Newspaper Articles


Charleston Daily Mail
April 26, 1960

Roosevelt Joins Kennedy Caravan On Southern Trip

By Herb Little

Mullens (AP) – Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) campaigned today in more of southern West Virginia’s grimy coal-mining towns, many of which had never before seen a presidential candidate in the flesh.

Kennedy was dug in this railroad and mining center of 3,400 persons in early afternoon after having set out from Logan this morning on the second leg of a three-day tour. His day’s itinerary ends with an appearance in Bluefield tonight.

He was to be joined on his swing today by former Rep. Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr., who has been campaigning for Kennedy.

Kennedy was getting a friendly reception in the area, although it is a part of the state where most politicians rate him an underdog in his May 10 primary election contest with Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn). They are entered as candidates for the Democratic nomination for President, but no convention delegates will be bound by the outcome.

Underdog In Area

Kennedy’s status as an underdog in the southern counties, which are even more overwhelmingly Protestant than the state as a whole, stems from his Roman Catholic religion. Democratic voters inclined to ignore religion may be nudged by local politicians who fear a Catholic presidential nominee will hurt the state ticket in November.

But Kennedy seemed to be making some political headway simply by coming to the area to see its problems for himself and by telling what he would try to do as President.

Machines have been replacing men in the mines in recent years. Thousands are out of work and many of the older men among them do not see much hope of finding jobs.

One of Kennedy’s stops yesterday was at Rossmore, a little mining camp of a few dozen dwellings just outside Logan. A few years ago it was thriving, but now only three or four families remain. The other houses have boarded windows and are slowly falling into decay.

“This is as distressed an area as I’ve ever seen,” Kennedy said at Rossmore.

Last night Kennedy spoke in Logan (Pop. 5,000). It is the seat of Logan County. Twenty years there were 15,000 working miners in the county. Today there are only 5,500, but they turn out greater tonnage.

Crowd of 600

A crowd which the Logan Banner estimated at 600 heard Kennedy speak in front of the courthouse.

Those who aspire to the party’s presidential nomination, Kennedy said, should come to the state to learn about conditions on the scene, and not “from a desk in Washington.” He said they should “conduct their campaigns from every courthouse’s steps in this state.” Kennedy added:

“Some of the candidates for the Democratic nomination have been unwilling to come to West Virginia. They seek to use the candidacy of my opponent to stop my campaign.”

He mentioned no names. But, plainly, the reference was to indications that Humphrey as the only West Virginia primary entrant available to head off Kennedy, is getting support from those who really favor Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tex), Sen. Stuart Symington (D-Mo) or Adlai Stevenson for the nomination.

Hits Administration

At every stop yesterday – on an itinerary which took him from Huntington to Logan with numerous stops between – Kennedy hit at what he viewed as the Eisenhower’s administration’s neglect of the area’s economic troubles. He was especially critical of the President’s vetoes of the area redevelopment bill and the coal research bill.

“I don’t think we want eight more years of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference,” Kennedy said at Logan.

There was less mention yesterday than before of the religious issue. Nobody brought it up in questions from the audience and Kennedy referred to it only twice during the day and then only briefly.

West Virginia, over-all, is only 5 per cent Catholic and this part of the state is even more lopsidedly Protestant. Kennedy’s route today was through coalfield counties where the percentage of Catholics in the population ranges from less than 1 per cent to about 2 ½ per cent.


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