Newspaper Articles

Charleston Daily Mail
May 4, 1960

Many Protestants Deny Prejudice

Sentiment Samples Indicate Charleston Favors Kennedy

By Charlie Connor
Of The Daily Mail Staff

The race between Sens. Kennedy and Humphrey for president in West Virginia's primary is going to be close in Charleston, with the possible nod going to Kennedy, a poll of two city wards showed yesterday.

Knocking on the doors of 169 homes in Charleston's big First and Thirteenth Wards, the Daily Mail and Washington columnist Joe Alsop found religious prejudice playing a smaller part in the local survey than found almost a month ago in a similar poll in Huntington.

Overall, the survey of Democratic voters showed:

For Kennedy, 42; for Humphrey, 32; undecided, 17.

Of Humphrey's vote, 13 admitted voluntarily that they would vote for him because of Kennedy's Catholicism. And in the undecided column, seven said that the religion of the Massachusetts' senator kept them from making up their minds.

But the findings indicate that Kennedy may be making some headway in his fight to allay Protestants' suspicion of Catholicism, openly acknowledged to be the toughest obstacle in his quest of victory in the state popularity vote.

Summed up, the sentiment among some Protestant voters is expressed by Mrs. Hallie Hamon, 1534 Seventh Ave., a Methodist, who first said she was undecided but then added:

"Actually, I believe Kennedy will be my choice. I've heard his speeches and I like his frankness. He isn't dodging the issue of his religion. He says no one will dictate to him. I believe him."

Kennedy fared far better in the Thirteenth Ward on the East Side than in the First on the lower West Side of the city. Registration totals for the Thirteen show 1609 Democrats, 1052 Republicans; in the First, there are 1,900 registered Democrats, 1,800 Republicans.

The Thirteen Ward's voters declared for Kennedy, 30 to 18 for Humphrey; in the First, Humphrey had 14 supporters, Kennedy 12.

At least half a dozen voters see in Kennedy an image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and admitted they were attracted to him because of it. Several thought FDR Jr's. visits in this state had helped him.

Others see in Humphrey a man of the "little people," the working classes, a man who started out poor and worked his way to prominence. They declare for him because they think he'll understand their problems better than Kennedy, son of a millionaire and a millionaire himself.

The pollsters found 77 Republican families during their rounds and one listed as an independent.

Of Kennedy's total of 42, six indicated they were influenced to vote for him because of his religion.

Interesting Comments

Some of the comments follow:

Mrs. Gene Gilliam, 531 Carolina St., a Protestant: "I think it's sacrilege to discuss religion in a political campaign. I work in the VA hospital at Huntington one day a week and I feel strongly about Sen. Kennedy. No one asked him his religion when he served in the armed forces or lay in a VA hospital recuperating from his wounds, or when he served in Congress. That's what attracted me to him - his great record."

Mrs. J. A. Haynes, 1421 Seventh Ave., a Baptist: "I'm for Humphrey. I've nothing against Kennedy but he's on the wrong side of the fence. I'll be plain about it, I'm leery of his religion. We have too much freedom of religion at stake in the country to take a chance."

James Ballard, 1521 Sixth Ave., retired, non-church member whose wife is for Humphrey: "Religion shouldn't have anything to do with it. In other words, I'm for Kennedy. He talks plain, comes out and says exactly what he means."

Mrs. Pauline Rowley, 1519 Sixth Ave., a member of the Church of Christ: "I like Humphrey, his policy, his outlook, his intentions. To me he is the reflection of a working man."

Mrs. Opal Russell, 1554 Dixie St., a model: "I met Mr. Kennedy at White Sulphur Springs and found he had a pleasant disposition and personality. His wife is charming, a real sweet person. I think he would make a good president. I'm for him."

W. L. Simmons, 73, 516 Carolina St.: "Kennedy is too young. I'll be for Humphrey on that account, but actually I'm a Stevenson man. He's the best man we've got in the country."

Mrs. Amy V. Stalnaker, 1574 Dixie St., a Methodist: "Kennedy is a good, smart man and I think will make a great president, but I'm afraid he may not get the nomination."

B. F. Price, 917 Cart St.: "I like Kennedy's background, although I admit I'm not pleased about his religion, but I think his qualifications place him head and shoulders over Humphrey."

Mrs. Grace Sloan, 917 Cart St., a Baptist: "I'm for Humphrey and it's not because I'm prejudiced. Two of my children are Catholic converts."

W. L. Neal, 1540 Dixie St.: "I hear a lot of folks talk about Catholics but I don't hold that against Kennedy. I'll vote for him. I wouldn't vote for Nixon. I wouldn't vote for Nixon even if I were a Republican."

C. K. Honaker, Woodward Drive, Methodist: "Religion doesn't enter my political thinking - I voted for Al Smith. But I'm for Humphrey because he's closer to the smaller man - people like me. Overall, however, I'm for Symington because I'm tired of all this fighting between North and South and he's the best man to settle the differences."

Mrs. Lois Wright, 1524 Seventh Ave., former Baptist, a Catholic convert: "I'm for Kennedy, me, my husband, and all our family. "This religious issue isn't valid because anyone who studies our Constitution knows that the Pope couldn't run our country even with a Catholic president. We have a system of checks and balances and Congress would watch him. Overall, though, I think Stevenson is the best Democratic candidate."

W. D. Lanham, 4553 Big Tyler Road, a grocer, Presbyterian elder, candidate for county commissioner: "I think Humphrey full understands the working man's problems. Kennedy is an able man, too, but Humphrey is closer to the laboring man."

Thomas D. Graley, 15009 Sixth Ave, Protestant: "I can't vote for Kennedy. I imagine Humphrey would make a good candidate but I don't know much about him. Actually, I favor Stevenson."

Mrs. C. L. Bender, 1515 Sixth Ave., Baptist: "I didn't vote either in 1952 or 1956 but I registered this year to vote for Humphrey. I don't know anything about either of them except Kennedy's religion and that's all I hear."

Herbert White, 1436 Seventh Ave., non-church member: "I like Kennedy's looks."

Mrs. Ray Gandee, 1425 Seventh Ave., Baptist who voted for Stevenson in 1952 but did not vote in 1956: "I'm for Kennedy because he's a good man."

Milton Dixnoff, 1309 Dixie St., Jewish: "Personally, I'm prejudiced. I'm for Humphrey because I was in the drug business and he's a former pharmacist, too."

Humphrey Called 'Front Man' For Other Candidates

By Herb Little

Hinton (AP) - Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn) today was called "a front man for two or three other potential candidates who didn't dare enter" the West Virginia presidential primary.

Former Rep. Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. applied that label in a campaign appearance here with Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass), Humphrey's opponent in the state's democratic presidential preference vote next Tuesday.

Kennedy came to this railroad town of 6,000 to fill a speaking date he had to cancel a week ago when he returned to Washington to vote on a mine safety bill. At that time he left a disappointed crowd standing in the rain.

Today it was bright and sunny and a high school band was out to greet Kennedy. Police chief C. H. Shirey estimated there were 600 persons in the crowd gathered in a street beside the post office.

Kennedy, still bothered by a throat infection which has limited his speaking during the past week, talked only two or three minutes after speeches by his 27-year-old brother Ted and Roosevelt. They spoke from the back of a truck drawn up beside the post office.

Roosevelt said Kennedy is "running against a straw man who in his own right has not chance whatsoever to win the Democratic nomination."

Kennedy, in his brief talk, referred to his failure to show up in Hinton last week and, indirectly, to Democratic presidential contenders who are not entered in the primary.

"It's better to be here a week late than never to be here at all," he said.

The Kennedy party came to Hinton after an appearance earlier in the day at Concord college in Athens. Also on the day's schedule were visits to Alderson, Ronceverte, Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs. These are all places where Kennedy cancelled appearances when he flew back to Washington unexpectedly last week.

Kennedy was to fly back to Charleston late today for tonight's television debate with Humphrey.

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