‘Make It Shine, Make It Move Forward,’ Jack Tells Students
An estimated crowd of 3500, held in check by a small army of police, gathered in front of NYU’s Loeb Student Center on Washington Square South last Thursday to hear a fast, hard-hitting attack on the Republican administration by Senator John Kennedy.
The highly-vocal crowd consisted mostly of students, Villagers from the vicinity, and three busloads of newsmen traveling with the Presidential candidate’s entourage. There were so many blue-jacketed police accompanying Kennedy that they resembled a Union cavalry charge on motorcycles as they swept down the street.
“This race is between comfort and concern,” the blond, tanned Kennedy began, speaking from a convertible which also bore Carmine G. DeSapio. “Let’s see what eight Republican years have done,” Kennedy went on briskly. “We have had three recessions. We are running at only 50 per cent of steel capacity. There are approximately 4 ½ million out of work. And our world position has deteriorated so badly the Administration won’t release the facts.”
The audience lining the sidewalks and standing in the park found it difficult to hear Kennedy. The Senator obligingly went up to the roof of the student center where microphones had been set up for him.
Image of Uncertainty
“The issues which separate Nixon and I are clear and sharp,” Kennedy continued from the higher altitude. “Nixon has said ‘we never had it so good’ or ‘prestige has never been so high.’ I could not disagree more. We will no longer be the leader of the free world unless we regain the confidence of the world. We have an image of uncertainty.”
A small but vociferous group of Nixon boosters in the crowd began to chant: “Nixon will win.”
Kennedy never smiled. But leaning into the microphone he said to them softly: “I’m afraid he won’t.”
Returning to Nixon and the Republican record, Kennedy said: “I don’t think a man who has had 40 accidents should be given a new driver’s license.” He went on to criticize sharply the Republican handling of African and Asian affairs, stating the Administration had “shamefully” neglected the opportunity to bring foreign students here and send American teachers abroad.
As Kennedy concluded his rapid-fire indictment of Republicanism, he pointed to what appeared to be a large group of students who were cheering him across the itreet. “How many of you will be willing to pick this country up,” he asked “make it shine — make it move forward again?”
The Kennedy columns closed ranks again, roaring off to another speech amid shrieking sirens and a broken chant from the students of “Let’s back Jack.” ❖
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 3, 2020