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Logan Banner
April 26, 1960

Warm Welcome Given Kennedy

Senator Met by Crowd Of 600 at Courthouse

Logan Countians yesterday extended a warm welcome to Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts who made his first trip through the area on his presidential campaign tour of southern West Virginia.

The senator, centering his campaign platform around the economic plight of the state, drew a crowd of about 600 persons at the courthouse last night where he spoke briefly before stepping out into the crowd to meet and shake hands with his well wishers.

The Kennedy caravan threaded its way through the county yesterday afternoon, stopping briefly at Omar when the senator was greeted by a crowd of some 200 people, and finally arriving in Logan about 30 minutes behind schedule.

The highway between Omar and Logan was sprinkled with signs bear the slogan “Kennedy for President” and small groups of citizens gathered at various points to get a glimpse of the Kennedy group as it moved toward the city.

Sen. Kennedy, traveling in a private automobile in preference to the chartered bus which carried members of his staff and newsmen stopped at several tiny communities en route from Williamson to Logan and found time to greet and chat with people seated on porches and in yards.

Upon arriving in Logan the senator walked from the west end of town to the courthouse, greeting people along the street and shaking hands with virtually everyone he passed.

Following his speaking engagement at the courthouse the senator and members of his party were guests of honor at a dinner at the Smoke House where he broadcast over both local radio stations.

Sen. Kennedy left early this morning and teamed up with his chief campaign lieutenant, Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr., to launch a frontal assault into the southern most reaches of West Virginia.

Young FDR, who has been methodically beating the bushes here since April 8 on behalf of the Massachusetts senator, joined the Kennedy caravan at Amherstdale.

Kennedy was due to arrive in the railroad and mining center of Mullens in early afternoon after having set out on the second leg of a three-day bus tour. His day’s itinerary ends with an appearance in Bluefield tonight.

Kennedy was getting a friendly reception in the area, although it is 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.

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 him 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. 5000). It is the seat of Logan County. Twenty years ago there were 15,000 working miners in the county. Today there are only 5,500 but they turn out greater tonnage.

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 steps in the 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 really favor Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tex), Sen. Stuart Symington (D-Mo) or Adlai Stevenson for the nomination.

At every stop yesterday – on an itinerary which took him from Huntington to Logan with numerous stops between – Kennedy his 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 re-development 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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