John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ

November 06, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor Meyner, Mayor Kenny, members of the city government, your two distinguished Congressmen, Congressman Gallagher, whom I know you are going to elect again [applause], Congressman Daniels, who deserves your support at the polls on Tuesday [applause], Thorn Lord, who will be the next U.S. Senator from the State of New Jersey [applause], ladies and gentlemen: I come here and this campaign is coming to an end. This is the last speech that I make outside of New England, and I come here tonight to a great Democratic city and county and ask your support on Tuesday. [Applause.] This campaign has taken us to all sections of the United States, to every State, over a period of many months, and in the next 30 hours this campaign will come to a close, and then the people of the United States must make their decision. I believe that the people of the United States face two very distinct choices, between a party and a candidate who have opposed progress throughout their respective careers, and a party and a candidate who have supported progress throughout their respective careers.

I believe in 1960 that this country needs a Democratic administration. [Applause.] That this country needs the kind of talented men and women to serve in all there is of our National Government, to represent us across the world, to speak with vigor and force. I come from a party and I stand proudly as its candidate, who initiated all the great pieces of social legislation, which means so much in the lives of our citizens, and Mr. Nixon comes from a party, and he is identified with it [response from the audience], that bears the dubious distinction of having opposed every single one of these pieces of social legislation.

I asked a month ago in Cleveland if someone could tell me one progressive thing that the Republican Party had stood for or done this century, and when nobody answered, I was criticized the next day by the paper, a Republican paper, who said that I had ignored the accomplishments of President Taft in the field of child labor in 1904. [Response from the audience.]

All right, what have they done since 1904, I asked them, and what have they done since 1932? [Response from the audience.] Or what have they done since 1953? [Response from the audience.] I must say, you must have been here for a while practicing. [Laughter.] How did you know I was going to ask that question? [Laughter.] In any case, you have been here, I understand, for about 2 or 3 or 4 hours. [Response from the audience.] Six hours. I want you all to keep your health, because we need you on Tuesday. [Laughter.]

This campaign is vitally important to the State of New Jersey, the State of New Jersey is vitally important to the country. This county may well determine what the State of New Jersey does, and the 14 electoral votes [response from the audience] - 16 electoral votes of New Jersey - this is the only audience that knows how many electoral votes they have. [Laughter and applause.] This must be a very politically active city. Is it? [Response from the audience.] There is a rumor to that effect. So it is 16 votes. That is even better. Those 16 votes may well determine who will be the next President of the United States. [Applause.] And the next President of the United States may well determine, not only the great issues of war and peace, but may also determine what kind of a country we have, which direction we are going, what kind of economy we have, what kind of employment security you have, what assurances you have on the education of your children, that they can get to change, that in your old age or your family's old age, there will be medical care tied to social security - all these are matters that come across the desk of the President of the United States. President Truman used to have a sign which says, "The Buck Stops Here." Sooner or later, every problem which faces us as a people comes before the President of the United States, and on that basis, and recognizing full well the high responsibilities and burdens of that office which are greater now than they have ever been in the past, I still come here and ask your support in order to win that position, not because [applause] - not just because I think it is a major mistake to elect Mr. Nixon and the Republican Party in 1960 [response from the audience] but also because I believe the Presidency is the key office, not only in this country, but in the whole free world, and I believe the next President of the United States has to be, by conviction and not merely by electioneering commitments, has to be committed to progress, which Mr. Nixon in his career has not been. [Applause.]

We stand together in this fight. This is a fight that can be won. It can be won in this State, and I come here in the dying days of this campaign, as we leave now for Lewiston, Maine, and Providence, R.I., tonight, I come here to this county and ask you to help us on Tuesday by turning out the largest Democratic majority that this county has turned out for 20 years. [Applause.] We shall not slumber and we shall keep working for the next 36 hours, until we know what decision the people of this country are going to make. Thank you. [Applause.]

Let me just say, win or lose, good or bad, up or down, fair wind or bad, I believe that the United States has benefited by this campaign. I believe that Mr. Nixon and the Republican Party have learned a lesson, that in a dangerous and trying time in the life of this country there is no substitute for action. We cannot drift or sleep or lie at anchor. This country is about to begin another great march forward, and in the lead will be the county of Hudson and the city of Jersey. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives