June 30, 1963 - President Kennedy’s popularity has dropped sharply from its highest point. But despite a flood of rumors last week to the effect that less than half the American people regarded him favorably, a new survey shows that almost three out of five citizens give him a positive rating on his job. In a survey completed just as the President took off for Europe but reflecting the full impact of the civil rights crisis, a cross-section of Americans shows the President’s popularity at 59% favorable. This is a drop from his recorded high of 75% following last fall’s Cuban crisis. If the President’s popularity has not suffered a precipitous drop over the civil rights crisis, the same cannot be said of his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Last year, he was rated over 60% favorable. Now, the younger Kennedy is rated favorably by only 52% nationally. It seems clear that the Attorney General has become the symbol of the President’s handling of civil rights. When Robert Kennedy was appointed, some predicted precisely the situation that has come about — that, as Attorney General, he would have to take drastic steps that could make him controversial and even unpopular. The question raised then was whether, as the brother of the President and the man closest to the man in the White House, the Attorney General might not place his brother’s standing in jeopardy when he acted. The facts indicate now that, in the area of principal impact, the South, public distinction between the two brothers is sharp and clear.
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