Roosevelt Here For Kennedy
April 14, 1960
Roosevelt Here For Kennedy
Randolph County Demorratis [sic] leaders enthusiastically welcomed Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr., son of the late President of the United States, when he visited Elkins Tuesday in behalf of the campaign of Sen. John F. Kennedy, Democratic hopeful for the Presidential nomination.
Roosevelt, who earlier had planned to come to Elkins had a last minute switch of plans and informed Democratic leaders that he would not be in Elkins at this time but coming in his place would be Bob Kennedy. However, those meeting Kennedy at the airport were delivhted [sic] when Roosevelt stepped from the plane being able to make the visit after a change of plans.
Roosevelt, who arrived in a private plane from Charleston was accompanied by John Bailey, chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee of Connecticht [sic].
A caravan, headed by Roosevelt, made its way to the Tygart Hotel where Roosevelt greeted many Democratic leaders, voters and other interested persons.
Robert (Bob) Hedrick, chairman of the Kennedy Committee here, and also a candidate for delegate at large to the national convention, accompanied Roosevelt and his party to Webster Springs for the torch-light parade held there on Tuesday night.
Among those greeting the son of the former President of the United States was Former Gov. H. G. Kump. Many memories were recalled during this brief visit as Gov. Kump told the former Congressman from [Editor’s note: line of text out of order was corrected] New York State that his father, the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had visited in the Kump home here in 1936, when the late President Roosevelt made a visit here for the Mountain State Forest Festival.
During his visit here with Democratic leaders, young Roosevelt said that “should Sen. John Kennedy win the West Virginia primary, he’s sure to get the presidential nomination.” He added by saying that “Kennedy is being ganged-up on in this state—he’s running against the combined forces of Senators Humphrey, John, Symington and Adlai Stevenson.”
During the course of his conversation with Democrats from the Elkins area Roosevelt referred to Sen. Robert Byrd, who he said, “is reporting that he is supporting Johnson but instead is moving around the state introducing Humphrey, and getting his supporters to line-up with the Humphrey forces.”
Much speculation as to the stand Sen. Byrd is taking is hovering in Democratic circles and many are wondering if Sen. Byrd is fighting the Kennedy forces due to some past affiliation.
Since all eyes of the nation are on West Virginia awaiting the outcome of the primary here where it is believed that religion will pay an important role in the choosing of a presidential hopeful, Roosevelt said:
“I think that the religious issue has no part in our American life, or politics, but unfortunately there will be some people who will bring it up. The constitution guarantees every citizen the right to worship as he sees fit. No one asked Kennedy whether he was Protestant, Catholic or Jew when he entered the U. S. Navy. He has since taken the oath of office three times in the House and twice as Senator.
“You know many of our early Americans came to this country to flee religious persecution in Europe. It would be a terrible thing for a Catholic child no[t] to be able to share every boyhood dream, that he, too, might be President of the United States some day.”
Much comment has been made since Kennedy came into the race regarding his Catholic religion. West Virginia is known nation-wide for being a highly Protestant state.
The State of West Virginia was recently brought into the limelight with the facts regarding the state’s backwardness discussed by Rodel Tunley in his article in The Saturday Evening post. Now the eyes of the nation are awaiting the outcome of the May 10 primary election as to whether this Protestant state will support a Catholic in the presidential nomination.
Whether West Virginia remains a backward state in the eyes of many or surges ahead to better things may depend largely on the outcome. Will the state let its religious beliefs change its opinion of Sen. Kennedy or will it believe that religion is a point which should not be considered in this very important factor? Roosevelt pointed out while in Elkins that the oath of office for the presidency is no different than that for Senator, Congressman of any other office and the man and not the religion was the point to be considered.
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