John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Lawrence Stadium, Wichita, KS

October 22, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor and Mrs. Docking, my old friends, Frank Theis, who is going to be the next U.S. Senator from the State of Kansas [applause], Bill Robinson, who is going to speak for this district and the country in the U.S. Congress [applause], Congressman Hargis, Congressman Newell George, Congressman Floyd Breeding, and Congressmen-to-be Davis and Gardiner, ladies and gentlemen, I saw a list of States Mr. Nixon's headquarters put out - of the States that they had sure, the States that were doubtful, and one or two States that maybe we had [laughter], and among the States that they had sure, that they did not have to worry about, was Kansas. I don't believe it. [Applause.]

If you can tell me how any farmer in the State of Kansas who has complained for 8 years about Mr. Benson's policies can vote for a candidate who is putting forward the very same policies - can you tell me how anyone who works in the plants here in Wichita or in business across Kansas, that work at a time when we are moving ahead at the slowest rate of economic growth since the last recession of 1958, can vote for Mr. Nixon and the Republican Party I [Response from the audience.] Can you tell me how a small businessman who has three times as much chance of going bankrupt this year as he did 10 or 12 years ago, can you tell me how any citizen can vote for a political party and leadership which permits us to be second in space? [Response from the audience.] In danger of being second in missiles? [Response from the audience.] Which permits 10 years ago, when we had twice as many scientists as they do now one-half every year? And yet a candidate and a party who runs on the slogan "We've never had it so good" [Response from the audience.] A candidate and a party who refuses to permit documents paid for by the Federal Government relating to the taxpayers, relating to our position around the world, refuse to let the people see them because of the effect it would have on this election?

Can you tell me that Kansas this year can support that kind of leadership? I say it cannot. [Response from the audience.]

Lyndon Johnson, speaking recently in this area 2 or 3 weeks ago, said the farmers of Kansas and these States should sue Mr. Benson for nonsupport and cruelty. [Laughter and applause.]

A Kansas farmer said last week as he was planting his wheat, "I hope I break even this year. I need the money." I believe we can do better than that. [Applause.]

Mr. Nixon offers two proposals for the farmer of this rich State. One is we eat our way out of the surplus. Those were Mr. Benson's very words. And that is an awfully big meal stored away. [Laughter and applause.]

The second is, the other proposal is that if we pay a support price of 90 percent of the market price for the last 3 years. As the market price drops year by year, so does the support price. Any farmer in the State of Kansas who will just read Mr. Nixon's program and can accept the idea that he wants an agricultural program which provides the support price shall be tied not to a parity standard but tied to the market price - I must say that I think the record is clear, the warnings are clear. In 1952, there may have been some excuse because they were promised 100 percent of parity. Mr. Nixon makes it very clear. He is promising them an agricultural program which will eat up not only the surpluses but the farmer. [Laughter and applause.]

And then he goes to New Jersey. This administration is the only administration that ever sent a Secretary of Agriculture to campaign in the city for votes. Mr. Nixon went to New Jersey and said, "our agricultural program will increase the farmers income to such an extent that food prices will go up 25 percent." Of course, that is like so many of his other statements made up of the whole cloth. A farmer gets 2 cents on the amount of wheat that is in a loaf of bread that may sell for 25, 6, 7, or 8 cents in the eastern part of the United States. If that farmer's income went up 10 or 15 percent of 2 cents, it would be what, 2 1/2 cents? I think Mr. Nixon ought to get out his adding machine and count our farm program, the effect of his farm program, and count the electoral votes of Kansas and he will come to a different conclusion. [Applause.]

For 24 long years Kansas has been faithful to the Republican Party. Now we come and ask your support in this election, not merely for Kansas, not merely for the United States, but for all those who believe that the United States has a role to fulfill as the great defender of freedom. You cannot be a citizen of this country, you cannot read your papers, you cannot listen to the discussion of the issues on television and radio, without knowing the truth of what I say, and that is we are not doing enough. Our power and prestige is not increasing as fast as it must. We are moving into a period of danger and hazard and opportunity. And unless this country is ready to go to work and move again by 4 years or 8 years, the tide will go out further. This is the moment of decision.

We present our views until November 8, and then you have to decide. You have to decide what sort of a district you want, what kind of a State you want, what kind of a country you want, what kind of a world you want. Don't you agree, looking at that State, that country, and that world, that the only way that we can maintain our position is by demonstrating in this country a sense of purpose, a sense of vitality, a sense of energy, a sense of conviction? Showing the people around the world that our brightest days are still ahead, our high noon in Wichita and across the world is in the days to come?

I believe the next President of the United States should set before the American people the things we must do in the next decade, if we are going to provide leadership and security for ourselves and the free world. Everything that you deal with in this State is tied up with our position in the world. The food we grow, the airplanes we build or do not build, the oil that we take out of the ground, the resources that we develop, the businesses that are maintained, the jobs that we provide, the security we give to our older citizens, the kind of education we give our children, the sense of motion in this State, the sense of motion in the United States. We are a free society. It is completely up to you. Mr. Khrushchev is able to move his country by force, by his own direction. We move in this country by your force and by your direction, and by your willingness to commit yourselves to progress in the 1960's, and that is the issue. [Applause.]

Governor Docking, Frank Theis, Bill Robinson, your other Congressmen, all speak for Kansas. They all speak with vigor, and they all put before us and give to the Democratic Party and the State a sense of identification. I come today and speak on behalf of the Nation. I ask you as citizens of the United States for your support, not just as the Democratic standard bearer in just another election, but as an American concerned, who believes that this country needs leadership and that this country can move again. [Applause.]

In 1860, during the election 100 years ago, when this State was torn and when the issues were much the same in a smaller sense as they are today, whether this country could exist half slave and half free, Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend:

I know there is a God and I know He hates injustice. I see the storm coming, and His hand is in it. If He has a place and a part for me, I believe that I am ready.

Now, 100 years later, we know there is a God and we know He hates injustice, and we see the storm coming. We see His hand in it, but if He has a place and a part for us, I believe that we are ready. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Lawrence Stadium, Wichita, KS Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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