Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1962

Author: John F. Kennedy  | Date: October 13, 1962

Remarks at the Indianapolis Airport.
October 13, 1962

Governor Welsh; Senator Hartke; distinguished Congressman Ray Madden; John Brademas; Winfield Denton; Ed Roush; our congressional candidates, Andy Jacobs and John Mitchell, John Pritchard and Elden Tipton, John Murray, Ron Ross; ladies and gentlemen:

I am delighted to come to Indiana because there isn’t any State in the Union in this election that has the privilege of making a clearer choice, a clearer choice especially for the United States Senate. That record read out and understated by Birch Bayh—is that what Indiana wants in the United States Senate in 1962?

Now, there isn’t any doubt that all Americans want this country to be strong and secure, and to meet our responsibilities around the world. Where we differ and what this election is all about is how that will be done. Now, let me say just one word about what we’ve done in the last 21 months, while others were making speeches, to make this country strong.

In the 87th Congress, which finished today, this Democratic Congress and Democratic administration increased our defense budget by $8 billion. We doubled the Polaris submarine program. We increased our Minuteman missile program by 75 percent. We increased the number of bombers placed on alert by 50 percent, we increased our Armed Forces by five combat divisions, our antiguerrilla forces have been quadrupled, our airlift capacity substantially increased. That’s what counts. Not all the brave speeches made on or off the Senate Floor really count as much as whether you have the strength to match your commitments.

The fact of the matter is, when this administration came to power, in spite of the fact we had commitments around the globe, we had 11 divisions, 11 Army divisions, to meet responsibilities stretching from Viet-Nam to Berlin. Recognizing that to back this commitment we needed strength, we have made the greatest peacetime effort in the history of this country. In addition, recognizing the time had come to stop the decline in southeast Asia, we committed 15 times as many men to the defense of that area. Recognizing that there was no defeat that the United States had suffered that so vitally affected our prestige as the defeat we experienced in the riffles in the field of space, the United States, for the first time, committed itself to being first in 1961 and 1962. We are going to spend, this year, twice as much as was spent from 1953 to 1960 combined, in order to put us first.

So I think when we decide what the United States should do to be strong, there is the record. But we get this strength not to fight wars if we can help it, but to wage the peace, and all these other programs which Birch Bayh mentioned, the Peace Corps, the Disarmament Agency, the Alliance for Progress, our new trade bill which can mean so much to this State, the farmers of this State and the industry of this State, and so much in tying Western Europe andthe United States together. These are the programs vital to our interest and security, and where was the voice, the loud voice of Indiana, the senior Senator on that occasion? He was voting "no" when it was necessary for this country to vote "yes."

So let me say that I think the United States is stronger than it once was, and though our problems are constantly increasing, this is no time, in 1962, for rash talk which strengthens the claims of our adversaries. This is no time for confused and intemperate remarks on the part of those who have neither the facts nor the ultimate responsibility.

This is the time for a man who talks softly, but who’ll also carry a big stick, and this is the kind of man you have. He has served as a private in this Nation’s Army, and would do so again. But those self-appointed generals and admirals who want to send someone else’s son to war and who consistently vote against the instruments of peace ought to be kept at home by the voters and replaced in Washington by someone who understands what the 20th century is all about.

This election is important because you are going to make a judgment of what kind of a House of Representatives and what kind of a Senate you want and the country wants. The President of the United States has clear responsibilities, but so does the Congress. I have the responsibility of seeing that the laws are executed, but the Congress of the United States, the House and the Senate, must first write those laws. And you in Indiana and the ’people of this country have to make up their minds what kind of a Congress you want.

Do you know that every Republican Member from the State of Indiana voted against the $1.25 an hour minimum wage, $50 a week, every one? Do you know that every Republican Congressman from this State voted against the Housing Act of 1961, housing for the elderly and urban renewal? Do you know that every single Congressman from this State voted against aid to dependent children? Do you know that every single Congressman in this State voted against our feed grain bill, every Republican Congressman, which has helped increase the farm income on the average on every family farm in this State by 13 percent? This is the record of the Republican Party, and I come here asking your help in electing to the 88th Congress men and women in the House and in the Senate who will join in doing the things that must be done if this country is going to meet its responsibilities.

Seven-eighths of the Republican members of the Senate voted against medical care for the aged under Social Security. Eighty-five percent of the Republicans voted against assistance to higher education. Where are your sons and daughters going to go to college in the next 10 years? There’re going to be twice as many trying to get into your schools as there are today. We had a program to assist those schools and colleges, and it was defeated by 28 votes.

Now these are the issues which affect the security of the people of this State and country. This is not a political jamboree. This is a decision which all of us must make on November 6th as to whether you want a Senator who votes "no," whether you want Congressmen who vote "no," or whether you will join with us in strengthening the military strength of this country, strengthening us in space, giving greater opportunity to every American, building homes, building our cities, giving some security to our farmers.

I read a survey the other day saying that some of the Indiana farmers were opposed to our farm program. Can you tell me what the Republican farm program is? I have waited for 22 months. I know what they’re against. But what are they for? I can’t believe the Indiana farmers want to go back to Ezra Taft Benson who left us with 19 billion of surpluses and a steadily declining farm income, which has now moved up 13 percent, and for the first tithe we have surpluses under control. This is not an easy problem, and I’m sure there are as manysolutions as there are farmers. But we have two choices now—the Republican solution and the Democratic solution. Ours at least you can see. Theirs is mysterious and nonexistent. And I hope the Indiana farmer will vote "yes" on November 6th and not go back to the days of Benson and low support prices.

So this is a decision which is yours. I’m not a candidate for office in 1962, but I do know how important it is, after serving for 21 months, when I’ve seen issue after issue on which we’ve won by 3 or 4 votes, or lost by 3 or 4 votes, how important it is that this vital, great State in the center of our country have a United States Senator who stands for a recognition of the great and complicated needs of the leader of the free world, and not one who is opposed to anything that is done which is new because it is new, in the same way that the Republicans opposed everything that was done in the thirties, on which we so much depend, because once that was new.

So I hope you’ll come along in Indiana and send to the United States Senate Birch Bayh, and send these Congressmen from the top of the State to the bottom, who recognize that in 1962 there is only one way for the United States to go and that is forward.
Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at a rally at the airport in Indianapolis following remarks by Birch Bayh, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator from Indiana. In his opening remarks the President referred to Matthew E. Welsh, Governor of Indiana; Vance Hartke, U.S. Senator from Indiana; Ray 1- Madden, John Brademas, Winfield K. Denton, and J. Edward Roush, U.S. Representatives from Indiana; and Andrew Jacobs, Jr., John E. Mitchell, John T. Pritchard, Elden C. Tipton, John J. Murray, and Ronald R. Ross, Democratic candidates for U.S. Representatives for the 11th, 10th, 9th, 7th, 2d, and 4th Districts, respectively, of Indiana.


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Chicago: John F. Kennedy, "456 Remarks at the Indianapolis Airport.," Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1962 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1962 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.913-915 772–773. Original Sources, accessed February 4, 2023,

MLA: Kennedy, John F. "456 Remarks at the Indianapolis Airport." Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1962, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1962 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.913-915, pp. 772–773. Original Sources. 4 Feb. 2023.

Harvard: Kennedy, JF, '456 Remarks at the Indianapolis Airport.' in Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1962. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1962 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.913-915, pp.772–773. Original Sources, retrieved 4 February 2023, from