SENATOR HUBERT H. HUMPHREY
ANNOUNCEMENT OF CANDIDACY
FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
January 10, 1972
I have just signed a certificate declaring my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
I chose this historic site of Philadelphia to sign my declaration because it was here that our republic was born -- this city of William Penn who spoke of peace and brotherhood and Thomas Jefferson and gave us the great documents of our democracy. It was here that “We the people…” was proclaimed as the foundation of our institutions.
The next President of the United States will join all Americans in commemorating the 200th anniversary our country.
Will we then be a country at peace with others?
Will we be a country at peace with ourselves?
Will we have healed the wounds of war, violence, and bitterness?
Will our system of government be sensitive and responsive to the pressures of change that flooded in upon us? Or will we be paralyzed or muscle-bound?
Will we have stirred America to a higher standard of living and a better quality of life?
Will Americans be at work – building, creating, developing?
Or will we still be limping along, despondent, divided and discouraged?
These are the great issues of this election. The man who occupies the Presidency has the obligation and the opportunity to revive that feeling of common purpose which once inspired this nation -- that mutual respect among the generations, among the races in the groups in this country.
History will note the failures of the Nixon Administration and they will be the subject of this Presidential campaign. Regrettably, we cannot escape their consequences. What we do know, however, can help overcome them.
Let us face up to the realities of our present posture. Our urgent need is to end the war -- and to do it now. I served as the Vice President during the period of our heaviest involvement there. Yet when I spoke to the American people during my campaign for the presidency in 1968, I said that my experience had led me to the conviction that however noble the intent of three Presidents who felt that our Vietnam involvement was essential to our national security, that position was no longer valid. I pledged in 1968 to end the bombing, a cease-fire, and immediate troop withdrawal program. I would’ve carried out that pledge.
It is taking Mr. Nixon longer to withdraw our troops than it took us to defeat Hitler. Had I been elected, we would now be out of that war. I repeat that pledge.
We must revitalize our economy and put our people to work.
We must create a respect for law and justice if we are to stop crime.
The attack on drug abuse which has taken on epidemic proportions must be given the highest priority.
A massive effort must begin to make our cities liveable, safe, and clean.
Farmers today are the victims of depression prices.
We must raise farm income. We must strengthen rural America so that its areas of poverty can become areas of beauty and the economic opportunity.
Our air, lakes, and streams must be cleansed.
The fulfillment of the American dream requires that every American family has a decent home, food, and health care and education.
These are difficult challenges, but to do less would be unworthy of us. To achieve these requires the energetic participation of government and the leadership and inspiration of a dedicated President.
Presidential delay, timidity, vetoes, divisiveness will not do the job. A total commitment is necessary, and it must be based on supreme confidence in the American people and our institutions.
Even three years of sustained indifference and error on the part of an administration with limited vision and understanding cannot fundamentally damage the underlying health and vitality of this nation.
America is not sick! What we lack of leadership and vision. “Without vision,” said Isaiah, “the people perish.”
America needs renewed faith in itself. The fabric of America is strong and resilient. Our nation has withstood civil war. We received into our midst wave after wave of immigrants who ultimately added the richness of cultural diversity. We have weathered economic depression and vast natural disasters. And while the threads of our civilization and national unity are often stretched taut, they have held and are stronger for their testing.
A nation that could build arsenals of awesome weapons in the pursuit of military objectives can build the schools and hospitals and the nurseries and the libraries necessary to enrich our lives.
A nation that developed a Marshall plan to rebuild Europe can develop another to rebuild our neighborhoods and crime-ridden cities.
A country that can reconcile its differences with war-time enemies and long-time rivals can summon the decency and justice necessary to reconcile the differences among our people.
Our task is reconciliation, rebuilding, and rebirth.
Our nation was founded on the principle of faith and trust in the people. The “We, the people…” of our Constitution’s Preamble has too often been forgotten by those who govern. But it is in the people that our strength, my strength lies.
We must bring into the mainstream of our society the energies, talents and experiences of millions of Americans who have been barred from full participation, or forgotten, or ignored, either by law or by custom.
And I do not speak alone of our national and racial minorities.
The women of America have rightly come to expect and demand full equality with men -- equal pay for equal work, equal access to the professions, removal of the artificial barriers that have barred those women who so desire from full participation in the intellectual, economic, and political life of our nation. Here again the President of United States must lead -- must persuade and encourage the community at large to change its way of thinking and acting.
The elderly of our nation have been neglected, shunted aside -- their experience and wisdom ignored. I pledge my energies to bring them back into the mainstream of American life.
To the young of this nation, we owe a paramount obligation -- the full opportunity to help strengthen that sense of community without which we cannot rebuild our nation.
The young must be full and effective partners in restoring the physical beauty and the human vitality of America – in fulfilling Jefferson’s dream of a people united in friendship, compassion, and mutual respect.
Jefferson was a young man when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. Some considered him radical. But in reality he and his fellows were true conservatives -- for above all they wished to conserve the freedom and liberty of the individual.
But even as we conserve the values of the past, our eyes must be set on the future. Our challenge today is to be as creative and wise as the men who met here 200 years ago.
Our times require the capacity to solve problems. I learned early in my public career that concern is not enough, outrage is not enough. Even a good idea is not enough. Certainly rhetoric is not enough. As Mayor, as Senator and as Vice President, I have learned to translate ideas and ideals into action.
It was not enough to speak against crime when I was a Mayor of Minneapolis. It was necessary to take action, and I proved that a big city could be cleaned up. It was perhaps easy to talk about Medicare for the elderly, a Youth Conservation Corps for the young and Peace Corps, but my initiative and action were required to bring about the legislation which did, in fact, create Medicare the Youth Conservation Corps and a Peace Corps.
It is all very fine to speak of peace. But I early decided that talk would be wasted if we could not get concrete action, and I’m proud of my role as an architect of the first treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
In my years of governments experience I have learned on other essential fact: we might suffer an occasional defeat. We all do.
But with determination and faith, a man or a nation can grow from defeat.
Persistence and tenacity are old American virtues. I was defeated for Mayor the first time I ran for office -- but I was elected the second time. I was defeated for the Vice Presidential nomination the first time -- but I was later nominated and elected. I was defeated for the Presidential nomination in 1960 -- but I was nominated 1968.
I was defeated in the Presidential election of 1968. But I return to the battle determined to mind to do my best to achieve victory in 1972.
We Americans have gone too much of the same kinds of trial and error, of victory and defeat, together. We have had disappointments -- we have taken some severe blows in the last several years. But I know we, the American People, are determined to get back on our feet, to put our house in order, and to get our country moving again.
Those who would lead the American people must demonstrate capacity for achievement. That should be the essential criterion, and it is that judgment that I would ask from the American people.
Let me now conclude by reading to you from an undelivered speech of a young President whose philosophy I share. He did not live to see his commitments fulfilled. The words of John F. Kennedy:
“For this is the time for courage and a time for challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither the fanatics nor the fainthearted are needed. And our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to the nation, and indeed, to all mankind…
“Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our nation’s future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause -- united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future – and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.”
With your trust and confidence we shall fulfill this commitment and achieve these goals.
Source: Humphrey for President Press Release, January 10, 1972.
Hubert H. Humphrey Papers, Minnesota Historical Society