Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Horton Plaza, San Diego, California, November 2, 1960

Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Brown, Senator Engle, Senator Hugo Fisher, Walter Wencke, who I am confident will be the next Congressman from this District. (Applause) Ladies and gentlemen: I come here to San Diego in the last six days of this campaign and ask your support on November 8. (Applause) Now, there may be some people who are tired of politics and tired of this campaign. But I want to make it very clear that this campaign has not been entirely wasted. I want to show you the progress we have made in the last two months. For example, three weeks ago, Mr. Nixon issued a statement calling for a housing program and saying that the Housing Act of 1949, which is the basis of all other housing acts, is working well. However, years ago as a Congressman, Mr. Nixon voted against the Housing Act of 1949. There is progress for you. (Applause)

We are making a progressive out of Mr. Nixon. Two weeks ago he issued a statement for social security advancement. Do you know that Mr. Nixon leads a party which in the mid-Thirties voted 90% against social security and voted 98% this summer against the medical care for the aged tied to social security? And now he calls all of those programs as progress. We are bringing him along. (Applause)

For 14 years he did not see the light. It just took one month of this campaign, and now he is for federal aid to education. (Applause) The Republicans have been in control of the administration for eight years. Eighty percent of them voted against the federal aid to education in 1957, 65% of them in 1958, and this summer, when we wanted an aid to education bill, every Republican on the Rule Committee of the House voted in the House of Representatives against it. And now Mr. Nixon is for it. You can't tell us we are wasting our time in this campaign. We are bringing him along. (Applause)

Now, if we can just send him back to California for four more years to study up, we are going to make a good public servant out of him. (Applause)

Now, we have five days before this campaign is over. I cannot predict what is going to happen. The truth squad has been ditched. They told the truth once and they don't let them travel around anymore. (Laughter) Instead, President Eisenhower is now leading the rescue squad. (Laughter)

What Mr. Nixon does not understand is the President of the United States, Mr. Eisenhower, is not the candidate. You have seen those elephants in the circus. Do you know how they travel around the circus? By grabbing the tail of the elephant in front of them. (Laughter) That was all right in 1952 and 1956. Mr. Nixon hung on tight. But now Mr. Nixon meets the people. The choice is not President Eisenhower. The choice is whether the people of this country want the leadership of Mr. Nixon and the Republican Party who have never stood for progress. (Applause)

To show you how desperate and despicable this campaign has become, they are handing out outside defense plants a poster which says "Jack Kennedy is after your job." I am after Mr. Eisenhower's job. (Applause)

These were passed around without a signature. Now, they sign them, John B. Starkey, whoever he is, San Diego. It says, "Attention Defense Workers: Jack Kennedy is after your job. He urges moving defense industries back east."

Now, let me just say this: Only to Mr. Starkey, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Murray Chotiner, would it occur in the last week of an important campaign, when our survival is at stake, to try to pass out literature like this, to try to tell people that I want to run for the Presidency in order to take defense contracts from one state and put them in another. If I were President of the United States, I would represent the United States. Mr. Nixon has not understood that. We represent one people. If I were elected President, I would represent California, Massachusetts, Hawaii and not only the cause of freedom here, but the cause of freedom around the world. The point of the matter is that most of these defense plants were built here in the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Do you know where he came from? New York State. Did he put all of the defense plants in Hyde Park? (Response from the audience) And a good many of them were built in the administration of Harry Truman. I have been in Independence, Missouri, and I have not seen a defense plant in Independence, Missouri. The defense plants were put out here for good reason and they are going to stay here for the same reason. It has not anything to do with whether I come from Massachusetts, or California. California has seen defense plants leave, with Mr. Nixon as Vice President of the United States. (Applause) This year, as a result of the efforts of Senator Engle and others, the Congress of the United States appropriated $300 million for the B-70s. I endorse wholeheartedly the B-70 manned aircraft. We could not get the administration to release the funds until this week. That is progress. And why do you think they did it this week? I wonder. (Response from the audience)

I have a higher opinion of the people of this United States and their intelligence than to think they are going to buy Mr. Nixon and the Republican Party in 1960, a party which has stood for 25 years against progress. Here in this community of San Diego, with twice as much unemployment as a year ago, you are building 30% less homes than a year ago, you have 6,000 homes unsold. What happens to a worker who is thrown out of work? What does he do? How does he pay his bills? How does he feed his family? What are his chances? Who does he sell his house to in San Diego?

This administration has stood still and junk like this is not going to convince the people of San Diego that Mr. Nixon or the Republican Party care, because they don't care. (Response and applause) Mr. Nixon leads a party which voted 95% against a 25 cent minimum wage, in the mid-Thirties, and he leads a party which voted 90% in the House of Representatives this summer against the minimum wage of $1.25 per hour. Do you call that progress? Do you stand in this country now on the verge of the great Sixties, with revolution and change all around us, Castro and Khrushchev and the Chinese Communists, and Africa and Latin American, and space, and every part of the world exploding, and think that we can elect an administration and a President who wishes to sit down, who wishes our country to stand still? If this country does not move, if we do not go ahead, if we do not build stronger defenses, if we do not stand for a better society here in the United States, what chance do we have to lead the free world?

The Bible tells us, "When the trumpet blows an uncertain note, who prepares for the battle?" I want that trumpet to blow a certain note. I want Mr. Khrushchev to know that a new generation of Americans who fought in Italy and Europe, who fought in the Pacific for freedom in World War II, is going to fight in the 1960s for the defense of freedom in the United States and all around the world. And I come to San Diego and ask your help in doing so. (Applause)

I ask you in this community, hard hit, but a basic defense area of the United States, I ask you as citizens of this country, can we entrust the leadership to Mr. Nixon and the Republican Party? (Response from the audience) They say Whittier is beautiful in the spring and I think that is the place for Mr. Nixon to ruminate over the problems of this country. In 1960, this country will be prepared to move again. California and the nation cannot provide education for our children, jobs for our people, opportunities for our people, medical care tied to social security. Under the bill that they have, you have to take a pauper's oath. We provide it under social security. We want action. I want to see this country move again, and I come here to San Diego and California and I ask your help in securing the future. (Applause)

Source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files, Box 914, "Airport, San Diego, California, 2 November 1960." John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.