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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Main Intersection, East St. Louis, IL

October 03, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Ladies and gentlemen, needless to say, this is not my automobile that I am now standing on. [Laughter.] I want to introduce to you the Democratic candidate for Governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner. [Applause]. I want you to meet your distinguished Congressman, Mel Price, who you are going to send back. [Applause]. And I want you to meet again the present U.S. Senator and the next Senator from the State of Illinois, Paul Douglas. [Applause.] And I am here runninig for the President. [Applause.]

I come here to the all-America city and ask your help in this campaign. [Applause.] Anybody who says that there is nothing left for us to do has not read the paper, doesn't know what is left for the United States to do in its unfinished business here at home. As long as this administration refuses to pass a minimum wage of $1.25 an hour, as long as this administration vetoes housing bills, as long as this administration refuses to pass legislation for medical care for our older citizens, as long as there is not equality of opportunity for all Americans regardless of their race or their religion, there is unfinished business for our generation. I stand here where Harry Truman stood and Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in this century. The United States is faced with its most severe test, but we cannot possibly meet our obligations, we cannot possibly maintain a defense second to none, unless we are moving here in the United States, unless our economy is going ahead, unless we have full employment, unless we have the best educational system in the world.

I believe we can do a better job. I stand where Democratic Presidents have stood in difficult times in the life of their country, but they have looked to the future. The same people who tried to kill social security in 1935, tried to kill our efforts to protect social security in 1960. I believe the United States can have an unparalleled period of growth in the sixties. I think we can maintain a defense second to none. I see no reason why we should be second to anyone in outer space. But we can do none of these things, we can meet none of our obligations. The tide of history will move against us unless we begin to move here in the United States. The reason that Franklin Roosevelt was a good neighbor in Latin America was because he was a good neighbor in the United States. You cannot possibly be successful abroad, you cannot possibly convey an image of vitality and energy in your relations with the world around us unless you are moving here at home, unless the Government is holding out a hand and joining with the people in building a better society. With Paul Douglas in the Senate and Mel Price in the House of Representatives, and Otto Kerner in the State of Illinois, all men who look to the future, all who believe that a public interest is a public trust, all that believe that this country can do anything, this is a strong country but I believe it must be stronger, and it is a powerful country but I believe it must be more powerful. We had a recession in 1954, a recession in 1948. In the State of Illinois we had in the last few days the highest unemployment that we had in any August prior to the three recessions since 1945. I don't want to see us stand still in the winter of 1961. I don't want Mr. Khrushchev and Castro to be on the move while we are on the defensive. I ask your help in this campaign, and I ask that on behalf of our country because I think we can serve the United States.

Last February George Gallup took a poll in 10 countries of the world and asked them one question: Who do you think will be first in science and military power in 1970, the Soviet Union or the United States? Nine out of the ten countries with the exception of Greece - every one of those people, a majority thought the Soviet Union would be first. Why do they think they are moving faster than we are? Why do people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America begin to wonder whether the Communist system represents the way of the future instead of our system. I think ours, but we have to work at it. We have to show the same vitality and dedication which we have shown in other great crises in other years.

Mr. Nixon runs on the slogan "You never had it so good." I think we can do better, not only individually, but as a country, not only as a country, but as a country which personifies the cause of freedom. If the United States is on the move, the cause of freedom is strong. If we stand still, freedom loses. So I think this is an important election, and I think there are real issues in it. I think the Democratic Party can serve in 1960 the people of this country. I ask your support in this campaign. I ask your support to cross the new frontier of the sixties. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Main Intersection, East St. Louis, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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