Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Ribicoff, my present colleague in the Congress, and I am confident my future colleague, Congressman Daddario, of the City of Hartford (applause), and my present colleague, and I am sure our future colleague in the Congress, Frank Kowalski. (Applause)
I would like to present to you my three sisters who have been campaigning around the United States, and who came with us today for the end of the campaign, my sister Eunice Shriver (applause), my sister Jean Smith (applause), and my sister Patricia Lawford (applause). I think Mrs. Lawford got a better hand than the other sisters. (Laughter) And Congressman to be William St. Onge from the Second Congressional District.
I am delighted to be here. I am proud to be introduced by your distinguished Governor, Governor Ribicoff. (Applause) In 1956, he presented my name to the Democratic Convention as a candidate for the Vice Presidency, and since that time he was my first supporter for the office of the Presidency, and has been my constant friend and counsel and I am honored to be in his state with him today. (Applause)
This campaign is coming to an end. This campaign will be all over in 12 hours, and it has been a campaign which has taken, in some form or other, at least many months, stretching all the way back to the first primary in the State of New Hampshire in January of this year. After 12 hours, my responsibility as the Standard Bearer for the Democratic Party to present the issues in this campaign ceases, and so does that of Mr. Nixon. Your responsibility as citizens of the great Republic then begins, and tomorrow, November 8, you must make the most sober and responsible judgment that any citizens of any free country are called upon to make, to choose the next President of the United States. (Response from the audience and applause) Thank you. I believe we will do very well in 1964. (Laughter)
I believe that the issues which separate Mr. Nixon and myself present a clear choice to any voter. He must make a judgment about what his view is of the position of our country, what his view is of its needs, what his view is of its responsibilities, and when he has made that judgment about his own position, then he can make a judgment between Mr. Nixon and myself, because we hold entirely different views of the position, future and responsibility of the United States in 1960, and you have to decide which point of view, which party, which candidate, which philosophy you accept. (Applause)
There are three major differences of opinion between Mr. Nixon and myself. They have been developed over a period of two months. They are three things:
First, a different view of the present state of the American economy; secondly, a different view of our prestige in the world and, therefore, our ability to lead the free world; and, thirdly, whether the balance of power in the world is shifting in our direction or that of our adversaries.
Mr. Nixon and I disagreed two months ago. I did not know before two months were past that on each of these three questions the people of the United States would have it possible to make a clear judgment based on their own facts, because I believe that within the two months of Mr. Nixon taking a position that our prosperity was greater than it ever was before, the people of this country have had a chance to see that it is not. We are moving into a period of decline in American economy which has cost us $1 billion worth of gold in three months, which has caused our government to reduce its estimates of its tax revenues by $4 billion in three months, which is going to see in two weeks 1 million unsold cars in the United States, twice as many in inventory as ever before in our history, which has seen our economic growth, instead of increasing, decreasing in the last nine months, which has seen us build 30 percent fewer homes. I don’t know how many clouds on the horizon we need before we realize that this is not, in Mr. Nixon’s words, unexampled prosperity; it is not better than we have ever had it before, and in my judgment if the United States is going to avoid the rigors of another recession in the winter of 1961, we have to have a new administration in Washington. (Applause)
Secondly, Mr. Nixon and I have disagreed on the prestige of the United States abroad. He has said it has never been higher, and he points to the votes in the United Nations. Even while he said this, the United States State Department had in its vaults polls taken in ten countries of the world this summer, asking them whether they believed that the United States or the Soviet Union was first militarily, scientifically, and in economic growth, and which society they thought would be first in 1970. In nine out of ten countries, stretching all the way from England to Indonesia, a majority of the citizens believed that the Soviet Union was now ahead of us in scientific power, in military power and would be ahead of us, perhaps decisively, by 1970. How many countries of the world in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Western Europe, will choose to follow a leader who is not able to maintain his leadership? Which has seen a country which was the most backward country in Western Europe forty years ago now in a position where a majority of the people in the world begin to believe that it is more powerful than us.
How can Mr. Nixon go to the people of this country and how can the people of this country accept the view that our prestige has never been higher, when the very evidence before our eyes indicates that the people of the world believe that a major shift in the balance of power in the world is moving against us? (Applause) And when on our second television debate – and Mr. Nixon, I understand, will be on television for six hours today – (response from the audience) I would have liked to have had him spend just one hour with me in a fifth debate, but nevertheless – (applause) When he pointed to the votes at the United Nations as evidence of our increased prestige, the very next day on the question of the admission of Red China not one of the sixteen new nations admitted to the United Nations this summer – not one voted with us. Only two countries in all of Africa voted with us, Liberia and the Union of South Africa.
Thirdly, I stated that I believe that while the United States was not first militarily, that the rate of increase in the Soviet Union placed us in danger of being in a secondary position by 1963, 4, 5, or 6. Mr. Nixon denied it. The headline in the papers yesterday emphasized his view of our supremacy. But on a back page of the New York Times, there is a report released by the Rand Corporation under the sponsorship of Johns Hopkins University of a study now in the departments of government, hitherto unreleased, which shows that these informed experts believe that at the present rate of increase in military power, by 1970, and I quote them accurately, “We will be in a position of inferiority.”
The people of this country have these facts. Mr. Nixon has chosen to take a different view of them. But I believe that it did not take a year, it took two months for the people of this country to realize that this country cannot maintain its leadership, we cannot maintain our security, we cannot maintain our employment, we cannot maintain the image of a vigorous society, we cannot control and hold the imagination of the world, unless this country starts to move forward again. And that is the issue. (Applause) And I do not believe that Mr. Nixon or the Republican Party by their record are committed to progress, and we need progress in this country.
I want to make it clear that all these statements that have been made in the last few days about his proposed visit to Eastern Europe, the proposal to send the President traveling through Russia, accompanied by Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman – in my judgment, if I am elected President of the United States, I am not going to Eastern Europe. I am going to Washington, D.C. (Applause)
Because the hope of freedom in Eastern Europe, the hope of stalemating the Communist advance and turning it, depends not upon good will missions, of which we have had so many in recent years. It depends on one thing, the power, vitality, conviction, direction and perseverance of the great Republic of the United States. That is what counts – what we do. (Applause)
Mr. Khrushchev travels around the world, but what gives him his power, what gives him his force, is the drive of the Communist system and the Soviet productive power. Unless we can match it, unless we can be superior to it in the next decade, the balance of power will shift against us, and once we are isolated, what chance of security and what chance of peace.
I ask your help tomorrow, not merely as the candidate – (applause) – not merely as the candidate of my party. I ask your help in a race tomorrow between the comfortable and the concerned, between those who are satisfied and those who want to move ahead. 2,000 years ago, after the battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans held back the mass of Persians, there was erected in the rocks above their graves these words: “Passerby: Tell Sparta we fell faithful to her service.” I want it erected on the walls of the world in the 1960’s, “Passerby: America is faithful to the service of Freedom.” Thank you. (Applause)
Speech source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Series 12. Speeches and the Press. Box 914a, Folder: "Hartford, Connecticut, 7 November 1960".