SEPTEMBER 28, 1960
NEW YORK—I sat among a small group of people Monday night watching the first of the television debates between the Presidential candidates, Vice-President Nixon and Senator Kennedy, and I think most of us agreed that an extraordinary amount of information was packed into one hour. It was a milestone in TV history—the first time campaigning had been conducted on this level.
There were three women in our party of viewers and, curiously enough, all three of us felt a similar strong reaction to the personalities of the two men.
We felt honesty in Mr. Kennedy and distrustfulness in Mr. Nixon.
A gentleman among us said that before the program he had a great many questions in his mind about Mr. Kennedy and that after the one-hour broadcast he felt a number of these questions had been answered favorably.
If Mr. Kennedy can project himself thusly often enough he will persuade a large part of what has been called the independent vote, and that would be a great accomplishment on his part. In any case, I look forward with great interest to the three renewals next month of this joint appearance of the two candidates.
Another gentleman in our group maintained that Mr. Nixon made the most finished presentation of his views and was the more poised of the two. I felt there was very little difference between the two men on this score, and I am also of the opinion that Mr. Kennedy produced more facts about the past and present.
I also was glad to hear both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Nixon bring out the fact that it was impossible to separate domestic affairs from foreign affairs.
For me the amusing thing about the broadcast was that evidently the Republicans feel they must have the same objectives as the Democrats. And to attain these objectives we heard the same old story: "We will do the same thing but we will do it better and it will cost less." Now, certainly no one wants inflation to eat up his savings or to destroy the credit of our country, but as I listened to both of the candidates I thought if they were going to accomplish the same ends they were going to have to do it with very similar financial processes. And it was at this point that we three women felt our strong reaction to the personalities of the two men.
It is still difficult to understand exactly what Premier Fidel Castro means by aggression against Cuba on the part of the United States, despite his long, 4½-hour harangue in the United Nations.
He could mean aggression in an economic way, and I would be inclined to agree that the great investments made in Cuba perhaps could give the Cuban government a feeling that economic control might be used against it.
But I would have thought that a solution could be negotiated in a peaceful and calm manner. Certainly the heat and the violence that have accompanied every statement made by the Cubans as regards the U.S. are no enticement to adjust and accept changes which the Cuban government feels are essential for its independence.
I think the whole situation has been mishandled on both sides, and I feel that neither the U.S. nor Cuba has shown real statesmanship. One can only hope that the patience that the U.S. has demonstrated will prove there is no real danger to Cuban freedoms and that eventually common sense and our mutual interests will help us to find better solutions.