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Goldwater Opens Campaign in Michigan

Jan. 7, 1964 - Senator Barry Goldwater opened his campaign for the Presidency last night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with an assertion that President Kennedy’s program was a liability that President Johnson could not reject. The Arizona Republican told a party fundraising dinner that President Johnson had inherited from the Kennedy Administration proposals that “consist of programs conceived in haste and without foresight and dumped upon the legislature for what the Democrats call ‘implementation.’” These “inherited proposals he must not, he cannot reject — or even revise,” Mr. Goldwater said. “These cannot be listed among President Johnson’s assets. They are his liabilities,” he asserted.

The speech, in the civic auditorium, was Mr. Goldwater’s first since announcing his candidacy last Friday. And it was his first heavy attack on the Democrats since President Kennedy’s assassination Nov. 22. Mr. Goldwater said in his speech that he respected President Johnson as a man and former Senate colleague but would oppose him “with all the strength I can muster” because “his party is wrong, and he is its leader.” The Democratic party is no longer the party of “principle and principled liberalism,” he said, but is a “party of promises and illusions, of talk-one-way and act-another.” “It is a party that seeks political conformity, social sameness, and a regimented rule,” he declared. Mr. Goldwater assailed President Johnson’s economy moves as attempts to exploit the conservative feeling in the country. Even while the President is telling his staff he is a “Roosevelt New Dealer, he tries to sell the public on the idea that he is a conservative,” Mr. Goldwater said. The President knows, he said, “that there is a conservative mood in America.” “He seeks to exploit it,” Mr. Goldwater continued. “He is now trying to say ‘Me too’ in regard to our policies, and I say just what I have said to Republicans: ‘Me too’ is not good enough.”

Terming himself a believer in protest, the Senator said that the “day we permit anyone to equate protest with hate we will set the stage for one-party tyranny and the end of open debate.” “To anyone who says honest opposition breeds hatred, I say you lie — that you pervert the very basis of our government.” “To anyone who blames America for the tragedy that struck in Dallas [when President Kennedy was killed] I say you libel our people and purposely misread our politics and our processes. It was not a mind nurtured by American philosophies that turned to violence. It was a mind fed by Communism.” “And to those who seek political advantage from the tragedy,” he said in an apparent reference to Democrats, “I say run on your own record, do not seek to sow seeds of doubts and division where honest debate should grow.”


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