Republican Senator Kenneth B. Keating, the incumbent, and Democrat Robert F. Kennedy, his opponent for?
Republican Senator Kenneth B. Keating, the incumbent, and Democrat Robert F. Kennedy, his opponent for the U.S. Senate from New York State finally met in face to face debate late Friday night (30 October) after weeks of wrangling. They stated their positions and answered questions from each other on a New York radio program usually devoted to interviews with celebrities.
For more than a month each has been challenging the other to debate, but always declining the format proposed. Finally, senator Keating bought half an hour of television time Tuesday night and challenged Mr. Kennedy to appear. What actually happened is still not entirely clear. Mr. Keating gave Mr. Kennedy until 3PM to accept. He says he never heard from Mr. Kennedy; Mr. Kennedy says he could never reach Mr. Keating or his lieutenants by telephone.
Mr. Keating went on the air and debated an "empty chari", to which he frequently alluded with the remarks that it was reserved for Mr. Kennedy, but that he failed to appear. At the same time, Mr. Kennedy showed up outside the studio, tried to enter and was forcibly prevented by studio guards. Then Mr. Kennedy bought the succeeding half hour for his side of the story.
It very much appeared that Mr. Kennedy had trumped Mr. Keating, but the latter bought another hour of prime time Friday night and again challenged Mr. Kennedy to appear. This time he kept the studio door open throughout for him. But Mr. Kennedy said he had prior commitments in a New York suburb and was there at the time.
Finally, a local celebrity interviewer, Barry Gray, invited Mr. Kennedy on his show and urged Mr. Keating to appear, also. He accepted. They greeted each other politely but unsmilingly, and their debate, such as it was, was low-keyed and restrained.