John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Hotel Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

September 23, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. My friend and colleague in the Senate, Ted Moss, Congressman King, Senator McGee of Wyoming, your next Governor of Utah, Governor-to-be Barlocker [applause], your next Congressman-to-be Blaine Peterson [applause], Mrs. Price, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my appreciation to all of you for your kindness and generosity to the Democratic Party and its candidates. I am deeply touched - not as deeply touched as you have been by coming to this dinner, but nevertheless it is a sentimental occasion. [Laughter.]

I wish there were some other way to have a party run, but there is no substitute than to call on our friends. I was in New York last week. We were trying to raise some support for the party and President Truman told me that in 1948 his train was pulled off the tracks three times because they could not get up the carfare to keep it moving. [Laughter.] But they got it up finally and they won.

I think we are going to win and we are grateful to you for your help. [Applause.] In the last 2 days, we have traveled from Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and tonight Utah, and we leave later tonight for Chicago. I don't think we have increased the wisdom, probably, of any of the audiences that have listened, but, nevertheless, I do feel that here in the Western United States there is a great recognition of what we are talking about, and that is our great interest in seeing these States and our country strong. We have engaged in some debate in recent weeks. We have been criticized because the argument has been made that we are downgrading the United States. We don't downgrade the United States. We have faith in the United States. We feel it can do better and we feel it must do better if it is going to maintain its own freedom and the freedom of those who look to us for leadership.

I think this is an important election. In a sense, of course, every election is important. But I do think the election of 1960 is particularly important, because what we are and what we do, and the kind of leadership which we give, can make a decisive difference not only to our own security, but to those who look to us for friendship and help. We have serious problems that are facing us in the sixties in the United States, but far more serious problems facing us around the world. My chief disagreement with the Republicans in the field of foreign policy has been that they have not been able to pierce the veil of the future, to make a judgment as to what problems are coming, and then to offer solutions.

I was impressed and admired the speech that the President of the United States made at the United Nations, and I have been impressed by the effort that has been made in recent months to provide a more effective policy toward Latin America. But in the case of both Africa and Latin America, the hour is late, the world is moving fast, our role and our position have changed, and I do think it is vitally important in those areas and in other areas that we precede events; that we do not move after them. In other words, I do not like to see the United States offer assistance to Latin America as a result of difficulties in Cuba. I would like to see us offer the hand of friendship to Latin America because of a traditional conviction that the United States cannot maintain its freedom unless Latin America is a strong and viable and growing hemisphere. [Applause.]

The same is true of Africa. I am chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Foreign Relations Committee. We have given comparatively few scholarships to students who come over from Africa each year, less than 200 for the whole continent. If there is any great need, far exceeding any great shortage, it is in educated men and women who can maintain a free society. You are familiar with what has happened in the Congo. But what is happening in the Congo is happening in every country in Africa. Called on to maintain their freedom, there are eight new countries in Africa in the last 2 months. The United States does not have yet an ambassador in any of them. Four of them are represented by one man, a chargé d'affaires who is a former consul. Four of them have no representatives of the United States, even though they have been independent for the last 2 months.

The world is moving and changing and I do not think we have demonstrated an ability to keep up with it. Two hundred scholarships for all of Africa, and yet when the crisis began in Africa as a result of the Belgians leaving, we suddenly offered 300 scholarships to the Congo alone. Couldn't it have been possible for us to make a determination that freedom was moving through Africa as it is through the rest of the world, that self-government was going to eventually come, and that the United States should hold out the hand of friendship to these people so that they could be prepared to maintain their freedom? What is true of Africa, Latin America, and Asia, I think has been true of the conduct of our foreign policy in the last 8 years. I think there is a basic difference between us. It is that the domestic policies which great Democratic Presidents have offered in this century have had their logical application in successful foreign policy. Woodrow Wilson's new freedom had its logical application in the 14 points. Franklin Roosevelt's good neighbor policy was the foreign partner of his domestic policy, the New Deal, and Harry Truman's Fair Deal had its application in foreign policy in point 4 and the Marshall plan and NATO and the Truman doctrine. If a country is moving ahead here at home, if it is solving its own problems, if it has been able to attract people of imagination and vigor to the Government, then I think its foreign policy is also on the move, because the same problems that face us here at home face us in different forms abroad. The ability to predict with some degree of certainty the problems that are just over the horizon, that will be upon us 6 months from now or a year from now. I think through its history, though there have been exceptions through its history, this is a contribution which the Democratic Party has made, from the time of Jefferson, through Jackson's administration, through that of Grover Cleveland, through Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson's candidacy, I think the Democrats have looked to the future. They have spoken not for private interests but for the general good.

I think we are called on, I hope, for further service in the coming days. This is not just a contest between Mr. Nixon and myself. It is a contest between two parties. It is a contest between your U.S. Senator, Ted Moss, and Senators who do not share his progressive views. It is a contest between the Members of the House, Dave King and the things he stands for, and the things which the Republican Party has stood for. It is a contest between our intellectual vitality and curiosity and a point of view which I think has dominated the thinking of this administration for too many years in both domestic and foreign policy. We think the best of this country and we want to do the best for it. We talk about a lack of leadership only because we know that this country has unbounded energy and a desire to be of service.

So I come tonight as the candidate for the Democratic Party, asking your help in this State, in this campaign. Ted Moss and Dave King has shown what can be done. The primary in this State was most encouraging. I don't give any stakes to Mr. Nixon in this campaign. They are all going to be fought over, and I think that Utah, which played a great role in the convention last July, which was most helpful and generous to me in nominating me, I think that this contest may be close enough so as goes Utah, so goes the Nation, and if that is so we want to have it go in the right direction. Thank you. [Applause.]

I suppose campaigns are really like parades; the music and a lot of confetti and dust and then the candidates pass and move on to another State. We are leaving you here, so the contest is really in your hands in this State. Six weeks to go. I hope that it is possible for us to try to communicate our desire to serve, our strong faith in this country, our feeling on domestic policy and foreign policy; we can do better, our feeling that the greatest days of this country are still ahead, and that though we move through a difficult future, we are identified with the best of causes.

My optimism for the future for the country and for the United States and the cause of freedom really goes to our experiences of the last few years in Eastern Europe, in Asia, and Africa. If there is any lesson which the last 10 years has shown to me, and it is a lesson that I have been particularly interested in in Algeria and Indochina, it is that the strongest force in the world today is the desire to be independent. This is going to cause us all kinds of trouble in the next 10 years. People who used to support us will be neutral. But in the final analysis it is our greatest source of strength. We desire to be independent; so do they. They desire to be independent of us. They desire to be independent of Western Europe, but they also desire to be independent of the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists. We do not desire to dominate them. They do.

Therefore, if we can associate ourselves with this great tide, and it has been a source of regret to me since the end of World War II that we have not associated ourselves with it, then I think we can move with history and we can help form it and help shape it, and by the year 2000 the tide will have turned against the communists and in the direction of freedom. We, in other words, fit in with the basic movement of our time. The Communists do not. Therefore, while there are a great many clouds on the horizon, and there are a great many uncertainties about Africa, Latin America, and Asia, and Eastern Europe, I think that we represent the way to the future. If we associate with it, if we are identified with it - and that is why I was particularly pleased with what the President said yesterday - if we associate with it, if we become part of it, then our security is assured and our leadership is assured. And I think that is a contribution which the Democratic Party can make in the field of foreign policy and the security of the United States. Thank you. [Standing ovation.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Hotel Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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