Newspaper Articles


Charleston Gazette
April 21, 1960

Kennedy Hits Lack of Aid

Before Few Catholics

By Herb Little

HUNTINGTON - (AP) - Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) came here Wednesday night from a tour in southern West Virginia, where coal mining is the main occupation and staunch Protestantism is almost the only religion.

The all-day bus tour was Kennedy's first extensive campaign visit in an area of the state where his fellow Roman Catholics are more scarce than they are almost anywhere in the country.

It is the part of the state where Kennedy's religion causes the most doubt about his chances in the May 10 West Virginia primary election. He and Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn) are entered in the voting as candidates for the Democratic nomination for President.

The voting will not bind any convention delegates.

The Kennedy bus started out this morning from Beckley, located in a county (Raleigh) which is only 1 per cent Catholic. The party worked its way north, moving into the industrial Kanawha Valley and away from the coal mines in mid-afternoon.

Kennedy spoke here Wednesday night at a reception which concluded his three-day campaign schedule in the state for this week. He will be back in West Virginia next Monday, as will Humphrey, who was not in the state this week.

Southern West Virginia is plagued with unemployment, caused in part by mechanization of coal mines. Thousands of persons there subsist on government surplus foods.

Kennedy criticized what he saw as the Eisenhower administration's failure to provide surplus foods for the needy in this country in as great quantities and varieties as it does in the overseas food program.

He also hammered, as Humphrey has, at President Eisenhower's vetoes of area redevelopment and coal research bills, both of which Kennedy said would have helped West Virginia.

Kennedy's last stop before coming to this Ohio River city was at Charleston, the state capital. There he toured the Owens-Illinois bottle plant, where 1,300 men and women are employed.

A few miles east of Charleston he stopped to speak briefly in front of a supermarket at Cabin Creek Junction. That is where Cabin Creek flows into the Kanawha River.

Strung along the creek are numerous mining communities which are among those hardest hit by unemployment. However, Kennedy's itinerary - unlike Humphrey's the week before last - did not take him up the creek for visits to the mining towns, some of them now partly deserted.

At nearly all of the stops, Kennedy took the initiative in bringing up the religion issue, instead of waiting for questions about it. He switched to this tactic upstate Monday in recognition of how deeply involved religion is in the West Virginia campaign.

He reiterated that his religion would not hamper him in living up to the President's oath of office any more than it has kept him from fulfilling similar oaths as a Navy officer, a member of the House of Representatives and now as a senator.

He told the crowd at Cabin Creek Junction that he spent four years in the Navy in World War II and two years in hospitals afterwards, and that his brother and his sister's husband were killed in the war.

"No one can tell me that I'm not as prepared to meet my obligations under the Constitution as any man in the United States," he declared.

Among his listeners at Cabin Creek Junction was J. H. Farry, an electrical engineer. Farry said, "I'm for him 100 per cent. I hate to see any bigotry about the religious issue."

Standing with Farry was H. L. Wright, a retired assistant mine foreman.

"That goes 100 per cent for me, too," Wright said. "I'm for him and I hate to see the religious issue enter into it." Wright is a Methodist.

When Kennedy spoke at Cedar Grove, he was introduced by a Methodist minister, Rev. Frank Brisendine.

The vote-getting value of Kennedy's earlier stops during the day was questionable because most of his listeners were too young to vote.


Likes Jack, Hates John

Anti-Papal Propagandist Vows Support to Kennedy

By Glade Little
Staff Writer

The candidate is a Catholic who says his religion wouldn’t interfere with the proper performance of his duties as President.

The follower is an atheist whose anti-Catholic feelings won’t keep him from voting for Kennedy if the Massachusetts senator wins the Democratic nomination.

Kenneth F. Klinkert picked up the John Kennedy campaign in Wisconsin and began following it around, handling out anti-Catholic literature as he went. And in the process, he became convinced that Kennedy is his man.

His feelings about Catholicism haven’t changed. He has a long-standing personal grudge against the church, in addition to some antagonisms on philosophical ground. But his tour is anti-Catholic, not anti-Kennedy.

“I hope he realizes by now that I don’t have anything personal against him,” Klinkert said of Sen. Kennedy. “I don’t think he’s a good, devout Catholic from the church’s point of view; there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a good citizen.”

Klinkert said he lost his job at Armstrong Junior College in Savannah, Ga., because of Catholic church pressure some years ago.

“We had freedom of discussion in a sociology class. So I invited a priest to class, along with a Protestant minister and a rabbi to discuss religion.

“The priest said he couldn’t accept because his bishop told him that this would be recognizing other religions as equals. So then he came on a separate night. When he was explaining the organization of the church, the students would keep popping up, saying, ‘that doesn’t sound too democratic’. . .

“He got a little angry, and later the president of the college told me that the Catholic community was exerting pressure, and he thought it would be best if they didn’t rehire me.”

Klinkert added, on questioning, that when he and the priest had taken coffee together after the class session, he had disclosed his views on religion to the priest, “and that made him a little angry.”

The Menomonee Falls, Wis., resident said he went to a Kennedy rally in a Milwaukee suburb and had followed him or his supporters ever since. He handed out anti-Catholic literature in front of Kennedy headquarters in Parkersburg Wednesday, and planned to attend a Kennedy speech in Huntington Wednesday night. He said he though he’d go back to Wisconsin for a while after that.

Just before Kennedy spoke at a reception in Wheeling Klinkert said, he stepped out for a moment, saw his atheist follower handing out literature on the street, smiled and asked, “How’s the distribution going?”

Klinkert, who holds a master’s degree in psychiatric social work, said his tour has been from his own and his family’s funds. He claimed no other support, except some pamphlets supplied free by Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

He feels the heckling Sen. Kennedy has received from some listeners—he denied that he’d ever done any of it—has had a beneficial effect.

“He’s clarified his position on a number of things because o people heckling him—on separation of church and state, no ambassador to the Vatican, and so forth. By raising this issue and discussing it, I think we might see Kennedy leading American Catholicism to become more liberal.”


Kennedy Is Mining Votes With His Change in Tactics

Switches From Soft Sell

By David Barnett
North American Newspaper Alliance

WASHINGTON - Sen. John Kennedy (D-Mass) is mining votes by his switch to a hard-hitting presidential primary campaign in West Virginia, fast follow-up studies reaching his supporters here indicate.

The change from the polite soft well of the Wisconsin primary, where he rarely mentioned his opponent, Sen. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota is deliberate, his proponents concede and is paying off.

The attack may become even rougher before the ballots are cast in the Mountain State on May 10. Kennedy, for example, has accepted a challenge to debate Humphrey face-to-face on TV.

Before the senator began his swing around the heavily Protestant state, he told a reporter the staff work had been completed for an all-out attack on the record of Senator Humphrey. This included, he conceded, a review of the Minnesota senator's "possible" war record.

The war-record angle, he said, would be used only as a last resort.

Senator Kennedy apparently decided to touch on the material after weekend statements from the Humphrey camp that Kennedy "seems to think everybody who doesn't want him to be President is a bigot."

He is now making sure his audiences know he lost a brother - "one of the 10 most decorated Navy fliers" - during World War II and himself spent years in a veterans hospital.

Senator Humphrey, considered 4-F because of a double hernia, spent several of the war years as mayor of Minneapolis.

In West Virginia, veterans' posts are about as numerous as churches.

The switch to a snapping campaign resulted from this kind of analysis of the West Virginia situation:

1. - It is a do-or-die fight. A vote for Senator Kennedy of less than 40 per cent would definitely put him out of the running. Even a slim defeat might knock him out.

2. - The West Virginia electorate likes a fighter.

3. - The alleged gang-up by supporters of other potential candidates, Sen. Stuart Symington of Missouri and Sen. Lyndon Johnson of Texas behind Senator Humphrey as a device to knock out the Massachusetts senator provides the opportunity to present Kennedy as the fighting underdog.

4. - The use by the Humphrey supporters near the end of the Wisconsin campaign of the Kennedy "farm record" as a basis for heckling was effective and must be matched in kind in West Virginia.

Gone from the campaign are the Kennedy sisters, who contributed to the "exposure" approach of Wisconsin. Gone, too, is the candidate's conversational tone and patient responses to high-level questions.

To the Ivy League accent, the candidate has added a sharp bite.


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