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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Wichita Falls, TX

November 03, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Lyndon, Ralph - Senator Yarborough, Mrs. Johnson, your fighting Congressman, Frank Ikard, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be in this district. I am delighted to be in Texas, and I come down here and ask your help in winning this State for the Democratic ticket. [Applause.]

You have 21 Democratic Congressmen. You have put your confidence in a Democratic Governor. You have put your confidence in two Democratic Senators. Can you imagine if this country elects & Democratic House and a Democratic Senate, and elects Dick Nixon a Republican President of the United States? [Response from the audience.]

Would Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn go over to meet with him as the leaders of the Congress and sit down with Dick Nixon, who in l952 said Acheson had graduated from the College of Cowardly Communist Containment, in 1951 called Truman a traitor, in 1960 called me a liar, in 1960 called Lyndon an ignoramus. Lyndon said he called me one. I said he called him one. He called me rash, inexperienced, reckless, and uninformed. But he called Lyndon an ignoramus. Will he sit down and work with him? [Response from the audience.] Do you think Frank Ikard is going to go over and tell him about the problems of this district? I think when the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate go over to the White House, they ought to sit down with a Democratic President. [Applause.] Why do you elect a Democratic Congressman? Why do you elect a Democratic Senator? Why do you elect a Democratic Governor? Because you believe the Democratic Party stands for something. Grover Cleveland said 60 years ago, "What good is a politician unless he stands for something?" What good is a party unless it stands for something? What possible use is it saying that you have confidence in your Senators, in the Speaker of the House, in your Governor, in your Congressmen, and then saying, "You go with them there, but we want a Republican President like Dick Nixon." [Response from the audience.]

If you elect Frank Ikard as your Congressman, it is because you think he can speak for this district. If the House of Representatives elects Sam Rayburn as the Speaker, they think he speaks not only for his district but the United States. Four times the Senators of the United States, Democrats, all the way from Maine to Washington, have elected Lyndon Johnson, not to just speak for Texas, but to speak for the United States. Now Lyndon Johnson and I are engaged in this effort, to move this country forward. We have the endorsement of Sam Rayburn and your Governor and your Congressmen, and I believe on November 8 we are going to have the endorsement of Texas. [Applause.]

I don't care how many rescue squads they send to help Dick Nixon travel round the United States. [Applause.] I don't care if Cabot Lodge and Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater all prop him up and push him forward, and I don't care if they add Dewey, Landon, and Hoover to advise him how to win. [Applause.] The point of the matter is a team does not run for the Presidency. One man runs for President, one man runs for Vice President, and the country makes its decision. The President of the United States, Mr. Eisenhower, dragged him in twice. But they are not going to drag him in a third time. [Applause.] I understand one of the high administration officials has come down to Texas and is proposing to put limitations on imports under this administration beginning January 1. What? Three weeks to go before the end of the administration? What do they think of the people of the United States? We have been trying for 2 years to get the B-70 in California, $300 million the Congress appropriated. The administration opposed it. Two days ago they decided to endorse it. They must think the memories of the people of Texas and the United States are pretty short. Here in this old community, Sam Gray, who sells shoes, in 1955 to 1960 he sold 60 pairs of oil safety shoes a month. Do you know how many he sold last month? Two. Mr. Nixon talks about unexampled prosperity. I want him to tell me how a man can work 8 days a month and have unexampled prosperity? I don't want that example, I don't want that prosperity. Eight days an oil well works in the State of Texas. Eight years ago it worked 20 days. [Applause.] Who do you think will speak well for Texas? Cabot Lodge or Lyndon Johnson? [Response from the audience.]

I will speak for Massachusetts and he will speak for Texas. Cabot Lodge can't speak for Massachusetts and Texas. I come down here and ask your help. This is an important election. There is not anyone here who is not involved in it. You are citizens of this country as well as citizens of the State of Texas. You rise and fall, depending on how the United States rises and falls, and I cannot believe that a State which has been noted for its vitality, a State which has been noted for its vigor, can possibly choose to put Dick Nixon as President of the United States in these dangerous times. [Applause.]

We want someone who speaks for our country. We want someone who raises a high standard for the United States. We want someone who can tell the United States and set before it its unfinished business - the things we must do. Lyndon Johnson and I stand in succession [aircraft passing]. Lyndon - he is on his way to Fort Worth tonight. Dick, good luck to you. [Laughter.]

Lyndon Johnson and I stand in succession to Franklin Roosevelt and John Garner, and like 1932 we are going to win this election. [Applause.] I don't want to be sitting in Massachusetts on November 8, and have that phone ringing and saying, "We are doing fine," and Lyndon call me and say, "We just lost Texas." I want him to call me on the phone and say, "Texas is leading the Nation in the Democratic camp." [Applause.]

This party of ours is the oldest political party on earth. Thomas Jefferson founded it from the State of Virginia. He went to New York on a butterfly expedition up the Hudson River. He flew down - he came down the river, met the New York organization, and founded the Democratic Party.

Now I come down the river, I come down to Texas, 165 years later; Lyndon Johnson and I, speaking for a united national Democratic Party, come down and ask your help in moving Texas, and the country, forward. [Applause.]

This is an important election. This involves our country. This involves Texas. This involves this district. Mr. Nixon may have the President of the United States, but we have the people. [Applause.] We have seen those elephants in those circuses following each other around, grabbing the tail of the elephant in front. [Laughter.] Mr. Nixon grabbed that tail in 1952 and 1956, but there is no tail out there now. There are the people, and they are with us. [Applause.]

I want Sam Gray to sell more shoes. I want the farmers of this district [applause] I talked to a newspaperman from a county in this area. The average age of a farmer nearby is 52 - no young men. They can't make a go of it. Mr. Benson has liquidated it. Mr. Nixon promises more of Mr. Benson's program. He pats Mr. Benson and sends him around the world. But nevertheless, the melody lingers on. He promises the farmers of this State and the United States the exact same program. He says we are going to use the surplus - to use up the surplus, whatever that may mean, and that is exactly what Mr. Benson said 4 years ago. [Applause.] How many feed grain - how many ranchers will be around when they pour that surplus into the market? They will break every rancher in the State of Texas. [Response from the audience.]

I want Mr. Nixon to go back to Whittier and think about his farm program again. [Response from the audience.] I understand in the paper that Tom Dewey has offered him a job in his law office. I don't know what he is going to do. But all I know is I know what the United States is going to do, and they are going to choose to move forward. They are going to choose progress and so is Texas. [Applause.]

I am going to last about 5 more days, but that is time enough. I am going to keep going from now until Tuesday night and we are going to travel in the next 4 or 5 days in 13 States, and we are going to carry the message that here in the heartland of the United States, here where the tall cotton grows, right here in the heart of Texas, Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic Party, Frank Ikard, and the people of Texas are going Democratic. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Wichita Falls, TX Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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