixon.

But if you stand with Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, then I want your help. [Applause.]

Indiana has not voted Democratic in a presidential election since 1936, 24 long years, and you have had a good opportunity to see the kind of leadership which they have produced here in this State, and you have had a good opportunity to make a judgment as to the kind of leadership they would give this country in the 1960's. Any candidate who runs in 1960 with 4 million unemployed and 3 million working part time, 126 surplus labor areas where people have been out of work for many months, anyone who says in that year that you have never had it so good, I could not disagree with more. This is a great country, but I think it can be a greater country, and this is a more powerful country [applause] - this is a more powerful country but it can be stronger. I am not impressed by those who say they can stand up to Khrushchev when Mr. Castro has successfully defied them from 90 miles away. [Applause.]

I am confident that this district will send Congressman Denton back to speak for this district and speak for the country [applause] and will send Matt Welsh to be Governor of the State of Indiana; and give honesty and integrity back to this State. [Applause.] And that Vance Hartke and those of us who serve in Washington will be given the opportunity to lead this country as we have in other great occasions, and, therefore, I come today and present to you a clear alternative between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, between the party of progress and the party of standing still, between the party that looks ahead and the party that says, "We ought to stay where we are." I ask your help in this campaign, not merely because it affects our party, but because, as this is the most dangerous time in the life of our Country, I don't think we can possibly afford to stand still.

During the war between the Spartans and the Persians, and after 300 Spartans were wiped out at Thermopylae, they carved a sign in the rock which said, "Passerby, tell Sparta we fell faithful to her service."

Now, in 1960, and in the sixties, we are asked to live in the service of this country. We are asked to contribute to it. We are asked to build a stronger and better society, and I come here today to this community to ask you to join us. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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