Speech source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Series 12.1. Speech Files, 1953-1960. Box 914, Folder: "Railroad Station Plaza, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 6 November 1960".
View related documents here:
Governor Ribicoff, Mayor Tedesco, Senator Dodd (response from the audience) thank you. First of all, Mayor Mulvihill, I want to present to you your Congressman, who I am sure you are going to reelect by a great margin, Congressman Irwin, who has begun a great job in the Congress. (Applause) We need all the talent we can get in Washington, and he is one of the talented, progressive Members of the Congress, and I am sure you are going to send him back. And Frank Kowalski, who runs at large in the State of Connecticut, Congressman at Large. (Applause) I want to express my appreciation to all of you for coming out. Governor Ribicoff and the delegation from this State in 1956 supported my nomination for the Vice Presidency. In fact Governor Ribicoff nominated me. He is also the first public official that ever supported me for the Presidency, away back 4 years ago, and therefore (applause) I come here to Connecticut to express my thanks, and also to ask you for your support on Tuesday, November 8, for the office of the Presidency. (Applause)
The Presidency and the President has many functions and many responsibilities, many given to him by the Constitution, and others suggested to him by the pressure of events. But among the functions he has is to symbolize the national mood, and I believe the people of this country on November 8 must make a decision about what their national mood is. Is your national mood to sit down and rest in the sun? (Response from the audience.) Or is it to pick ourselves up and move this country forward? (Response from the audience.)
Mr. Nixon has chosen, by his career, by the party that he leads, and by his speeches (response from the audience) by his speeches in this campaign, he has chosen to emphasize all of what is bright, all that is shiny in American life. I have chosen to emphasize not what is easy about life here, but what we must do as citizens of this country if we are going to maintain our security, if we are going to maintain our obligations to ourselves, and to those who look to us. It is the function of a public official and a candidate for office not merely to go to the people and give them reassurance. It is the function and responsibility of a political candidate for a national office in a free society, and it has been since the time of ancient Athens, to tell the truth. (Applause) The more I see of this administration, the more I see of this campaign, the more important I think it is that we are successful on Tuesday. (Applause)
What good is it for a candidate for the Presidency to travel around the United States and the world saying that I am downgrading America, that the prestige has never been higher, when his own State Department has polls which inform him differently? What good is it? (Response from the audience.) What good is it for an administration to release preliminary figures on employment in those years when it will help them politically, and then when they are in danger and when the figures show something different, they delay them until after election? Who do they think they fool in this country? (Response from the audience.) And how can a society which depends upon the consent of a majority of the governed, how can such a society function and meet its responsibilities unless the truth is told? And the truth will make us free. (Applause)
The fact of the matter is that Mr. Nixon leads a party which has opposed progress for 25 years, and he is a representative of it. He leads a party which in 1935 voted 90 percent against a 25-cent minimum wage, and he leads a party which voted 90 percent in 1960 against $1.25 an hour minimum wage. (Response from the audience.) He leads a party which in the 1930’s voted 90 percent against the Social Security Act. (Response from the audience.) And he leads a party which voted 99 percent against the medical care for the aged tied to social security in 1960. (Response from the audience.)
The elephant never forgets but he never learns. (Applause) Mr. Nixon has chosen this week, and I read his headlines, and in between calling me an economic ignoramus, a liar, and a pied piper, he has also said we going to have a depression, inflation, and all the rest. I would like to point out to you the clever fiscal management that this administration has demonstrated.
With a recession in 1954, a recession in 1958, the largest peacetime deficit in the history of the United States, $12 billion in 1958, a $4 billion less in revenue this year than they estimated 4 months ago, a $1 billion loss of gold in the last 3 months. We have $18 billion in this country. We have lost nearly $6 to $8 billion in the last 10 years, and we have lost $1 billion in 3 months. And Mr. Nixon says that I am responsible for speculation on the gold market. (Response from the audience.)
The only thing I am responsible for is moving him out of office on Tuesday, November 8. (Applause)
Mr. Nixon goes to Michigan and he says that those who talk about an economic slowdown misinform the people; we have never built as many cars in our history, he says in September and October, and he neglects to point out we have never had so many unsold cars in our history in September, October, and November. (Applause)
The choice for you is clear. The choice is between those who sit still and look to the past, and between those who look to the future, between those who recognize that in this deadly age, when we are involved in a close and narrow competition for survival, for the maintenance of freedom around the globe, with our adversaries, the Communists, the best that this country can do is none too good. Therefore, I come here today and ask your help in moving this country forward again. (Applause)
This is an important election. The office of the Presidency is key. The Presidency is the most important office, not only in the United States, but in the free world, and I cannot believe that in 1960 we are going to select as President of the United States a man who is described by his close friend, Governor Rockefeller, as a question mark. We are going; instead, to affirm our conviction that this country has a role to fulfill in the world, and it cannot meet its responsibilities to freedom around the world unless it is meeting its responsibilities to its own citizens here in the United States. (Applause) So on Tuesday, give us your help, your hand, your voice, your vote, and we will win. (Applause)