Senator John F Kennedy, today formally stepped into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The 42-year-old Massachusetts senator said he intends to go into several presidential primaries, beginning with the one in New Hampshire March 8.
Describing the presidency as “the most powerful office in the Free World,” Kennedy’s statement said leadership at this time is vital in the life of the American people.
“For it is in the executive branch that the most crucial decisions of this century must be made in the next four years,” Kennedy said.
He said these decisions involve “how to end or alter the burdensome arms race, where Soviet gains already threaten our very existence.”
Other decisions, Kennedy said, will involve maintaining the freedom and order in newly emerging nations, rebuilding the stature of American science and education, and “how to prevent the collapse of our farm economy and the decay of our cities.”
Also involved, Kennedy said, are decisions on “how to achieve, without further inflation or unemployment, expanded economic growth benefiting all Americans and how to give direction to our traditional moral purpose, awakening every American to the dangers and opportunities that confront us.”
Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic to bid seriously for his party’s nomination since Al Smith was defeated in 1928, said he will campaign on those issues in the drive for the nomination.
For Kennedy, formal entry into the race apparently marks the final intensive stage of the campaign that has carried him into nearly every state and has involved him in several controversies.
Some of these revolve about the 41-year-old senator’s Roman Catholic religion. Others stem from his activity in connection with Congress’ passage last year of compromise labor control legislation. He helped push through a bill which organized labor contended would seriously handicap it, and which anti-labor forces said didn’t go far enough to clean up abuses.
By all the political signs, Kennedy is the front runner for a nomination for which Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn) announced Wednesday and which Adlai E Stevenson, Senate Democratic leader Lyndon B Johnson of Texas and Senator Stuart Symington (D-Mo) also may seek.
But even Kennedy’s ardent supporters concede he hasn’t in sight now the 761 votes he would need to win the nomination at the July 11 convention in Los Angeles. Because of this, the Massachusetts senator is expected to take wide ranging forays into presidential primaries. He has been unable to lure any of his prospective opponents into his New England stronghold and apparently will run alone in the Democratic ticket in New Hampshire’s March 8 Democratic primary.
Kennedy also may enter Ohio’s May 3 primary, despite the current opposition of Gov. Michael V. DiSalle, himself a Catholic, who wants Ohio’s favorite son designation. Sen. Frank Lausche (D-Ohio) also may seek favorite son status in the Ohio balloting.