Speech source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Series 12.1. Speech Files, 1953-1960. Box 911, Folder: "Airport, Bakersfield, California, 9 September 1960"
My friend and colleague in the Congress of the United States, Harlan Hagen, Governor Brown, Mayor Sullivan, Senator Stern, Jack Casey, Assemblyman Williams, ladies and gentlemen: I want to thank you very much for coming and sending us off in the airplane from Bakersfield to Los Angeles. We have been working on the railroad for the last 24 hours. We have seen a great state, and I think this state is going Democratic in November. (Applause) I think that there is one basic issue in this campaign. We can see it in this valley, we can see it in this country, and we can see it around the world. That is the long range difference between our two political parties, between a party that believes that things are as good as they can be, and a party that thinks we can do better. (Applause)
In this century the Republicans have had three or four campaign slogans, “Stand Pat with McKinley, Return to Normalcy with Harding, Keep Cool with Coolidge.” The slogans for the Democratic Party on the other hand have been the New Freedom, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and Adlai Stevenson’s New America.
I come in 1960 talking about the New Frontier. The New Frontier is not the things I am promising to do for you if I am elected President. The New Frontier consists of the things that we are asking all of us to do for this country in the 1960’s. This is a great country, but it deserves the best that we have. I suppose 30 or 40 years ago, before the second administration of Woodrow Wilson, people who lived in this valley worried about their farms and their jobs, and now we worry about your farms and your jobs, but we worry about Cuba and the Congo and India and Indonesia, and the security of our families, and the chances for peace. I ask your help in this campaign. I run for the Office of the Presidency not saying that if I am elected life will be easy, but I can promise you that I have a deep conviction, and I know that you share it, that we can do better than we are doing. If we can be stronger than we are, we can stand for more around the world than we do today. I am Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I can tell you that 20 and 25 years ago, African leaders quoted Lincoln, Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt. They don’t quote anybody in America today. They look at Peking and Moscow, and wonder which road they should take. I think we have to reestablish ourselves as a vital and vigorous society, concerned with the needs of our own people and holding out a helping hand to those around the world who look to us for friendship and assistance.
During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine said, “The cause of America is the cause of all mankind.” I believe in 1960 in the great world revolutions that are sweeping us now, that the cause of all mankind is the cause of America. I ask your help in this campaign, not just because it represents a change in parties, but I think it is possible for us to reestablish a different atmosphere in the United States, a desire to be first, not “first, but,” not “first, when”, but first on the road to peace and first in the world. (Applause)
In the election 100 years ago, Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend, “I believe there is a God and I know He hates injustice. I see a 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.”
We believe there is a God and we believe there is a storm coming. But I think in 1960 if He has a place and a part for us, I believe we are ready. Thank you very much. (Applause)