CLARKSBURG — When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago, West Virginia lost its best friend, politically speaking, according to area political scientists and local history buffs.
Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, had formed a bond with the predominantly Protestant West Virginia after he defeated Hubert Humphrey in the May 1960 presidential primary, they said.
“West Virginia was good for Kennedy, and Kennedy was good to West Virginia,” said Robert Rupp, a professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College. “He said, ‘If I can win the primary, I will win the general election and I will help West Virginia.’
“He made good on his promise” by creating aid programs to help the impoverished in West Virginia once he became president, said Rupp, who is writing a book on the state’s battleground role in the 1960 primary.
Kennedy and Humphrey spent a month campaigning across West Virginia, and Clarksburg was among the whistle stops, local history buff Rod Rogers said.
The Kennedy campaign headquarters was at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, now Chase Bank, but the Kennedys actually spent a lot of time at Dave’s Restaurant in Nutter Fort, said Rogers, who was 7 years old at the time.
“The national press was here,” he said. “They (Kennedy and Humphrey) weren’t here just one time. They were here numerous times.”
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