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tv   1960 Presidential Candidates Debate  CSPAN  October 23, 2016 10:00am-11:01am EDT

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defeated vice president nixon in a close general election with less than 1% of the popular vote separating the two. this frank mcgee: this is frank mcgee, nbc news in washington. this is the second in a series of programs unmatched in history. never have so many people seen the major candidates for president of the united states at the same time; and never until this series have americans seen the candidates in face-to-face exchange. tonight the candidates have agreed to devote the full hour to answering questions on any issue of the campaign. and here tonight are the republican candidate, vice president richar n president richard m. nixon, and the democratic candidate, senator john f. kennedy. now representatives of the candidates and of all the radio and television networks have agreed on these rules. neither candidate will make an opening
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statement or a closing summation, each will be questioned in turn, each will have an opportunity to comment upon the answer of the other; each reporter will ask only one question in turn. he is free to ask any question he chooses. neither candidate knows what questions will be asked and only the clock will determine who will be asked the last question. these programs represent an unprecedented opportunity for the candidates to present their philosophies and programs directly to the people and for the people to compare these and the candidates. the four reporters on tonight's panel include a newspaperman and a wire service representative. these two were selected by lot by the press secretaries of the candidates from among the reporters traveling with the candidates. the broadcasting representatives were selected by their respective companies. the reporters are paul niven of cbs, edward p. morgan of abc,
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alvin spivak of united press international, and harold r. levy of newsday. now the first question is from mr. niven and is for vice president nixon. mr. niven: mr. vice president, senator kennedy said last night that the administration must take responsibility for the loss of cuba. would you compare the validity of that statement with the validity of your own statements in previous campaigns that the truman administration was responsible for the loss of china to the communists? mr. nixon: well first of all, i don't agree with senator kennedy that cuba is lost and certainly china was lost when this administration came into power in 1953. as i look at cuba today, i believe that we are following the right course, a course which is difficult but a course which under the circumstance is the only proper one which will see that the cuban people get a chance to realize their aspirations of progress through freedom and that they get that
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with our cooperation with the other organi of the states in the organization of american states. now senator kennedy has made some very strong criticisms of my part or alleged part in what has happened in cuba. he points to the fact that i visited cuba while mr. batista was in power there. i can only point out that if we are going to judge the administrations in terms of our attitude toward dictators, we're glad to have a comparison with the previous administration. there were eleven dictators in south america and in central america when we came in, in 1953. today there are only three left including the one in cuba. we think that's pretty good progress. senator kennedy also indicated with regard to cuba that he thought that i had made a mistake when i was in cuba in not calling for free elections in that country. now i'm very surprised that senator kennedy, who is on the foreign relations committee, would have made such a statement
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as this kind. as a matter of fact in his book, the strategy for peace, he took the right position. and that position is that the united states has a treaty a treaty with all of the organization of american states which prohibits us from interfering in the internal affairs of any other state and prohibits them as well. for me to have made such a statement would been in direct opposition to that treaty. now with regard to cuba, let me make one thing clear. there isn't any question but that we will defend our rights there. there isn't any question but that we will defend guantanamo if it's attacked. there also isn't any question but that the free people of cuba , the people who want to be free are going to be supported and that they will attain their freedom. no, cuba is not lost, and i don't think this kind of defeatist talk by senator kennedy helps the situation one bit. mr. mcgee: senator kennedy, would you care to comment? mr. kennedy: in the first place i've never suggested that cuba was lost except for the present.
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in my speech last night i indicated that i thought that cuba one day again would be free. where i've been critical of the administration's policy, and where i criticized mr. nixon, was because in his press conference in havana in 1955, he praised the competence and stability of the bicta bict -- batista dictatorship that dictatorship had killed over 20,000 cubans in seven years. secondly, i did not criticize him for not calling for free elections. what i criticized was the failure of the administration to use its great influence to persuade the cuban government to hold free elections, particularly in 1957 and 1958. thirdly, arthur gardner, a republican ambassador, earl smith, a republican ambassador, in succession both have indicated in the past six weeks that they reported to washington that castro was a marxist, that raul castro was a communist, and that they got no effective results. instead our aid continued to
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batista, which was ineffective. we never were on the side of freedom, we never used our influence when we could have used it most effectively and today cuba is lost for freedom. i hope some day it will rise, but i don't think it will rise if we continue the same policies toward cuba that we did in recent years, and in fact towards all of latin america when we've almost ignored the needs of latin america, we've beamed not a single voice of america program in spanish to all of latin america in the last eight years, except for the three months of the hungarian revolution. mr. mcgee: mr. morgan, with a question for senator kennedy. mr. morgan: senator, last may, in oregon, you discussed the possibilities of sending apologies or regrets to khrushchev over the u-2 incident. do you think now that that would have done any good? did you think so then? mr. kennedy: mr. morgan, i suggested that if the united states felt that it could save the summit conference, that it would have been proper for us to have expressed regrets. in my judgment that statement
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has been distorted by mr. nixon and others in their debates around the country and in their discussions. mr. lodge, on meet the press a month ago, said if there was ever a case when we did not have law an our side it was in the u-2 incident. the u-2 flights were proper from the point of view of protecting our security. but they were not in accordance with international law. and i said that i felt that rather than tell the lie which we told, rather than indicate that the flights would continue -- in fact, i believe mr. nixon himself said on may fifteenth that the flights would continue even though mr. herter testified before the senate foreign relations committee that they had been canceled as of may 12, that it would have been far better that if we had expressed regrets, if that would have saved the summit, and if the summit is useful and i believe it is. the point that is always left out is the fact that we expressed regrets to castro this winter, that we expressed regrets the eisenhower administration expressed regrets for a flight over southern russia in 1958. we expressed regrets for a flight over eastern germany under this administration. the soviet union in 1955 expressed regrets to us over the
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bering sea incident. the chinese communists expressed regrets to us over a plane incident in 1956. that is the accepted procedure between nations and my judgment is that we should follow the advice of theodore roosevelt, be strong; maintain a strong position, but also speak softly. i believe that in those cases where international custom calls for the expression of a regret, if that would have kept the summit going, in my judgment it was a proper action. it's not appeasement. it's not soft. i believe we should be stronger than we now are. i believe we should have a stronger military force. i believe we should increase our strength all over the world. but i don't confuse words with strength; and in my judgment if the summit was useful, if it would have brought us closer to peace, that rather than the lie that we told which has been criticized by all responsible people afterwards it would have been far better for us to follow the common diplomatic procedure of expressing regrets and then try to move on. mr. mcgee: mr. vice president. mr. nixon: i think kenne senator
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-- senator kennedy is wrong on three counts. first of all, he's wrong in thinking even suggesting that mr. khrushchev might have continued the conference if we had expressed regrets. he knew these flights were going on long before and that wasn't the reason that he broke up the conference. second, he's wrong in the analogies that he makes. the united states is a strong country. whenever we do anything that's wrong, we can express regrets. but when the president of the united states is doing something that's right, something that is for the purpose of defending the security