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, Congressman Monagan, the next Congressman from this district (Applause), Senator Dodd, (Applause), Congressman Kowalski (Applause) – my name is Kennedy and I have come to ask your support. (Applause)
Back in 1956 when I was a candidate for the vice presidential nomination, my name was placed in nomination by your distinguished Governor, and the first State support that I received was Connecticut, 4 years ago. (Applause) And the first public official in the United States to support my campaign for the Presidency was Gov. Abe Ribicoff. (Applause) My debt to Connecticut is great, and I come here in the last 48 hours of this campaign to the greatest rally we have had in this entire campaign, right here in this city. (Applause)
It is now a quarter to 3. Dick Nixon has been in bed for 4 hours. (Applause) Let me make it clear I do not come here with an escort. I come by myself. (Applause) We are not electing a committee next Tuesday; we are electing a President of the United States. (Applause) You have seen these elephants in the circus that go around the ring, and they grab the tail of the elephant in front, and that is what Nixon is doing. (Applause) That was all right in 1952 and 1956, but there is no elephant out in front now. Now we are moving ahead. (Applause)
Anyway, New England has not had a Democratic President since Franklin Pierce, 104 years ago, and I think it is about time. (Applause)
This campaign really is fought over one issue, and it is an issue which I believe importantly affects the welfare of this country. Mr. Nixon has chosen to go to the people of this country in the year 1960 saying at home our prosperity has never been greater, that we have never had it so good and saying abroad that our prestige has never been higher. (Response from the audience) I run as a candidate for the Presidency with a view that this is a great country, but it must be greater. (Applause) I want to see us build here in this country a strong and vital and progressive society that will serve as an inspiration to all those people who desire to follow the road that we have followed. (Applause)
At the time of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine said, “The cause of America is the cause of all mankind.” Now in 1960, the cause of all mankind is the cause of America. (Applause) We defend freedom. If we succeed here, if we can build a strong and vital society, then the cause of freedom is strengthened. If we fail here, if we drift, if we lie at anchor, if we don’t provide an example of what freedom can do in the 1960’s, then we have betrayed not only ourselves and our destiny, but all those who desire to be free and are not free. (Applause) That is why I think this election is important. That is why this is an important campaign.
Mr. Nixon and I disagree completely on the obligations that all of us have, and the sense of this country, and I think this is a campaign that must be won if we are going to move this country ahead. (Applause)
On Tuesday night, the first State of the Union to vote and have its results is the State of Connecticut. (Applause) It will be about 3 or 4:30 in California when the results of Connecticut are announced. This State is important. What you do is important. You can have an effect here and across the country, and I come here tonight and ask your help. (Applause)
Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1936, accepting his second Presidential nomination, said:
Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the coldblooded and the sins of the warmhearted on a different scale. Better the occasional faults of a government living in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.
We don’t want that. (Response from the audience)
In Connecticut on Tuesday, our work is finished, and your work begins. I ask you to support us. (Applause) I promised the mayor that I would have you all in bed by three. (Response from the audience) I want to just say, and I mean it: No. 1, this is the biggest crowd we have had in a city this size in the United States; No. 2, it is not 12 o’clock it is 3 o’clock in the morning. (Applause) And I must say every day I keep reading the Vice President says the tide is suddenly going in his direction. (Response from the audience) Well, I think the tide is rising in Connecticut that is just going to wash him all the way out. (Applause)
Governor, maybe you can give it to them for a while and then I will come back and give it to them some more. (Laughter and applause)
In any case, I want to thank you very much, staying here 3 or 4 hours. I am in your debt, and we are going to try to win this election on Tuesday, and then make this election worth winning by doing something for our country. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)
Now I will speak for a while again. (Applause) I will close by telling you of a letter which Lincoln wrote in a campaign very much like this, 100 years ago, when the issues were the same. He wrote to a friend, “I know there is a God, and I know 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 that I am ready.” Now, 100 years later, when the issue is still freedom or slavery, we know there is a God and we know He hates injustice. We see the storm coming, and we know His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe that we are ready. Thank you. (Applause)