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: Senator Carroll, Governor McNichols, National Committeewoman and Mrs. Price, members of the Congress, Senators from neighboring states, ladies and gentlemen: I am very grateful for the generous remarks made by Steve McNichols and John Carroll, and I am grateful to all of you. I could say I am deeply touched, but not as deeply touched as you have been in coming to this luncheon. (Laughter) But this is what makes a man go. (Applause)
I know it would be nice to run this campaign on something else besides funds, but I do appreciate the contributions you make to the Party in this state. President Truman told me about two weeks ago that his train ran out of gas and finances about three times in the 1952 campaign. I would hate to be in the middle of a speech in Erie, Pennsylvania, and have to send for carfare back to Washington. So you are helping and I know all the candidates, Bob Khous and members of the Congressional delegation, people who are running in the state, all of us appreciate your help very much indeed.
John and Steve McNichols made an important point. This is not really a contest, in a great sense, between just the Vice President and myself. The Vice President and I did not suddenly emerge on the scene after the two national conventions. We have both been in the Congress and in Government now for 14 years. But more significant than that, I think, is the fact that it is a contest between two political parties, and between two political philosophies. It is a contest between the intellectual vitality, the willingness to break new ground which has characterized our party since its earliest days, and the Republican Party's stand pat viewpoint, which I think has characterized itself in the Fifties, the Forties, and the Thirties, during the great administration of Wilson. I think the fact that Theodore Roosevelt, and as you know Theodore Roosevelt ultimately broke with his party- I cannot recall a single piece of our new social legislation sponsored by the Republican Party since 1912, with the exception of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, both sponsored by two Republicans who had left their party.
On the great domestic issues of resource development, minimum wage, housing, aid to education, social security, aid for the aged - all the rest, it has been a history of the Democrats proposing, the Republicans opposing, and then at least in the last eight years fighting for an unsatisfactory compromise.
The Senate is Democratic, and we could not mathematically lose control of the Senate. The House of Representatives is Democratic by a wide margin, and I doubt that the Democrats in the House of Representatives will lose control. Therefore, the prospect of four or eight years of a divided government, a government manned by a highly partisan figure, manned by a highly partisan party in the Executive Branch, and we have seen evidence of it in the last few days, how can we hope at a time when we need action, how can we hope to possibly move ahead when on the one hand we say yes with the Democrats, and on the other hand we say no with the Republicans? The experience of the month of August in the Congress when both parties were vocally committed to great programs, housing, education, minimum wage, care for the aged - every program fell between the two opposing philosophies of the two parties.
Medical care for the aged was defeated; minimum wage of $1.25 an hour defeated; federal aid to education after passing the Senate did not come to the floor of the House because we could not get the vote of a single Republican on the House Rules Committee to vote for it to go before the people in the House; the Housing bill, defeated, because we could not get a single Republican on the House Rules Committee to vote to send it to the House. I think we happen to move in a period where the competition is very sharp between our system and the Communist system, were the future is very hazardous. There are enough checks and balances in the American system of government, devised by able men, Madison, Adams, Franklin and the rest, without adding an additional check and balance of a Congress Democratic and an administration Republican, and, therefore, a divided government at a time when responsibility should be cast upon one party or the other.
We seek to serve our country. We seek to do it by presenting in the next six weeks an alternative course of action to the present administration's policy of drift, and I think we can do it. I look with great confidence because I cannot believe that in November of 1960 the American people are going to endorse the experience of the Vice President of the United States. (Applause)
It is difficult enough for us to compete with a monolithic society, a garrison state that is able to mobilize the resources of the state for the service of the state, both human and material, but for us in a free society which has, we believe, an ultimate energy which they cannot possess, for us to divide the government instead of saying yes, I think would be a great mistake.
Secondly, I criticize this administration's policy and foreign policy particularly, because I think it has shown no ability to make a judgment as to what tomorrow is going to bring. Our aid to Latin America, in spite of the speech made by Mr. Nixon in 1959, to which John Carroll referred, our aid to Latin America presented at the Bogata conference, and it is merely an authorization, did not come from the administration until July of this year, after we had broken off our economic relations with Cuba. It was a direct result, unfortunately, of that disaster which brought about a whole new concept of American needs in Latin America.
I would like to have seen the United States a year ahead or two years or eight years ahead, not attempt to carry out a policy of assistance to a good neighbor at the point of Mr. Castro's pistol, but to do it because we believed that their security and ours are closely tied together. (Applause)
The United States this summer offered 300 scholarships for students from the Congo. Has the United States ever spoken about the Congo and its needs in spite of the fact that they have less than 15 people with college educations in the whole of the Congo? To offer them 300 scholarships which is twice as many as we have offered to all of Africa during the past two years from the Federal Government, to do it in a moment of crisis when we should be building for a long future?
We face in January, February and March a difficult situation in India, as India attempts to finance her third five year plan. If India fails, Asia will fall. If India fails, Africa will fall. 35 per cent of all the people of the under-developed world live in India. Has this administration spoken at all about what we and the western powers are going to do about India in January, February and March, outer space, Africa, Latin America, Asia, disarmament, rearmament? We have been blind day by day, week by week, month by month. We have followed the course of events, and I agree with a distinguished Republican that as the challenges are new, we must disenthrall ourselves from the past. Lincoln was right; unless we can, with some certainty, make a judgment of what the needs of our country are, what our resource development must be, what our economic programs must bring, what our economic growth must be if we are going to sustain the kind of society we must sustain, unless we can make a judgment about what our role will be in the world, then we merely are spectators, sitting on a most conspicuous stage.
I think the Democratic Party can do better. I think its great contribution is the talent it has in the United States, men and women who have intellectual vitality and curiosity and experience, and who look to the future with enthusiasm and not merely feel themselves caretakers of the status quo administration. I leave now for Utah. I have been promised a haircut by John Carroll's barber, but I am giving up the opportunity. (Laughter)
I am going on to Utah to speak there tonight. But I do say you have been very generous to us. I hope we can do well in Colorado. Candidates move in and out like ships in the night, and you stay on. So for the next six weeks the campaign of the Presidency and the Senate and the House of Representatives here in Colorado is in your capable hands. I would appreciate it if you would take care of the matter. Thank you.
I would like to say before we leave that my obligation to Colorado is great for the support we had at the convention and also for the fact that the Chairman of our National Citizens Committee is a distinguished citizen of this state who has taken on the responsibilities in 50 states. I must say that I hold him in the same high regard as the people of this state do, your distinguished citizen, Byron White. Thank you. (Standing ovation.)