John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Warren, Ohio, Public Square

October 09, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Mayor, Governor Di Salle, who supported my candidacy last January, who led this delegation of Ohio and supported it in July, and who will, I hope, lead Ohio in our support on November 8 [applause] Congressman Cook, I used to represent for 6 years in the Congress the 11th District of Massachusetts. But it was never like this. I know you are going to return him to Congress with a wide majority as he deserves. [Applause.] And after you have taken care of these other candidates from top to bottom, give Kennedy a vote. [Applause.]

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make it very clear that I come to Ohio on this occasion as the standard bearer for the Democratic Party, and I say very clearly that there are sharp differences between the Republican spokesman and myself. In his own way the differences are sharp and important and as significant as they were between Roosevelt and Hoover. [Applause.] And Roosevelt and Landon, and Truman and Dewey. Where did they get those candidates? The Republican Party for 25 years has put up candidates, and, as a party, has taken the position against every piece of progressive legislation that serves the people, from minimum wage to unemployment compensation, to better housing, to aid for education, to more equal rights for all Americans, for a stronger defense for a stronger and more vital society. The Republican Party, ever since it drove Theodore Roosevelt into the wilderness 50 years ago, has stood still. We have dragged them ahead, and Mr. Nixon goes through the country making speeches which a Democrat might have run on 15 years ago. They are always behind. They are always waiting for us to take the leadership. [Applause.] What is the issue in this campaign? What is it that Mr. Nixon and I differ on? It is this: He believes that the United States is doing everything it should do to maintain its position in the world. He believes that our prestige is steadily rising around the world, and 3 weeks ago, after a vote in the United Nations which was 70 to nothing, he said that is pretty good score in a ball game and a pretty good score at the United Nations. Well, if he wants to make it on that basis, I will give him the score yesterday.

Yesterday at the United Nations the issue came up which most directly affected the power and prestige and influence of the United States. It was on the question of the matter of whether the admission of Red China would be brought to the docket of the United Nations. And here is the vote, and if this does not tell the story, if this does not demonstrate that our prestige is not increasing, if this does not demonstrate that the United States is not growing in power, I would like to know what does.

Here they are: On the question of whether this matter would be brought to a vote and, therefore, whether Red China would be admitted to the United Nations, in the case of Africa, a key area in the world only two countries voted with us, Liberia and the Union of South Africa. Eight voted against us, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. All countries that had gained their independence in this past decade. Every one of them voted against us. Liberia has been associated with us for 140 years. The Union of South Africa domestic policy and its treatment of Negroes has made it opposed by every African nation, and yet Liberia and the Union of South Africa were the only two nations in all of Africa who voted with us. And eight voted against us. Not 1 of the 15 new nations admitted to the United Nations in the last 2 months voted with us.

Nine countries of Asia supported the United States. Ten countries of Asia voted against us, and three Asian countries abstained. Voting against the United States were such longtime friends as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

I just want to make it clear that any American who reads that record, who sees our steel mills going at 44 percent of capacity, who sees our farm income driven down 20 percent, who sees our power and prestige and vigor standing still around the world and at home, any American who can make a judgment, their own judgment - you don't have to be in the Pentagon. You can stay in Warren, Ohio, and read the papers, and look at television, and you know which way the tide is going. You know whether this administration is meeting its responsibilities. You know whether we are doing everything that must be done if we are going to survive. You know what is happening in Latin America. You know that a candidate for President of Brazil had to make a trip and visit Castro during his election so that he would get the Castro vote in Brazil. You know that 8 years ago in 1952, seven countries, only seven countries in the world voted for the admission of Red China. Yesterday 34. Mr. Nixon says the tide is riding in our favor. If you think this administration has given attention to the problems of the United Nations in opposition - Khrushchev has stayed here for nearly a month. The President of the United States visited it for 2 days. I believe this country can do better and I don't want anyone on November 8, when you finally come to vote, to go into the polls and say "They both stand for the same things." I don't. I don't stand where Mr. Nixon stands. I don't take his view about [applause] - I don't say that $1.25 minimum wage is extreme. I don't lead a party that voted nearly unanimously against 25 cents minimum wage. I don't go around saying 4.5 million Americans unemployed is insignificant, is necessary. I am not part of an administration which vetoed the depressed area bill twice, and then makes promises about it at election time. I am not part of an administration which killed a housing bill, vetoed it twice last year. I am not part of an administration which vetoed a bill to clean our rivers from pollution. I am part of a party which in this century stood with Woodrow Wilson and stood with Franklin Roosevelt and stood with Harry Truman for a better life for all of us. [Applause.]

I don't want African leaders or Latin American leaders or Asian leaders - because that is where this straggle is going to be fought out - which system carries with it the most vigor? Which system do they want to duplicate? Do they want to follow the hammer and sickle, or do they want to follow us on the road to freedom? My judgment is that they want to be free, that they want to follow us. But if the trumpet blows uncertain sounds, who will prepare for the battle, as the Bible tells us, and we have been blowing a mighty uncertain sound in recent months and years. We have been living off our fat. I call upon you for help. I call upon you regardless of party. I call upon all those who are not contented, who are not satisfied, who want to move again. I call upon all those who have devotion to their country, who want to see it fulfill its destiny, who want to see us go ahead. I call upon all those who, regardless of age, are young in spirit. I call upon all those who want to cross in the sixties the new frontiers.

I call upon you. I ask your help in this election, and I can assure you that if we win on November 8, that this country will stand once again for the great symbol of freedom for all people, for a better life for all people here in this country, for justice for all Americans, regardless of their race or their creed or their color, or their religion, and I can assure you, I can assure you that the United States [applause] - that in Africa, Latin America and Asia once again they will be reading not merely what Mr. Khrushchev is doing, or Castro, but what the President of the United States and the United States are doing.

Away back nearly 100 years ago, in the campaign of 1860, Abraham 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. But 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 we know He hates injustice, and we see the storm coming. We know His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for us, I believe that we are ready. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Warren, Ohio, Public Square Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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