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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Jackson, MI

October 14, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Lieutenant Governor and the next Governor of Michigan, John Swainson [applause], my friend and colleague in the U.S. Senate, Pat McNamara, the next U.S. Senator from Michigan [applause] Mennen Williams, ladies and gentlemen and here is Tom Payne, your next Congressman from this district. [Applause.]

This community is celebrated, as John Swainson said, as one of the two birthplaces of the Republican Party, and the reason, of course, was because when the Republican Party was founded on this occasion, it served a great national purpose. It is the function of politicians and of political parties to serve a national purpose. Grover Cleveland once said - Grover Cleveland once said what good is a politician unless he stands for something. And I say what good is a political party unless it stands for something. [Applause.] The question which the people of this community and the people of the State of Michigan and the people of the United States must decide is which political party in 1960 serves a great national purpose.

Mr. Nixon has said that party labels don't mean very much, what counts is the man. I believe what counts is the man the party nominates, what counts are the things for which the party stands, and I believe in 1960, as in 1860 in this community, the Republican Party stood for something. I believe in 1960 in the community the Democratic Party stands for something. [Applause.]

I believe we stand for a great national purpose. I believe that we stand for rebuilding the United States, for developing our economy, for moving ahead here at home, and building our strength around the world. We look to the future in the same way as in other days and in other years Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson looked to the future.

I run against a candidate, Mr. Nixon, who runs on the slogan "You never had it so good." I want him to run on that slogan in the State of Michigan. I want him to run on that slogan in this community. I want him to run on that slogan all over the State. The State of Michigan has not recovered from the recession of 1958. Over 7 percent of its people are out of work. And now at this hme,in October, when the auto industry is at its height, what is going to happen in January, February, March? What is the winter of 1961 going to be like here in this State, and here in the United States? As long as in the fall of 1960 we are using only 50 percent of our steel capacity, as long as 35 percent of our brightest boys and girls never go to college, as long as there are things which are left to be done, I think it is the function of the Democratic Party to complete the unfinished business of this society, to get our country moving again, to provide jobs for our people.

In the next 10 years we are going to have to find 25,000 new jobs a week for the next 10 years. Which political party do you think could do that better, which political party has stood for full employment? [Response from the audience.] We are going to have to build from 200,000 to 300,000 more homes every year than we are now building. Which party do you think stands for that? [Response from the audience. We are going to have to make it possible for every boy and girl who is qualified to go to college, who has talent, to go to college. Which party has stood for that issue in the past and in the future. [Response from the audience.]

We are going to have to have to make it possible for every American, regardless of his race or his religion, or the color of his skin, to realize his talents, and we stand for that.

So I come to this community which 100 years ago, 104 years ago saw the birth of a great party, and I come in 1960 to that same community and say that on this occasion, in this year, in these dangerous times, we in the Democratic Party serve the national interest and the national purpose. I come here and ask your support, not merely to build this State of Michigan, not merely to strengthen this community, but to strengthen the United States, to move it forward, to have it stand once again as an inspiration to all those who wish to be free. And I do that shoulder to shoulder with Tom Payne, Pat McNamara, John Swainson, and all those who believe that the years of the 1960's can be the brightest in our history. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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