John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Toledo, Ohio, Court House

November 04, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Mayor, Governor Di Salle, my colleague in the Senate, Senator Young, your distinguished Congressman, Lud Ashley, your congressional candidates Bill McCray, Tom Ritchey and Virgil Gates, who I am confident you are going to elect to the Congress next Tuesday [applause], Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen: I am glad to come back to Ohio for the sixth time in this campaign to ask your help on Tuesday. [Applause.] I want to express our regrets at being late. In the last 36 hours we have been all the way from California to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia. We are carrying the message from one part to the United States to the other that this country is going to go Democratic. [Applause.] And I am carrying it myself. [Applause.] I do not send representatives of a rescue squad to save me in the last week of this campaign. [Applause.] The Democrats are not engaged in Operation Ruboff. They are running on their own. [Applause.] And how a candidate who is running on a program that he is the man to stand up to Khrushchev cannot possibly stand up to the people of the United States without five people bearing him up, from Nelson Rockefeller, Barry Goldwater, President Eisenhower, and Cabot Lodge. [Applause.]

We are not electing a committee on Tuesday. We are electing a President. [Applause.]

Now, let me just say all of us have seen elephants, all of us have seen that they are not too bright [laughter] and that the way they get around the circus ring is to grab the tail of the elephant in front of them. [Applause.] Well Dick grabbed that tail in 1952 and in 1956. But now he is running. [Applause.] In the last 4 days he has called me everything from a barefaced liar to an economic ignoramus. I am calling him a worthy member of his party in 1960. [Applause.] He fits right in with Dewey, Landon, Coolidge, Harding, McKinley, and all the rest of them. [Applause.]

I understand he has set up a committee on last-minute strategy to win this election composed of Herbert Hoover, Alf Landon, and Thomas Dewey. I look with confidence to Tuesday. [Applause.] This is an important election. This election involves Ohio, and involves the future of this country. The decision that you have to make is which party, which candidates, which view of the present, which view of the future do you accept as a citizen of the United States.

You cannot be a citizen of Ohio, you cannot be a citizen of the United States, without realizing that this State and this country is going to have to do better in the 1960's. We are going to face entirely new problems which come upon us in an entirely new day. In the month of October in the State of Ohio, there were nearly as many men and women out of work as there were in October in the recession year of 1958. Mr. Nixon talks about our unexampled prosperity. I don't think it is good enough when we are using only 55 percent of our steel capacity. Mr. Nixon says we are producing more cars in the last 6 weeks than ever before in our history. How many are being sold? [Response from the audience.] We are going to have, by the middle of November, more unsold cars than we have ever had in the history of the United States. This year we are building 30 percent less homes than we did a year ago. In the last 3 months of this year, $1 billion worth of gold has flowed out of the United States. The next President of the United States is going to be faced with serious problems in the winter of 1961 right here in the United States.

I do not run for the Presidency under any expectation that if I am successful on Tuesday that that job will be easy. But I have the greatest confidence in this country. I have the strongest feeling of conviction that we can meet the responsibilities of our time, that we can move this country forward, and I come and ask your help on that basis. [Applause.]

You have to decide as citizens of this State and country which party, looking ahead over the next 10 years, can find 87 million jobs, because that is the number of people we are going to have in 10 years looking for jobs, 87 million. Do you think the Republican Party - do you think that they are concerned about the problems that are coming across the horizon? [Response from the audience.] Thirty-five percent of our brightest boys and girls who graduate from high school never see the inside of a college. We are going to have twice as many boys and girls applying for admission to college in 1970 as do today. Do you believe that the Republican Party and Mr. Nixon look to the future of these problems? [Response from the audience.] I must say, I have come to the same conclusion. [Laughter and applause.] All the problems which the next President of the United States is going to face are complicated; technical, they involve economic growth. They involve automation, they involve our position in the world, of how it is possible for countries around the world, and people, facing staggering problems of poverty and ignorance and decline, how they can maintain freedom and how we can head a world torn by conflict, in many cases by poverty, fighting against an enemy who is unrelenting in his attacks on freedom and upon the United States. The United States in the 1960's will be meeting its great time of challenge, and also its great time of opportunity. I have traveled this country from one end to the other. I have served in the Congress for 14 years, and I come to this time in this campaign not merely talking about the problems of this election, but attempting to point out that in these times of change which the 1960's are, I believe the Democratic Party is best equipped to lead our country. [Applause.] We are going to have to build a better life for our people. As long as there are 15 million American homes which are substandard, as long as there are millions of Americans who are not even paid a dollar an hour, as long as there are hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work, living on an average unemployment compensation check of $31 a week - what do they do when they go out of a job? Where do they go to work? How do they keep their families? How do they pay their rent? These are the problems that disturb America.

How do we maintain our position in the world? How do we provide fairness and equality of opportunity for all Americans? I think that on Tuesday my job and responsibility and that of Mr. Nixon's is over. Then you have to decide. You have to make your judgment of whether you believe that everything that must be done is being done in good time, or whether we can do better. I believe we must do better, and I ask your help in doing it. [Applause.] I ask your help in building in this country a strong and vital society, one which uses its facilities, one where men and women can find jobs when they seek them, one that moves ahead and demonstrates to the world what a free society can really do. That is our opportunity in the 1960's. That is the challenge which faces the great Republic. As this election comes to an end, we pick not merely a President, but we pick a road, we pick a position for the sixties, we make a decision, each one of us, what we want, and my judgment is that a majority of the citizens of this country on Tuesday will choose to move forward. [Applause.]

I am not planning a seventh trip to Ohio in this campaign. We are coming to an end in this trip to Toledo. But this State is key. Whoever carries Ohio will carry the United States. [Applause.] Whoever secures the electoral support of you on Tuesday night, of your collective judgment, you in this State will elect the President of the United States.

I do not recall a decision as significant, that carries with it so many responsibilities, since 1932, I believe that the United States is at a period in its history, facing different problems, different challenges, in some ways less serious, in other ways more serious. I feel this is 1932 and 1912, and I come here as a concerned citizen of this country, and I ask you not merely for your help on Tuesday, but I ask you to join me in building this country of ours, in moving it forward, in showing what we can do. [Applause.]

So give us your hand, your voice, your vote, and we are going to move forward on Tuesday. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Toledo, Ohio, Court House Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives