John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, National Stockyards, East St. Louis, IL

October 03, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Senator Douglas, Governor Kerner, Congressman Price, ladies and gentlemen I want to express my appreciation to all of you for your generous invitation to come here today. I am the Democratic candidate for the Presidency and I run as a Democrat. [Applause.]

I am glad to be here in this stockyard because this proves an important point. I come from Massachusetts, which is not a great agricultural center, but I can tell you that Massachusetts will not be prosperous unless the farmers of the United States are prosperous.

We heard today that International Harvester, which makes farm machinery, has closed down today, and John Deere plants have closed down; and the reason is that agricultural income has dropped in the past few years almost 20 to 25 percent, and because when farmers go down the rest of the economy sooner or later goes down. The farmers are the No.1 market for the auto industry of the United States and the auto industry is the No.1 market for the steel industry, and the steel is 50 percent of capacity. That is what we are producing this week. The Soviet Union last week produced more steel than we did, because we are only using half of our capacity and only slightly more than half of our people. The economy of the United States is tied together. If the farmer prospers, the city prospers, and if the city prospers the farmer prospers, and I think the Democratic Party has understood that from the beginning. I think Franklin Roosevelt and Truman and Woodrow Wilson fought for the people of this country, fought to advance their progress, and we must fight in 1960 and 1961 and 1962. [Applause.]

As long as there are millions of Americans who receive less than the $1 minimum wage for an hour of work, as long as there are hundreds of thousands of farmers who are being driven off the land in the last few years, as long as we are producing one-half as many scientist and engineers as the Soviet Union, as long as our economy is moving ahead at a slower rate, not only than the Soviet Union, but Germany, France or Italy, I think there is need for new leadership. I don't say that life will be easy if we are successful, but I certainly can assure you that we are going to move this country and move ahead.

Paul Douglas said we have been on dead center and I think we have been on dead center long enough. There are 5 million American homes in the cities of the United States that lack plumbing of any kind; 15 million American homes which are substandard, and yet we are not building anywhere near enough homes per year. I think a Democratic administration, under the leadership of vigorous people, who look to the future, can move this country into the sixties, and in strengthening the United States, they strengthen the cause of freedom. This country will not maintain its freedom, this country will not maintain its commitments around the world, unless we have a strong and vigorous economy, able to maintain our commitments, able to build, able to move. I come here today and ask your support in this campaign. I feel that we have in 1960 the same opportunity that we had in 1948 and 1932 and 1912, the chance to move again. We have stood still long enough.

I ask your support in this campaign. I ask you to join me in starting this country forward. Thank you.

I am going to save this hat and if I get elected I will wear it in the inaugural parade. [Applause and laughter.]

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

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