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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, South Bay Shopping Center, Redondo Beach, CA

November 01, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mayor Richards, Governor Brown, my distinguished colleague and friend in the House of Representatives from this district, and your next Congressman, Congressman King [applause], Mr. Braydon, Mr. Kimball, ladies and gentlemen: A week from Tuesday - I get the message, thank you. [Laughter.] A week from today - attaboy, thank you. Now, if we can just get this sign down, we will be all set. [Applause.]

A week from today, 7 days from this Tuesday, this election for the President of the United States is going to be held. A week from today you must make your decision of which party, which candidate, which political philosophy, which view of the future you hold for the United States, and I want to make it very clear that there are very sharp differences between Mr. Nixon and myself. [Applause.] Mr. Nixon has chosen to run for the Presidency with the argument that our prestige has never been higher in the world. He argues that everything that must be done is being done; that we have never had in this State of California or in the country such prosperity. I hold a different view. I hold the view that this is a great country, but it must be greater; it is a powerful country, but it must be more powerful, and I hold the view that in the 1960's this country either moves ahead or it slips back, and if we slip back, we fail not only ourselves and those who come after us - we fail all those people stretching around the globe who desire to be free and to look to us. This is one of the most important elections in the history of our country.

I believe it is a choice between a candidate and a party that is willing to break new ground, that is willing to move ahead, that is willing to take this country off dead center, and between a party, the Republican Party, that looks to the past.

Now, as long as we in this country stand still, as long as we do not take advantage of our opportunities, we fail ourselves, and we fail those who desire to be free. This is a deadly struggle in which we are engaged and we can't afford to be second best. We can't afford to be second best in outer space. We cannot afford to have 35 percent of our brightest boys and girls who graduate from high school never get to college. [Applause.]

We can't afford men and women in the State of California out of work, unable to find a job. We can't afford to have 16 million Americans over the age of 65 who live on an average social security check of less than $72 a month. [Applause.]

This administration argues about its progress. If you buy today a $10,000 home in this community on a 30-year mortgage as a result of the high interest rate policy of this administration, you pay $3,300 more than you would have paid 8 years ago for that house. If you build a school, you pay another percentage more than you would have paid 8 years ago. Here is this country of ours, the richest country on earth, with a recession in 1954, a recession in 1958, and today in San Diego and in parts of Los Angeles nearly 7 percent of the labor force is out of work.

Now, I think we are going to have to do better. I think we are going to have to move ahead. I think the United States has unlimited potential, but I cannot believe in the difficult and changing times in which our country lives - I cannot believe that we will put our confidence and our hopes for the future in a party which has always stood still and with a candidate which symbolizes that party - Mr. Nixon. [Applause.]

Can you tell me one single program in the last 25 years, domestically or abroad, that the Republican Party has ever proposed, has ever suggested? [Response from the audience.] We are going to provide our security, and we are going to provide peace, only as long as the United States gives the image of a strong and vital society. Today in Latin America and Africa and Asia, what is the image of the United States? What vision do we give to them of their future? The Government took polls this summer which showed that our prestige has dropped, and which they will not release. But it shows in country after country people stretching around the globe have begun to believe that the way of the future is not the United States, but belongs to our adversaries.

I don't want that kind of experience for the future. I want to see us do better. I want to move this country ahead. I come to you today and ask your help in doing it. [Applause.] You cannot be a concerned citizen of this country who must vote on Tuesday on what is best for our country - you cannot possibly read your papers of Cuba, of Latin America, of Africa, of Western Europe, of Eastern Europe, of Mr. Khrushchev on the march - you cannot possibly look around you and come to the conclusion that all is well.

I think we have to begin another great movement forward. I think we have to build in this country a strong and vital and progressive society, one that ornaments the cause of freedom, one that demonstrates what freedom can do, one that holds out a helping hand to all those who desire to be free. I want Mr. Khrushchev to know that a new generation of Americans has taken over in this country. [Applause.] A generation of Americans who fought in Europe and in the Pacific for freedom before, and who will build in this country the kind of society that defends freedom in the 1960's. I ask your help to join me in picking America up and moving it. [Applause.]

One hundred years ago in the presidential campaign of 1860, Abraham Lincoln wrote a friend, "I know there is a God and I know He hates injustice. I see the storm coming, and I know His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe that I am ready."

Now, 100 years later, the contest still is between freedom and slavery, we know there is a God and we know He hates injustice and we see the storm coming. We see His hand in it. But if He has a place and a part for us, I believe we are ready. I ask your help next Tuesday. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, South Bay Shopping Center, Redondo Beach, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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