John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Paterson, NJ, City Hall

September 15, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor, Mr. Mayor, Senator Grosse, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen, I want to express my thanks to all of you for your kindness in coming out today and giving us a great Democratic reception here in the city of Paterson. [Applause.]

I stand today as the Democratic standardbearer in succession to other great Democrats who in this century bore that banner, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. [Applause.] The issue which is now before us, the issue which divides the two political parties are the same issues which have divided the two political parties during this century. The Republican Party has opposed every effort that we have made in this century in the administrations of Wilson and Roosevelt and Truman, to advance the welfare of our people. Can you think of one single piece of progressive legislation to benefit our people in the last 8 years? I cannot. [Applause.]

Every effort that we have made to provide protection for our older citizens, to increase the educational opportunities for our children, to increase the minimum wage to $1.25 an hour, they have opposed. [Applause.]

In 1952 the Republicans ran on a program of rolling back the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. Today the Iron Curtain is 90 miles off the coast of the United States. Is there any American who feels more secure today than he did 10 years ago? (Response from the audience.)

The last few years have seen a steady increase in the power and prestige of the Communist world. I think it is time we reverse it. [Applause.] We may be able next week to confine Mr. Khrushchev to the island of Manhattan, and Mr. Castro to the island of Manhattan, but we have not confined Mr. Khrushchev in Africa, and we have not confined Mr. Castro in Latin America. I think it is time that this country started to move again. [Applause.]

I can assure you that if we are elected in November, that we will carry on in this country the same policies which have distinguished for so many years other great Democratic administrations, the equality of opportunity for our people, the protection of their rights, better housing, better schools, better attention to the needs of the people of the United States. [Applause.] And I can assure you in so doing that we will build in this country a stronger America which will make its influence felt around the world.

I ask your help. Give us your voice, your hands, your help in this campaign, and we are going to win it. [Applause.]

One hundred years ago in the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln wrote a friend, "I know there is a God and that He hates injustice. I see the storm coming and I see His hand in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe that I am ready." Now, 100 years later, in the great election of 1960, we know there is a God and that He hates injustice, and we see a a storm coming. But if He has a place and a part for us, I believe that we are ready. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Paterson, NJ, City Hall Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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