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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Lebanon, PA

September 16, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Mayor, Governor, Senator Clark, Mayor Dilworth, fellow candidates on the Democratic ticket, Mrs. Price, ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my thanks to the mayor and to the Governor, Senator Clark, and to all of you, for coming out this morning and giving us a warm welcome. I run for the office of the Presidency in a very difficult time in the life of our country. I don't run for the office of the Presidency saying that if we are elected life will be easy and the problems all solved. I think the 1960's are going to be difficult for us all. But I do think that the contribution which the Democratic Party can make on this occasion is in many ways comparable to the contribution it made during the lifetime of three great Presidents in this century; Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. [Applause.] And I think the common denominator of all their servies, the common threat that ran through the administrations of these three Americans during the 20th century was their faith in this country, their faith in its unlimited capacity to meet our problems here at home and lead the free world all over the globe. I think that can still be done.

My argument with the Republicans is not because I do not believe that they share our aspirations for this country. My argument is that they have been content with too little, they have been content with an economy which has expanded too little. We, in this State of Pennsylvania, know better than almost any State in the Union that we are not realizing our potential. When half of the steel mill capacity in this State is unused and, therefore, half of the steelworkers in this State do not find a good job, then you know that a basic asset which distinguishes us from our adversaries, the productive capacity of the United States is not being used.

When the prestige and power of the United States around the globe deteriorates in relation to that of the Communist power, then we know we are not meeting our responsibilities, because if the United States is not the great defender of freedom, no other country is. If we fail, the cause of freedom fails; if we succeed, the cause of freedom succeeds. And I don't think there is any American, regardless of party, who can possibly feel as secure as he did 5, 6, or 7 years ago. All over the globe the Communists have been on the move. It is not merely Cuba. It is through other sections of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. This question is not going to be solved in 1960, but I don't want a historian in 1970 to write that it was during these years of our responsibility that the tide began to go out for freedom, that the influence of the United States as a great world power began to fade, and that the future began to move in the direction of the Communists.

This is a great country, but I think we can make it a greater country, and it is a powerful country, but I think we can make it a more powerful country. I ask your help in this election. Mostly because I believe that while the future may be hazardous for us all, I do think we can move ahead. I think we can play our traditional role, and I think if we do not do it, we fail ourselves, and the cause of freedom. I ask your help in this election. I think here in the State of Pennsylvania this election may well be decided. I ask your assistance, not merely for my own candidacy, but because I believe that we have a great opportunity to serve freedom around the world and in so doing serve ourselves. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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