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Senator Margaret Chase Smith Will Run for GOP Nomination

Jan. 27, 1964 - Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine today said she would run for President. Before revealing her decision, she said the arguments against her candidacy were “far more impelling” than those for it. “So, because of these impelling reasons against my running,” she said, pausing dramatically, “I have decided that I shall enter the New Hampshire Presidential preferential primary and the Illinois primary.” Her announcement was greeted by the applause and sympathetic laughter of several hundred women and a scattering of men attending a luncheon of the Women’s National Press Club at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

For several months, Mrs. Smith has been expected to announce she would enter the Republican Presidential primary in New Hampshire. But as the moment of decision neared, even her best friends did not know what she would do. The Senator carried with her two statements — one saying she would run, the other that she would not — to read at the end of her 45-minute speech. Disclaiming any desire to be a running mate on somebody else’s ticket, Mrs. Smith said “only time will tell” whether she would enter any of the 14 other primaries, including California’s on June 2. “California seems a long way off, in distance and time,” she said. Mrs. Smith said her campaign would be a lean one, with little or no money and no paid workers. She said she would not purchase political time on radio or television or advertisements in newspapers. Her campaigning, she said, will be limited to times when the Senate is not in session. And she said she would not have campaign headquarters.

Such an austere campaign raised the question of how much of a threat she would be to the other Republican candidates, Governor Rockefeller and Senator Barry Goldwater, who are waging active campaigns in New Hampshire. But Mrs. Smith’s vote-getting power has been demonstrated repeatedly in Maine, next door to New Hampshire. If she campaigned actively in New Hampshire, observers conceded, she could expect a sizable vote, perhaps preventing a clear-cut favorite from emerging from the primary.

Mrs. Smith conceded that the odds against her would be heavy. No woman has ever been named either Presidential or Vice-Presidential nominee by a major political party. Mrs. Smith said it had been argued that “no woman should ever dare aspire to the White House — that this is a man’s world and that it should be kept that way.” She said others had argued that women would not have the stamina to endure a Presidential campaign. She is 66 years old. Despite all such arguments, Mrs. Smith said, “I welcome the challenge, and I look forward to the test.”


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