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President Kennedy Tangles with Texas Newspaper Publisher

Nov. 4, 1961 - President Kennedy rejected a charge by a guest at a White House luncheon (pictured) recently that much of the public considered him and his Administration “weak sisters.” The President’s response to the challenge made on Oct. 27 by E.M. Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, was reconstructed by other guests and published today by the Chattanooga Times. Mr. Dealey surprised those at the luncheon, which was given by Mr. Kennedy for Texas publishers and editors, by rising to tell the President: “We need a man on horseback to lead this nation, and many people in Texas and the Southwest think that you are riding Caroline’s tricycle.” With the other guests sitting in stunned silence, the Dallas publisher went on to assert that the American people believed the Administration had weak “cold war” policies and that it should be made clear that “we can annihilate Russia.” President Kennedy began his reply in a low voice: “I’m just as tough as you are, Mr. Dealey, and I didn’t get elected by arriving at soft judgments.” The President was reported to have told Mr. Dealey that everyone was entitled to his opinion. “But,” he continued, “the difference between you and me is that I was elected President of this country and you were not, and I have the responsibility for the lives of 180 million Americans, which you have not.” Mr. Kennedy said that he was not going to expose the country casually to nuclear disaster. He said that he intended to be certain that the nation’s vital interests and security were at stake before he put the lives of its people in jeopardy from a nuclear exchange.


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