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Soon after President Kennedy’s death, Robert F. Kennedy resigned as Attorney General and, in 1964, ran for the United States Senate from New York. His opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Kenneth Keating, labeled Kennedy a “carpetbagger” during the closely contested campaign. With Jacqueline Kennedy present Kennedy responded to the attacks with humor. “I have [had] really two choices over the period of the last ten months,” he said at Columbia University in Harlem. “I could have stayed in – I could have retired. And I – my father has done very well and I could have lived off him. I tell you frankly I don’t need this title because I [could] be called General, I understand, for the rest of my life. And I don’t need the money and I don’t need the office space. Frank as it is – and maybe it’s difficult to believe in the state of New York – I’d like to just be a good United States Senator. I’d like to serve.”
Kennedy waged an effective statewide campaign and, aided by President Lyndon Johnson’s landslide, won the November 1964 election by 719,000 votes.