In an attempt to halt the trend that could well bring Senator John F. Kennedy?
In an attempt to halt the trend that could well bring Senator John F. Kennedy victory in the first ballot of the day-old Convention in Los Angeles, USA, the other principal candidate for the American Democratic Party's Presidential nomination, Senator Lyndon Johnson of Texas, challenged the 43-year-old Massachusetts Senator July 12 to appear with him on public radio-television to debate major issues.
Expecting a test of strength between their two champions, supporters from both States gathered at the Biltmore Hotel. They were disappointed. Both men failed to impress with their summing up of events and their solutions for dealing with them. Senator Kennedy gave the impression of accepting the occasion merely as an opportunity to win support from the Texas delegates. He assured them that if he lost the nomination to Senator Johnson, he would rally Massachusetts behind the Texas Senator at the November Presidential election. On the other hand, he was sure that Senator Johnson would respond similarly if the situation was reversed.
After the carnival-like atmosphere of the Democratic Convention's opening at the mammoth Los-Angeles open-air sports arena, it became increasingly obvious that Senator Kennedy would gain the nomination either after the first ballot July 13, but certainly after the second on July 14. Unofficial charts revealed that he had gained 742 1/2 out of a total of 761 needed for victory. Senator Johnson was credited with only 407. 3,150 delegates share 1,521 votes in deciding who will represent them in their fights to wrest the Presidency from the Republican Party in November.
The broadest civil-rights platform in the American Democratic Party's history was approved July 12 by the Convention's committee. Approved 74-20, despite opposition from Southern delegates, their decision commits them to make full use of Federal government authority to combat infringement of any constitutionally guaranteed rights. This aims specifically at the present Negro problem.