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, Congressman Randall—can anybody hear that? (Response from the audience.)
Congressman Randall, Senator Ed Long, your candidate for Governor, who I know is going to be the Governor, Hugh Dalton, the Attorney General, ladies and gentlemen: I am delighted to be in this state.
Mr. Nixon two weeks ago in Boston in my home town attempted to dismiss me as saying that I was just another Truman. I said I regarded it as a compliment, and he was just another
Dewey. (Applause) And he has not said it since. The fact of the matter is that this shopping center is called Truman Center, but also Mr. Truman is remembered for being a fighting President, who helped defend freedom after World War II in Greece and Turkey and Western Europe, through NATO and the Marshall Plan and the rest. The Truman Corner and the Truman Doctrine rests thousands of miles apart, but they are an expression of America at its best. I come here tonight to this center of a great Democratic state. I come here and ask your help. I ask you to join us in building the strength of America, again. (Applause) I shook hands coming over here tonight with some farmers, and how can you tell that they are farmers. It is because their hands are twice as big. I don’t know what they do with it all day but it is twice as big because they work longer and harder than anybody with the possible exception of candidates for the Presidency. (Laughter) And they average in pay about 60 cents an hour. I believe that this administration and its policies, pursued by Mr. Benson, called by Mr. Nixon the most remarkable Secretary of Agriculture in history, has helped liquidate the American farmer, and Mr. Nixon’s program will continue it.
How can any farmer vote Republican in 1960? (Applause) I understand nearby there was a farmer who planted some corn. He said to his neighbor, “I hope I break even this year. I really need the money.” We want him to do more than break even. We want him to move ahead. (Applause)
That is a Massachusetts joke. (Laughter) We are a little slow up there.
I want to express my regrets to all of you for keeping you waiting. We were not playing golf. (Laughter and applause) We started at midnight in New York after debating the Great Debater, Mr. Nixon. (Response from the audience) The man who stood up to Mr. Khrushchev but won’t stand up for a fifth debate. (Response, laughter, and applause) We left there at midnight, came to St. Louis, then to Joplin, then Wichita, now Truman Corners, back to Kansas and we end up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and we don’t even get 60 cents an hour for doing this.
I come here to Missouri and ask your help. This state is key. If we can carry this State of Missouri, I think the Democrats can win in 1960. (Applause) I believe this year, just as in 1932, and just as in 1948, just as in 1912, when Woodrow Wilson was elected, I believe it in the national interest that a new administration with new people, with a new sense of purpose, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President and administration, working together to strengthen our country, to move it ahead, to protect the interests of our farmers, to protect those who live over 65 and are retired, to build better schools, to set a standard of excellence for our society, to demonstrate here in this country that freedom can move, so that people around the world will want to be connected with us, will want to follow our example, will want to be associated with us, will wish to follow this leadership not of Mr. Khrushchev, not of the Chinese Communists, not of Castro, but they want to stand with Americans. All over Africa there are children named George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt. There are none called Nixon. (Laughter and applause) There are none yet called Lenin or Stalin, and we don’t want them to be. We want those people to be associated with the cause of freedom because they are impressed by what we have done here, because we move, because we build a vital society, because we move ahead and provide employment for our people, a secure life for our people, a better life, and in so doing we strengthen then the cause of freedom. (Applause)
Your Senators, men like Stuart Symington, have spoken for Missouri and they have also spoken for the United States. You cannot live in this state and read his speeches which warn of our peril for the last eight years, without knowing in your heart that the Republican Party which has always stood still, which has always looked back, which has always taken the easy way, which has always blocked progress, which has always stood in the middle of the road against movement—you know that that is the program that Mr. Nixon runs on in 1960, that we have never had it so good, that our prestige has never been higher, that our influence has never been greater. You know it is not true. You cannot be a citizen of this country and read the paper and listen to the radio and watch television and look at space, and look across the street and come here and know that we are doing enough. We are Americans. That is a proud boast. That is a great privilege, to be a citizen of the United States, and we must meet our responsibilities.
In 1960 and 1961, our responsibility is to pick this country of ours up and move it, and that is what we are going to do with your help. (Applause)
Senator Long, Senator Symington, this state’s saying from the time of its first history has been “Show me.” I am attempting to show you in this state before November 8. I am attempting to show you what this country must do if it is going to fulfill its destiny. And I hope that on November 8 you will show us that Missouri will go Democratic. (Applause)