This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A single copy of the speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Library.
SENATOR KENNEDY: Paul, Mel Price, ladies and gentlemen: In every Presidential candidate's itinerary there is always 5 minutes for lunch and rest, and then you move on. But I want to express my thanks to you all. We have the good fortunate to have a member of my crew who was on my torpedo boat in World War II who lives in this area of East St. Louis. I would like to have you meet my friend, Edgar Maurer. Would you stand up and take a bow? (Applause) He was on a merchant ship that got sunk in the Solomon Islands and he had the bad fortune to then come on my boat which got sunk. (Laughter) I am glad to see him today. It is the first time I have seen him for 17 years. We are delighted he is here.
I would like you to meet Mr. and Mrs. Zinser, the mother and father of another member of our crew. Perhaps they could stand up. (Applause) Maurer, Zinser and Kennedy, sort of a German-Irish boat, and this ticket is, here in Southern Illinois, with Otto Kerner, who I know will be elected Governor, and Paul Douglas - (applause) who I know you are going to elect to the Senate. I have served with Senator Douglas now in the Senate for eight years. I have served with Mel Price for six years in the House of Representatives. I think each in his own way, each meeting his responsibility, they have fought for the interest of this district and the State of Illinois and the country.
This is not merely a contest between Mr. Nixon and myself, or between Paul Douglas and whoever is his opponent - (applause and laughter) - I wish nobody knew the name of my opponent - (laughter) - or Otto Kerner and somebody he is running against. I know the name of his opponent, which is a good thing for Mr. Kerner. That is why he is going to win. (Applause) And I know who I am running against and so do you. I can't believe in 1960 the American people are going to turn the United States over to the Republican Party and Mr. Nixon for four more years. (Applause)
I spoke the other night about Leap Year Liberalism. Every four years the Republican candidate for the Presidency says it doesn't matter which party wins, we are all for the same things we are all for the same goals. Well, if we are all for the same goals, why did the Republicans defeat our efforts to provide a minimum wage of $1.25, and medical care for our aged citizens, and federal aid to education, and housing to rebuild our cities? Our goals are not the same, nor are the means the same, nor have they been since Theodore Roosevelt. A Democratic Party sees the government and the people working together for a stronger and better country, for, in Paul Douglas's words, a juster America. The Republican Party says it is good enough and they have blocked every effort we have made to move this country off dead center. This is not just a contest involving Mr. Nixon and myself or the candidates here. It is a contest that involves us all. We pass on from here, but you stay. I ask your help in the next six weeks. If we get out and do this job as we did it in this state in 1948 when President Truman carried Illinois by only 17,000 votes and he carried Ohio by 7,000 votes, those are the victories that made it possible for him to resume the leadership of the United States, instead of Thomas Dewey.
Now, in 1960, in this state, in Missouri, in Ohio, and Pennsylvania and Michigan and New York and New Jersey, this fight is going to be won or lost. You can make the greatest possible contribution, and in return we will work, this country and this state, from one end to another. We will carry our message. We will inform the American people that the choice is between standing still and moving forward, between yes and no, between progress and mediocrity. I hope that you will join us in this effort. It involves us all. A stronger America involves us all. Every governmental action affects our lives for good or for bad. Every movement forward moves us all forward. A rising tide lifts all the boats. I hope a new Democratic Administration can lift all the boats and all the states and all the people therein. We ask your help in this campaign. Thank you. (Applause) (Standing ovation.)