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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Stuyvesant Town Rally, New York, NY

October 27, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Thank you. Congressman Leonard Farbstein, who is going to be the next Congressman - I would say his chances are pretty good [applause] - and Bill Van den Heuvel who represents the district over there, who I hope will be the Congressman from this congressional district, other candidates, fellow Democrats, ladies and gentlemen, I run for the office of the Presidency this year after 14 years in the Congress with the full recognition of the responsibilities of that office. The President of the United States, and only the President of the United States, speaks for this country. I speak for Massachusetts, and Senator Douglas speaks for Illinois, and Senator Engle speaks for California. And these Congressmen speak for this district and the next district. But the President of the United States speaks for these two districts and Massachusetts and Illinois and California. And I believe it vitally important that the next President of the United States understand the revolutionary times in which we live, understand that it is vitally important that this country start to move ahead again, and that the next President of the United States place before the American people the unfinished business of our society, the things that we must achieve if we are going to maintain our freedom, and if we are going to build the kind of society which will inspire people around the world. That is why I believe this is the center of action.

The President of the United States is the key office, and only the President of the United States can mobilize the resources of this country so that we begin to move ahead again. And I believe it is in our conception of the office, in our understanding of the times, in our opinion about the future, that Mr. Nixon and I sharply disagree. The Republicans have run on slogans of peace and prosperity. I want to make it very clear that I am not satisfied with this kind of prosperity, when we only use 50 percent of our steel capacity, when we build this month 30 percent less homes than a year ago, when the United States economic growth in the last 9 months is minus 0.3 percent. We are going to have to find in the next 10 years 25,000 jobs a week every week or he next 10 years to keep our people working. We are going to have to build at least 200,000 more homes a year to keep our people adequately housed. We are going to have to provide better schools for our children because we need the best educated children in the world. We are going to have to provide medical care for the aged tied to social security, because all the people are entitled to live out their lives in some kind of dignity, and we are going to have to provide equality of opportunity for all Americans.

Now, you have to decide which party and which candidate based on their history, based on their statements in this campaign, based on their look into the future, can lead this country into the dangerous years of the 1960's, which party and which candidate and which viewpoint can build in this country a strong society which will serve as an inspiration to the people around the world. I am sick as an American of reading these studies that are made abroad, which show that the image of America as a vital forceful society, as it once was under Franklin Roosevelt, has begun to fade. [Applause]. I believe it incumbent upon this generation of Americans to meet the same rendezvous with destiny of which Franklin Roosevelt spoke in 1936. This country has to do better. This country has to move again. This country has to provide full use of all of its people and all of its facilities if we are going to win out.

I don't run on the Presidential program of saying that if I am elected life will be easy. I think to be a citizen of the United States in the 1960's is a hazardous occupation. But it is also one that offers challenge and hope, and I believe the choice lies with you on November 8. You have to decide what you think of the present, what you think of the future, what you want this country to be, whether you are satisfied or not, and based upon your judgment of what is best for our country I am ready to submit my case. Whether I am the candidate for the Presidency, or President, or stay in the Senate, I regard our obligation not to please you but to serve you, and in my judgment, in 1960, a candidate for the Presidency should be willing to give the truth to the people and the truth is that what we are now doing is not good enough. [Applause.]

Mr. Nixon can run on peace and prosperity. He can run on a program that our prestige has never been higher, that the balance of power in the world is shifting in our direction, but as for me, I believe that the United States will not meet its commitments to itself and to those who look to it unless we are prepared to face the facts of life, and, facing them, do something about them.

I stand in the tradition of great Democratic Presidents who in this century moved this country forward, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and we are going to do it again in 1960. [Applause.] The Republican Party has never broken through new ground, has never stood for progress, has opposed step by step every piece of progressive legislation passed for the benefit of the people in the last 25 years, housing, social security, minimum wage, unemployment compensation - all of the things which make it possible for us to build a strong and vital society. I ask you to join us in 1960. I ask your support in this election. I ask you to help us get this country moving again. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Stuyvesant Town Rally, New York, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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