Remarks of Representative John F. Kennedy, Senate Campaign Announcement, WNAC TV, Boston, Massachusetts, October 5, 1952

This evening I am opening my formal campaign for the United States Senate. I ask you, the voters of this Commonwealth, to consider with me in this first discussion those broad questions of public policy which distinguish me from my political opponent. I ask you to do this so that as the campaign develops, you will have a general guide to help you decide between us. For I believe deeply with Governor Stevenson that we, as candidates, "Owe it to the people to talk sensibly about facts... about actual issues... and about alternative courses across limitless range of America’s problems and dangers."

There are three major areas of difference between Mr. Cabot Lodge and myself. The first has to do with the opposing political philosophies of the parties we represent. The second concerns our respective records as members of the Congress – the promises we have made, the work we have done, the votes we have cast. The third relates to our program of action for the future well being of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Our opposing political philosophies can be summed up in a few words – I am a Democrat, Mr. Cabot Lodge is a Republican.

As a Democrat I believe in the policies and Principles for which my party stands. Mr. Cabot Lodge, on the other hand, makes the claim- and I quote his statement made just one week ago at the Republican State Convention in Springfield – "I have always been loyal to the Republican Party."

As the Democratic nominee for the office of United States Senator, I am proud of our record of twenty years of leadership in National and International affairs, and our forward-looking program for the future.

It was the Democratic Party which first saw the need for the exercise by the Federal Government of its powers on behalf of the individual – to help in protecting his home, his job, his wages, his savings, and to shelter him from the hazards of unemployment and the insecurity of old age. It was the Democratic Party also which first saw clearly the role of leadership for the United States among the free peoples of the World.

True, we have made mistakes in these past twenty years, but our record must be judged against the tasks and the turmoil of the times. We took office in the midst of the great depression. We have held office during the rise of Hitler, during a World War, and during a post-war period marked by conspiracy, cold war, and brazen military aggression. It is against this vast panorama that our actions must be judged – and not merely through the trick binoculars of hindsight – which make all things easy, and all men wise.

We must remember that most of our social and economic gains have been made despite the consistent opposition of the Republican Party. The record will show that a majority of the Republicans in the House and Senate voted against social security, minimum wage, federal housing, and the many other gains of the last few years. Can we, now, fairly entrust the continuance and expansion of these measures to a party which has so consistently opposed them?

In foreign policy the emergence of this nation as the major influence in world affairs was achieved over the opposition of the dominant wing of the Republican Party. Its tactics have been to oppose, to delay, to obstruct.

This fundamental difference in political parties is important, for the control of the Senate may hinge on the results of this campaign. For the Senate is very evenly divided today. A shift in control will mean that the Senate will be organized by the Republicans, and the important posts of Committee Chairmen will be theirs. It will then be the Capeharts, the Kems and the Cains – Senators who have opposed every progressive measure – who will direct and guide the whole of the Senate and in that way fasten upon this country their conservative and backward views. There is thus at issue in this campaign, not merely the differences between myself and Mr. Cabot Lodge, but also the greater issue as to what party and what political principles are to prevail.

In the campaign ahead I will deal in detail with the matters upon which the record of the Republican Party was made so that we may measure accurately present promises against past performances. I will discuss with you such issues as inflation, social welfare, labor, civil rights, Communism, and foreign affairs.

In deciding who is right and who is wrong on these issues, I urge you to beware of slogans and easy promises. Keep your eye on the record. Don’t be misled.

The second area of difference as I have said, concerns our respective records. We have both served in the Congress during the past six years. During that time we have had the responsibility and opportunity to record our views on many public questions. These voting records are available for all to examine. They demonstrate that it is not party philosophy alone which separates us, but the whole concept of our responsibility to the people who elect us.

Here for example, are some of our differences. Mr. Cabot Lodge has consistently worked for the relaxation of our federal system of rent control; I have been against that relaxation. In 1947 he voted to permit increasing rents by fifteen per cent. I opposed that increase. In 1951 he supported a twenty per cent increase over 1947 rent levels; I opposed that increase.

In the vital field of price control Mr. Lodge’s consistent absences indicate a lack of concern with the problem. During 1951 and 1952 he missed 45 out of 46 roll call votes on these issues. I believe that stemming the tide of inflation is of crucial importance, and I have taken the floor on many occasions to bring about an effective system of price controls.

We have seen our fisheries crippled, then come back – only to be crippled once more by foreign imports encouraged by well-meaning but superficial decisions.

And we have seen our traditional position in woolens and worsteds challenged by exactly those same forces that have taken away our cotton manufactures.

But despite all this, Massachusetts has kept and guarded that vitality upon which our great industrial history was founded.

We still have the most skilled labor force, perhaps, in the Nation. We still display the ingenuity that can recognize and seize upon a good thing....and develop it.

I need only to point to our accomplishments in this State in the new fields of electronics. This industry is only a few years old; yet, today a total of 303 different plants engage in it within the Commonwealth, and these firms give employment to a total of 61,000 workers. We have made similar gains in electrical manufacturing, plastics and chemicals, and in many lines of metal working.

This, of course, is why I am such a firm believer in the future of this Commonwealth... why I believe that the measure of our achievements in the past can and will be repeated in the years ahead... why I say to those beset by the prophets of doom... you had better not write off Massachusetts.

But Massachusetts needs help. By that, I mean it needs men who will stand up and fight for its interest – not only in the market places of business, but before the Washington bureaus, the committees, and in the halls of Congress.

We know in large part what our problems are.

Again and again we have had it pointed out that the Federal Government siphons tax dollars from the pockets of our citizens...and uses these dollars to build the great dams of the South and West, which, in their turn, feed cheap power to those very industries which compete with us.

Mr. Cabot Lodge wants to turn our great natural resources of oil in the tidelands back to the states. I have already introduced legislation to use revenues from this oil to extend medical education to qualified and deserving young men and women, and to promote medical research and medical care.

There is also the issue of our alertness to the ever-changing developments we face. My voice was raised at an early date against cut-backs in our military establishment. In 1947 I investigated and moved the indictment of the notorious Communist Christoffel for perjury – an action which Congressman Kersten, Republican from Wisconsin, called, "the opening gun of the skirmish between the Congress and the American Communist Conspiracy." This case shows the importance of being alert, but also exact and responsible in dealing with the problem of Communist infiltration. Long before Korea, I stressed the importance of the Far East in our foreign policy and particularly the strategic significance of Formosa – a position for which I was condemned by the Boston Herald for being militant in the support of "vigorous American action to save Formosa."

The third area of differences between Mr. Cabot Lodge and myself relates to what we have done and will do for Massachusetts.

The true worth of a United States Senator or Congressman is measured not alone by his service to the Nation as a whole. It is also measured by his efforts on behalf of the people of his own State.

This State has lost much in the last few years. We have seen our predominant position in cotton textiles whittled down by the competition of low-wage areas in the South. At one time we manufactured almost one out of every three pairs of shoes made in the United States. Today we make less than one of every five.

Again and again we have had it drummed in how unfair and short-sighted labor laws work to cement the present wage differential between our mills and mills in the South and West. First, there was the Taft-Hartley Law preventing the unionization of the South, and now – unless it can be checked – there is the plan to establish in the South a lower minimum wage than here.

We have had our problems spelled out to us in detail...How we are hurt by high transportation we are handicapped by lack of raw we must reach often far beyond our regional borders for vital markets.

We know all of this. The knowledge has been offered and re-offered until it has become a massive commonplace. But our Republican Senators have done very little to solve these problems.

It is the duty of a Senator to look to his own... to see that the interests of the people he represents, their lives, their jobs, their security, are protected. My interests are as national and international as anyone’s, but it is my belief that a Senator must make time for the affairs of his State.

I am interested in seeing that the textile worker of Lawrence has a job.

I also want to see that the wage of a shoe worker in Brockton is sufficient to allow him to care for his family and bring up his children.

I have a concern for the men who work at the fish piers in Boston and Gloucester.

During recent months I have made an extensive tour and study of over 150 industrial plants and business establishments in this Commonwealth. I have talked at length with hundreds of representatives of management and with thousands of workers. I know firsthand about our economy – where we are weak and where we are strong. I stand ready to carry out the commitment I have made in this do more for Massachusetts.

Here, for example, are a few things upon which action should be taken and taken immediately.

In the United States Senate I will work for the repeal of those labor laws which have fostered unfair Southern competition for our textile and shoe industries.

In the United States Senate I will oppose the efforts of the South to set a special, low minimum wage in the letting of government contracts.

I will urge the immediate establishment of an atomic energy team such as exists in four other parts of the country which will explore the peaceful use in industry of atomic energy. No area is more equipped for this job than Massachusetts, the research center of the world.

In the United States Senate, I will lend every effort and devote my full energies to unite the New England delegation in insisting that the vast powers of the Federal Government be used affirmatively to develop the assets of this New England region.

Tonight, I have dealt with some of the basic differences between me and Mr. Cabot Lodge. These differences are vital and fundamental. They mean much to the future of Massachusetts.

We people of Massachusetts have great gifts, and we have a magnificent tradition. We have faced misfortune in the past, and survived. We are not a soft people.

We lack what the economists call real wealth, coal and oil in the ground, iron, copper, the rich soil that grows great crops, and even the water power to turn giant turbines.

But we have something more.

We have natural gifts... and character.

And who would trade gifts for oil... or character for oil.

Today this State stands at one of the turning points in our regional history. All that is needed is recognition of our assets and our needs...and then, armed with that dual go out and fight for a richer, a tougher, a better Massachusetts.

Source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. House of Representatives Files, Box 94, "WNAC Keynote Speech, 5 October 1952." John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.