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Friday, August 25, 2006

August 25, 1960: JFK says Nixon is Weak, Ike Needs Week to Think of a Nixon Contribution

Side-by-side stories on the front page of today's New York Times about the two presidential contenders tell of Sen. John F. Kennedy's attacks on Nixon's "weakness" and Nixon's willingness to raise taxes if that's what it would take to assure the nation's security with increased Defense spending. "The Republican orators are fond of saying that experience in foreign policy is a major issue in this campaign. I agree," Kennedy said. "Mr. Nixon is experienced -- experienced in policies of retreat, defeat and weakness. They say he has presided over the National Security Council from time to time. During the eight years he has been presiding our security had declined more rapidly than over any comparable period in our history -- in terms of defensive strength and retaliatory power, in terms of our alliances, in terms of our scientific effort and reputation. Mr. Nixon may now say he has been urging an acceleration of our defense all along -- but in his August 10 press conference the president said he knew of no such different viewpoint by the vice president, adding: 'Certainly if there is he hasn't come to me about it.'" ... Today's paper carries a transcript of President Eisenhower's news conference of the day before with this exchange: Q: "Mr. President ... one of the issues in this campaign is seeming to turn on the question of Mr. Nixon's experience, and the Republicans to some extent almost want to claim that he has had a great deal of practice at being president. Now ... I wonder if it would be fair to assume that what you mean [in answer to a previous question] is that he has been primarily an observer and not a participant in the Executive Branch of the Government. In other words, many people have been trying to get at the degree that he has ... acted in important discussions, and it is hard to pin down." A: " ... I said he was not a part of decision-making. That has to be in the mind and heart of one man..." Q: "We understand that the power of decision is entirely yours, Mr. President. I just wondered if you could give us an example of a major idea of his that you had adopted in that role as the decider and final -- " A: "If you give me a week I might think of one. I don't remember."

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