This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A copy of the text of this speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you, first, for standing in the rain. I just heard that it is raining where Mr. Nixon is. (Applause) but the Republicans are all home. We are out here in the rain, as we are in the sunshine, as we are in the daytime, as we are at night, because this is an important campaign for a great office for a great country, and I come here and ask your support in this campaign. (Applause)
This is a campaign between those who want action and those who are ready to stand still, between those who look to the future and those who look to the past, between those who say that this country is going to have to move in the Sixties. As long as 35 per cent of our brightest boys and girls graduating from high school never get to college, as long as 50 per cent of the capacity of our steel mills is unused, as long as we are building this year 30 per cent less homes than we did last year, as long as we are sitting still, in other words, as long as our prestige and influence and power declines in the world in relation to that of our adversary, this country cannot be satisfied. I don’t think any American can accept Mr. Nixon’s words that everything that needs to be done is being done in its proper time, that our prestige is the highest it has ever been, and that of the Communists the lowest. I am not satisfied as an American to be anything less than first as a country, as the defender of freedom, as an example of freedom, and you have to make up your judgment on November 8 what kind of a country you want, what kind of a citizen you are, what you look for to the future, how ready you are to bear the burdens that go with being a citizen of this country, a defender of freedom, an example of freedom.
The United States in only going to be as strong in the world, freedom is only going to be as strong in the world in direct ratio to how powerful we are. The thing that gives Mr. Khrushchev his power is the productive force of the Soviet Union. The thing that makes the Chinese Communists now dangerous as opposed to years ago is because they have harnessed all of the energy and the resources, human and material, for the service of the state. We believe in freedom, and we believe in the long run that our system has the most staying power and the most vitality. But our system cannot work without leadership. Unless the President of the United States looks to the future, unless he is willing to set before our country its unfinished business in the same way that Franklin Roosevelt set it before it in the Thirties, and Woodrow Wilson before him, unless he is willing to move ahead this country cannot possibly meet its responsibilities to itself and to those who look to us for assistance and help.
We are the defenders of freedom and therefore it is incumbent upon us to build a strong and vital society, to build a society which is moving here at home, to build a society which can be an example of what free men and women can do, which permits every American, regardless of his race or his creed, to develop his talents fully, which puts people to work, which educates our children, which permits those who are retired to live in dignity. To build, in other words the kind of society which all men over the world will want to duplicate. That is our responsibility in the Sixties. And I believe to do that we have to elect men and women who are committed to progress, not those who are committed to the status quo. This is a race between the contented and the concerned, between those who are satisfied and those who wish to move ahead. I am confident that here in this Keystone State, the people of Pennsylvania are prepared for action and progress. On that basis, I ask your help. (Applause)