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SENATOR Eugene J. McCarthy made a strong, encouraging showing against President Johnson in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. The size of McCarthy's vote not only reflected mounting feeling against the war in Vietnam, but was a genuine tribute to the Minnesota Senator's singularly graceful, straightforward campaign style. McCarthy's showing was also partly the result of the clumsy write-in run by the President's backers--an inept performance typical of the confused, out-of-touch condition of the Democratic national leadership.
In the wake of McCarthy's initial success, Senator Robert F. Kennedy has reversed a stand he took a few weeks ago and announced that he is actively considering a run for the Democratic nomination himself. Kennedy is likely to announce his candidacy formally in the next few days. The CRIMSON--which has long admired Senator Kennedy's positive positions on Vietnam and the domestic racial crisis, as well as his superb organizational and vote-getting ability--urges him to make the race for the Democratic nomination.
We feel nothing but admiration for the courageous Minnesotan who gave so many students renewed hope in a political process that seemed--and may well be--incapable of coping with the nation's crises. Yet there can be little doubt that of the two men, Kennedy has a far better chance of capturing the Democratic nomination. We urge Gene McCarthy to step aside in favor of Kennedy, who offers the best hope of winning the Presidency and extricating America from Vietnam.
SEVERAL months ago, when McCarthy stepped forward to oppose Johnson and the war, he said that he would be willing to defer to a stronger peace candidate. One has now appeared. It will not be easy for McCarthy, after the euphoria of New Hampshire, to yield the center of the stage. But the ideals that prompted him to enter the race now challenge him to an even harder and lonelier decision: to leave it.
Kennedy's candidacy has obvious advantages. The former attorney general is an experienced national campaigner who managed his late brother's Presidential victory in 1960. Kennedy has a greater knowledge of the Byzantine ways of state and urban Democratic power groups whose partial backing any anti-war candidate will eventually need to overturn the President at the Chicago convention. Kennedy can command the funds for the massive media campaign that will be required to maintain the momentum McCarthy started Tuesday. On both counts, McCarthy is lacking, and the deficiencies could all too easily make his challenge futile.
Disengagement from Vietnam is a prerequisite for any real attack on the conditions and attitudes that keep black Americans economically and socially submerged. Here, Kennedy has taken a strong stand. The war, as he sees it, is brutal, wasteful folly. There is no reason to believe that he would not push for a speedy settlement in Southeast Asia. He realizes the costs of Vietnam and has admitted the shortsightedness of the policy his borther pursued before November, 1963. Kennedy knows the lessons of foreign adventurism and military overextension. And his past experience with the Pentagon and State Department means that he is unlikely to be hoodwinked in the future.
Kennedy's candidacy would give life to his decaying party, hope to his increasingly worried young admirers, promise to black Americans, and a chance for the majority of Americans to free themselves from shopworn national policies, and inadequate Presidential leadership.
More important, Kennedy is far better known than McCarthy in the states where the remaining primaries will be fought. His popularity is greater than McCarthy's simply because his face, his voice and his accomplishments as Attorney General are familiar throughout America. McCarthy has neither Kennedy's popularity, his exposure, nor his record.
KENNEDY's record, in fact, is as significant as his ability to mobilize workers, raise funds, and attract votes. He is the one politician of national stature who can make a convincing case to black Americans that he will fight for them in the White House. He has been active in condemning pervasive racism, demanding massive federal income redistribution programs, and encouraging private investment in the ghettoes. If there is hope for a non-revolutionary solution to the mushrooming black bitterness in America, it lies with Kennedy.
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