John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Springfield, MA, City Hall

November 07, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mayor O'Connor, who I hope will be the next U.S. Senator from the State of Massachusetts [applause], Joe Ward, the Democratic candidate for Governor, who I hope will be the Governor of Massachusetts [applause], my distinguished running mates on the ticket in Massachusetts, Edward McLaughlin, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, the attorney general, Edward McCormack, John Driscoll, who is candidate for treasurer, Kevin White, who is a candidate for secretary of state; and Tom Buckley, State auditor, ladies and gentlemen this is the first speech that I have made in this presidential campaign in my own State of Massachusetts. I saved the best to last. [Applause.] I am glad to be in Springfield for another reason, and that is that this district is represented in Congress by a distinguished Congressman, Eddy Boland [applause] who has spent the entire fall, the last 2 months, running our campaign in the State of Ohio, which is the kind of man he is. [Applause.] If we carry Ohio tomorrow night, it will be due to his work more than any other, and I am delighted to have a chance to come here and tell you what he has done to this State, this district, and this campaign. [Applause.] I come here to Massachusetts, which I have represented in the Congress for the past 14 years, and ask your support tomorrow in the campaign for the Presidency . [Applause.] But I do not come here merely as a citizen of this State. I come here not merely as a fellow Democrat. I come here as a concerned citizen who wishes to see this country move forward again. [Applause.]

In the last 7 days, Mr. Nixon has suggested that if he is elected President of the United States, he will go to Eastern Europe. He has also indicated if he is elected President of the United States, President Eisenhower will go to Russia. He has also indicated that if he is elected President of the United States, President Hoover and President Truman will also go behind the Iron Curtain. I want to make it clear that if I am elected President of the United States, I am going to Washington, D.C. [Applause.] If there is any lesson which this country should have learned in the last 8 years, it is that the Communist system and the Communist leaders are not impressed by good will missions. They are impressed by the power, strength, and determination of the United States, and that is what must be built. [Applause.]

The Communists have not risen from a small group of conspirators in a back room to being a powerful country which threatens our survival by being impressed by word. They are impressed only if this country is moving ahead with purpose and conviction. And my judgment is that the next President of the United States must supply the leadership which will make it possible for us to move ahead. [Applause.]

Mr. Nixon and I disagree on the position of the United States in the world, on what we must do, on the unfinished business before our country, and you must decide tomorrow, yourself, as responsible citizens of the greatest free republic in history, a country which bears upon its shoulders the burden of maintaining free government, not only in the United States, but around the world. You must decide yourselves whether the view of the world which I have tried to present in this campaign, the view of our responsibilities as citizens of this country, the things we must do in the 1960's to maintain our freedom - whether you agree with that, or whether you agree with Mr. Nixon that we should sit in the sun and let history pass us by. [Response from the audience.]

This choice is clear. I do not believe that any candidate for the Presidency can run on a platform that all is well, that all is being done in good time, that our prestige was never higher, and that the tide of history is moving in our favor, and then suddenly, if elected, hope to get the support of the Congress and the people on the programs that must be enacted. I disagree with Mr. Nixon on the trend [applause] - what this country must do to maintain the peace, and maintain our position in the world, and I am very sure if we do not continue to drift and lie at anchor, only seeing the beginning of our difficulties, but if this country goes back to work again, if it moves with purpose, if it moves with perseverance, there is nothing it cannot do, nothing. [Applause.]

I have traveled in 50 States in the last 12 months, every part of the United States, and I come back after that long trip from Alaska to Maine to Massachusetts, with more confidence that this country can meet its responsibilities in the sixties that the people of the United States want the truth. They are prepared to bear the burdens which go with the maintenance of freedom, and in my judgment it is the function of the next President of the United States to tap the reservoir of vitality and energy in our great system and our great country. [Applause.] So I come here to Springfield in the last 12 hours of the presidential campaign of 1960, and I ask your support. I ask you to join me not merely in trying to win tomorrow, but trying to win all the tomorrows that are going to come across the horizon, in good times and bad, in fair wind and foul. I have confidence that the United States will meet its commitments to itself and will serve in the future as it has in the past as the great defender of freedom around the world. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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