Senator Kenneth B. Keating (R. N. Y.) declared Saturday that the federal government should intervene if the state of Alabama fails to uphold the right to free assembly of Negroes demonstrating in Birmingham.
At a press conference in Quincy House shortly before he spoke to a Young Republican rally, Keating said that if President Kennedy feels he does not have authority to restrain Alabama officials by executive order, he should support legislation specifically giving him this power. Keating and several other Republican Senators have introduced such legislation; the President has said it is unnecessary.
Keating emphasized that the police repression of Negroes in Birmingham must be stopped because of the harmful effect it has on American prestige abroad. "The photos of police dogs biting Negroes will be reprinted throughout the world." Keating said, "and they will harm us tremendously."
In response to another question, Keating would not comment of the political implications of Governor Rockefeller's remarriage Saturday to Margaretta Fitler Murphy, except to say, "I wish the Governor and his wife every happiness."
Call For GOP Unity
In his speech to the Young Republicans at Sanders Theater, Keating called for the convocation of an All-Republican conference to forge "a greater, broader, deeper sense of unity and purpose among ourselves." He said that such a conference, which would bring together not only politicians but Republicans of all views and vocations, was "the most effective method" of creating the unity necessary for political victory.
"We must cease paying lip-service to the idea of a united party and being to work for such a party," Keating declared.
The Senator admitted that difference of opinion exist among Republicans, but said the party elements "are not separated by a chasm, as are the Democrats."
Before his speech Keating received a silver bowl form the Young Republicans as the Outstanding Republican of 1962, and an introduction from former Governor John A. Volpe, who called him "one of the great Americans of our day."
Keating responded by calling Volpe "one of the great Americans of our time," and attempted to top the compliment by mentioning Volpe's name in connection with the 1964 Republican convention. Here Keating's sense of political realities apparently got the better of him, however, as he wound up. "Many names are being bruited around for 1964, and it would be well not to forget the name of John...Romney."
Keating's speech concluded a day-long series of political workshops at Harvard sponsored by the Massachusetts council of Young Republicans.
Pickets Protest During Speech
About a dozen College students, mostly form tocsin, picketed Sanders Theatre during Keating's speech. They issued a statement charging that Keating "has not only violated principles of bipartisanship in his attack on the Administrations' Cuban policy, but has borrowed an old technique from Joe McCarthy, Keating has used statistics to win headlines and evoke fear in the American people. He has in no way contributed to an understanding of the issues concerning Cubs."
A statement by the Tocsin Executive Committee criticized Keating for not taking into account the complexity and dangers of the Cuban situation. "Responsible political leadership demands that both the administration and those advising or criticizing it not make rash, provocative, and perhaps uninformed statements. Our Cuba policy must both be conceived in an atmosphere of hysteria and jingoism," the statement said.