REMARKS AT NEW HAVEN GREEN, by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, October 17, 1962

“The state of Connecticut has always been generous to me. This state in 1956 was the first state in the union to support my candidacy for Vice President. And I came here to New Haven that fall. It was the first state to support me for President in the Democratic National Convention of 1960. It was the first state to report the electoral votes in my column two years ago this November. And it gave me the first member of my cabinet, Abe Ribicoff.

Now I am back to ask your help once again. Two years ago I came to New Haven and asked for your support to get this country moving again. We have commenced to move — and in the right direction. We have strengthened our nation’s defenses — we have improved our tools of foreign policy — we have initiated a drive for leadership in space — we have broken a legislative stalemate — and, most important of all, we have ended a recession and put our nation back to work.

Connecticut knows this country is moving again — because Connecticut is moving with it. When I took office in January 1961, the unemployment rate in this state was nearly 8% — nearly one out of every twelve workers. Now it is nearly down to 4% — and we intend to reduce it further.

There are some 30,000 more people working in this state today. There is more money in the average paycheck — more money in the bank — more sales being made by your department stores. Half a dozen or more communities have recieved funds for area redevelopment projects. Sixteen communities will be eligible for projects under the new public works acceleration bill. New space contracts are going to your research centers — more defense work is going to your industries — and more urban renewal and college housing and water resource projects are being initiated in this state every month.

New Haven is a center of this industrial growth and a leader in urban planning. Unemployment in this city has been reduced by more than 19% — but we would like to see it reduced even further.

America is moving again — so are Connecticut and New Haven. But to help keep them moving, I need your help in this election. For much more remains to be done. Too many problems are still ahead. Too many measures for the good of this country have been defeated by a narrow margin. And that is why you need to reelect Bob Giamo, whom I have known since 1956, who has been one of our staunchest supporters on capitol hill, and who has been a great fighter for better education, for increasing civil rights and for a stronger New England. He was co-author of the new juvenile delinquency act which will mean so much to every community.

It is in this same spirit that I ask you to send Bernie Grabowski to the House as congressman-at-large. I hope the other districts of Connecticut will reelect Mim Daddario and John Monagan — and send Bill St. Onge and Frank Lennon to join them. And, speaking on behalf of millions of other Americans, I hope you send Abe Ribicoff to the United States Senate.

Abe Ribicoff is one of my oldest and closest friends in Washington. He was a source of great strength in my cabinet — and I would have been proud to appoint him to any position he wanted. But Abe Ribicoff came to me some months ago and told me in the privacy of my office that he felt he could be of greater service in elective office — in the United States Senate — and that he wanted to serve in the Senate as long as the people of this state would support him. I was reluctant to let him go — but I respected his decision and I respect the man who made the decision.

Abe Ribicoff knows Washington and he knows Connecticut. Few, if any, of his colleagues in the Senate will have had such a wealth of experience as congressman, governor and cabinet officer. His voice will be heard in the Senate — and his sound judgement and independent thinking will be a great asset to the people of Connecticut and to the people of this country.

This nation’s effort to provide health care for its older citizens is directly tied up in this Senatorial election. For Abe Ribicoff has been both the leader and the symbol of that effort. One vote more in the Senate this year could have meant passage instead of defeat — and next year Abe Ribicoff can be that vote.

No man in the country would be better equipped to lead this fight on the floor of the United States Senate. No man in the country knows more about this problem and the measures needed to meet it. And when the nation hears the news on the night of November 6 that Abe Ribicoff has been elected to the Senate, they will know that our battle to give our older citizens the health care they need is on its way to victory.

There are a quarter of a million people in this state over the age of 65 — and 17 million more of them in the other 49 states. They have more illness and less income than any other group in the country. At a time when Abe Ribicoff was working to achieve for them a healthful and dignified retirement — at a time when he was working on our bill to increase the construction of nursing homes and the provision of community health facilities — at a time when he was working on our bill to increase the construction of nursing homes and the provision of community health facilities — at a time when he was working on revising our public welfare bill to increase the federal government’s share of public assistance for those who are least fortunate among us — the Republican party as a whole, and his opponent in particular, were consistently opposing our programs. Surely there can be no doubt as to how the voters of Connecticut, old and young alike, will make up their minds in this election.

The election of a Democratic congressman in this state is equally important. Why should Connecticut continue to send Republicans to Washington, when they merely follow the Republican party line and vote against all the bills which would mean so much to the progress of this state? The two Republican congressmen from this state voted against the housing and urban renewal act of 1962 — against giving those who live in urban areas a voice in cabinet decisions — against the area redevelopment and emergency public works bill to help the unemployed. If we are to keep this country moving ahead, we need more Democrats in congress to do the job.

If this state is to keep moving ahead, it needs a strong and progressive governor — John Dempsey. I have worked closely with him on jobs and contracts and projects for this state. Because of his effective leadership, this was the first state in the nation to take advantage of the manpower development and training act of 1962 — to take those men who are unemployed, whose skills are no longer needed, and train them as machine operators, as electronic data processors, as typists and sheet metal workers and automobile mechanics. Eight years of Democratic administration in this state has produced over 100,000 new jobs — and a remarkable 47% increase in industrial production. That is a record on which John Dempsey can stand with pride — and a record which deserves your continued support.

I am not asking for a one-party government. I am asking that you vote for the party which willing to vote for progress. I am asking for enough help to get the job done. In the 87th congress, the health care bill was defeated in the Senate by one vote — the full powers of the trade bill were saved by one vote — the original emergency public works bill was defeated by one vote — and, in the House, the farm bill was defeated by 5 votes and the tax bill saved by 12. So I neither expect nor seek one-party rule. That is not my purpose in this campaign. But I have a more important purpose — to bring home to you and to the people of every state the importance of this election, the importance of these issues, the importance of voting on November 6 for the candidates who stand for progress. Connecticut has never disappointed me in the past — and I am counting on you again in this election.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the JFK Library, “Remarks at New Haven Green,” by President John F. Kennedy, October 17, 1962. Images courtesy of Yale University, Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Richard C. Lee Photographs, Vol. 3., “President John F. Kennedy, Democratic Rally on the Green,” October 17, 1962

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