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Goldwater Hits McNamara in Detroit

Mar. 25, 1964 - Senator Barry Goldwater, in the city where Robert McNamara became famous as a car-builder, delivered his most scathing indictment of the Defense Secretary tonight, calling him a “loser.”

He charged, in a major policy speech at an Economic Club dinner in Detroit, that McNamara had weakened the country and thereby endangered peace. McNamara’s policies, he said, are permitting this country’s enemies to become bolder and limiting U.S military responses to choices of “withdrawal or nuclear holocaust.”

Though the audience included many of McNamara’s friends, Goldwater mentioned him 15 times by name and labeled the former Ford president as follows: “A one-time loser with the Edsel right here in Michigan, a four-time loser in terms of trips to Vietnam, and an all-time loser if his policies and the policies of the Administration that supports and applauds him are not changed in 1964.”

Goldwater criticized McNamara on several points, but the basis of his concern seemed to be doubts about the reliability of this country’s missiles and his belief that manned bombers were necessary for a flexible defense. He pictured the nation, on entering the 1970s, as tied to unproved weapons that lacked flexibility, and guarded by a Defense Secretary who trusted computers more than generals.

At an earlier news conference, Goldwater was repeatedly asked about his position on civil rights. Several Negro reporters were present.

Asked why a Negro should vote for him, he said: “If any Negro reads my record, he will find a better friend in me than some of the talkers. This [civil rights] is the most talky field I’ve ever seen.”

He said he did not plan to vote for the civil rights ball as now constituted. He would vote for it, he said, if the public accommodations part and that on equal employment opportunity were dropped.

Goldwater was asked if the country was stronger now in relation to the Soviet Union than in January 1961, when President Kennedy took office. He replied that it was stronger than the Russians now, but he was concerned about 1967, 1970, and 1975.

“The weapons we have today are the great legacy of the Eisenhower years,” he asserted. “The deterrent gap we face tomorrow is inevitable if no new weapons systems are introduced.”


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