Newspaper Articles

Charleston Gazette
April 9, 1960

Johnson Lying in Wait Here

Doris Fleeson

MILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin primary outcome leaves the political picture much the same, but for all the principal figures in it, this is not good enough.

Sen. John Kennedy performed handsomely so far from home, but he did not stampede the voters in a manner sufficient to impress the professional Democratic politicians doubtful of his appeal in a general election.

Sen. Hubert Humphrey proved that as a campaigner he has few peers. But the popular voting showed him still very much an underdog, while the lineup of districts emphasized that he still stands in the shadow of Adlai Stevenson.

Vice President Richard Nixon's poor showing is ominous for him and the Republican Party. Their strategy of no-contest for the nomination has backfired, and advance reports that he lacks personal appeal even for Republicans were supported. The farm revolt against the Eisenhower-Benson policies was again proved real. In this once heavily Republican state, it continues to lead to a realignment of the parties. Nationally, the proponents of drafting Gov. Nelson Rockefeller will be encouraged.

The flaw of religious bigotry appeared on both sides of the Democratic campaign, and the unhappy prospect is that no amount of preaching will make it go away. As an otherwise ebullient Sen. Humphrey remarked soberly in the early morning hours Wednesday, people are people.

The religious issue is a potential time bomb in the otherwise smoothly running Democratic machinery. How the party handles it will be a part of the 1960 story.

It was transcended in some parts of Wisconsin, and Kennedy emphasized this effectively. But unlike some of his ardent backers, he is realistic. He must go next into West Virginia, where his Catholic co-religionists are few and his private advices tell him that the formidable figure of Sen. Lyndon Johnson of Texas is lying in wait for him.

Senators have every occasion to learn that the Southerners have ways of handling their political problems against which Kennedy efficiency and Humphrey warmth can be made to seem merely amateurish. Humphrey is ahead in advance reports from West Virginia, but both he and Kennedy believe that the Senate majority leader is the enemy in them thar hills. It should be picturesque blood-letting, but it will be real political blood.

The Wisconsin rivals made good cases for themselves in their many telecasts and press conferences as the returns poured in. There were heart-warming moments when their paths crossed, as when Kennedy unobtrusively sought out Muriel Humphrey, put his arm around her and chatted with her. The very young Mrs. Kennedy was a gallant little red-sheathed ship during all the confusion; any parental heart had to beat more softly for her.

The real story of disappointed hopes and happier expectations appeared more plainly in the physical aspects of the senators. Kennedy is being hardened and cooled in the hot primary fires to which he has elected to expose himself. There was a droop to his shoulders and his watchful eyes were weary. Humphrey was bouncing like a rubber ball as he learned that no Kennedy blitz had materialized to silence the doubters.

The Minnesotan ended his evening on a typical Humphrey note. Asked by a telecaster if he believed now that his "image projected to the average middle-class voter," he replied:

"Brother, I don't get elected by peasants in Minnesota."

Kennedy Humor Brightens Campaign

Sen. John F. Kennedy, top Democratic presidential candidate, long since has answered questions about the relationship between his Catholicism and the government. But he keeps getting them thrown at him.

In this situation he is managing to keep his balance and in fact to inject a spirit of good humor which may help to eliminate some of the bitterness that many fear on the religious issue in this campaign.

Recently, in a New York speech he jokingly offered a "package deal" as follows:

"If they'll make the electoral college interdenominational, we'll open up the College of Cardinals."

Directing himself to those who say a Catholic would be under church domination, he kidded:

"I asked Cardinal Spellman what I should say if anyone asked if the Pope were infallible. He said, 'I don't know, Senator, but he keeps calling me Spillman.'"

Kennedy also met the issue of his father's money head on:

"My father wired me, 'Don't buy one more vote than necessary. I'll be damned if I'll pay for a landslide.'"

Would that more imaginary wires in such vein could be tossed into campaigns. We can all use the levity. - Niagara Falls Gazette

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