Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy, Northland Shopping Center, Jennings, MO - (Advance Release Text)
In a speech on November 23, 1953, President Eisenhower said:
Abilene, Kans., had a code and I was raised as a boy to prize that code. It was: Meet anyone face to face with whom you disagree. * * * In this country if someone dislikes you or accuses you, he must come up in front. He cannot hide behind the shadows, cannot assassinate you or your character from behind without suffering the penalties an outraged citizenry will inflict.
I hope that the Vice President will abide by that code in considering my proposal for a fifth debate in the closing days of the campaign. For there remain vital issues between us, and the country is entitled to have them thoroughly aired.
Moreover, it is not only between us that disagreement exists. Important conflicts are cropping up in Republican ranks. If the Vice President cannot find an hour to debate me for a fifth time, then at least he might debate Mr. Lodge, so they can air their differences on the Cabinet. At least he might debate Governor Rockefeller, so they can air their differences on defense policy. At least he might debate Senator Javits, so they can air their differences on American prestige abroad. At least he might debate Secretary Herter so they can air their differences on policy in the Far East. At least he might debate Secretary Benson, to see if they have any differences on farm policy.
For the issues in this campaign must not be hidden in the shadows of ambiguity or the clouds of rhetoric. They must be brought into sharp and clear focus so that the American people can make an intelligent choice. And they must also be brought into sharp and clear focus so that people abroad can gain added respect for America. For that will be achieved, not by painting everything rosy colors, as the Vice President seemed to suggest in our debate last night, but by showing our ability to face the facts and to make a responsible choice.
John F. Kennedy, Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy, Northland Shopping Center, Jennings, MO - (Advance Release Text) Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/274497