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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Towson Shopping Center, Towson, MD

September 16, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor Tawes, Mr. Kaul, Mayor Grady, Mrs. Otenesek, Mr. Birmingham, Mr. Goldstone, Senator Goodman, Attorney General, ladies, and gentlemen, I want to express my appreciation to both the Governor of your State, to my friend and colleague in the Congress, your Congressman, whom I hope you are going to return, not only for the benefit of this district, but also for the country, Congressman Danny Brewster, who has been our host today [applause] and also my appreciation to you for two things: First, because you are kind enough to stand up and listen at the end of a long day, and also because it was my success in the Maryland primary that helped make it possible for me to win the nomination and secure the support of the Maryland delegation at the convention. [Applause.]

So having gotten me halfway around the track, I would like to have you push me the rest of the way home. [Applause.] I run for the office of the Presidency in probably the most difficult and dangerous time in the life our country. I heard President Eisenhower speaking at a dinner some months ago saying that while he had a personal preference for President, he could predict that after the first week of commitment, which the next President would have, that the Chiefs of Staff would come some afternoon and say that the United States is faced with a difficult and dangerous situation someplace in the world and what did he, the President, think they should do. I don't think that there is any doubt that during the next 4 years the task of the President, the burdens that will be placed upon him, the responsibilities which all Americans must meet, will be heavier than they have been any time since the administration of Abraham Lincoln. So I do not run for the Presidency feeling it is a ceremonial or caretaker's office. I run for the Presidency because I feel strongly that the United States has a great role to fulfill in the world to maintain its own freedom, and to serve as the chief defender of freedom around the world. I don't think that there is any American who has lived through the past few years who can possibly feel that the balance of power is moving in our direction. I think this is a great country, but I think we can make it a greater country, and I think it is a powerful country, but I think we can make it more powerful. All over Africa and Asia and Latin America I think the prestige and influence and the image of the United States as a revolutionary and free country is diminished.

I am chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Foreign Relations Committee. Twenty years ago African nationalists quoted Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Jefferson. But today thousands of young students, thousands of their trade unionists, and those who will be leaders go to school in Moscow or Czechoslovakia or Eastern Germany or Peking, and come back because they believe that we are tired and that the Communist system represents the way to the future. I think we represent the way to the future. But the reason that Franklin Roosevelt was able to be a good neighbor to Latin America was because he was a good neighbor in the United States, because we were on the move here in America. The reason that Woodrow Wilson was able to extend his 14 points was because they were a logical extension of his new freedom, which carried the day here in this country.

The same is true of the Truman Fair Deal which had its partnership in the Marshall plan abroad.

I speak of the 1960's as a new frontier, and I don't speak of the 1960's or my own candidacy in the sense of promising that life will be easy if I am elected. The new frontier of which I speak is the opportunity for all of us to be of service to the great Republic in a difficult and dangerous time.

During the campaign of 1860, Lincoln wrote to a friend, "I know there is a God and that He hates injustice. I see the storm coming and I know His hand is in it. If He has a place and a part for me, I believe that I am ready." Now 100 years later, we know there is a God and that He hates injustice, and we see the storm coming. But if he has a place and a part for us, I believe we are ready. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Towson Shopping Center, Towson, MD Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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