Newspaper Articles

Book Strap (Charleston High School)
September 30, 1960

Book Strap Reporter Interviews Mr. Kennedy

by Debbie Mills

Senator John F. Kennedy returned Monday, September 19, to the scene of the turning point in his campaign for president, where he defeated Hubert Humphrey in the primary election.

Senator Kennedy's private plane landed at Kanawha Airport at 6 p.m., and after being greeted by the CHS band and visiting dignitaries, he joined a motor-cade through Charleston to the Daniel Boone Hotel.

Following a 100 dollar a plate dinner, he went to the Civic Center where he gave a televised, 15 minute speech.

A group of us had been sent to interview Kennedy at the press conference which followed the speech.

We had made some press cards in school that afternoon and with a pocket full of them we left for the interview.

Upon reaching the Civic Center, we were told that we couldn't get in because there were no seats.

I found Mr. Lee Kenna and told him my reason for being at the rally, and he took us up to the press tables in front of the main arena. While Mr. Kennedy was giving his speech, we were sitting about five feet from the podium from which he was speaking.

W.W. Barron and Robert Byrd introduced Senator Kennedy, and at 9 p.m. when he entered the arena, he was greeted by wild cheering and applause. It took the chairman five minutes to quiet the crowd.

In his speech Kennedy outlined some of his party's platform and said he would, "personally send a bill to Congress for the improvement of West Virginia within 60 days after my inauguration."

According to Mr. Kennedy, his party would concentrate on improving education, housing conditions, depressed areas and labor relations. "I will work for federal aid to education and teachers salaries." At the end of his short speech he was given a standing ovation.

After the crowd had been quieted again, Kennedy answered questions submitted by the audience. He said [our defense was equal to the U.S.S.R.] but needed improvements. Concerning his religion, he said, "I hope no one will vote for or against me because of my religion.["]

When the program went off the air, Senator Kennedy was mobbed by visiting delegates and well-wishers.

I pushed my way through the crowd up to the stand but got no nearer to Mr. Kennedy than I was to start with. I made my way to the girders that were supporting the elevated press box, climbed up and waited for Kennedy and his party to come by.

When by passed by me I yelled, "Mr. Kennedy!" and he looked up at me with a startled expression. "Mr. Kennedy, what do you think of a federal loan to students financially unable to go to college?" I asked before he could recover from the surprise.

"I think it is a very good idea," he answered with a grin.

I jumped down from my perch and hurried along beside Mr. Kennedy, waiting for a chance to ask him another question.

The police formed a ring around Kennedy to protect him from the hand-shakers. As we were nearing the managers office, there was a big lunge from the crowd and I was pushed into the office with Kennedy and his party. As I was going in the door, a policeman grabbed me by the shoulder and said, "You can't go in there."

"I'm from the press."

"I don't care you still can't go in there."

When the crowd saw it could not get in and he wasn't coming out, it began to separte. In a few minutes Senator Kennedy came out and made his way through the crowd to his car.

Standing next to his car, I shook hands with him for the third time and asked for his autograph. I got his autograph, which some woman promptly took out of my hand, and hurried to the car so we could follow the motor-cade through town.

We followed them to the Daniel Boone and saw him enter the hotel and that was the last we saw of Senator Kennedy.

Next week we are going to interview Vice-President Nixon.

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