"Governments can err," President Roosevelt once said, "Presidents do make mistakes; but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference."
The American people today are very nearly confronted in their Executive Branch with the very danger of which Franklin Roosevelt warned - "a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference."
The Vice President of the United States says that Americans are "living better today than ever before - and they are going to vote that way."
But the facts are that 17 million Americans go to bed hungry every night - 15 million families live in substandard housing - 7 million families are struggling to survive on incomes of less than $2000 a year.
We have more than four million unemployed workers, with jobless benefits averaging less than $31 a week.
Millions of American workers are being paid less than $1 an hour, to say nothing of $1.25.
Our economy has declined to a growth rate which is only half the record increases of the Roosevelt-Truman era. The Soviet Union is expanding its economy three times as fast as the United States.
And our unfinished agenda is even longer in the area of national security. Whatever the exact facts may be about the size of the missile gap, it is clear that we shall need more missiles, more ships, planes and men, more atomic submarines and airlift mobility.
Mr. Nixon has repeatedly stated that he intends to carry on the policies of this Administration. Let us hold him to that - because I predict on November 8th the American people are going to reject that tradition.
After eight years of this Administration, this nation needs a strong creative Democrat in the White House.
Today our very survival depends on that man in the White House - on his strength, his wisdom and his creative imagination.
Only a creative national party can provide a strong, creative President. The Republican Party is not a national party. It does not represent all sections, all interest groups, all voters. And that is why - historically and inevitably - the forces of inertia and reaction in the Republican Party oppose any powerful voice in the White House, Republican or Democratic that tries to speak for the nation as a whole.
But to send that Democrat to the White House we have to win. And I don't believe this talk that we cannot win. I think we will win.
But we are not going to win by mocking Republican slogans - by putting the budget ahead of our security - by raising interest rates instead of production - by substituting pageants for policy in world affairs.
So I repeat: When Mr. Nixon says that he wants to carry on the policies of the last eight years, let us hold him to that statement. For I cannot believe that the voters of this country will accept four more years of the same tired policies...
I firmly believe that the American people next November will respect that candidate and that political party which have the courage to speak the truth - to tell the people the grim facts about what has happened to America during the past eight years and what we must do to survive.
The American people, in my opinion, are going to vote for a change - for a President willing to move ahead - for a President with new ideas and real courage.
Speech source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Series 12. Speeches and the Press. Box 908, Folder: "Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, Lafayette, Indiana, 7 April 1960".