The Gipper Vs. Bobby

by Steven F. Hayward

Our friends over at RealClearPolitics provide a link to an online transcript of Reagan’s TV debate with Robert F. Kennedy in 1967. I had no idea it was ever available online, especially from the JFK library. I had to dig it out of the Reagan archives several years ago when I wanted to track it down.

You will look in vain in any of the liberal biographies of Robert Kennedy for a single mention of his debate with Reagan, which even Kennedy realized he had lost to the Gipper. As he was leaving the TV studio, Bobby growled at his aide Frank Mankiewicz, “Who the f— got me into this??”

One of my favorite bits this this exchange was the rhetorical question Reagan asked about America’s brief monopoly of nuclear weapons in the 1940s: “Can you honestly say that had the Soviet Union been in a comparable position with that bomb, or today’s Red Chinese, that the world would not today have been conquered with that force?”

Winston Churchill said this in 1948: “What do you suppose would be the position this afternoon had it been Communist Russia instead of free enterprise America which had created the atomic weapon? Instead of being a somber guarantee of peace it would have become an irresistible method of human enslavement.”

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