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Sunday, October 22, 2006

October 22, 1960: Kennedy Corners Nixon on Cuba in TV Debate; Lodge Predicts Cold War Won't End Before '85

A televised debate last night between Vice President Richard Nixon and Sen. John F. Kennedy focused on the differences between the two presidential candidates over Cuba and was the lead story in newspapers published on this day in 1960.

In an odd twist of fate, Kennedy turned the tables on Nixon by effectively calling for a U.S.-sponsored invasion to overthrow Castro. The Eisenhower administration is secretly planning just such an operation, but it has not been publicly disclosed.

Nixon is the administration's point person for the invasion and has been pushing hard for the CIA, which is training an army of Cuban-exiles in Guatemala, to launch its coup before the November election. But when Kennedy -- who may have been tipped off to the invasion plans by CIA Director Allen Dulles -- criticized the administration for not trying to topple Casto, Nixon was forced to argue against an invasion.

"Senator Kennedy's policies and recommendations for the handling of the Castro regime are probably the most dangerously irresponsible recommendations that he has made during the course of this campaign," Nixon said. "In effect, what Senator Kennedy recommends is that the United States government should give help to the exiles and to those within Cuba who oppose the Castro regime. ...

"Now let's just see what this means. We have five treaties with Latin America, including the one setting up the Organization of American States in Bogota in 1948 in which we have agreed not to intervene in the internal affairs of any other American country -- and they as well have agreed to do likewise. The charter of the United Nations, its preamble, Article I and Article II also provide that there shall be no intervention by one nation in the internal affairs of another. No I don't know what Senator Kennedy suggests when he says that we should help those who oppose the Castro regime, both in Cuba and without.

"But I do know this, that if we were to follow that recommendation, that we wold lose all of our friends in Latin America, we would probably be condemned in the United Nations, and we would not accomplish our objective. I know something else. It would be an open invitation for Mr. Khrushchev to come in, to come in to Latin America, and to engage us in what would be a civil war, and possibly even worse than that."

James Reston, in his analysis of the debate, writes that Nixon's position was well received: "The vice president's criticism of Senator Kennedy's program for assisting the anti-Castro forces to regain power in Cuba was approved by well-informed people here tonight. They have been saying today that while it may be all right to do that, it is not the sort of thing to discuss publicly, especially in the face of the nation's treaties with Latin America, which specificalaly forbid economic or political interference in the internal affairs of the American Republics."

Elsewhere it was reported today that Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican vice presidential nominee, predicts a long Cold War. Lodge said the Cold War could last for another 25 years, or until 1985.

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