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 at the John F. Kennedy Library.
Thank you. I would like to have you give a cheer for the Waltham Post of the American Legion of Massachusetts that is down at the convention and came over to play for us today. (Applause)
Harvard University ought to get that song. They could really do something with it. (Applause)
Mayor High, my old friend and supporter, Governor Collins, who became known through the country at the Democratic Convention as he was in this state, as a distinguished and able American. (Applause) My friend and colleague for 14 years in the Congress, who was an usher at my wedding, your Senator, George Smathers; Dante Fascell, who has spoken for the interest of this district and the United States (Applause); Ferris Bryan, who will be a distinguished Democratic Governor of a great Democratic state, Florida (Applause); Congressman Rogers; Commissioners; fellow Democrats; ladies and gentlemen - and members of the band. (Laughter)
I want to thank you. I want to express my appreciation to all of you for coming here today. Your presence is a testimony to your belief that this is an important election, and that all of us as citizens of this country have an obligation to make a careful judgment as to who shall be the next President of the United States. (Applause)
I have served in the Congress for 14 years, and I must say I have come to the conclusion, and I am sure George Smathers and Dante Fascell would agree, that however important the Senate may be, and however important the House of Representatives may be, in the final analysis our fortunes as a nation depend, particularly because of the pressure of events as well as the provisions of the Constitution, on the good judgment, the vigor, the sense of precision, the sense of foresight, the historical sense of the President of the United States. (Applause)
This country stood still when McKinley was President and when Harding was President and when Coolidge was President, and this country moved when Woodrow Wilson was President and Franklin Roosevelt was President, and Harry Truman was President. (Applause) And I must say that those of you who live in this state of Florida depend upon a moving and expanding country. I know something about the economy of this state. When the rest of the country catches cold, Florida gets pneumonia and Miami is very sick. (Applause and laughter) If we should have a recession in the winter of 1961, and the Wall Street Journal already says we have a recession, what effect does that have on Miami and Miami Beach and the counties to the north? This country cannot afford in 1961, four more years of Republican leadership - (applause) I wish I could take Mr. Nixon's attention for just five minutes from the coast of China where there is no disagreement, where we both agree with the Eisenhower administration. I wish I could move him off of the coast line of China, two miles away from the mainland of China, and move him about 90 miles off the coast of Florida. (Applause) He has announced that he is going to spend the next three weeks talking about those two islands, about which there is no debate. Every week, once, I would like to have him tell us about Cuba. I would like to have him tell us. (Applause) We don't want it often, but I would like to have him tell us what he is going to do. I would like to have him tell us how when he stands up to Khrushchev, what he is going to do about Castro. (Applause)
I would like to have him explain his statement of 1955, because foresight and good judgment are essential qualities of the next President of the United States, and in 1955 Mr. Nixon flatly said, as he says today, our prestige is at an all time high. Just to know how good his judgment is in 1955 he said "Communism in Latin America is on the decline." Just like he said when he pointed his finger in Mr. Khrushchev's face, "You may be ahead of us in rocket engines, but we are ahead of you in color television." (Laughter and applause)
I want Mr. Nixon to come home for a while. I want him to tell those steel workers who work in steel mills which are working at 50 per cent of capacity, I want him to talk to the parents of 35 per cent of our brightest children who graduate from high school and never see the inside of a college, I want him to talk to the home builders of this country who are building 200,000 homes less than they should be to keep up with our population, in part because the interest rates now are at an all time high. I want him to tell us about the peace which is in the world, when in the last eight years not one Soviet soldier has crossed the frontiers of '52, and yet now they control Cuba, they are about to control Laos, they are in a strong position in Iraq, the foreign policy of Guinea and Ghana matches theirs. There is talk this morning in the newspaper that the next two months there may be a crisis in Iran. I want him to tell us again that the power and the prestige of the United States is at an all time high. (Applause)
How can any American in the most dangerous time in the life of our country, when it is incumbent upon politicians in both parties to tell the truth, how can he possibly campaign in 1960 on a program in complete contradiction to that of every objective committee and commission appointed in the last three years composed of members of both parties, the Rockefeller Brothers, the Gaither Committee, the committees of Lyndon Johnson, of Stuart Symington, of Mr. Rockefeller himself - they have all said this is the time of danger for the American people.
General Ridgeway, General Gavin, General Taylor - only Mr. Nixon holds the view that everything is being done in its proper measure, that everything that must be done to maintain the peace and maintain our security is being done, and will be done by a candidate who runs on a platform of "We've never had it so good."
That is the issue which you must decide, and that issue is as important as any that this country has ever faced. Dimosthenes, 2000 years ago, warning the Athenians of their danger said, "Our peril comes from those who seek to please us, rather than to serve us." (Applause)
I regard and we regard the responsibility of our party, not to downgrade our country, but to state that this country which has unlimited capacity for action, this country must get ready for another movement forward. We cannot maintain our position, we cannot maintain our strength, we cannot serve as an inspiration to freedom around the globe, if we move at a slow pace in the Sixties. This country is the only hope of freedom. If we move forward, freedom moves forward. If we stand still, we give hope and encouragement to those who wish to destroy us.
I sound the alarm not with the idea that this country is doomed, but with the idea that if this country moves again, nothing can stop it. And that is where we differ. (Applause)
The Bible said it long ago. "Who will prepare for the battle if the trumpet sounds an uncertain note?" Governor Rockefeller, before he began to swim happily in Mr. Nixon's pool after the convention, said this country could not be led by a question mark.
Our position is not that of a question. Our position is one of certainty, that the future can belong to freedom, that this country can be secure, that we can turn the balance of power in our direction. All of these things can be done and all these things must be done by the United States on the move again. So I come to Florida, I come to Miami, and I come and ask you as citizens of this country, I ask your support in this campaign. This is not merely a contest between Republicans and Democrats. This is a contest between those who are concerned and those who are comfortable, between those who are fat and happy and those who wish to see our country succeed. (Applause) This is a great and powerful country. We can make it greater and more powerful. We can give this country leadership. We can make America move again. Thank you. (Applause)