Newspaper Articles


Bluefield Daily Telegraph
May 10, 1959

Mercer County Democrats Welcome Sen. John Kennedy On Visit Here

Main Speaker At Welch Event

Senator John F. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and a prominent bidder for his party’s presidential nomination, was here on a brief stopover yesterday. Kennedy was the main speaker at a Truman Birthday dinner in Welch last night.

Yesterday was a big day for Mercer and McDowell county Demos. They met him at the Mercer county airport, were close around as the presidential hopeful greeted party members on the West Virginian mezzanine shortly after noon, and gathered in large numbers at Welch.

Accompanying Kennedy here from Washington was Senator Jennings Randolph. Others in the “official party” here included Attorney General W. W. Barron, Congresswoman Elizabeth Kee and State Democratic Chairman Hulett Smith.

Says Ike Has Forgotten

Kennedy told the Democrats dinner at Welch Saturday night that the Eisenhower administration has forgotten America’s unemployed, “caught in the backwash of economic cycles, shifting markets and automation.”

“You can be sure,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery at the dinner, “they never will forget this Republican administration. In this as in so many areas, we will get the kind of vigorous leadership we need only when we get a Democratic President in 1960.”

Kennedy made no direct reference to his own possible aspirations for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Looking a bit worn when he stepped from a private plane, Kennedy greeted a crowd of 100 at the Mercer County airport. His traveling companion, Sen. Randolph, explained that the 41-year-old Kennedy had been in Boston Friday night for a dinner marking former President Harry S. Truman’s 75th birthday.

Sleeps In Washington

Kennedy got to Washington at 3 a.m., caught a few hours sleep, then set off on this, his fourth visit into West Virginia, normally a Democratic state but now with a young Republican governor in Cecil H. Underwood.

Saturday night’s dinner was a day-late part of the birthday celebration for Truman.

Kennedy strongly urged federal legislation to aid chronically depressed areas.

“The plain fact is that over half the states of the United States contain areas which have suffered substantial and persistent joblessness, regardless of the national economic picture,” he said. West Virginia is just one of many.

“Social Security and unemployment compensation have staved off complete disaster… but they do nothing whatsoever about striking at the cause of unemployment in these areas.”

Demanding Task

Kennedy pictured the nation and the Democratic Party as facing an even more demanding task today than when Roosevelt took office at the height of the depression of the 1930s.

Kennedy said, however, that today’s crises cannot be adequately met by the policies of the New Deal and the Fair Deal, “however much we may enjoy their imitation by their onetime detractors.”

“We can no longer invoke the solutions of the past… for now the age of consolidation is over and once again the age of change and challenge has come upon us.”

Kennedy said that there are problems in other states comparable to West Virginia’s as one-industry mill towns have failed to recover fully from decline in that industry and migration of plants to the South.

“It is no answer to say that these unemployed workers and their families should move to other areas.”

Tremendous Investment

Kennedy said these communities represent a tremendous investment in schools, churches, public buildings and utilities, and should not be abandoned “no matter what economic theories suggest” without a great effort to save them.

He extended his remarks to include the coal industry by saying it would be “the height of folly for this nation to permit its coal mines to be abandoned.”

Future world needs, he said, “will place greater demands on all our sources of fuel and energy than any previously experienced or even predicted.”

Kennedy observed that coal has “hidden properties” not yet fully explored. He endorsed a federally directed industrial research program for coal.

“This is no time to call it quits,” he said, “when the future is so bright.”

Randolph Predicts Win

Sen. Randolph introduced Sen. Kennedy at the Welch dinner. He told the overflow crowd that he expected Nelson Rockefeller to be nominated by the Republicans, and he predicted victory for Kennedy in the race for the presidency.

Randolph said, “If Kennedy is chosen no man or woman will ever have to apologize for his service to mankind.”

Bernard Woodyard, McDowell County clerk and general chairman for the dinner, acted as toastmaster. Guests from the state were introduced by Sydney L. Christie, Democratic chairman.

Hulett Smith, state Democratic head and Harry Pauley, McDowell party leader spoke briefly.


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