The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Eleanor Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
55 east 74th street
new york city, 21, n. y.

Dear Senator Kennedy:

The enclosed letter has come to me and I think it is the way quite a number of people feel.
I thought I understood you to say during the last debate that you did not intend to act unilaterally but with the other American states. Since this is not fully understood, I pass the letter along to you because I think it would be unwise for people to have the impression that you did expect separately to interfere in the internal affairs of Cuba.[1]
Things at present look as though they are going pretty well. I cannot, of course, ever feel safe till the last week is over because with Mr. Nixon I always have the feeling that he will pull some trick at the last minute. On the whole, things look pretty good, however. In the meantime, good luck!

Very cordially yours,

Eleanor Roosevelt

     [1.] ER's interpretation of JFK's remarks was correct. In the final debate, Frank Singiser of Mutual News asked both Nixon and Kennedy "to pin down the difference between the way you would handle Castro's regime and prevent the spread of Communist governments in the Western Hemisphere." Nixon replied that Kennedy was "dangerously irresponsible" to recommend that the U.S. should aid Cuban exiles and those anti-Castro forces that are also anti-Batista, in the process, labeling Kennedy's stance "unilateral" and a gross violation of the UN Charter that would cost "us all of our friends in Latin America." Kennedy responded that Nixon was "misinformed" on Cuba and Kennedy's position on Cuba, rebutting Nixon's argument by declaring first, that Castro was already receiving "equipment and arms and resources" flowing "out of Florida and other parts of the United States"and second, that "if any sanctions against Latin America are going to be successful they have to be multilateral . . . [and] have to include the other countries of Latin America." ["Fourth Debate, October 21, 1960," in Sidney Kraus, ed., The Great Debates: Background-Perspective-Effects (Indianapolis: University of Indiana Press, 1962), pp. 416-418.]