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“Whatever Mr. Khrushchev may try, whatever he may say, our answer is a stronger America”
Remarkable typed manuscript draft for a campaign speech given in Dallas, Texas, on September 13, 1960, 11 pages, 8.5 x 11, with several notes penned on the reverse of the last page in Kennedy’s hand. In the speech, JFK offers thoughtful remarks on the Cold War and the implications of the coming election on relations between the United States and USSR. In part: "In a few days, our shores will be visited by the head of the Soviet Union. His voice will be heard in the United Nations—but his eyes will be fixed on the United States.
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What kind of nation will Mr. Khrushchev see? What kind of nation do we want him to see? What will impress him? What will cause him to change his ways, either now or in the future?
Some say it will be our arguments. They say that this election is to pick a man who can stand up to Khrushchev in debate. They say that experience in arguments and debates is all we need in the White House.
But I suggest to you that more than this will be necessary to impress Mr. Khrushchev. He has engaged in many arguments. He has taken part in many debates. He has exchanged threats and insults with the best of them. But he continues to move ahead—to probe the weaknesses of the West—to exploit chaos and disorder—and to strengthen and expand the influence of the Communist system. Aided by the Chinese Reds, he penetrated deeper into the Middle East. And no amount of tough talk or skillful debate is going to slow him down.
Others say that our propaganda will deter Mr. Khrushchev. If we keep saying we are assured of our continued military lead—if we keep saying that our economic growth is superior—if we keep saying that we are first in space and science and research—then, according to this view, Mr. Khrushchev and all the world will be convinced. If the skeptics and critics will only keep quiet, we are told, it will be obvious that our system, not theirs, represents the wave of the future.
But I suggest to you that saying it is so doesn't make it so. Mr. Khrushchev knows, and all the world knows, that the first vehicle in space was called Sputnik, not Vanguard. The first country to place its national emblem on the moon was Russia, not America. The first passengers to return safely from a trip through space were named Strelka and Belka, not Rover or Fido. They know that Russia has a rate of economic growth more than twice as fast as ours. They know that Russia is turning out scientists and engineers at twice the rate we do. And if they know it, the American people are entitled to know why.
The facts of the matter are that arguments are not enough to stop Mr. Khrushchev—and propaganda is not enough—and self-contentment is not enough. There is only one thing in the world that will impress the Russians and the Chinese. And that is a strong America.
There is only one kind of America which can keep the peace for all mankind. And that is a strong America. And there is only one objective above all others for which I would strive as President of the United States. And that is a strong America. Whatever Mr. Khrushchev may try, whatever he may say, our answer is a stronger America." Several corrections and small notations have been made throughout the text in another hand, and Kennedy has penned over 30 words on the reverse of the last page, most of which are illegible. In very good condition, with a central vertical fold, toning and staining throughout, scattered creases, and chipping to edges. Kennedy was campaigning in full-force at this point, with the 1960 presidential election less than two months away. Texas was anticipated to be one of the closest races in the country, with Kennedy's chances aided by his running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson, a native of the state. In this remarkable speech, JFK touches upon the key points plaguing the nation—the Soviet Union, the decay of American exceptionalism, the space race, and Democratic ideals. Given the large size of the text, it seems that this must have been prepared as a reading copy, with JFK’s notes concerning either his delivery of the speech or potential revisions. A truly fantastic piece of history. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA.