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Margaret Chase Smith Opens Presidential Campaign

Feb. 10, 1964 - Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-Me.) opened her campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination today in sub-zero temperatures in New Hampshire’s North Country. Clad in a three-quarter-length coat of beaver skins from her native state, the silver-haired Senator started on a handshaking tour at Pittsburg, farther north than any of her rivals. Senator Smith, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Senator Barry Goldwater, and Harold E. Stassen are all formally entered in the first Presidential primary of the campaign in New Hampshire on March 10. Senator Smith plans to shake hands all the way down to the seacoast during as much of the week as Congressional business will permit.

The temperature, when she started at 7:30 a.m., registered 29 degrees below zero. Hatless, and with her coat open more often than not, she chatted in neighborly fashion with schoolchildren, shopping housewives, storekeepers, and a telephone operator. The first hand she shook was that of Almon Young, who was loading pulpwood on a truck, a few miles south of Pittsburg. “You got a lot of zip to be up here this morning,” said Mr. Young as he posed for a picture.

Senator Smith told the local telephone operator, Mrs. Cristine Hall, that she too once operated a switchboard back home in Skowhegan, Maine. Pittsburgh subscribers still turn a hand crank to signal the central switchboard.

Not until she reached Lancaster, to speak briefly at the weekly Rotary Club luncheon at noon, did Senator Smith mention politics. She began by discounting references to her age. Senator Smith, who is 66, told the Rotarians that she was seven years younger than former President Eisenhower, who she said was being mentioned again as a Vice-Presidential possibility. Winston Churchill was three years older than she when he first became Prime Minister of Britain, said Senator Smith, and “he was 14 years older than I am when he finished.”

The Maine Republican said that, had she been President in 1961, she would have provided air cover for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba or never have attempted it. She also asserted that she would have “never lifted the blockade quarantine [of Cuba in 1962] until on-site inspection had been allowed.”


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