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President Kennedy Tours Florida

Nov. 18, 1963 - President Kennedy sought today to gain support for his tax-cut bill by assuring business leaders that he was not anti-business. His plea came in a speech in Tampa, Fla., to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, one stop on a busy day of speaking and obvious campaigning, despite “nonpolitical” billing. The President received a rousing welcome in sunny Tampa. In fact, crowds on both east and west coasts of Florida raised Democratic hopes for a better showing in 1964. Mr. Kennedy lost the state to Richard M. Nixon in 1960 by 46,776 votes. Despite the warm welcome, the President was deep in Barry Goldwater territory and was not allowed to forget it. “Goldwater for President” stickers were on the bumpers of many cars. During the long day, the President appeared in many roles, in addition to the one as a friend of business:

— As Commander in Chief of the armed forces, during a visit to the Army-Air Force Strike Command at MacDill Air Force Base, the military center near Tampa that has been described as a “fire brigade” for the brushfire wars.

— As a friend of labor, in a speech to about 600 Steelworkers Union leaders at Tampa.

— As the molder of foreign policy, in a speech on Latin-American affairs to the Inter-American Press Association at Miami.

— As an engaging campaigner before wildly cheering thousands at a baseball park in Tampa and the airport in Miami. At the airport, President Kennedy said, “I’ve been making non-partisan speeches all day, and I’m glad to come here as a Democrat.” He promised to “come back next year and make a longer speech” and predicted that Florida and the nation would go Democratic next year.


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