For $2.02 and Reporters Pays For It
Jack Buys Hat From a Truman
By Don Marsh
May 8, 1960
For $2.02 and Reporters Pays For It
Jack Buys Hat From a Truman
By Don Marsh
Sen. John F. Kennedy made a quick trip to Roane County Saturday and talked about the election, the weather and the Russians.
The election was the main thing. In the only speech he made, at the Courthouse in Spencer, he said he had come to ask for support.
“If I can win in West Virginia, with all the difficulties we’ve faced in this state—which I’m sure you’re well aware of—then I know we’ll win the nomination,” he said.
The trip was an impromptu one. Kennedy left for Nebraska Saturday afternoon and for a time there was doubt whether he’d campaign during the day.
Lack of advance preparation, and a steady rain that fell most of the morning, made the crowds disappointing.
There was [sic] stops in Charleston, Elkview, Cotton, Walton[,] Spencer and Clendenin. He shook hands at each appearance but only at the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Plant, Spencer and Clendenin were they many people to shake back.
The rain caused a real news event at Spencer. It drizzled so steadily that the senator bought a hat.
The occasion was so unusual, since Kennedy’s hair is almost a trade mark, that a reporter from the Boston Globe insisted on paying for the hat. It cost $2.02 and was sold by a clerk named Truman.
Kennedy took the weather in good spirit. “It rains on Republicans as well as Democrats, on the just and the unjust; therefore, I’m sure it’s fine,” he said.
The remarks about the Russians came during the bus ride while he was talking to reporters. One of them asked what he thought about the American plane which was shot down over Russia.
Kennedy said he was reluctant to discuss it specifically since he didn’t know much about it. However he said the incident:
“Indicates how hazardous are our relations with the Soviet Union. Khrushchev launched this new phase of the cold war when we’re about to go to the summit.”
“. .. Any assumption that we can afford to relax our own efforts here in the United States because of a temporary warming are doomed to disappointment.
“If Khrushchev can overnight move from cordiality to hostility, it indicates what a long and tortuous road is before us before any accommodations can be reached.”
In answer to another question, he said he didn’t want to comment on Sen. Hubert Humphrey’s remark that he was trying to make himself appear the underdog in their battle to win the Presidential primary election Tuesday.
Kennedy said he felt honestly that he would lose the election, perhaps by as much as 60-40.
He said he and Humphrey believed in pretty much the same things and that caused many voters to have difficulty in choosing between them.
In addition, he said, he felt his Catholicism was a disadvantage and added “I’m fighting not only one opponent but supporters of a good many other ones.”
“I’d be extremely happy, of course, if we won, but I just think we’ve got a very tough fight in West Virginia.”
Kennedy emphasized that if he lost the election, even by a large margin, he didn’t think it would ruin his chances of winning the nomination.
He said that he’d already won several primaries and predicted he would do well in Maryland and Oregon, later this month.
He flew to Omaha to speak at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. He will return to West Virginia after the dinner and will campaign today in Elkins, Clarksburg and Charleston.
Religion’s Role Still Uncertain
Some out of state newsmen wrote their first West Virginia primary election stories before entering the state, and a few of these stories recorded, matter of factly, that the state seethes with religious bigotry.
After visiting West Virginia, some newsmen are more convinced than ever that religious prejudice will play a great role in the Tuesday election in which Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy and Congregationalist Hubert H. Humphrey are pitted against each other. Other reporters have remained silent on the subject after actually meeting West Virginia people.
Among those who indicate in recent stories that prejudices may be exaggerated is Carroll Kilpatrick of the Washington Post and Times Herald.
In his Thursday dispatch, Kilpatrick said that even in areas where bigotry is clearly rampant he has been startled to hear “I’m for Kennedy and I’m not a Catholic,” or “the religious issue makes no difference to me,” or “I’m for Humphrey and it’s not because of religion.”
Kilpatrick said he interviewed Protestant ministers in Huntington who assured him that the majority of West Virginians hold no prejudice against Sen. Kennedy because of his religion. Others told him Sen. Kennedy had satisfactorily answered questions put to him on the religious issue, and that the strongholds of bigotry exist only in fundamentalist backwoods pockets.
A Catholic priest told him, he said, that “It isn’t the Protestants as much as the unions that are against Kennedy here. In a way, there is no more bigotry here than in Boston.”
Humphrey Certain Of Tuesday Victory
By Thomas F. Stafford
Clarksburg – It’s Hubert Humphrey all the way in Tuesday’s presidential primary, says Hubert Humphrey.
Holding an impromptu press conference aboard his campaign bus as it sped northward from Charleston late Saturday afternoon, the man from Minnesota unleashed a blistering attack on his opponent, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy, then said:
“I make no extravagant predictions . . . but will do all right. We’ll win.”
This remark grew out of a query by Washington Star reporter Mary McGrory as to whether he had any comments on Kennedy’s statement that he would be satisfied with a 40 per cent vote in West Virginia.
“No matter how clever you are,” Humphrey replied, “you can’t manipulate figures. You can’t win with 40 per cent of the vote.”
Kennedy, he said, was quite pleased with conditions in March when a poll showed he had a 70 per cent edge in this state. But now that the situation has shifted, Kennedy looks upon the Humphrey supporters as illiterates and bigots, he added.
He spoke at street rallies at three points before arriving here for a big Democratic fundraising dinner where Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was to speak. Representative crowds stood in the rain at Clay, Sutton and Weston to hear him criticize Republican “do-nothingism” and the Kennedy expenditures.
On the subject of campaign spending, he said, “Kennedy money is floating as freely as water in West Virginia streams—and both are a little polluted.”
He quoted the senator’s brother, Robert, whom he described as an emotional juvenile, as having said in Washington some time ago, that as much as a half millions dollars would be spent in West Virginia on the Kennedy campaign.
“It seems as if they’re spending it,” he added.
In Charleston alone, he charged, the Kennedys have bought $46,000 worth of TV and radio time. The Kennedy campaign expenditures, he remarked wryly, compound into a “short-term area redevelopment program” for West Virginia.
Also, he said, Sen. Kennedy carries his own personal TV crew with him, adding, “you can’t buy that for the price of a sandwich.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr., a member of the Kennedy campaign team, came momentarily under the Humphrey whiplash. Young Franklin, he said, was complimentary of him a few years ago as “his friend and a great patriot,” while today Roosevelt alludes to him as a draft-dodger.
“But I’m not running against him,” Humphrey added. “I’m running against Jack Kennedy, the son of Joe Kennedy, a mortal enemy of our great president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”
He then accused Kennedy of trying to “destroy his opposition”—first himself and then Majority Leader Johnson and Sen. Stuart Symington. “When anybody gets in the way of this pompous pet,” he charged, “he must be destroyed.”
The Humphrey campaign bus, rolling out of Charleston 30 minutes late Saturday morning, remained behind schedule all day long. But this apparently didn’t dampen the ardor of the senator’s supporters at Clay and Sutton.
More than 200 people were on hand for a scheduled 9 a. m. appearance at Clay, and at Sutton the crowd was estimated at between 500 and 600.
At Weston, a heavily Catholic community, the crowd was much smaller—around 50. But there, such people as Kent Kessler and Joe Marteney said Humphrey will win, while Dr. Raymond Vasser, member of the State Senate, said the race is a toss-up.
The mixed reaction at Weston was radically different from that at Sutton and Clay.
At both county seat towns the sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of Humphrey.
At Clay, Earl Eakle, self-styled “county lawyer,” reflected the viewpoint of many in the crowd in saying, “we feel and think like our forefathers. We’re afraid of a Catholic in the White House.”
Catholicism also was the overpowering issue at Sutton. Most of those queried were less-willing to talk than their Clay counterparts, but they, too, said Protestant Humphrey has a far better chance than Catholic Kennedy.
A factor in the Sutton area that helps Kennedy, several people said, was his money. Where Humphrey is spending none there at the precinct level, the story was the Kennedy money would be available at the polling places on election day.
Humphrey seemingly had gotten wind of this situation, for in his Sutton street speech, he said, “I’m pitting my body, my ideals and my faith against the wealth of my opponent.”
He gave a heavy play to his background, saying he and his wife had to work during the depression years to educate themselves and get started in public life. “My wife and I have worked very hard,” he said. “We know and understand your problems from experience.”
By John Yago
West Virginia has been withering under the withering stare of national attention for more than a month now in anticipation of Tuesday’s presidential preference primary.
Hardly a day passes that another newsman doesn’t arrive to troop across the mountains taking the state’s political pulse.
These visiting firemen have reported their findings in their home bases, giving people around the world perhaps its first intensive look at West Virginia.
Consequently West Virginia has taken on a new appearance for many people who had been only vaguely aware of its existence.
With the emergence of a strong religious issue in the contest between Sen. John F. Kennedy and Sen. Hubert Humphrey, West Virginia has been alternately pictures as a state populated by bigots and tolerant mountaineers.
West Virginia’s economic problems also have come in for a great deal of examination and debate and have become a major talking point for both the candidates and the press.
The facts garnered during the primary campaign have been covered in many thousands of words written about West Virginia, its people and their reactions to the candidates.
But what about the opinion makers, the editorial writers of the newspapers who have sent their correspondents here to observe West Virginia’s own particular brand of politics in action?
A selected sample of editorial comment from newspapers around the country shows the importance many of them place on the religion factor in the West Virginia contest between Catholic Kennedy and Congregationalist Humphrey.
The religion issue was not first raised here, but has been subjected to close scrutiny in a state that has a population less than five per cent Catholic.
Most editors deplore the fact that religion is apparently playing such an important role, but admit it is a strong factor.
“It is not religion but religious prejudice Americans should be striving to remove from politics,” editorialized The Christian Science Monitor in Kennedy’s home city of Boston.
The attempt to prove there is a strong “Catholic vote” was tried in 1956, The Monitor said, by Kennedy supporters when the Massachusetts senator was trying for the vice presidential nomination.
The strong “Catholic vote,” The Monitor continued, was proved important in this year’s Wisconsin primary.
“But this very success accented the ‘religious issue’ and brought the boomerang we had foreseen. It sharpened fears of some Catholic Democratic leaders that a backfire would hurt them in their own states. It threatened the West Virginia primary.”
To get the situation “back on the tracks,” The Monitor suggests:
“First, we should recognize that religion is not the major trouble. Indeed public affairs would be improved if all of us used more of it. But not by playing the game of bloc politics with it. That isn’t putting religion into politics but politics into religion.”
The Charlotte Observer called the West Virginia primary a “dog eat dog” contest with both Kennedy and Humphrey playing the role of the underdog—Kennedy because of religion and Humphrey as the “poor boy” candidate.
“Strangely, Hubert Humphrey may have truth on his side. Many politicians figure that John Kennedy would never have entered the West Virginia primary had he not been convinced he could win handily. Reportedly, his private pollsters found pre-campaign sentiment strongly in his favor. And while the emphasis on religion may have diverted some of his support in recent weeks, all the Kennedys are shrewd campaigners and those little back bags carry weight.
“As things now stand, it is impossible to forecast the certain outcome in West Virginia. But for two professed underdogs, Jack and Hubert are raising quite a howl.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, one of the most respected papers in the South, was more certain of the outcome.
“It is beginning to look as though Sen. John F. Kennedy will lose in the West Virginia primary on May 10, and by a substantial margin,” the Times-Dispatch said editorially.
The Richmond paper deplored a Ku Klux Klan attitude in the primary, as it said was indicated in a survey by columnist Joseph Alsop.
Plans by both Kennedy and Humphrey that a judgment not be made on the basis of religion may have just the reverse effect of what was intended, the Times-Dispatch said.
“So much talk about the ‘religious issue’ called further attention to it.”
This, added to the efforts of other candidates to stop Kennedy here and reported support of Humphrey by the United Mine Workers, the paper said, gives Humphrey strength.
“It now appears that if Kennedy gets a bare majority in West Virginia, he will be exceeding everybody’s predictions, including his own. His followers say that if he gets 40 per cent, he will still be strongly in the running at Los Angeles. Maybe.”
Another southern newspaper, The Greensboro Daily News, sees West Virginia as Kennedy’s “toughest ordeal,” mentioning the absence of a large Catholic population and the Stop Kennedy movement.
The West Virginia race, the Greensboro paper said, has a touch of irony since the primary pledges no convention delegates. “It serves simply as a popularity contest, a psychological finger-wetting contest for the big convention.”
However, the paper noted, if Kennedy wins in West Virginia it will give him a big boost. “For West Virginia contains much of the rural mountain fundamentalism most strenuously opposed to the Roman Catholic Church.”
For Humphrey, the Daily News said, a win will not mean the nomination. “He remains a minority candidate with little strength outside his own Middle West, and not much there, as Wisconsin demonstrated.”
In Indiana, the scene of a primary a few days ago, Editor Earl E. Shaw of The Evansville Courier reported on appearances of the candidates at the Washington meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Kennedy, Shaw concluded, appeared to be a more effective campaigner than Humphrey.
Although Kennedy told the editors he would not be subject to ecclesiastical pressures or obligations as President, Show noted that, “his attentive audience seemed to be unconvinced that religion, rightly or wrongly, is not an issue in his campaign.”
“There are many issues of far more import than a candidate’s religious beliefs,” Shaw said. “But it is doubtful if the senator can deal with them so effectively as to overcome religious bigotry as a campaign factor.”
The Roanoke Times devoted an editorial to attacking Kennedy for dwelling on West Virginia’s economic problems in the campaign.
A writer for the New York Times sees Kennedy as the central figure in a West Virginia primary which may affect the future of all potential Democratic candidates.
“A victory for him in West Virginia would set off a rush of uncommitted delegates, and, in the view of many politicians, quite probably make Mr. Kennedy unbeatable at the Los Angeles convention,” said Times writer William H. Lawrence.
“For Sen. Kennedy, who deliberately chose the primary route to nomination as the best means of impressing himself on party leaders reluctant to name a Catholic, there is no substitute for victory.
“A smashing defeat for him here could possibly eliminate him from the presidential race, since it would pose for the party the problem of a large anti-Catholic vote in other parts of the country in November.
“Under the circumstances prevailing, a Kennedy defeat by a slight margin could be explained away in many quarters. But even so, it still would make his road to the nomination rougher,” wrote The New York Times’ Lawrence.
Morris Harvey College students, having heard and met both Democratic presidential aspirants, favor the senator from Massachusetts over the man from Minnesota by a two to one margin.
Of 251 students polled this week, 149 were for Kennedy, 73 were for Humphrey and the rest wouldn’t make a choice between the two campaigners.
In an earlier, smaller poll conducted among 94 students who had heard Kennedy speak, 65 per cent said that they would vote for Kennedy in the West Virginia Democratic primary.
At the beginning of the current spring semester, well before the West Virginia campaign not underway, Morris Harvey students were already leaning toward Kennedy. He was picked by the majority of students interviewed to be the Democratic candidate. Thirty per cent of this group said that they though he would win the November election as well.
Gene Baker, a Morris Harvey senior and spokesman for the Young Democrats Club at the college, was questioned about his impressions of the two candidates. Baker served as student moderator for both Humphrey and Kennedy.
When asked which candidate impressed him more, Baker said that Sen. Kennedy impressed him more favorably. “I feel that Kennedy related his speech to the type of audience he found here . . . but I thought that Humphrey had a more friendly attitude as far as talking to individuals than did Kennedy.”
Baker felt that Kennedy was better received by the student body as a whole. He said Kennedy’s speech—on the two party system and the need for well educated young people in politics—was more appealing to the students than Humphrey’s “generalities on foreign policy.”
The 21-year-old Morris Harvey student said that he felt that Kennedy was more appealing to young people because of his age. He said that he had heard several coeds remark about his “good appearance.” He added, however, “this alone is a silly, invalid way of selecting a presidential candidate.”
Of the 73 students who said they would vote for Humphrey, 45 per cent were Democrats, 26 per cent were Republicans, and the remaining 29 per cent did not state their party. Eighteen students ignored the Democratic primary and cast write-in votes for Nixon. Others wrote the names of Symington, Stevenson, and Johnson across their ballots.
Kenneth F. Klinkert, an atheist-for-Kennedy, was disturbed Saturday by what he said was the refusal of Morris Harvey College officials to let him address students.
Klinkert, a familiar figure at Kennedy rallies, where he distributes literature, said he wished to speak to the college students on “religion and the presidency, and bigotry, atheism and democracy.”
A college official, he reported, told him that Morris Harvey is a Christian institution and has the right to determine what students may be exposed to.
Klinkert’s home is in Menomonee Falls, Wis. He’s a cheerful middle-age man, neat in appearance, who has been following Sen. Kennedy through two primaries. His presence at rallies and speeches is taken for granted by Kennedy supporters. At one West Virginia stop, as the Kennedy party prepared to leave, a worried voice asked, “Where’s Klinkert?”
Early in the state primary campaign, he vigorously supported Sen. Humphrey on the ground that Sen. Kennedy’s religious affiliation couldn’t be reconciled with the American concept of democracy. Midway in the campaign, however, he switched to Kennedy, saying the candidate had satisfactorily answered all the pertinent questions and had resolved his doubts.
Although now a Kennedy man, he continues to pass out his literature, largely supplied by Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It contends that a candidate’s religious beliefs may properly and fairly be questioned without prompting charges of bigotry.
Klinkert describes himself as an atheist and facetiously proposes himself as Sen. Kennedy’s vice president. That ticket, he said, would prove to the world that America isn’t prejudiced.
Campaign Summary |
| Visits by Date | Visits by County |
| Advertisements and Cartoons |
| Newspapers | Oral Histories | Photographs | Reminiscences | Speeches |