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Governor Rockefeller Hits Kennedy on Civil Rights

Feb. 16, 1962 - New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, speaking at a Lincoln Day fund-raising dinner held by the Niagara County Republican organization, denounced President Kennedy last night for “a record of broken promises” on civil rights. In his sharpest indictment of the Administration’s policy, he charged the President and Democratic Congress with failure to perform, except in token cases, on 1960 campaign pledges on civil rights. “Certainly this record must constitute one of the most cynical exploitations of minority aspirations in the history of American politics,” he declared. The Governor, viewed as a possible Presidential candidate if re-elected in the fall, acknowledged there had been “certain welcome administrative actions,” such as the Interstate Commerce Commission’s order barring discrimination on interstate buses and in waiting rooms that serve them. “But these actions are nowhere near enough,” he declared, “in light of all the Kennedy campaign promises, of the failure to issue the much-promised Executive Order on housing, and the almost total abdication of legislative leadership by the Administration in the field of civil rights. No appointment of a distinguished Negro, no amount of job appointments, can erase or compensate for this record.” Some in the audience viewed the Governor’s remarks as indirect criticism of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Mr. Goldwater, who led the Republican effort to woo the South in the 1960 campaign, has widespread support south of the Mason-Dixon line and is viewed as a possible Presidential nominee in 1964.

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