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Ribicoff “Almost Sure” President Kennedy Will Debate Opponent Next Year

Oct. 13, 1963 - A leading Democratic Senator and former member of President Kennedy’s cabinet said today he is “almost sure” Mr. Kennedy will debate his Republican opponent for the Presidency next year. “It will be pretty hard for any candidate to refuse to accept a challenge to debate,” Senator Abraham Ribicoff (center) of Connecticut told a press conference. Asked to comment on a challenge issued by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to Senator Barry Goldwater for a series of debates between Republicans, Ribicoff said he did not want to comment on what Republicans did to one another. Goldwater declined the Rockefeller challenge. But Ribicoff said, “If I were them, I wouldn’t be so anxious to debate with President Kennedy. He will do either of them in. I can’t see any present Republican candidate beating Mr. Kennedy in a debate.” The Senator also counted out former Vice President Richard M. Nixon as the 1964 Republican nominee, saying his gubernatorial loss in California last year would be too much to overcome. Both Rockefeller and Goldwater said yesterday they think Nixon may run next year. A survey reported by the Gallup Poll on Oct. 6 showed that among Republican rank-and-file voters across the country, Goldwater was preferred by 42%, Rockefeller by 26%, Michigan Governor George Romney by 15%, Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton by 4%, and 13% were undecided.


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