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Welch Daily News
May 11, 1959

Capacity Crowd Out To Hear Sen. Kennedy

Makes Sharp Attack On GOP

By Angelene Battlo

McDowell County Democrats celebrated the 75th birthday of former President Harry S. Truman Saturday night by listening to a prospective presidential nominee attack the opposition party on a series of matters which include the issue beyond Berlin, depressed areas legislation and lack of strong leadership.

U. S. Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) aired his views while addressing a capacity dinner crowd of more than 600 party faithfuls in the Welch Elementary School.

Charging that we are given glib phrases instead of leadership - popular slogans instead of a program, the tall, lean New Englander said that the United States will get the kind of vigorous leadership we need only when we get a Democratic president in 1960.

Not Active Candidate

At a press conference earlier in the day, Kennedy told newsmen that he is not an active candidate for the presidential nomination in 1960. But the prepared remarks he later delivered bore all the earmarks of a candidate campaigning for office.

Asserting that the Berlin crisis poses "one of the gravest threats to our security and to world peace since the shooting stopped in Korea," the Massachusetts lawmaker stated that "regardless of party we are agreed that we must not compromise our principles or our friends in that strategic area." But at the same time he added, "we look beyond Berlin, for solution of that crisis will only bring us face to face with a dozen more crises."

The Senator called for a reversal of the deterioration of our defensive and deterrent strength that encourages the Russians in advance to the brink of war. We must reverse our declining prestige in Latin America before it becomes a source of danger within our own neighborhood. We must offer more to a hungry and anxious world than paper military alliances, which spread our strength over areas of weakness. In short, we must rededicate ourselves to meeting the real problem that lies beyond Berlin - the problem of survival."

The 41-year-old speaker told his listeners that the "hard tough question for the next decade... is whether any free society, with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives, can meet the singleminded advance of the Communist system."

Power To Destroy

Asserting that we and the Russians now have the power to destroy with one blow one-quarter of the earth's population, Senator Kennedy said that "we cannot hope to escape a prolonged and powerful competition with Soviet power... a competition which demands that we act for enlightened impulses but never act impulsively."

Discussing his party's "unfinished agenda," the presidential hopeful unleashed his attack on what he called "the hesitant, moribund outgoing Republican Administration." He said that "today the choice might be said to lie between Main Street and Madison Avenue - and the Democratic party is going right down Main Street." Today, he continued, the party is faced with an agenda which is even longer than in was in the 1930s.

"We have not yet eliminated the malignant effects of poverty, injustice and illness from the land," he told the dinner crowd. "We have not yet met the needs of some four million unemployed workers, of more than four million people driven from their farms, of the nearly seven million families... still trying to get by on less than two thousand dollars a year, of the 15 million families housed under what the Bureau of the Census classifies as substandard conditions. We have not yet ended the waste of our natural resources, reversed the decay that is blighting so many of our major cities, or, most tragic of all, found the means of stopping man's destruction of man."

Senator Kennedy told his fellow Democrats that while the agenda is similar to that of the 1930s "the role of our party, our Government and our nation in the years ahead is certain to be completely different... We are confronted with crises which the policies of the New Deal and the Fair Deal cannot adequately meet, however much we may enjoy their imitation by their one-time detractors." he continued.


The senator listed the problem in areas of chronic unemployment as the best illustration of "the lack of constructive action in Washington today."

"Three times," he said, "the area redevelopment bill has passed the Senate - three times the Republicans have held it up. Three times our depressed areas and our unemployed workers though action was coming and three times the Republicans - by inaction, reaction, or veto, turned them down cold."

In a lengthy discussion of the chronic unemployment problem, the Massachusetts Senator asserted that solution to the problem can be found.

"Each community and state must bear the major responsibility," he said. "But Congress has a responsibility also. And Congress can assist the local communities in the creation of new jobs, new facilities, new capital and new industries."

Senator Kennedy was introduced by Senator Jennings Randolph (D-W.Va.) who predicted that if the Senator becomes a presidential candidate he "can defeat either Rockefeller or Nixon."

County Clerk Bernard Woodyard general chairman of the dinner which was sponsored by the McDowell Democratic Executive Committee, presided as toastmaster. Guests, which included national and state party leaders, were introduced by Sidney L. Christie, secretary of the committee.

The program also featured brief remarks by West Virginia House Speaker Harry Pauley of Iaeger and Hulett Smith, chairman of the state Democratic Executive committee; invocation by the Rev. William Albright of Welch; group singing; awarding of door prizes and benediction by Rabbi Stanley Chyet.

Gifts for Kennedy included a mine safety lamp and miner's hard-top hat.

The Saturday night dinner meeting had been a sell out for several days, accounting for one of the largest crowds ever gathered here for a similar affair. Kennedy's speech climaxed a busy day for the prominent Massachusetts lawmaker whose youthful looks and heavy, crisp brown hair give the appearance of a teen-age favorite.

The senator's chartered plane landed shortly after 12:30 o'clock at Mercer County Airport, near Bluefield. He was immediately rushed to Bluefield for a private luncheon and a later public reception at the West Virginia Hotel. Democratic leaders from this area then picked him up for a motorcade trip to Welch.

Arriving here shortly before 2 o'clock he was taken to the courthouse lawn where he was greeted by a large crowd, the Welch High School band and numerous "Welcome Senator Kennedy" signs. Although he appeared a bit worn, Senator Kennedy was completely relaxed as he mounted a makeshift platform to address the crowd briefly. He was officially welcomed to the City of Welch by May B. F. Howard who later presented him with a memento of his visit here ... a miniature elephant.

Leaving the platform, Kennedy walked through the crowd shaking hands with well-wishers. Later he held a press conference in the county clerk's office and subsequently he was taken to Gary to tour the U. S. Steel Corp. cleaning plant.

A private reception, hosted by Samuel Solina, ended the senator's visit here.

From Bluefield he flew to Charleston where he spent the night, returning to Washington on Sunday.

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