From the archives | Sept. 24

Barry Goldwater demands debate at Fenway Park

Tells thousands that President Johnson must confront him

Sen. Goldwater swept into Boston Thursday evening with a two-fisted attack against anything Democratic and a demand before 25,000 persons at a Fenway Park rally that President Johnson confront him in a public debate.

The Republican presidential nominee was interrupted by applause 30 times during his 45-minute speech as he echoed the doctrines that delight his devotees and enrage his adversaries.

His speech was a virtual carbon copy of the speeches he has been delivering throughout the South and Midwest. However, his ultimatum that Johnson debate him was the strongest to date.


“Is my opponent so frightened that he has lost his voice?” Goldwater asked.

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“I challenge my opponent, the interim President Lyndon Baines Johnson, to face the issues. I dare him to face me before the world.

“I demand of him debate!” Goldwater shouted and the crowd once more broke into uproarious applause.

Goldwater left out of his speech a highly controversial criticism of President Johnson in which he quoted Sen. John J. Williams (R-Delaware) on the Johnson campaign in 1960. A technical error had omitted two important pages from the teleprompter, Goldwater attaches said. News media had been given an advance text of the speech.

Williams had charged that McCloskey was involved in a government kickback arrangement with Mr. Johnson’s protege, Bobby Baker. The missing words:


“The kickback, it is alleged, was in connection with a government contract for the new District of Columbia stadium.

“Twenty-five thousand dollars, under this arrangement, could have been siphoned into the Johnson campaign fund in 1960 -- at a time when Lyndon Johnson was trying to take the Democratic nomination from John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

“And let me take this moment to tell you the good people of Boston that John Kennedy was one of my close friends in the Senate.”

The missing pages also said McCloskey is the same man who built the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Boston, the poor construction of which has prompted the Republicans to press for a $4 million lawsuit against the contractor.

The audience was obviously pro-Goldwater, although there was a smattering of boos on several occasions, particularly when he condemned UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, for Stevenson’s statement in support of civil rights demonstrators.


However, Goldwater’s reception in this Democratic stronghold was not always as sympathetic not as enthusiastic as the response at Fenway.

He was ushered into Boston by a vocal crowd of 400 at Logan Airport at 6 p.m.

The small but lively turnout featured all the fanfare traditionally associated with the political rally. The crowds along the route were estimated at 3,000 to 4,000 but their response to Goldwater was cold and unemotional.

There were only one or two signs for the Senator. A youngster at the East Boston entrance to the Sumner Tunnel clanged a spoon against an old pot.

On Tremont st. between Scollay sq. and Boylston st., the crowd lined both sidewalks, but stood monolithically, neither cheering nor booing.

In his speech at Fenway, Goldwater cut a broad swath with his accusations against the Democratic Party and the Johnson Administration.

He lamented the burgeoning power of the Federal government.

He lamented the use of civil disobedience in the civil rights struggle.

He disinterred the Bobby Baker and Matt McCloskey scandals and declared that both men “are close buddies of our interim President, covered up by the full power of the Presidency.”

And finally, he lambasted the Supreme Court decisions on laws of arrest, methods of securing confessions and criminal evidence.

Goldwater delivered virtually the same speech in St. Petersburg, Fla., 10 days ago and in Minneapolis more recently.

The only changes made for his Boston speech were the new strength added to his challenge for a debate and a line early in the speech in which he deplored “burning of churches and schools.”

The latter was not used on his Southern trip. Newsman who have been traveling with him described that tactic as “a concession to the North.”

He remained strong, however, in his contention that the individual states ought to be given back police and legal powers which he claims have been weakened by the Supreme Court decisions.