Byrd Aids Stop-Kennedy Drive
April 12, 1960
Byrd Aids Stop-Kennedy Drive
WASHINGTON - Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D- W.Va.) said Monday he is backing Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota in West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary in an effort to slow down the drive of Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts for the nomination.
He told interviewers that a Kennedy victory in West Virginia May 10 "would lend tremendous impetus to his chances" and "could determine the course of events in the national convention."
His interest in defeating Kennedy, Byrd said, is his support of Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Texas) - who is not entered in West Virginia - for the presidential nomination.
"Lyndon Johnson is my first choice for the presidency," Byrd said. "Stuart Symington (D-Mo.) is my second choice. And Sen. Humphrey is my choice for vice president."
Byrd talked with reporters before leaving Monday after noon for his home in southern West Virginia.
Byrd said he believed the West Virginia primary - in which only Humphrey and Kennedy are entered - "could go either way."
"It's a tossup," he added. "I think Humphrey can win."
Byrd said he knows of no "stop Kennedy" coalition in West Virginia but that he is advising supporters of Johnson, Symington, Adlai E. Stevenson or other possible contenders that this may be their last chance to keep them in the running.
"I have no objection to Kennedy," the senator said. "I just happen to favor Johnson.
"I think Kennedy has made a fine senator. I feel he lacks the experience needed for the presidency. I think he would be far more acceptable and qualified for the vice presidency."
Byrd said there is absolutely no connection between his opposition to Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, and his own membership in the Ku Klux Klan a number of years ago.
He said that he was a member of the Klan briefly when he was in his early twenties and that issue was injected into his campaign eight years ago.
"It was washed out, wrung out and hung upon the line then," he said.
Religious Issue Refuted in Talk
By Harry G. Hoffmann
Religious Issue Refuted in Talk
By Harry G. Hoffmann
U. S. Sen. John F. Kennedy made his first campaign swing through West Virginia Monday amid growing indications that his opponents were gathering en masse to stop him here.
The Massachusetts Democrat, showing signs that he places growing importance on his primary contest in this state with Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, spoke in Parkersburg, Charleston, Huntington and Beckley in his all-day tour.
There were signs also that his opponents were settling on West Virginia as the place where Kennedy had to be stopped if they hoped to keep him from winning the Democratic nomination for President at the Los Angeles convention in July.
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), a supporter of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas, took a lead in attempting to solidify the opposition when he urged that supporters of Johnson, Stuart Symington and Adlai Stevenson vote for Humphrey as a means of defeating Kennedy.
Kennedy, asked about this movement, pointed out that neither Johnson nor Symington had seen fit to enter the West Virginia popularity test. He added:
"Sen. Humphrey and I took the risk of defeat by entering... it seems to be that I'm entitled to run against one opponent."
Humphrey showed a touch of bitterness in denying any knowledge of a gang-up on Kennedy. He told newsmen accompanying him on his campaign through southern counties:
"Poor little Jack. That's a shame. And you can quote me on that. I wish he would grow up and stop acting like a boy... what does he want, all the votes?"
Despite the concentration of opposition, however, Kennedy drew crowds and appeared more popular than ever on his state tour.
In the course of his visit, Kennedy stressed the need for a "New Deal" for West Virginia through area redevelopment, defense contracts in labor surplus areas, federal loans to build new plants for new industries, grants to rebuild decaying towns, a fair share of federal highway funds, and federal aid for school construction and teachers' salaries as a matter of "national survival."
Going first to Parkersburg where he attracted a crowd estimated at 300 in an early morning street visit, Kennedy came to Charleston at 10 a. m. and went directly to Morris Harvey College where he addressed a crowd of students and adults that overflowed the large college auditorium.
Kennedy was well received and was given enthusiastic applause when he met head-on a religious question posed by Walton Shepherd, a Charleston attorney.
Kennedy said he would not be running for President if he felt there was some reason he could not fulfill his oath of office.
He pointed out that he has taken the same oath on the five times he has been elected to Congress, and also when he enlisted in the U. S. Navy early in World War II.
"There is nothing in my religious faith that prevents me from executing my oath of office. If I thought there was I wouldn't take it. If I thought there was I shouldn't be a candidate for President. If I though there was I shouldn't be a senator. I shouldn't have been a congressman and, to be frank, I shouldn't have been taken into the service of the United States."
Students and adults applauded him lustily,.
But even at the college, Kennedy's Catholicism did not escape entirely as a campaign issue.
Just before he arrived at the auditorium a slightly built, blond girl student left the building.
"Where are you going?" asked a passing male student.
"Anywhere but in there," she replied.
"Well," said the girl, who appeared to be under voting age. "I'm a Democrat but not a Catholic; does that answer your question?"
Following his talk in the college auditorium, Kennedy was held over about 15 minutes to shake hands with students and adults voicing approval of his appearance.
Going from there to the state capitol, Kennedy held a brief news conference in which he stressed the importance of the primary in indicating public preference of presidential nominees and emphasized the need for economic development in West Virginia.
After a visit to the Kanawha County Courthouse, Kennedy went on a handshaking tour on Capitol St. and drew a crowd of several hundred persons in front of the federal building.
He spoke there without aid of a microphone, touching briefly on extended social security to provide hospital and medical care for the aged.
Again he was asked about his religion as a barrier to the presidency, and again his explanation brought warm applause from the crowd.
In the crowd around him were the curious as well as admirers and perhaps opponents.
"I don't know," said one man, "he looks awfully young to be running for President; he looks younger than his 42 years."
"Well, I've read quite a bit about him," said a companion, "and I think there's more in what a man knows and how he's matured than in just how old he is."
At one point during Kennedy's Capitol St. talk a man yelled rather loudly and gruffly. His voice had the ring of a heckler.
But inquiry brought to light that what he said in his sharp, almost angry voice was this:
"Take you're [sic] hat off up there. I want to see."
Kennedy's swing through the state was the first of his campaign here. It gave the crowds a chance to compare him with Humphrey, who got a head start last week.
Speeches by Kennedy through the day were short and conversational, in contrast with the more high-powered oratory of Humphrey.
Kennedy didn't carry the person-to-person campaign technique as far as Humphrey has in his West Virginia appearances. Like Humphrey, Kennedy shook hands with passers-by on the streets. But, unlike Humphrey, he did not often tarry to chat with them or personally pin campaign buttons on their lapels.
In Huntington, Kennedy stood on the hood of a car to address a crowd of Marshall College students at a street intersection. They had been awaiting his arrival from Charleston, which was behind schedule, and surrounded the car when he pulled up at the college.
To the students and in similar talks earlier in the day, he explained why he entered the West Virginia primary and what he thinks is its significance.
He disagreed with those who think, as former President Harry Truman does, that the presidential preference primaries are "eyewash." Kennedy said he thought the choice of a presidential nominee should be made on the basis of primaries and the national convention in combination.
That way, said Kennedy, the choice won't be decided "in some smoke-filled room in downtown Los Angeles by a few, political leaders from a few large states."
On the way to Huntington, Kennedy and his party stopped at Ona, a tiny rural community. There Kennedy and an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Albert G. Sanders, held a conversation on the Sanders' front lawn. It was filmed for movies which will be used on television in the Kennedy campaign.
At Beckley, Kennedy largely ignored his prepared text in a short but vigorous speech before a crowd which local officials estimated at 500 or more persons in the Raleigh County Courthouse.
The criminal courtroom, which seats about 280, had all seats filled and scores of standees in the aisles. An overflow crowd almost as large heard the speech on loudspeakers in the circuit courroom across the hall.
As he had in speeches earlier in the day, Kennedy devoted part of his talk to saying that the West Virginia primary should be considered a two-man race between him and his only opponent here, Sen. Humphrey.
As to other presidential prospects whose supporters have been reported getting behind Humphrey in a "Stop Kennedy" Movement, Kennedy asked:
"Why didn't they come here themselves and do it?"
Kennedy's speech at Beckley came near the end of his first day of active campaigning in the state.
"Why should there be hungry people in this state," he asked "while $9 billion worth of surplus is rotting in warehouses?"
"Why should miners be out of work, and mines and mills be idle at a time when this nation needs all of its powers and energies to match the growing menace of the Soviet Union?"
Sanders, a 65-year-old retired gas company employe, said in the filmed interview, "I'm looking for some way to help the old people in the hospitals. I was in the hospital 17 days and it cost me $650."
Kennedy told Mr. and Mrs. Sanders of his Senate sponsorship of the Senate companion measure to the Forand bill, which would provide hospital coverage for persons receiving social security.
About 200 cheering youngsters at Ona school gathered to see Kennedy. They stood in the school yard atop a high bank. Kennedy was below on U. S. 60 and there was no way to get up to them without going a long way around on a side road.
So Kennedy climbed up on a State Road Commission bulldozer and shouting to make himself heard above the highway traffic, talked briefly to the children.
At a reception in the Hotel Prichard in Huntington, Kennedy returned to the subject of a "stop Kennedy" coalition.
"What is the sense in supporting Sen. Humphrey, if you're not for him, just to beat me?" he asked.
There, as at other stops, he urged his listeners to consider the West Virginia primary a two-man race and to vote strictly on the basis of a choice between him and Humphrey.
BLUEFIELD - Sen. Hubert Humphrey said Monday he would consider appointing a Negro to his Cabinet if he were elected President.
Campaigning in southern West Virginia before a May 10 primary which pits him against Sen. John Kennedy (D-Mass.), the Minnesota Democrat commented on a published report in Newsweek Magazine.
The magazine had referred to a "little publicized appearance (by Humphrey) last week before the Capital Press Club, a Negro organization in Washington."
"I was asked a question along that line," Humphrey said on his campaign bus Monday. "As I remember it, the question said would I consider appointing a Negro to a high post in my administration."
"I would appoint persons to all posts on the basis of their qualifications and ability, without regard to race, color or creed."
Specifically, would he consider naming a Negro to his Cabinet?
"If he were qualified, yes sir. There are men like Ralph Bunche who have proven to be great leaders. There are many others, some great Negro educators, for instance."
Humphrey stated he would not go out of his way to pick a man out of a minority group just because he was a member of that group. He called such actions "not fair to the man or the group."
The presidential aspirant said he considered one of the failures of American foreign policy has been its reluctance to utilize the great diversity of racial, national and ethnic groups among the U. S. citizenship.
"At one time," Humphrey said, "we had on our staff in Washington a Chinese-American, a Chippewa Indian, two Negroes, two Jews, three Catholics and several Protestants."
He said he always considered "what they have between their ears."
Asked if he thought such a stand was, in effect, to abandon the South in event of his nomination, Humphrey replied "not at all"
He said he always had been outspoken on such matters as civil rights and Southerners knew how he stood.
"I find I have popular support in any area that needs help. When I go into the South, not to punish them, but with their growth and economic development in mind, I feel they'll listen," he stated.
SAN FRANCISCO - (AP) - Vice President Richard M. Nixon said Monday a victory in the West Virginia primary will assure Sen. John Kennedy of the Democratic nomination for President.
Nixon said if Kennedy proves in the West Virginia election he is the best vote getter for the Democrats - after the Wisconsin primary where the religious issue was raised - "then he should make it."
Nixon, arriving for a combination political and pleasure trip, said a defeat in the West Virginia primary would not "put Kennedy out of the race, but a victory there should close it out for him."
Nixon made it clear he is going to run on the record of the Eisenhower Administration.
"Our record is the most formidable any candidate has even run on," Nixon said.
A newsman asked Nixon his opinion regarding reports of a Democratic move in West Virginia to switch support to Sen. Humphrey (D-Minn).
Nixon said he had heard that Sen. Byrd of West Virginia, a supporter of Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Tex) had suggested a move to back Humphrey, rather than Kennedy.
"If people get the idea that candidates are ganging up against one single candidate," Nixon said, "they might very well support that man."
He said he was not disturbed by the "stop Nixon" move in New York and thought it might "add spice" to the campaign.
He said it was difficult to say if competition will develop for the Republican nomination. He added he had been told that Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz) had been endorsed in South Carolina.
Regarding the place of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York in the campaign, the vice president said he felt Rockefeller would stay by his work and support the man who wins the Republican nomination.
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