Senator Kennedy Promises To Take No Orders If He Becomes President
April 21, 1960
Senator Kennedy Promises To Take No Orders If He Becomes President
“Maybe the candidates aren’t important, but the Presidency is,” declared Senator John F. Kennedy as he spoke to students of Collin high school, Oak Hill, and other adults present at an assembly yesterday (Wednesday morning).
“A gentlemen [sic] of courage,” is the manner in which Mrs. Samuel Price, attractive wife of Attorney Price, introduced the good-looking Democrat senator from Massachusetts to the cheering high school students. Attorney Price was called into court, and his pretty wife substituted for him and she acted as the official hostess.
Mrs. Price called the Hon. Joseph Keatley to the rostrum to issue words of welcome from the friendly people of Oak Hill before presenting Kennedy to the enthusiastic audience.
Excerpts from Senator Kennedy’s speech were as follows:
“Ladies and gentlemen, students. First of all, I want to express my appreciation for the generous reception…I’d like to take that cheering section with me to the Los Ang[e]les convention…After having a chance to come to a school like this and see your reaction, it makes me think that the high non has not yet come in West Virginia, but is coming in the future…The gold reserve may not be in the ground anymore, but the schools, colleges and universities are…West Virginia will begin to dig its way out (speaking of the economic problems). It will be the schools, colleges and universities which will cause an economic revival…
“The secret of success and productivity in attracting new industries lies in education…having good students…good teachers.
“This economic revival is going to come about in the state of West Virginia…
“I come here today as a candidate for President of the United States. I do think what is happening is important because the office of President is important. Maybe the candidates aren’t important, but the Presidency is.
“I have served in the Congress for 14 years and I realize how wise were the Constitutional forefathers who wrote the Constitution. The office of the Presidency is great…(went on to name some of the powers). He (the President) determines whether this country will move ahead. He determines what will happen to West Virginia and its economy. It is his decision to veto bills or to sign them. The power of the Presidency is great. I realize that.
“Senators can be wholly wrong. The President cannot be wholly wrong.
“The power of the presidency is great. They affect very basically the welfare of this state and this country. We will be facing problems in the future we have never heard about today. Just as Eisenhower in 1952 did not talk about the problems facing our nation today, so the President of the United States may be discussing problems which will be entirely different in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964. We are going to have some changes when we are getting energy from the sun and the atom…A great deal of this will depend on the President, not only just in our country but all over the world.
“If we fail, freedom fails. If we succeed, freedom will succeed. This is the great cause in which we are all engaged…
“I think the President should be chosen by the voters of West Virginia, and all of the states,” Senator Kennedy said in stressing the importance of the W. Va. vote on May 10.
Answers given in response to students from the student body of Collins high were:
Do you favor federal aid for education? “I do. We passed a bill in the Senate; hope it will pass the House and the President.
“I favor development of the resources of this country and public works programs…in the future we will need better roads, more hospitals, libraries, better schools. The federal government could do a better job than it is doing. As I pointed out earlier, West Virginia received less defense contracts than any state. Also I favor the Area Redevelopment bill; it passed the Senate but was vetoes by the President. Passed again in the Senate and now is in the House. (He pointed out what the bill stands for, etc.)”
Someone asked him a question concerning the proposed debate between Senator Humphrey and himself. “I suppose he (Humphrey) would like to have a discussion. I would be delighted to debate with him. We would discuss the problems over a state-wide program and express our views. Then the people can make their decision for the person they feel is most capable and whom they think would make the best President.”
Do you think these various federal aid programs are tending toward socialism? (Sandra Jarrett asked this question).
“No, I don’t think it is socialism. I feel they are important. Abraham Lincoln said 100 years ago, ‘It is the responsibility of government to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves.’ If businesses don’t go to an area, there is no employment for the people, and the government has to take some action.
“Socialism is defined as ownership of the means of production. If the government owned all the business, etc. then it would be socialism. (He illustrated that he felt people who are in need should be helped by those more fortunate). That is a matter of conscience. It is the responsibility of the people, of every American.
“There is no American that should be below a certain level in the richest country on earth. No American should be forced to leave school to support his family when there still is a need for better education.”
What about the statement which appeared in the paper, “I don’t take orders from higher up?”
“I was asked yesterday (Tuesday) whether I would take orders from the pope, bishop or priest. I said I would not. In the first place, they wouldn’t give any. In the second place I would say it would be improper, out of line. In my opinion it is a matter of importance only to me where I go to church. We are founded on a system of religious freedom. Our forefathers came to this country and founded a Christian church, so that people could go to church where they pleased.
“…The day of judgment is either approaching or is not. If it is not, there is no need to adjourn. If it is, I hope to be fulfilling my duty when it comes. (Gave an illustration about the candle illustrating the broad way of life). I hope all of you can bring candles to help lighten our country’s way.”
The notes were taken as the senator spoke. Some statements may be out of context, and there exists the possibility of misquoting the senator although the Tribune believes the statements to be accurate.
Oak Hill has become a point of national focus. It has, indeed, been unusual that this city and Fayette county is drawing the attention of two leading contenders for President of United States.
Today Robert Brown of WOAY-TV announced that a strong possibility exists that U. S. Senator John Kennedy and U. S. Senator Hubert Humphrey may make their anticipated political debate on the local television station.
Brown pointed out the local station was willing to work out arrangements for such a telecast at the convenience of both of the candidates. And it would not be necessary to make long time pre-arrangements for such a program.
The WOAY-TV official pointed out that “Oak Hill is the ideal spot for such a debate, because some of the other stations are ‘marginal’ and Oak Hill is located ‘in the center of the state.[‘]”
It is hoped by station officials that the debate might take place between April 25-29 when Humphrey is again scheduled to be in the southern part of W. Va.
Both candidates have expressed a willingness to debate the issues, and we hope Oak Hill will be chosen as the place of such a program.
Senator Kennedy met a group of newsmen in a TV press conference over WOAY yesterday morning, and it attracted a large audience as well as a number of national news reporters.
Those serving on the panel were Neil Swan, WOAY-TV; John Yago, Charleston Gazette, Angelene Battlo, Welch Daily News; Robert Holliday, Fayette Tribune, and Mrs. Opal Ripley, Raleigh Register.
Details of this conference will be reported in Monday’s Tribune.
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