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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Tech Plaza Shopping Center, Warren, MI

October 26, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Ladies and gentlemen, only in Michigan would everybody stand out in the rain. The Republicans are all home in bed, under shelter. [Applause.] And we are out here working, and we are going to continue to work for the next 13 days. We are proud to be here today. I am proud to be introduced by my friend and colleague in the Senate who speaks for Michigan and the United States, Pat McNamara [applause], with a distinguished Congressman, who has fought for the interests of this district, and who represents the kind of leadership which Michigan has produced and which our country needs, Congressman Jim O'Hara, who is going to be returned, I know, to the House of Representatives. [Applause.] And John Swainson, who runs for Governor, who fought for this country in war and peace, who carries on the great progressive tradition of Mennen Williams - your next Governor. [Applause.]

I run with pleasure against Mr. Nixon for the Presidency of the United States. If he can tell me in the 14 years that he was a Member of the House, a Member of the Senate, and as a voting Vice President - can he tell me one single progressive piece of legislation which is connected with his name or the name of the Republican Party ? [Response from the audience.]

Housing? He put out a statement 3 weeks ago in New York praising the Housing Act of 1949. He said it seems to be working very well. He neglected to add as a Congressman he voted against it. [Laughter.] He voted as a Congressman in 1949 to take 1 million people out from under the coverage of the Minimum Wage Act.

Mr. Nixon and the Republicans have stood against the progress since time began, and I believe in 1960, in Michigan, which knows the significance of this election, I believe in Michigan and the United States, they are not going to entrust leadership to a candidate and a party that looks to the past. Michigan and the country has to move. We know it in Warren. We know it in the country. We know it around the world. And I believe in 1960 the course of the country is moving with the Democratic Party into the future. [Applause.]

Mr. Nixon issues pious statements about distressed areas. "We are going to do something about it. We are going to put people to work." This administration vetoed that bill passed by the Congress twice. If you are content to stand still, if you want an administration that drifts and lies at anchor, then Mr. Nixon is your man. [Response from the audience.]

Mr. Nixon is getting increasingly disconnected with reality. Two days ago he accuses me of speculating in the London gold market and affecting the price of gold. [Laughter.] The point of the matter is I want him to come tomorrow to Michigan and tell the people of Michigan what he is doing and what this administration is doing to put people to work. What plans have they had for automation? This administration has never discussed it. And yet do you know in this State and country, we are going to have to find 25,000 new jobs a week, every week, for the next 10 years, to get full employment, at a time when machines are taking the jobs of men.

Now, this community knows the problem as well as any community in the United States. In your two arsenals, you have seen employment go from 10,000 to 2,000. This area of the State depends on the Jupiter, and the Jupiter missile program may be coming to an end. We have to find jobs in Michigan and we have to find jobs in the United States, and unless we have people working we are not able to maintain our position any place around the world. [Applause.]

One of the programs which would help this area was a program which was eliminated in 1953, which provided that defense contracts would go to those areas if they could meet the bid where there was high unemployment. Senator Knowland led the fight against it on the floor of the Senate and it was thrown out, and I believe that defense manpower policy No.4, as it was known, should be reinvoked, so those areas of the country which have high unemployment we could use our defense contracts to put people to work as well as make weapons. [Applause.]

In addition, we want to pass the area redevelopment bill, to attract industry in there, to plan our defense planning on a long-range basis, so we take advantage not only of the skills of the people in the area, but we also recognize their needs. The overnight cancellation of contracts which leaves thousands of men stranded on the beach - I believe we can do better under a good administration, a new administration which is closer to the people, which the Democratic Party is.

So I come to Michigan. This State knows the issues of this campaign. Senior citizens, Senator McNamara is chairman of the Senate Committee on Senior Citizens. I am vice chairman. We are both aging fast. [Laughter.] But this administration, the same administration that voted 90 percent against social security in the midthirties, voted 95 percent against the medical care for the aged tied to social security. If there is anyone here who has a mother or father who is over 65, if they get sick and they are living with you, do you know before they can get medical assistance under the program signed by the President, you have to prove that they are medically indigent? They have to sign an oath, a pauper's oath, that they haven't any money, nor you, and then they can get assistance. [Response from the audience.] What did we propose. We proposed putting it under social security at a cost of 3 cents a day per person, and then when they are 65, and then when they need assistance and then when they are sick, maybe 1, through 3 or 4 months, then you get the assistance that you contributed to. Which is the best way? [Response from the audience.] The way we suggested. [Applause.]

Rain or shine, good days or bad days, we are going to continue to tell the truth about Mr. Nixon and the Republican Party. [Applause.] We are going to continue to tell how they have presided over the gradual lessening of American strength and prestige around the world, and how they are obliged to hide the report from the people of what has happened to our position around the world. While Mr. Nixon campaigns on a program that our prestige has never been higher, in his own State Department there are reports which show that Mr. Nixon is either wholly misinformed or unwilling to tell the truth. Whichever it is, on November 8, we won't have to worry about it any more. [Applause.]

So I come here today and ask your support for the Democratic ticket, ask your support for this State, ask your support in moving this country forward. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Tech Plaza Shopping Center, Warren, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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