Newspaper Articles


Charleston Gazette
October 20, 1960

Mrs. FDR Hits Religion Issue, Praises Kennedy

Attempt to Block Nominee Raked

By John W. Yago
Staff Writer

The question of religion in government is not one of who is elected but of vigilance to assure that laws “which give privileges to church organizations” are not passed, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt declared Wednesday night.

She also termed “perfectly idiotic” much of the anti-Catholic literature being circulated to block the election of Sen. John F. Kennedy to the presidency.

The elder stateswoman of the Democratic party faced the religious issue squarely before a party rally at the Municipal Auditorium.

The hard-campaigning former First Lady also boosted Sen. Kennedy as the man most able and willing to do something about West Virginia’s economic difficulties.

“So far as I can see,” she said, “nothing very fundamental has ever been done to attack these economic problems.”

She proved again that the Roosevelt magic, feminine variety, still is a potent weapon as she charmed an audience held below capacity by a miserable rainy night. Despite the elements, more than 2,000 people showed up to cheer Mrs. Roosevelt.

She received standing ovation both when she walked on the stage and at the end of her address. She spoke from a rostrum flanked by floodlighted pictures of her late husband and former President Truman and was interrupted several times by applause.

The auditorium appearance climaxed a day of campaigning by Mrs. Roosevelt that took her through the southern West Virginia coal fields she first came to know during the depression days of the 1930’s.

Striking at the religious issue, Mrs. Roosevelt said that in examining the congressional voting record of Sen. Kennedy she is sure that he has “voted against what his father wanted and what his church wanted.”

She said Sen. Kennedy “has learned you have to make your own decisions.”

She attacked anti-Catholic literature but conceded that it probably is not as bad this year as in 1928 when Al Smith was the Democratic candidate for President.

“We have to look at this issue in a very simple way,” she said. “The Constitution assures religious liberty, not just for my denomination—I happen to be an Episcopalian—but religious liberty for all.”

The religious question, she said, may rise again, but since it is so important, “I want us to face it now.”

She cited her own opposition to state aid for parochial schools in New York and to church holdings being removed from taxable property lists but emphasized that it is discriminatory laws that must be fought instead of individual religious beliefs.

“The challenge, really, is to us the citizens. It’s the laws you have to watch,” she said.

Mrs. Roosevelt likened Sen. Kennedy to her husband in that both were willing to call for the help of others if they were unable to solve a problem by themselves.

“You can’t let things slide,” she asserted. “It is best to meet a problem and try to prevent it than to wait until a crisis.” She described Sen. Kennedy as “a man who is not afraid to face problems as they exist” and not afraid to use the brains of others.

She said West Virginia “needs special attention . . . and needs people who have the intelligence to know how to improve a whole state.”

Touching briefly on foreign policy, Mrs. Roosevelt said the United States “needs new thinking, more imaginative thinking. We need a leader for the non-Communist world.”

The way to win the struggle for freedom, she declared, is to work for democracy. “Democracy can be just as dynamic as communism, but you have to work to make it so.”

Mrs. Roosevelt also took the occasion for a jab at Vice president Nixon, Sen. Kennedy’s opponent. He is balking, she said, on adding a fifth debate to their schedule because, “I think he feels he is not on very safe ground.”

Seated on the stage as Mrs. Roosevelt spoke were a bevy of state and local Democratic candidates. But they seemed to fade into the distance as Mrs. Roosevelt weaved her spell over the audience.

Shortly after her speech Mrs. Roosevelt boarded a private plane to return to New York.


Complete Support Tendered

By Harry G. Hoffman
Editor The Gazette

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt gave her unqualified support to Sen. John F. Kennedy here Wednesday night, declaring that it is time that the United States has a president who will live up to his responsibilities and provide the leadership that is needed in the White House.

The acknowledged First Lady of the World, showing no fatigue from either her 76 years or her day-long tour through southern West Virginia, gave two talks during her Charleston visit—first before a small private dinner gathering in her honor, and later before a rainy night crowd of more than 2,000 at Municipal Auditorium.

Mrs. Roosevelt said she was impressed by Kennedy as a man of courage, energy, imagination and determination, and saw a reflection of her late husband in the way the Democratic nominee is approaching the economic problems of West Virginia and other areas.

Those present at the dinner preceding her auditorium appearance were reluctant to ask her to speak, fearing it would be imposing on her time and energy. But, despite the fact she had been on the go since 6:30 a. m., she assured her listeners that she would be happy to speak briefly or answer any questions.

Someone suggested that she tell why she is now for Sen. Kennedy, considering that she was a staunch supporter of Adlai Stevenson for the Democratic nomination.

“Well,” she said, “the alternative is, from my point of view, quite unthinkable. But, I know it is not enough merely to be against someone; we must be fore someone, and I have no hesitancy about being for Sen. Kennedy.”

She said in the recent television debates, as well as on other occasions, Kennedy stood out as a knowledgable [sic] man of forthright decision who spoke with clarity and understanding.

The contrast to Vice President Richard Nixon, she said, was striking. “Much of what Mr. Nixon said was evasion—‘I’m going to make a major speech next week so I’ll tell you nothing tonight’.”

“I was delighted,” said Mrs. Roosevelt, “that we had no such evasive tactics from Sen. Kennedy.”

The widow of the nation’s only four-term President stressed particularly Kennedy’s courage, which she said he has demonstrated on many occasions.

“I last witnessed this at the recent conference on civil rights in New York,” she related. “There were many who said he should not hold the conference, that they6 feared it could not be a success because people would not pay their own way to come.

“But Sen. Kennedy is a man of courage and confidence; he went forward with his conference and the delegates did come. They came 400 strong from all over the country, Negroes and whites alike, each paying his own way.

“It was a wonderful meeting. Sen. Kennedy learned first hand about this problem in all its aspects, and I’m sure the final findings on this conference will be his guidepost on civil rights.

“Sen. Kennedy has a great sense of responsibility in this and other problems—and this is something that is needed after all these years of a president who has said nothing except that the law must be obeyed.

Certainly, the law must be obeyed, but more is needed because there are questions in the hearts and minds of men that can be answered only by understanding in the White House.

“I am sure that with Sen. Kennedy we will have clear-cut expressions of the way the President feels—and we haven’t had that for a long time.”

Mrs. Roosevelt, referring to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s antics before the United Nations assembly, said his apparently wild ravings were undertaken with a deliberate purpose in mind.

“Mr. Khrushchev is a smart man,” she said, “and his purpose was to drown out our position. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan made what was undoubtedly the best statement of the West’s position. Mr. Khrushchev’s assault on the United Nations was designed to steal the headlines from Mr. Macmillan’s sane approach, and to a great extent he succeeded.”

But, she added, Khrushchev also outsmarted himself, “for he struck fear into the new Afro-Asian nations, and it was these new members of the U. N. that he most wanted to win over.”


Mrs. FDR Takes Campaign in Stride

By Jerry Marsh
Sports Editor

Any candidate would like the support of Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a political campaign.

At 76, she stands up well after long hours of work and only tires “as anyone would at the end of a busy day.”

Speaking in Charleston Wednesday night at a democratic rally at the Municipal Auditorium and immediately thereafter at a press conference at the Daniel Boone, she looked fresh and smart in an e[n]semble composed of black wool and crepe.

The long-lined, fox-trimmed jacket was caught at the bosom with a self-fabric bow. The dress beneath was of basic design. The only detailing was at the neckline and it was V-shaped with cut-outs on either side.

Besides her wedding ring, her only jewelry was a metallic-colored neckline of three full-blown flowers spaced evenly on a rather wide chain.

She seems to like the phrase “as my husband used to say.” She used it several times in her rally talk as she reviewed West Virginia’s economic status; the President’s duties, and the struggle of Communism versus Democracy.

She even used the phrase when talking about the woman’s role in politics.

“Mr. Eisenhower was the first man to ever bring his wife into a campaign,” she said. “My husband used to say that ‘the President has to stand alone.’ The woman’s only duty to her husband at the White House is to act as official hostess, and anyone can do that.”

When she’s making short trips over the country in the interests of Sen. Kennedy and the Democratic Party in general, Mrs. Roosevelt travels alone.

“It’s only when I’m going to be away from home for three or four days on a lecturing trip that I take along my secretary,” she said. “I’ve a column to write, you know.”

At the rally, Mrs. Roosevelt walked on stage with four or five well-dressed Charleston women from the Kanawha County Democratic Headquarters. But she walked unaided and rather briskly to the podium and stood smiling as the Charleston crowd made her feel at home with their rousing applause.

She gestured with her hands when she meant to bring a point home to her listeners and pounded her fists on the podium when she remarked that each American “must be an alert citizen.”

Her familar [sic] high-pitched voice came down several octaves and was firm and meaningful when she said “we have to work for Democracy to make it strive ahead.”

Leaving Charleston Wednesday night in a private plane for New York, Mrs. Roosevelt will again take up the campaign trail at noon today with a speech in her homestate of New York.

To use the word remarkable in describing Mrs. Roosevelt isn’t quite good enough. But, then again, Daniel Webster couldn’t have known that a woman named Eleanor Roosevelt was going to be born in 1884.


State People Pay Tribute To Mrs. FDR

Former First Lady Outdraws Candidates in Campaign Tour

By James A. Haught
Staff Writer

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt attracted larger crowds than the candidates themselves—and outdrew Gov. Underwood in three consecutive appearances—in a Bluefield-to-Charleston campaign tour Wednesday.

At Mt. Hope, the 76-year-old grand duchess of the Democratic Party arrived in town in a 50-car caravan at the same moment that Underwood’s helicopter was perched at the school football stadium. Six hundred turned out to greet Mrs. Roosevelt. Two hundred listened to the Governor.

At Oak Hill, Mrs. Roosevelt was surrounded by more than 1,000, despite spitting rain. Underwood appeared at Oak Hill earlier in the day and attracted “about 50 adults and a number of children,” police said.

At Fayetteville, the widow of Franklin D. Roosevelt was cheered by nearly 1,000. Earlier that day, Underwood spoke to 100 Fayetteville adults plus pupils from schools, the police chief said.

The frail Mrs. Roosevelt, bundled warmly as she spoke from an open convertible or from hastily arranged platforms, also drew large throngs at Mercer County Airport near Bluefield (estimated 2,500 listeners), on the courthouse lawn at Princeton (3,000), on the Concord College campus at Athens (1,500 students and adults), at the courthouse at Hinton (1,500), at the courthouse in Beckley (1,500), on a street at Gauley Bridge (400) and downtown in Montgomery (1,000).

In her renowned quavery voice, Mrs. Roosevelt made roughly the same remarks at each of the stops, urging her listeners to support the Kennedy-Johnson ticket and put “a man in the White House who really leads.”

“I have had experience with the economic troubles in your state,” she said in several places. “And all through these Republican years, I’ve been hearing our leaders say that something is going to be done. But nothing has been done.

“Automation is a basic problem. It’s coming in many industries, and the difficulty must be met by all, including the government.

“I have asked Sen. Kennedy what he intends to do with this problem, and he told me that he already has called a special conference to study West Virginia’s economic difficulties.

“It is gratifying to see someone determined to try to find a solution to the problems of depressed areas.”

She also praised Kennedy repeatedly as a “youthful, vigorous, imaginative” man, and urged his election as “a good public servant.”

At Athens, she touched briefly on her long-time favorite among politicians, Adlai Stevenson, intimating perhaps that she would like to see him get a cabinet post if Kennedy is elected.

We haven’t advanced much toward a peaceful world in the past few years,” she told the gathering composed mostly of students. “Our political problems have remained unsolved. It will take a new approach to solve them.

“John Kennedy, with Adlai Stevenson to help him on foreign policy, can solve the problems.”

She also told the group that “young people have a tremendous stake in the next election.”

At several towns, she spoke tongue-in-cheek of the celebrated Kennedy-Nixon televised debates.

“It seemed to me that, in the first debate, Mr. Nixon looked dreadfully ill,” she said. “The next day we were told that this was due to poor makeup.

“Then in the second debate, Mr. Nixon had a vigorous round face, and we were told that this was due to good makeup.

“Mr. Kennedy used no makeup at all. Don’t you think it’s better to have a man who shows himself as he really is? The way people look reveals their character.”

She also spoke with humor about Harry Truman’s “bad language” and Nixon’s “sermon” on the subject.

“I wonder how many children really are hurt by hearing occasional bad language,” she said with a smile.

“I wish perhaps that Mr. Truman hadn’t used those ‘hells’ and ‘damns’ . . . but Mr. Truman was a great President.

“I really don’t think it was worth all of Mr. Nixon’s sermon.”

At Beckley, she chided Nixon’s ignorance about depressed areas.

“He’s been around the world,” she said, “but I don’t think he learned much. There are places in this country where people go to bed hungry.”

Several “amens” were shouted from the crowd at this statement.

She said that Kennedy “understands” the distress faced by depressed areas and is working to find a solution.

“His approach to the matter reminds me of my late husband,” she said.

She also commented several times on Quemoy and Matsu, saying she didn’t believe the controversial islands off the China mainland “are worth the risk of atomic war.”

She said that Nixon has been “appealing to your patriotism by saying that U. S. prestige would suffer” if Quemoy and Matsue weren’t defended by America, but she added:

“When we are right, our prestige is safe.”


GOP Desperation

Johnson Warns Of Sneak Punch

By Don Marsh
Staff Writer

Huntington. – Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson said Monday that Democrats should be prepared for a “sneak punch” in the presidential campaign.

“None of us really knows what this ‘sneak punch’ will be,” he said. “We only know from past experience that when the Republicans become desperate one can be expected.”

The Democratic vice presidential candidate, swinging South again, stopped here en route to Winston-Salem, N. C.

He spoke to an audience of about 1,100 in the Circuit Court room. A cold rain reduced the size of the crowd.

Johnson emphasized what he implied was the danger of the Republican Party making irresponsible charges in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Mimeographed excerpts of his address given to the press, were devoted solely to the theme. However, he covered it in abut five minutes of his 45-minutes speech.

“We might as well brace ourselves here in West Virginia. We’re ready for ‘em down in Texas. A wild swing is coming. We are facing a candidate who has gone through a long series of campaigns which he was won by swinging the wild haymaker.”

Otherwise, Johnson spoke in a strongly liberal vein, emphasizing the Democratic Party’s role in introducing social welfare legislation.

“What about the New Deal?” he asked: “Yes, there was some money wasted; some crackpot professors got in there. But the important thing is we restored confidence—and we saved the republic!”

Johnson said the Republican ticket of Nixon and Lodge were the spiritual heirs of McKinley, Harding and Coolidge.

He said they were part of the administration that had vetoed depressed area bills, opposed minimum wage bills and supported an inadequate medical care program.

He said America’s space, defense and foreign policies aren’t what they should be and aren’t what they will be if Sen. Kennedy and he are elected.

He said this country would be sending technicians instead of tanks and doctors instead of destroyers to under-developed nations if there is a Democratic administration.

“We can fire a missile a thousand miles in space—but we can’t get rid of two miles of surplus wheat stored in Kansas,” he said. “We can store bales of cotton—but there are naked bodies all over the world.”

Johnson’s four-engine Electra was nearly an hour late when it landed at Tri-State Airport at 12:30 p. m.

It started raining at almost precisely the moment he stepped from the plane. He wore a brown suit, a light overcoat and a Texas style hat. It wasn’t big enough to be a 10 gallon one, exactly, somewhere nearer five.

A group of about 200 waited in the rain to meet him. On hand were several Democratic leaders, including Sen. Robert C. Byrd and State Chairman Hulett C. Smith.

Sen. Jennings Randolph and gubernatorial nominee W. W. Barron met him at the courthouse.

A 40-car motorcade took Johnson the eight miles to town. He rode in a closed car and the caravan passed through suburban areas without causing demonstrations.

A poster-plastered speaker’s stand on the courthouse lawn was abandoned in the downpour. The weather caused Johnson to cancel plans for a helicopter jump to the nearby Ohio communities of Portsmouth and Ironton.

Johnson said signs of panic are evident in the GOP campaign. He said Vice President Richard Nixon and his running mate can’t agree on cabinet appointments, aid to private schools or what each other says.

Johnson referred to a statement by Henry Cabot Lodge that a Negro will be appointed to Nixon’s cabinet if he is elected. Nixon said not necessarily.

Punching the air with his index finger for emphasis Johnson said:

“I am not concerned with who the Vice President is going to put in the cabinet, because he’s not going to appoint anyone, anyway.

“I don’t think there should be a special place in the Cabinet for a Negro, or a Catholic, or a Baptist or a Texan. I am for putting the best qualified man into the job.”

Johnson said Lodge said he approved aid for private schools; and that Nixon said he didn’t. After a meeting between Nixon and Lodge, Johnson said, Nixon told reporters that they hadn’t talked about Negroes in the cabinet and Lodge told them that they had.

The tall Texan also criticized the Republican theme that Nixon has maturity and experience. He said Gov. Rockefeller was able to change Nixon’s views on many subjects during a meeting before the Republican National Convention.

“Rockefeller stripped him of the convictions of a lifetime. The next morning he left there (the meeting) half naked, with his platform stripped. If an ‘inexperienced’ governor can turn him a 180 degree flip-flop in one night, what could Khrushchev do to him if he had him in the kitchen all day?”

Johnson said Republicans have Rockefeller talking for them in the North and Barry Goldwater talking for them in the South.

“Goldwater puts on a string tie, a slouch hat and holds a mint julep in his hand and says, ‘Well, what we say in the North, we don’t mean’.”

He praised Sen. Kennedy and said that he had often regarded himself as West Virginia’s third senator.

“I can’t speak for him, but if Jack Kennedy’s got any gratitude, you’ll have a President that’s interested in you, too.”


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