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.
Governor Ribicoff, Mayor Lee, Congressman Giaimo—I hope you are going to reelect him (applause) Congressman who is running at large for the State of Connecticut, Frank Kowalski (applause), John Golden, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to come to New Haven, delighted to come to Connecticut. This State in 1956 was the first State in the Union that was generous enough to support my candidacy for the Vice President and was the first in the Union (applause)—and was the first in the Union to support my candidacy for the Presidency. So I am glad to be here. (Applause)
This campaign comes to an end in the next 48 hours. Mr. Nixon’s responsibility and mine will then be over, and the voters of this country must then meet their responsibility. And I believe that there is a very clear voice, a very sharp difference, between the views taken by Mr. Nixon and myself. (Applause)
In this time of danger and hazard, Mr. Nixon has chosen to go to the country arguing that our country has never been better, that our prosperity has never been greater, and that our prestige in the world has never been higher. (Response from the audience.) I do not recall any candidate for office whose speeches have shown less reaction to the actual facts since Stanley Baldwin ran in 1935 in England. (Applause)
I made three points in September. First, that this country’s economy was not moving ahead at a rate which would maintain full employment and permit us to meet our national commitments at home and abroad. Secondly, that the prestige of the United States had dropped in recent months, and thirdly, that unless we made a greater effort, there was a danger in the early years of the 1960’s that there would be a military gap between the Western world and the Communist world, which would serve the advantages of Communist foreign policy. Those three points. Mr. Nixon denied all of them, and now, in the last 2 months, in the last 2 weeks, one, we are, according to the figures released yesterday, we have more unemployment than we had in the recession at this time since 1958; two, we are going to have more cars unsold by the middle of November, 1 million of them, 1 million unsold cars, the largest inventory in the history of the United States. Three, we have lost since June $1 billion of the $18 billion that backs our currency which has moved abroad; four, in the last 2 months, the administration’s figures on the amount of income that would be received from tax purposes from our economy has dropped between $3 and $4 billion. I don’t think there is any doubt Mr. Nixon has been proven wrong about our unexampled prosperity in 1960. (Applause)
The second point that I made in early September was that the prestige of the United States had dropped in the world. Mr. Nixon said it was at the highest in our history, and he pointed to the votes at the United Nations as evidence. One, since that time, polls which must have been available to him when he made that statement demonstrate very clearly that in 9 out of 10 countries sampled this summer, a majority of the people believe that the Soviet Union is ahead of us now in science, and believe by 1970 the Soviet Union will be ahead of us not only in science but in military power and in the rate of economic growth. And how many countries will follow a leader who is not able to maintain the lead? (Applause) The Bible tells us, “Who prepares for battle when the bugle blows an uncertain sound.”
So No. 2, Mr. Nixon said that the votes in the United Nations indicated how high our prestige is. The next day, on the question of the admission of Red China, of the 16 new nations admitted to the United Nations this summer, not one country voted with us. We brought more students from abroad 10 years ago than we do today to study under the Federal program. The second point, therefore, on our prestige, the facts have proven Mr. Nixon wrong.
The third, that a military gap may open between the free world and the Communist world, in this morning’s New York Times a study by the Rand Corp. indicated their judgment that at the present rates of military increase in power, by 1970 the Soviet Union would be ahead of us.
You have to decide on Tuesday yourselves which candidate, which party, which philosophy, which judgment. (Response from the audience.) Now can Mr. Nixon create an urgency in January and February and March of 1961 to try to persuade the Congress to act on those pieces of business which require national action and national commitments. How can he persuade a Democratic Congress that it is now time for us to move forward, when his entire campaign has been based on the other fact, that everything is being done in its own good time. I have done the best I could. Our position is quite clear. In my judgment, future events will clearly bear out the position which the Democratic Party in this campaign has taken. You have to decide yourselves on Tuesday what your judgment is of our present, what your judgment is of your responsibilities as citizens of the United States. And I believe on Tuesday the people of this country are going to choose to go forward. They are tired of sitting still, and in my judgment I do not recall in 25 years when the Republican Party has ever been willing to move this country ahead on any great national program. (Applause)
Mr. Nixon campaigns on the program that party labels don’t mean very much, that it is just the man. I say it is the man the party nominates. The record is there. Both of our parties are like great rivers, moving back into history, with different direction, different force, different power. The way they are flowing, what they have done in the course of their run, I believe indicates very clearly what they will do in the future. In this century, I stand in succession to three distinguished Democratic Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. (Applause) And in every case, their domestic programs had their counterpart in their success in their foreign policy. The 14 points of Woodrow Wilson was the international counterpart of the new freedom. The four freedoms of Franklin Roosevelt and the United Nations had their domestic counterpart in the New Deal, and the Marshall plan, NATO, point 4, and technical assistance all were the companion piece to the efforts Mr. Truman made here in the United States to move us ahead. Mr. Nixon stands in succession to certain Republican Presidents—Mr. McKinley, “Stand Pat with McKinley,” “Return to Normalcy With Harding,” “Keep Cool With Coolidge,” “Two Chickens in Every Pot With Herbert Hoover.” (Laughter.) These are the great rallying cries of the Republican Party in the 20th Century. (Applause) “Repeal Social Security With Alf Landon,” “Had Enough?” with Tom Dewey, and “You’ve Never Had It So Good,” with Dick Nixon. (Response from the audience)
I think these slogans tell us something and so do the candidates and so do the records of the party, and I believe in the 1960’s, when the great question before us, and not the usual ones, but our ability to maintain a national and international competition, with a monolithic power which is able to mobilize all of the resources of the state, both human and material, for the service of the state—we cannot possibly afford to drift or lie at anchor, or rest. This has to be a time for action for us. The last 8 years—we do not need the perspective of history to tell us that the relative rate of increase in drive, power, expansion, prestige, scientific and economic development, the relative rate of increase of the Communist world has been at the expense of the free world. I want Mr. Khrushchev to know that a new generation of Americans who fought in World War II to maintain our freedom, is prepared to build this country as an example of what freedom can do in the 1960’s. (Applause) This is a contest between the comfortable and the concerned, and in my judgment, on Tuesday, the people of the United States are going to give us an opportunity to pick this country up and move it forward. Thank you. (Applause)