Kennedy Attacked By Byrd in Senate
April 22, 1960
Kennedy Attacked By Byrd in Senate
Washington – Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WVa) told the Senate Thursday that he is “not anti-Catholic,” but that he “wouldn’t support Sen. Kennedy if he were a Missionary Baptist and a member of my own church.”
Byrd said it is Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a Roman Catholic, who has made religion an issue in the West Virginia presidential preferential primary election campaign, and “it need not have been one.”
Byrd told the U. S. Senate that he had a past affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, a membership which he called “an old bag of bones to the people of West Virginia.” He make no direct reference to a New York Herald-Tribune story Thursday which identified him as a former kleagle for the Klan.
Byrd’s association with the Klan had come out many years prior to that. In1952, The Charleston Gazette published a letter Byrd wrote in 1946 as “a former kleagle” the head of the Klan.
This letter was cited in the Herald-Tribune’s story.
The story was by David Wise of the Herald-Tribune’s Washington staff, who asked Byrd if he would vote for a Catholic for President.
“That is a matter which every individual, Catholic and Protestant, will have to settle in his own conscience. A lot depends on the particular individual who happens to be the candidate. Age has something to do with it, experience and personal background.”
Washington, D. C. – Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn) praised West Virginia’s progress in integration of its public schools Thursday, and singled out The Charleston Gazette for its role in the state’s orderly inclusion of Negroes in classes with white students.
Speaking at the meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors here, Humphrey said in discussing integration in the Southern states:
“West Virginia is contributing more than its share to solving this most urgent moral and social problem. In this struggle, the West Virginia paper has played a constructive role.
“It did not retreat behind the cold wall of objectivity which helps deaden human compassion in our society. It avoided these sensationalisms that too often fan the flames of bigotry. It spoke up calmly and courageously for the dignity of man.
“Few newspapers in this country speak out as forthrightly on human equality as The Charleston Gazette, the state’s largest daily.”
Two Gazette reporters questioned 110 Democrats, 69 Republicans and three independent voters in two selected areas of Charleston Thursday and found that:
- Forty of the Democrats favor Sen. John F. Kennedy in the May primary.
- Thirty-two of the Democrats favor Sen. Hubert Humphrey in the May primary.
- Thirty-eight of the Democrats are undecided.
- Five of the total oppose Kennedy because he is a Roman Catholic.
- Twenty-one of the Democrats want Kennedy to be the President.
- Thirteen of the Democrats want Humphrey to be President.
- Sixteen and one-half of the Democrats want Adlai Stevenson to be President.
Households were polled in one large East End black bounded by Ruffner Ave., Greenbrier St., Washington St. and Lee St., and on the West Side in the Grant St., Simms St., Delaware St., Hall St., Vine St., and Park Dr. neighborhoods. When a householder said he equally supported two men, each of the two men were given a half vote in the tabulations.
No definite conclusions may be drawn from the poll. Both sections are middle class areas, and it is possible that the vote reflects views of many middle class Charleston voters.
Among the 110 Democrats, eight said they preferred Vice President Richard M. Nixon for President; four preferred Sen. Stuart Symington. Two cast votes for Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and two favor Sen. John McClellan (D-Ark). Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Tex) received one vote and Chief Justice Earl Warren, a Republican, received a half vote. Forty-six were undecided.
Among the 69 Republicans questioned, 32 favored Nixon for President. Three voted for Rockefeller and three voted for Kennedy. Two Republicans preferred Stevenson, one like Humphrey. Symington and Johnson each received a half vote from the Republicans. Twenty-seven of the Republicans were undecided.
Humphrey “won” the “primary” in the East End section, with 25 votes to Kennedy’s 20. But Kennedy took a large lead on the West Side, 20 to 7.
A number of those questioned volunteered comment on the issue of Kennedy’s Catholicism. A woman said she would vote for any nominated Democrat except Kennedy “because he’s a Catholic,” and four others indicated the same sentiment. But a large majority of those polled deplored the anti-Catholic attitude. Many Kennedy supporters explained that they were Protestants.
“Kennedy is awfully young . . . Humphrey is for poor people. . . Kennedy is mature for his age. . . Humphrey is for common people. . . Stevenson is a statesman. . . Kennedy seems more honest, more sincere, Humphrey appears too anxious. . . I like Kennedy. . . Kennedy is fine with me and I’m speaking for my wife, too. . . Humphrey stands for FDR’s ideals.”
In one West Side home, a husband declared himself for Kennedy. As his wife was questioned, he again supplied the answer: “Kennedy.”
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