Kennedy In City Tuesday
April 17, 1960
Kennedy In City Tuesday
Sen. John F. Kennedy this week breezes into the Ohio Valley for his third visit here within a year but the circumstances are crucial at this time.
On his two previous stopovers, Kennedy was merely a "possible candidate" for president.
Kennedy is facing the most decisive test of his political career. His ultra-important West Virginia primary test on May 10 will be looming just three weeks away.
He is at a potential "turning point" in his campaign for president.
For in the West Virginia primary, the answer will be provided to a big question: "Can Kennedy, a Catholic, win in a state where Catholics comprise only 5 per cent of the population?"
This question has been debated across the nation since Kennedy outdistanced Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey in the Wisconsin primary. Wisconsin is 30 per cent Catholic.
Kennedy is due to land at the Wheeling-Ohio County airport late Monday night, the time depending upon when he can get away from a reception in Morgantown.
He and his wife will spend the night at the McLure Hotel. Kennedy will leave the McLure about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday bound for Bethany.
During Tuesday's visit Kennedy will be whisked through Bethany and West Liberty Colleges, be confronted by the mobilized forces of the various news media, visit industrial plants, and grasp as many outstretched hands as possible.
A public reception for the senator and his wife will be held at the McLure Hotel starting at 7:30 p.m.
In Wheeling, Kennedy will find one of the largest - if not the largest - Catholic populations in the state. It is estimated that 25 per cent of Ohio County's population is Catholic, five times as great as the statewide average.
Kennedy last visited this area on Oct. 11 when the hottest topic of the day was the steel strike. At that time he blasted the Eisenhower administration's handling of the strike and urged the re-writing of the Taft-Hartley Act in order to prevent a repetition.
Prior to that stop here, Kennedy was in Bellaire and Wheeling on June 28, 1959. The steel contract negotiations also rated top attention at that time. Kennedy told a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner audience in Bellaire that President Eisenhower should have used the influence of his office "a long time ago" in an effort to break the deadlock in the negotiations. He said the President's office should have taken more interest in the contract talks.
This Tuesday, the most important questions won't be about a steel strike.
He'll be asked whether a defeat in West Virginia will pose a serious threat to his chance of receiving the Democratic nomination for president.
Kennedy will be asked - once again - about the religious issue, about the charges made by some of Kennedy's supporters that the forces of other presidential hopefuls are "ganging up" in an attempt to stop him in West Virginia.
Political observers point out that if Kennedy defeats Humphrey in their May 10 primary battle in West Virginia he will have just about clinched the nomination.
But a defeat will sidetrack the Kennedy "bandwagon," at least temporarily and possibly permanently.
Humphrey is scheduled to return to West Virginia on April 25.
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