‘Candidate’ Kennedy Sees: Leadership Major Issue in ’60 Race
By Thomas F. Stafford
October 11, 1959
‘Candidate’ Kennedy Sees: Leadership Major Issue in ’60 Race
By Thomas F. Stafford
The all-encompassing issue in the 1960 presidential campaign, in the opinion of U. S. Sen. John F. Kennedy, is whether the Eisenhower administration has provided the leadership to solve the critical problems of the day.
This leadership, or lack of leadership, he said, covers a variety of subjects, including education, depressed areas, agriculture, military progress, space science, and other things that “have been kept in the status-quo.”
The sandy-haired Massachusetts Senator, himself an unavowed but obvious campaigner for the presidency, was accompanied by his pretty wife when he held a brief press conference at the Daniel Boone Hotel Saturday prior to a speaking engagement at the Civic Center.
Asserting, with his customary frankness that the Democrats have no built-in assurances that they can win the White House in 1960, Kennedy said it will be their job to convince the voters that they will provide the leadership that has been lacking in the Eisenhower administration.
He recalled that the Democrats have been the losers nationally since 1952, and while “they have an excellent opportunity” they haven’t won the White House yet. He pointed out that his party hasn’t had a majority in a national election since 1944, and no plurality since 1948.
Another major issue – if not the major issue – he said, would be foreign policy.
He again refused to say what his plans are for next year, reiterating what he had said earlier in the week in a New England public appearance. “I’ll make my decision early in 1960,” he said.
In answer to questions, he noted, however, that members of his staff have made contacts with West Virginians with respect to his running for President. He mentioned specifically that they conferred with Charles Love, Charleston attorney, and Robert McDonough, Parkersburg businessman.
The 42-year-old Kennedy, who flew to Charleston in his chartered Convair, is on a swing that brought him from New England for two appearances in West Virginia Saturday. He has two more speeches planned today in New York State and Connecticut.
He told newsmen that President Eisenhower’s recent effort to bring about better U. S. – Russian relations through personal diplomacy “was helpful.” On the same theme, he believes the President’s trip to Russia next spring is a good thing.
As for the delay in the trip, from this fall to next spring, being a political move, Kennedy refused to brand it such. This charge has been made by some of Mr. Eisenhower’s critics.
It could be helpful politically to the Republican Party, Kennedy remarked, but there is absolutely no evidence that the delay was made for that purpose.
He was obliquely critical of the Eisenhower administration for its failure to keep up in outer space research. Certainly it will be a major issue in the 1960 presidential campaign, he said.
When the most backward nation in Europe can pull ahead of the most forward in the world, and today hold a three-year lead in outer space research, it’s time to ask questions, he said.
By Harry G. Hoffmann
By Harry G. Hoffmann
U. S. Sen. John F. Kennedy, accusing President Eisenhower of playing along with the steel companies to break the steel strike, proposed here Saturday congressional action to block “one-sided” intervention in the future.
Kennedy made his views clear on the top current domestic issue during a day-long visit to West Virginia that wound up last night when he addressed more than 1,200 Democrats at a $10-a-plate fund-raising dinner at the Charleston Civic Center.
The youthful-looking Massachusetts Democrat, front runner for the 1960 presidential nomination, termed President Eisenhower’s action in the steel strike as “the most one-sided, unfortunate, unfair action in this administration’s history.”
Administration interventions since the strike began, he said, have encouraged the companies to refuse to bargain.
Futhermore, he added, the companies knew that when the strike began to pinch, the Administration would break the strike through the means of the national injunction, and this “directly contributed to the failure of the companies to bargain constructively.”
“The course that this strike has taken and the Administration’s handling of it,” he said, “indicates the necessity of the Congress rewriting the national emergency section of the Taft-Hartley law in order to prevent a repetition.”
He added that as chairman of the Senate sub-committee on labor he will call hearings at the earliest possible date to bring this about.
Kennedy flew into the state from Pittsburgh Saturday morning and spoke first before a luncheon meeting of more than 400 Democrats at Wellsburg, where he was given an enthusiastic reception that included a convention-type demonstration of parading through the dining hall with “Kennedy for President” placards.
From the Wheeling-Ohio County airport he flew into Charleston to address one of the biggest political dinners in the city’s history, sponsored by the Kanawha County Young Democrats.
In addition to speaking out on President Eisenhower’s action in invoking the Taft-Hartley injuction in the steel strike, Kennedy touched on a variety of other subjects..
He was sharply critical of the President for his veto of the coal research bill, and declared that “coal could well hold the key to the future of our nation.”
He defended his action on the labor reform bill passed by the recent Congress, asserting that the Senate conferees achieved 13 significant changes in the House-approved Landrum-Griffin bill to “permit labor to bargain collectively and to organize the unorganized.”
He said it is the responsibility of all persons in public to do what is right for the public interest, adding that such forthright action will be best in the long run for all groups, including labor, even though they may be unhappy with the immediate action.
Touching on the 1960 campaign, he said the Democrats cannot rely on catchy slogans, such as the GOP’s Peace, Progress and Prosperity of 1956, but must have a “hard, realistic program that will make clear to the world that the U. S. will not be second to any nation.”
This last point, Kennedy said, is particularly important because it may well be the determining factor in whether the in-between nations, particularly in Asia and Africa, will swing to the western democracies or communism.
He pointed out that in the last few years Russia has moved from a backward nation to the world leader in military strength and space science. Futhermore, he asserted, at the present rate of increase the Soviet Union could catch up with us in domestic production in a relatively few years.
If that is permitted to happen and if we permit Russia to continue its leadership in military strength and science, he said doubtful nations naturally would align with communism rather than democracy.
But Kennedy aimed his biggest guns of his West Virginia visit at the Eisenhower administration’s handling of the steel strike and the Taft-Hartley law.
When it was apparent that negotiations were at a stand-still, he said the President refused to exercise his inherent powers and establish a real fact-finding board, not a one-man investigation by Secretary Mitchell.
“Only in this way,” he asserted, “could public opinion, with all of the pressure it could potentially bring to bear, be informed about steel wages, profits, prices and productivity.
He said the President further played along with the companies by calling upon the steelworkers to avoid a strike by staying on the job under the existing terms, by failing to bring the mediation and conciliation service into the picture while it still could be effective, and by failing to appoint a fact-finding board just because the companies refused to join with the union in requesting it.
As things turned out, he said, the steel companies had six months of record profits, three months during the strike to dispose of their stockpiles, and now – under the Taft-Hartley injunction – will have another three months to rebuild their stocks. At the end of that time, he added, the workers will still be at a disadvantage.
In order to achieve a “fairer, more workable and more effective provision” in the national emergency section of Taft-Hartley, Kennedy said the law requires two stages of remedy.
First, he said, it should place the initial responsibility on the employers and the unions in specified critical industries to establish their own procedures for settlement whenever they are not able to agree by collective bargaining.
Secondly, he asserted, “in the event both sides fail to set a satisfactory non-government procedure, then the best procedure is to give the President not merely the power of enjoining the union, but the freest choice of all possible measures to be selected and combined according to the need of the particular situation.
“These measures should include mediation, fact-finding, seizure, compulsory arbitration, injunctions with or without retroactive clauses and the right not to interfere at all.
“Not only would such a statute be more effective because of its flexibility, it also would introduce enough uncertainty of executive action so as to force the parties to get together without having the President act at all. Neither party could then count on a particular kind of government intervention on their side at a particular time – as the steel industry was in this case.”
Turning to coal and the President’s veto of the coal research bill, Kennedy told his Civic Center audience:
“Perhaps more than any other mineral, coal possesses hidden properties which have not been fully explored or exploited… But these new and important properties will not be released by merely sitting back and doing nothing.”
Intensive research and development of America’s coal resources must be undertaken, he said, if the needs of the country’s growing population are to be met.
“But our hopes – your hopes, the hopes of the industry, the miners and the unemployed – were dashed by the President,” Kennedy charged, “when he vetoed the (coal research) bill. He vetoed this promising measure just as he vetoed or threatened to veto much other legislation aimed at meeting some of today’s most critical national problems.”
Kennedy’s remarks, touching a sensitive issue in this largest of coal-producing states, were received enthusiastically by the Democrats who came from every county to the affair, regarded generally as the kickoff for the 1960 election campaign.
The entire congressional delegation, as well as key Democrats in state, county and local government, were on hand. And about three of them, Kennedy had something special to say.
“I serve in the Senate with one of the best Democratic teams any state ever has sent to that body,” he said. “Jennings Randolph and Bob Byrd… You have every right to be proud of them, for they speak in the Senate not only in the best interests of West Virginia, but in the best interests of our nation as well.
“Also, in the House of Representatives you are ably represented by John Slack, who has championed the cause of humanity with his strong support of the area redevelopment legislation.”
Kennedy mentioned several national issues, but he concentrated on coal and the need for an accelerated federal coal research program.
“There has been a lot of talk about depressed areas,” he said, “and if that term is applicable anywhere it is here. Yet to talk of depressed areas, to provide the necessary federal, state and local assistance for those hard hit in West Virginia can only be a temporary solution at best.”
The real solution lies, he remarked is [sic] providing an “energetic program which solves the basic regional problems at the heart of this state’s serious economic troubles.” And in the realm of positive action he placed the coal research bill, vetoed by Mr. Eisenhower.
Coming to Charleston by plane from a luncheon engagement in the Northern Panhandle, where he was also well-received, Kennedy minced no words in attacking the Republican Party and its basic philosophy.
“The Republican Party historically has been the party of status quo,” he declared, “a party which has failed to implement the vision of a growing and vibrant America.
“Nowhere is the fatal defect of this policy more evident than here in West Virginia. We have been given glib promises instead of leadership, popular slogans instead of a program.”
Solution of the past – the programs and policies of the last generation, no longer can be depended upon, he continued. “The age of consolidation is over – and once again the age of change and challenge has come upon us.”
“We are faced with a whole new set of problems – a whole new set of dimensions. We are at the edge of this nation’s greatest age of expansion, growth and abundance… It is this challenge that constitutes the great portion of our unfinished agenda.”
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