I have been informed that the object in front of me is a model of a small potato grown in this county last year. I have been under the impression that it was a new Snark missile which was about to go in the state, but I am going to take everybody's word for it.
In any case, I am delighted to come home. Ed Muskie informed me I am the first Presidential candidate to come to this county. I think it is a good beginning. I am delighted to start on this campaign, on this first day, in this county. I come here to Maine to participate in the campaign in this State with other distinguished citizens of this State, with Frank Coffin, with whom I served in the House of Representatives, with Miss Cormier, who I am confident is going to be the next United States Senator, and with men and women from all sections of Maine. I think that Miss Cormier runs for the Senate, and Frank Coffin runs for governor, and Dave Roberts runs for the House of Representatives and I run for the office of the Presidency all for the same reason, and that is because we have the greatest possible confidence in this State and in this country, because in our own way, and in our own places, we wish to serve Maine and serve the United States.
Some of us have been in recent weeks and months critical of what has been happening here in this country. We don't criticize because we enjoy criticizing. We don't criticize because we think there is something wrong with this country. We try to do our job because we believe that this is the greatest country in the world, because we believe it has the greatest potential for growth, because we want it to be in the future as it has in the past - the greatest hope for freedom.
We cannot possibly fail in the United States; you cannot possibly fail in the State of Maine, because if we fail here we betray not only ourselves but we betray all those who look to us with confidence and hope.
Dr. George Gallup took a poll four months ago in 10 foreign countries, and asked the people of those countries what they judged would be the relative standing of the United States and the Soviet Union in science and military strength in the year 1970. In all these 10 countries, in both scientific and military strength, a majority thought that the Soviet Union would be the strongest.
That is what we are fighting against. We are fighting to demonstrate to people all over the world that here in this country there are endless sources of vitality and strength, that our brightest days were not in the past but are in the future; that here in this State of Maine and this country we can grasp the future. We don't want to live off the accomplishments of the past. We don't want people of Africa or Latin America or Asia looking to Moscow or Peiping for hope, for the secret of the future, for scientific advances, for production of new engineers, for greater turn-out of trained people from their sources of education. We don't want them to demonstrate that the future belongs to them and the past belongs to us.
I think that is the basic issue of this campaign. It transcends the differences in the two parties. I believe in the future of this country. We all do. And we believe that working together here in this county as you do, planting as you do in the spring and taking your chances of what happens in the fall, living in the center of the defense structure of the United States, which caused the New York Times in 1958 to say that this area was one of the three top targets of the Soviet Union in the case of another war, living in an old section of the United States but still in a new frontier - I think we share a common aspiration for the future.
I don't run for the office of the Presidency and Miss Cormier doesn't run for the office of the Senate and Dave Roberts doesn't run for the office of Congressman, and Frank Coffin for the office of governor with the feeling that we have no contribution to make but only to recite past accomplishments. We run not promising that if we are elected life will be easy in this county or in this state, but promising that if we are elected we will reach forward to the future and by 1970 the position of the United States around the world will once again be unchallenged.
Speech source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Series 12. Speeches and the Press. Box 910, Folder: "Airport rally, Presque Isle, Maine, 2 September 1960".