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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Marshall, MI

October 14, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. My friend and colleague in the U.S. Senate, the Senator from the State of Michigan, and I hope the next U.S. Senator, Senator Pat McNamara [applause], John Swainson, the candidate for Governor, and I hope the next Governor of Michigan [applause], Sam Clark, the next Congressman from this district [applause], ladies and gentlemen: If you just stay up there until November 9 we can settle this whole matter. [Laughter.]

I want to express my thanks to you for coming down to the station. Whistlestopping is an old American tradition, stretching all the way back to the first campaign at the turn of the century. I come here to this community to ask your support in this election. I come as the Democratic candidate, as the leader of the opposition, as the leader of a party which in good times and bad I believe has been willing to press forward, and I believe in 1960, unlike other years in our history, this is a time when we must press forward, when we need a political party, and when we need a President, and when we need a Congress which can make a correct assessment of our times, our needs, our perils and our opportunities.

Two thousand years ago, Demosthenes in his address to the Athenians, at the time of the invasion of Philip of Macedonia, said, "Our trouble is from those who would please us rather than those who would serve us." I do not come here today in 1960 saying that this is an easy time in the life of our country, saying that the job of the next President of the United States will be easy. I think in many ways it will be the most difficult since the administration of Abraham Lincoln. And because of the danger of weapons, because the problems are increasing in complexity, I think in many ways it may he the most difficult since the first administration of General Washington.

But I run for the Presidency because the Presidency under the American constitutional system is the center of action It is as Franklin Roosevelt said, above all a place for moral leadership. Only the President speaks for the country. I speak for Massachusetts, Senator McNamara speaks for Michigan, Senator Engle for California. But only the President of the United States can speak for Massachusetts and Michigan and California. And I think the job of the next President of the United States is to tell the American people the sober facts of life, to ask of them a greater effort, to suggest that it is incumbent upon us to build our strength here in this country, if we are going to maintain ourselves. I do not want it said of the United States by historians in 1970 or 1975 or 1980, after a perspective of a decade over our present time, that it was in these years, at the end of the fifties, that the balance of power in the world began to swing against us. Eastern Europe, Russia, and China are now assembled against us. If India should fail to maintain its economic viability and its democracy, if it should decide that the only way it can solve its problems is to follow the example of the Chinese, then the balance of power would turn against us. Guinea and Ghana have begun to indicate in Africa that that is their decision. Cuba already has. Laos may in the next week or two. Iraq is in danger. The Congo is in danger - all these countries which stand poised, facing overwhelming problems, trying to determine whether the way of the future is with us or with the Communists, and within the next decade they will begin to make up their minds. That is why I think this election is so important. That is why I think the times in which we live are so important. In the next 10 years, the balance of power in the would may begin to move either inevitably in the direction of the Communists or in the direction of freedom. And I want to be sure that in these changing years, in these years so fraught with opportunity and so fraught with peril, the United States meets its responsibilities that it has leadership sensitive to these problems, that we associate ourselves with these people, that we build our strength here at home, and that we hold out a hand to all those who wish to follow our example.

In the last 8 years, the Voice of America made Spanish broadcasts to Latin America only during the 3 months of the Hungarian crisis. We offered two or three or four hundred scholarships a year to all of Latin America, for young leaders to come and study in this country, less than 200 to all of Africa. Only 5 percent of all the people in our Foreign Service are now stationed in Africa. A year ago more were stationed in Western Germany than in all of Africa. And yet by 1962, Africa will have one-quarter of the votes of the General Assembly.

We are now the fourth country in the world in radio propaganda broadcasts; Moscow is 1, Peking 2, Cairo 3 - Radio Cairo Egypt 3 - the United States, 4. The question which you have to decide is whether the view of the world which I hold or the view of the world which Mr. Nixon holds is the one that you hold, that you believe the United States should hold. Do you believe we are meeting our responsibilities? Do you believe that we are sensitive to the changes that are taking place around us? I said last night in the debate we have less than 100 people working in the entire Federal Government on the subject of disarmament - 100 people on the most complicated, perhaps important and perhaps fruitful responsibility which the Government now faces. I believe we can do better, and I believe we must do better if we are going to maintain our own freedom and the freedom of all those around the world who want to be free. So I come to Marshall, not the biggest city in the world, but a city and town which must make the same decision that every other American must make, not merely between Mr. Nixon and I as personalities. The issue is, What is your view of our country? What is your view of the future? What is you view of our own? On that basis I ask your support. On that basis I believe the United States is going to choose on November 8 to march forward. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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