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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Rally, Lawrence Hotel, Erie, PA

September 28, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor Lawrence ladies and gentlemen, does not anyone ever go to school in Erie? [Laughter.] I want to express my thanks to all of you for this morning's reception and also for last night. I don't think that in the whole campaign we have had as high a turnout of the people who live in one community as we have had in this community. [Applause.] We have been traveling in this campaign from community to community, from State to State, from region to region, and we travel by plane and by car, and there are bands and all the rest. But we are engaged in a serious business, in a serious time in the life of our country. I lead on this occasion the Democratic Party which, in other years and other occasions and other great crises, had produced Jefferson, Jackson, and Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. I think the Democratic Party has produced these men for two reasons: First, because the party is a national party, it represents potato farmers in Maine and steelworkers in Pennsylvania, and citrusgrowers in California and fishermen in the State of Washington. It speaks for all the people and all interests, and, therefore, I think looks to the future as the American people do.

The second reason is because we have had in every year of our great contribution, men and women of sufficient vitality and vigor to look to the future: Woodrow Wilson in the campaign of 1912 on the new freedom. The first 2 years of his administration were the most productive since the administration of Abraham Lincoln. Franklin Roosevelt ran with the New Deal. As Governor Lawrence said this morning, the first 100 days redid the face of America, and we still benefit from what he did in the first 12 months of his Office. Harry Truman ran on the Fair Deal, to speak on behalf of the people of this country. I think that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman were regarded as great Presidents by the people of this country, and the world. They were regarded as good neighbors by the people of Latin America, because they were good neighbors to the people of this country. You cannot succeed abroad, you cannot be strong abroad, you cannot have our prestige strong around the world unless you are moving here at home. What we are speaks louder than what we say. What we are doing here carries its imprint across the face of the globe. Because Franklin Roosevelt developed the Tennessee Valley, people all over the world thought they could do the same. They wanted to imitate us. I want people to look again to the United States for leadership. I want them to know that we have in this country not only a free society, but also a strong and productive society. I want people in this country working. I want us developing our natural resources. I want us to demonstrate that we can be first; not, if or but or when, but first, now, period. [Applause.]

I think the people of this country should make a determination in making a decision as to who they should elect in November. They should make a determination not only on what is best for the United States, but which party can lead this country to a position of preeminence in the world.

A Gallup poll taken some months ago showed that of the 10 countries polled, a majority of the people in every country thought the Soviet Union would be ahead of the United States, in 1970, both scientifically and militarily. If people think it so, it may be so. I don't think it so. But I think the important thing is to let people know that it is not going to be so, to let people know that we are on the move here in the United States. [Applause.)

I am tired of reading what Khrushchev is doing. I would like the people of the world to be reading what the American President is doing, and what the United States is doing, not merely what Castro is doing or Khrushchev is doing or Kadar is doing or Gomulka is doing. [Applause.]

I make no pretense of saying that if we are elected life will be easier. I think the next President's responsibility in the next 6 months will be extremely heavy. He will be faced with the problem of maintaining full employment here in the United States, of maintaining our economy, of trying to stimulate sufficiently so that people who want to find work can find it, and in addition he will be face to face with a serious situation in Berlin, in Formosa and around the world. He will be face to face with a competition in Africa and Latin America.

I don't run for the Office of the Presidency promising that if I am elected life will be easy for the people or for the President. I think it is a difficult time. But I think all of us want to serve our country, all of us want the best for it, and I happen to believe that the Democratic Party has sufficient energy and vitality, sufficient force, to lead the United States through dangerous times. I ask your help in this campaign. I ask your support. [Applause.]

Let me close by saying to you--

(Response from the audience.)

I know that I am doing the work and when I stop you have to go to school, and then you have to work

(Response from the audience.)

In any case, I want to express my thanks to you all. I think here in Pennsylvania you know as much about the issues as you can know. You have a distinguished Democratic Governor. You have had serious problems which have faced this State because it is a major industrial component of the United States. If our economy is moving ahead, then Pennsylvania moves ahead. If our economy stands still or is on a plateau, then Pennsylvania stands still. This is, in a sense, a weathervane State, because if its basic industries are moving ahead, I think the future of this State will be assured. What we want for this State we want for our country, and what we want for our country, we want for the free world.

In the American Revolution of 1776, Thomas Paine said that the cause of America is the cause of all mankind. I think in this case the cause of all mankind is the cause of America. I think we have a great contribution to make, and I am satisfied that we are going to make it. I want it said not in November but in a later date in our history by 1965 or 1970, or 1975 or 1980, when the world begins to move in the direction of freedom that we have met the enemy and they are ours. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Rally, Lawrence Hotel, Erie, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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