Newspaper Articles

Beckley Post Herald
April 19, 1960

Kennedy Shifts Tactics, Discusses Religion Issue

By Herb Little

John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) began bringing up religion on his own in his West Virginia presidential campaign speeches Monday instead of waiting for others to ask about it.

The change in tactics Kennedy told newsmen on his campaign bus stemmed from his recognition that his Roman Catholicism is "quite obviously hanging in everybody's mind." He added:

"I just thought that rather than wait I'd bring it out into the open."

In appearances earlier in the day in Clarksburg and Fairmont Kennedy did not wait - as he usually had previously- for someone in the audience to ask the inevitable questions: Would the duties of the presidency conflict with his obligations as a Catholic? Instead he took the initiative and talked about it in his speeches.

He said what he has said repeatedly before:

That he firmly believes in the Constitution, which decrees separation of church and state and forbids religious tests for public office.

That his religion would not interfere with fulfilling the oath of the President anymore than it interfered with living up to his oath as a Navy officer a member of the House of Representative and now a member of the U.S. Senate.

"Is anyone going to tell me I lost this primary 42 years ago on the day I was born?" Kennedy asked at Fairmont. An estimated 2,500 persons heard him make an outdoor speech in front of the theatre in the business district there.

Kennedy is entered in the May 10 West Virginia primary in a Democratic presidential preference against Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn).

The voting in West Virginia where only 5 per cent of the population is Catholic is expected to furnish a sterner test of the effect of religion than did the primary in Wisconsin which is 30 per cent Catholic. Kennedy beat Humphrey there by more than 100,000 votes.

Kennedy hammered again Monday night on the theme that candidates for Presidential should give the people a chance to vote on them in primary elections.

Kennedy spoke at a reception in the ballroom of the Hotel Morgan which drew what was possibly the biggest indoor crowd so far in the his West Virginia campaign. Local official estimated that between 1, 000 and 1,500 persons were jammed into the ballroom.

"The American people before they give their endorsement to any candidate had a right to expect that he will come before them and tell them what he stands for," said Kennedy.

He added that the Democratic nominee for President "should not be chosen in some smoked-filled room by six, seven or eight political leaders at the Los Angeles convention."

Kennedy was joined on his campaign tour Monday night by his attractive wife, Jacqueline, who sat with him on the stage in the ballroom. Kennedy was introduced by the Morgantown Mayor Marlin Lugar.

Humphrey will not return to the state to resume campaigning until next week, but Mrs. Humphrey appeared in a rally at Clarksburg Monday night.

Kennedy Reveals Area Tour Plans

Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) Democratic contender for the presidential nomination will fly from Wheeling to Beckley late tonight. His wife will accompany him. It will be his second campaign trip to the Beckley area.

Kennedy's schedule calls for his departure Wheeling for Beckley at 10:30 p.m. He will spend the night at the Beckley Hotel.

His Wednesday schedule:

8:15 a.m. Beckley Manufacturing Co. visit; 8:45 a.m. Mount Hope street tour; 9:15 a.m. press conference at WOAY-TV, Oak Hill; 10:50 a.m. courthouse at Fayetteville; 11:45 a.m. Gauley Bridge High School meeting; 12:15 p.m. Montgomery High School meeting.

Later Wednesday afternoon he will tour the Kanawha Valley and then hold a reception at 8 p.m. in the Hotel Pritchard at Huntington.

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