JFK VISITED TAMPA 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
Tampa, Florida (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy visited Tampa 50 years ago today, November 18, 1963.
JFK arrived at Al Lopez Field and then embarked on the longest motorcade of his White House years, 28 miles, to the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.
Upon arrival at the airport just before Noon, JFK said...
"I am proud to come back to this city which...has borne a heavy burden in...keep(ing) this country and the rest of Latin America free."
President Kennedy concluded...
"I believe it is the united will of all of our people protecting the security of the United States and providing an opportunity for our people. That is what we stand for. That is what we believe in."
Thurston Clarke writes that the Secret Service had concerns about the Tampa trip because of the large number of Cubans in the city, of both pro and anti-Castro sentiments, and because of information they had obtained about the presence of a "right wing fanatic" named Joseph Milteer.
Clarke says that Agent Floyd Boring talked with the President about the situation on Air Force One before landing...
Mr. Boring said...
"We have a very long motorcade, so we're going to have to stick to a tight time schedule. Two people have made threats against your life and even though we have them in custody, you might want to keep your stops during the motorcade to a minimum."
This was obviously something JFK was not excited to hear. He responded...
"Floyd, this is a political trip. If I don't mingle with the people, I couldn't get elected dog catcher."
And again, according to Thurston Clarke, during the motorcade ride when the crowds thickened and Secret Service agents stepped onto JFK's car, the President said to Agent Boring...
"Have the Ivy League charlatans drop back to the follow-up car."
Upon arriving safely at the Armory, JFK spoke to the Florida Chamber of Commerce where he admitted that he was being perceived as anti-business despite the fact that "many businessmen...are prospering as never before during this administration."
JFK added that business profits were at an all time high in the United States..."because the Nation as a whole is prospering."
After his speech, the President held a question and answer period.
The first question, not surprisingly, was this...
"What is your policy toward Cuba?"
"We have attempted to isolate Cuba in the hope that some day Cuba will be free (but) Mr. Castro still is in control...and...remains a major danger to the United States."
On a much lighter note, the last question put to JFK was...
"Why didn't you bring Caroline?"
The President said...
"Well, she likes it at the White House, but we will get her used to Florida."
Afterwards, JFK spoke to the members of the United Steelworkers Union at Tampa's International Inn and then flew to Miami where he gave another airport address.
It had been a great day, but the President was relieved it was over. JFK told Dave Powers...
"Thank God nobody wanted to kill me today."
"JFK's Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President," by Thurston Clarke, The Penguin Press, New York, 2013.
"Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963," United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1964.
JFK RESPONDS TO ATTACKS FROM RIGHT WING
Los Angeles, California (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy, who had been attacked for being "soft on communism," spoke out 52 years ago this evening, November 18, 1961, against right-wing extremists such as those represented by the John Birch Society.
The President, speaking at the Hollywood Palladium, said:
"Now we are face to face...with a period of heightened peril. The risks are great and under the strains...the discordant voices of extremism are heard."
"There have always been those fringes of our society who have sought to escape their own responsibility by finding a simple solution, an appealing slogan, or a convenient scapegoat.
They call for a 'man on horseback' because they do not trust the people.
They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism and socialism with communism."
President Kennedy was responding specifically to a comment by Edward M. Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, who had criticized JFK at a White House luncheon for "riding Caroline's tricycle" instead of being 'a man on horseback.'
During the President's speech, a crowd of 3000 pickets were outside the Palladium holding up signs which read: 'UNMUZZLE THE MILITARY' and 'DISARMAMENT IS SUICIDE."
The President concluded his remarks with these words...
"Let our patriotism be reflected on the creation of confidence rather than the crusades of suspicion and remember that, however serious the outlook, the one great irreversible trend in world history is on the side of liberty."