I shall run in the Indiana Presidential Primary.
It is my sincere hope that other Presidential aspirants will enter this Primary. The laws of this state were designed to give its voters a meaningful opportunity to choose between competing Presidential candidates - and their exercise of this right should not be rendered less significant by the refusal of other candidates to join me in this state.
I cannot believe, moreover, that serious consideration will be paid to claims of popular strength in this state on behalf of any candidate unwilling to test his record in the voting booth. By law, this state's delegates to next July's Democratic Convention at Los Angeles will be pledged to cast their votes on the first ballot for the winner of the May 3rd Primary. If the convention goes beyond one ballot, the Indiana delegates would, I am certain, prefer a candidate endorsed by rank-and-file Democrats to one who by-passed this state and its voters.
Indiana has had a preferential primary law in effect during five Presidential election years - 1916, 1920, 1924, 1928 and 1956. In every one of those years, the President elected in November entered the Indiana Primary in the spring: Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and Eisenhower. I have no reason to doubt that once again, in 1960, the President elected in November will have entered the Indiana Primary this May. I have no reason to believe that a candidate by-passing the Indiana Primary can - for the first time in history - be elected President.
For within this centrally located state may be found elements of North, South, East and West - cities and farms, villages and industry, prosperity and poverty. If the voters of Indiana do not "love" a candidate in May, neither they nor the nation are likely to "love" him in November.
By entering this Indiana Primary - along with primaries in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Maryland, West Virginia and Oregon - I am carrying out my pledge to take this campaign to the people and ask them to judge my record and views in comparison with all other aspirants. I have now entered my name in every state Presidential Preference Primary in the country which binds delegates from that state for one or more ballots, and where no legitimate favorite son candidate is running. I have entered most of the non-binding primaries as well. I hope that, before the filing deadlines have passed, at least one other Presidential aspirant will take this same step to carry our Party's case to the people.
But regardless of how many candidates enter this primary, the people of Indiana are entitled to a serious discussion of the issues confronting this state and nation in 1960:
--whether we can achieve a world of peace and freedom in place of the fantastically dangerous and expensive arms race in which we are now falling behind.
--whether we can spur the nation's economic growth to provide a more secure life for all Americans, regardless of race, creed or national origin, including a high wage, better social security, medical care for the aged, and a better break for the mentally ill.
--whether better weapons against monopoly and racketeering, lower gas, oil and utility prices, and lower interest rates on installment purchases and the national debt can be obtained to help the consumers of Indiana and the country battle the high costs of inflation and government.
--whether the farmers of Indiana, neglected by Secretary Benson, can obtain some relief from the agonizing squeeze of ever higher costs and ever lower income.
--whether our food surpluses can help us build a more stable peace abroad and feed our own hungry here at home instead of wasting in warehouses at the taxpayers' expense.
--whether the children of Indiana and the nation can obtain safe, decent, adequate public school, facilities with competent well-paid teachers.
With these and other issues, I intend to undertake in Indiana a campaign for the Presidency of the United States.
Source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files, Box 906, "Indiana primary announcement, 4 February 1960." John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.