Speech source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Series 12.1. Speech Files, 1953-1960. Box 914, Folder: "Batavia, Illinois, 25 October 1960"
Ladies and gentlemen, first I would like for you to know Judge Kenner, candidate for Governor in the State of Illinois on the Democratic ticket. (Applause) Senator Paul Douglas, the present and future United States Senator, and the candidate for Congress from this district. (Applause)
Now let us see how many Republicans do we have here? Would you put up your hands? (Response from the audience) Let me say that I think you ought to be commended for admitting it. Have we got any Democrats here at all? (Response from the audience) Now, have we got any citizens who have not decided yet, who are open minded? (Response from the audience) Well, we will talk to you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I will be very brief. I just come here in this community, which is mixed, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, because two weeks from today, November 8, Mr. Nixon and my work will be finished and then you have to decide, you have to make these judgments. But what is the area of difference between us? What is the issue on which you should base your decision? You should not only make a judgment of Mr. Nixon and myself. You should also make a judgment about yourselves, what you want, about what your view is of your country and your community, about what your view of the future is; whether you are satisfied today or wish to do better. If you are satisfied, if you feel happy about your life, if you feel our country is meeting its responsibilities, then you belong in Mr. Nixon’s camp. But if you share the view that I hold very vigorously, that this country is going to have to do better in the future, that we have responsibilities to meet not only to ourselves but to the cause of freedom, that we are anxious to make sure that in the future people decide that these days were great days in the life of our country, that we must move forward, we must stimulate our growth, we must hold out an image to the world of a vigorous, dynamic society, if we are going to continue to lead the free world - -I believe that is the choice. I don’t think if we continue on our present basis that we will be the leaders of the free world.
We have a solemn choice to make. I think this is an important election, and I think the issue is quite clear between us, not only our parties, but also on the views we have taken in this campaign. Mr. Nixon, I am sure, says what he thinks, and he has stated that he has run on a program believing our prestige is at an all time high and that we never had it so good. I don’t run on that program at all. I run on the program, as a citizen of this country who has served it for 14 years in the Congress, and who is the Standard Bearer of my party. I believe we are going to have to do much better. Unless there is some dissatisfaction -- that is what made this country, that is what gave us the American revolution -- dissatisfaction with what was then going on. I believe as a dissatisfied citizen, as one who has the greatest possible confidence in this country, that we are going to have to meet a higher standard as a nation and as leaders of the free world. You have to decide now what you want. Thank you. (Applause)