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  • Good evening. The television and radio stations of the United States and their affiliated

  • stations are proud to provide facilities for a discussion of issues in the current political

  • campaign by the two major candidates for the presidency. The candidates need no introduction.

  • The Republican candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and the Democratic candidate, Senator

  • John F. Kennedy. According to rules set by the candidates themselves, each man shall

  • make an opening statement of approximately eight minutes' duration and a closing statement

  • of approximately three minutes' duration. In between the candidates will answer, or

  • comment upon answers to questions put by a panel of correspondents. In this, the first

  • discussion in a series of four uh - joint appearances, the subject-matter has been agreed,

  • will be restricted to internal or domestic American matters. And now for the first opening

  • statement by Senator John F. Kennedy.

  • Mr. Smith, Mr. Nixon. In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln said the question was whether

  • this nation could exist half-slave or half-free. In the election of 1960, and with the world

  • around us, the question is whether the world will exist half-slave or half-free, whether

  • it will move in the direction of freedom, in the direction of the road that we are taking,

  • or whether it will move in the direction of slavery. I think it will depend in great measure

  • upon what we do here in the United States, on the kind of society that we build, on the

  • kind of strength that we maintain. We discuss tonight domestic issues, but I would not want

  • that to be any implication to be given that this does not involve directly our struggle

  • with Mr. Khrushchev for survival. Mr. Khrushchev is in New York, and he maintains the Communist

  • offensive throughout the world because of the productive power of the Soviet Union itself.

  • The Chinese Communists have always had a large population. But they are important and dangerous

  • now because they are mounting a major effort within their own country. The kind of country

  • we have here, the kind of society we have, the kind of strength we build in the United

  • States will be the defense of freedom. If we do well here, if we meet our obligations,

  • if we're moving ahead, then I think freedom will be secure around the world. If we fail,

  • then freedom fails. Therefore, I think the question before the American people is: Are

  • we doing as much as we can do? Are we as strong as we should be? Are we as strong as we must

  • be if we're going to maintain our independence, and if we're going to maintain and hold out

  • the hand of friendship to those who look to us for assistance, to those who look to us

  • for survival? I should make it very clear that I do not think we're doing enough, that

  • I am not satisfied as an American with the progress that we're making. This is a great

  • country, but I think it could be a greater country; and this is a powerful country, but

  • I think it could be a more powerful country. I'm not satisfied to have fifty percent of

  • our steel-mill capacity unused. I'm not satisfied when the United States had last year the lowest

  • rate of economic growth of any major industrialized society in the world. Because economic growth

  • means strength and vitality; it means we're able to sustain our defenses; it means we're

  • able to meet our commitments abroad. I'm not satisfied when we have over nine billion dollars

  • worth of food - some of it rotting - even though there is a hungry world, and even though

  • four million Americans wait every month for a food package from the government, which

  • averages five cents a day per individual. I saw cases in West Virginia, here in the

  • United States, where children took home part of their school lunch in order to feed their

  • families because I don't think we're meeting our obligations toward these Americans. I'm

  • not satisfied when the Soviet Union is turning out twice as many scientists and engineers

  • as we are. I'm not satisfied when many of our teachers are inadequately paid, or when

  • our children go to school part-time shifts. I think we should have an educational system

  • second to none. I'm not satisfied when I see men like Jimmy Hoffa - in charge of the largest

  • union in the United States - still free. I'm not satisfied when we are failing to develop

  • the natural resources of the United States to the fullest. Here in the United States,

  • which developed the Tennessee Valley and which built the Grand Coulee and the other dams

  • in the Northwest United States at the present rate of hydropower production - and that is

  • the hallmark of an industrialized society - the Soviet Union by 1975 will be producing

  • more power than we are. These are all the things, I think, in this country that can

  • make our society strong, or can mean that it stands still. I'm not satisfied until every

  • American enjoys his full constitutional rights. If a Negro baby is born - and this is true

  • also of Puerto Ricans and Mexicans in some of our cities - he has about one-half as much

  • chance to get through high school as a white baby. He has one-third as much chance to get

  • through college as a white student. He has about a third as much chance to be a professional

  • man, about half as much chance to own a house. He has about uh - four times as much chance

  • that he'll be out of work in his life as the white baby. I think we can do better. I don't

  • want the talents of any American to go to waste. I know that there are those who want

  • to turn everything over to the government. I don't at all. I want the individuals to

  • meet their responsibilities. And I want the states to meet their responsibilities. But

  • I think there is also a national responsibility. The argument has been used against every piece

  • of social legislation in the last twenty-five years. The people of the United States individually

  • could not have developed the Tennessee Valley; collectively they could have. A cotton farmer

  • in Georgia or a peanut farmer or a dairy farmer in Wisconsin and Minnesota, he cannot protect

  • himself against the forces of supply and demand in the market place; but working together

  • in effective governmental programs he can do so. Seventeen million Americans, who live

  • over sixty-five on an average Social Security check of about seventy-eight dollars a month,

  • they're not able to sustain themselves individually, but they can sustain themselves through the

  • social security system. I don't believe in big government, but I believe in effective

  • governmental action. And I think that's the only way that the United States is going to

  • maintain its freedom. It's the only way that we're going to move ahead. I think we can

  • do a better job. I think we're going to have to do a better job if we are going to meet

  • the responsibilities which time and events have placed upon us. We cannot turn the job

  • over to anyone else. If the United States fails, then the whole cause of freedom fails.

  • And I think it depends in great measure on what we do here in this country. The reason

  • Franklin Roosevelt was a good neighbor in Latin America was because he was a good neighbor

  • in the United States. Because they felt that the American society was moving again. I want

  • us to recapture that image. I want people in Latin America and Africa and Asia to start

  • to look to America; to see how we're doing things; to wonder what the resident of the

  • United States is doing; and not to look at Khrushchev, or look at the Chinese Communists.

  • That is the obligation upon our generation. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt said in his inaugural

  • that this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. I think our generation of Americans

  • has the same rendezvous. The question now is: Can freedom be maintained under the most

  • severe tack - attack it has ever known? I think it can be. And I think in the final

  • analysis it depends upon what we do here. I think it's time America started moving again.

  • And now the opening statement by Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

Good evening. The television and radio stations of the United States and their affiliated

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B1 united satisfied freedom country society statement

Kennedy's opening statement - 1960 debate

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    Simon N. Liu posted on 2013/10/20
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