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Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Civic Auditorium, Seattle, WA

September 06, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor and Mrs. Rosellini, Senator Jackson, fellow Democrats in the State of Washington, I am grateful for a generous introduction from a distinguished Governor of a great Northwestern State, who, I am confident, will be returned as Governor in the November election, Governor Rosellini. [Applause.] And I am delighted to be in this State with my friend and colleague who has joined me in this great effort in this campaign as chairman of the National Democratic Party - your friend and Senator, "Scoop" Jackson. [Applause.]

In the last 4 days I have taken this campaign to five States, stretching from the oldest part of the United States, the State of Maine, into the newest and the last frontier, the State of Alaska, and in that campaign, in those States, I have found a common impulse facing the American people in 1960, and that is their desire for action. [Applause.] They want this country to begin to move again here at home, to meet the tremendous problems that we face here in this State and in the country, and they want us moving again abroad in order to stem the Communist advance. [Applause.] I believe that the American people will elect a President to act. I believe that the crises of the 1960's will compel the next President to act, and I believe that if this country is to endure and prevail, that it must start moving again.

I am in this campaign as a candidate for the Office of President of the United States. That is the greatest Office in the free world. The Congress cannot do the job. As a Senator I speak for Massachusetts and Senator Jackson speaks for Washington. But the President of the United States speaks for both Washington and Massachusetts. [Applause.]

This election in many ways is the most significant, certainly, since the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. [Applause.] And the task of the next President will in many ways be more difficult than any since the election of 1860 of a distinguished American President. In a world of danger and trial, peace is our deepest aspiration, and when peace comes we will gladly convert not our swords into plowshares, but our bombs into peaceful reactors, and our planes into space vessels. "Pursue peace," the Bible tells us, and we shall pursue it with every effort and every energy that we possess. But it is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war. Winston Churchill said in 1949, "We arm to parley." We can convince Mr. Khrushchev to bargain seriously at the conference table if he respects our strength. [Applause.] He will never resort to war, and in that way we shall secure peace, if he realizes that the balance if power is shifting against him. I can imagine no more hazardous course than for the United States to gamble on its defenses, to take a chance that the Russians and the Chinese Communists will follow a peaceful role if we disarm here in the United States, or if we fail to maintain our strength. If we are strong, then peace will be our reward, and that is the doctrine that we preach in the year 1960. [Applause.]

That requires only one kind of defense policy, a policy summed up in a single word "first." I do not mean "first, if," I do not mean "first, but," I do not mean "first, when," but I mean "First, period." [Applause.]

The next President of the United States will be compelled to submit to the next Congress a whole new set of defense goals. It will require a reevaluation of our commitments around the globe, a reevaluation of our weapons and a reevaluation of our budgetary policy. We must put more of our present B-52's in the air to guard against a surprise attack [applause] while we intensify and concentrate our energy in building the most modern, mobile, invulnerable missile force on which our ultimate ability to retaliate will finally depend. But bigger and better weapons, and faster and more effective armies are not enough. The needs of modern defense cut across the ancient and traditional service lines. Missiles are fired from the air and from the land and from under the sea. The modern force needs planes for transportation and ships for support. Specific combat missions and strategic goals are shared by many forces. It is essential, therefore, that we compel the complete reevaluation of our national defense organization, that we eliminate the wasteful duplication, the service rivalry, the competitive overlapping, that has consumed our money and prevented us from developing maximum strength; that we move forward toward a defense technology to meet the modern demands of the fight for peace.

That is a difficult subject, but it is a difficult world. I don't think that there is any doubt that the road for peace ahead can be won if we maintain our own vitality here in the United States and around the world. This is a great country, but I believe it can be a greater country. It is a powerful country, but I believe it can be more powerful. And I think that if we realize all of our opportunities here in the United States, if we move ahead and develop our economic strength here in this country if we maintain our defenses, then we can maintain our leadership in the free world, maintain our security and protect the peace.

That is the object of this campaign, to serve the American people and suggest a whole course of action in the various areas of the national effort so that we in this country can be secure and so the cause of freedom can be strengthened. [Applause.] I have called the challenge of the future the new frontier. I do not run for the Presidency emphasizing the services that I am going to bring to you. I run emphasizing the services which the American people must offer their country. [Applause.] My call is not to those who believe they belong to the past. My call is to those who believe in the future. I want you to join me [applause] in this campaign, give me your help, your heart, your voice, and I am convinced that in this election and in January 1961 the Democratic Party will be prepared to lead, and this country will move again. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Civic Auditorium, Seattle, WA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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