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RFK Hedges on Senate Run

May 20, 1964 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy made four speeches in the New York metropolitan area today but denied that this had anything to do with the possibility of his running for Senator from New York.

In talks to students at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., some of whom greeted him as “Senator,” Kennedy charged that Governor George Wallace of Alabama had deliberately lied about the provisions of the civil rights bill.

Kennedy said he did not believe that Wallace’s strong showing yesterday in the Maryland Democratic Presidential primary would seriously threaten passage of the civil rights bill. But, he conceded, “it’s not helpful.”

Everywhere, Kennedy insisted he had no plans to seek the Democratic nomination and run against Senator Kenneth Keating. But he left the door open.

When one student asked if it were a good idea for a major party to eliminate an opponent by running a popular candidate from another state against the opponent, the Attorney General said: “I wouldn’t advocate that. I don’t think it’s practical. It’s better to get good people in the state to run against the opponent. That’s what the Democratic Party does — generally.”

His day began with an off-the-record luncheon speech to magazine editors at the Waldorf-Astoria. Then, accompanied by his wife Ethel, he drove to Newark for a talk to 500 law students of Rutgers and Seton Hall universities in the Second Presbyterian Church.

He urged the students to consider careers in public service, politics, and government. He chided law school graduates for seeking positions in the big, rich law firms rather than helping such causes as civil rights, the elimination of poverty, and the eradication of slums.

“I don’t think public service is emphasized enough in law schools and colleges,” he said. “Lawyers have a special responsibility in the community.”

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