This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A single text of the speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
SENATOR KENNEDY: Governor DiSalle, Congressman Levering, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: I want to express my appreciation to all of you for being kind enough to stand up there, I am sure somewhat uncomfortably, in order to say hello to me, so I will not talk too long.
I do come here as a candidate for the office of the Presidency and I run for the office of the Presidency in a most difficult and dangerous time for us all. I think every American who attempts to make a judgment as to what he should do on November 8 considers his own problems here in this state or in other states, the problems he may face, the necessity of maintaining employment, and he also wonders what is happening on the other side of the world, what contribution his country can make to the maintenance of freedom around the globe. I don't think there has been any presidential election where the issues are so serious, the problems facing the United States so burdensome, the responsibilities so heavy upon us all. This is not an easy time for any American. It is not an easy time for any friend of freedom, because you must consider not only what happens here in this district, but also what happens in the Congo and India and Latin America. You must consider not only what happens here in Ohio, but also what happens in the far side of space. So the American people will make a judgment in November facing as they do the most dangerous and difficult period in a long and honorable history.
I do not run for the office of the Presidency saying that if I am elected life will be easy. I don't think life will be easy in the Sixties, and I don't run for the office of the Presidency saying that if I am elected that the problems will disappear. I think the problems will travel with us. But I do say that if I am elected President of the United States, I do think it is possible to set before the American people the things which we must do in order to maintain our freedom, the things we must do in order to be second to none, the things we must do to build a better society here in the United States, and also hold out the hand of friendship around the world. (Applause)
Twenty years ago Franklin Roosevelt was a good neighbor in Latin America. Today, yesterday, Mr. Castro raised the standard of revolt, the standard of Communism through all of Latin America, not merely in Cuba. One or two years ago there was not a country in Africa that was in any danger of moving in the direction of the Communists. The other day Mr. Herter said that Ghana had joined the Communist side, and the Congo is uncertain. A year ago Laos was one of the strongest countries on the side of freedom. Today Laos is torn by a civil war.
These are the issues which are before the United States and before the United Nations and before the world in the next ten years. Are other countries of Africa going to join Ghana, are other countries of Latin America going to join Cuba, are other countries of Asia going to join Laos in the next ten years? What contribution can we make to the cause of freedom here in the United States, and the cause of freedom around the world? I think that is the question that is before us this year. It is not the questions that have been traditionally before us, not the old arguments that divided our party. Now the problems are new and they require new solutions.
One hundred years ago Lincoln said, "As the problems are new, we must disenthrall ourselves from the past." I ask you to look ahead. I ask you to join me in making this the greatest country on earth, the strongest country. (Applause)
I don't want anyone ten years from now, or any historian to write that these were the years when the balance of power began to turn against the United States; these were the years when the tide ran out for freedom. I think we should change that. I want historians to say that these were the years when the American people began to move again. These were the years when the United States met its responsibilities to freedom. (Applause)
You have a distinguished Congressman from this district. The House of Representatives under the Constitution bears heavy responsibilities, the power to appropriate money, the power to speak for the people, and I hope that this district, not only because of the interest in this district, but also because he speaks for the United States, will send Congressman Levering back to the Congress of the United States. (Applause)
During the campaign of 1860, Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend: "I know there is a God and that He hates injustice. I see the storm coming, and I know His hand is in it, but if He has a place and a part for me, I believe I am ready."
Now, 100 years later, with the issue still the same, freedom or slavery, we know there is a God, and we know He hates injustice, and we see the storm coming. We know His hand is in it. But I think if He has a place and a part for us, I believe that we are ready. I ask your help in this campaign. Thank you. (Applause)