MAY 25, 2012
WISCONSIN AND WEST VIRGINIA V
Kenneth O'Donnell writes about the religious issue which threatened the Kennedy campaign in the West Virginia primary of 1960.
Kenny says that JFK decided to speak out on the religious prejudice that could cost him the election. Some advisers, including Kenny, thought this was a mistake.
"Let's face it. It's the most important & the biggest issue in this campaign."
Senator Kennedy faced the issue for the 1st time at a rally in Morgantown, but he did so "on the spur of the moment."
"Nobody asked me if I was a Catholic when I joined the United States Navy."
And continued by asking his audience if 40 million American (Catholics) lost their right to run for the Presidency on the day of their baptism.
On the Sunday before election day, Senator Kennedy appeared on a TV program. He once again faced the religious issue head on. Teddy White would write that this was "the finest TV broadcast I have ever heard any political candidate make."
Mr. White remembered this from that broadcast. Senator Kennedy said:
"When any man....takes the oath of office as President, he is swearing to support the separation of church & state.....if he breaks his oath, he is not only committing a crime against the Constitution....but he is committing a sin against God."