Monday, April 25, 1960
JFK was in Logan County, West Virginia for the first time. He had been touring the state in an all out blitz to beat Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary.
He started the day in Williamson, West Virginia and then went to Shaheen’s Shopping Center owned by Bill Abraham in Main Island Creek. He was accompanied by Claude Ellis, who was the campaign coordinator for Logan County and other local notables like Bill Abraham, Tom Godby, Dan Dahill, and Alex DeFobio.
The local crowds were reportedly dazzled by the young, charismatic Kennedy as he emerged from his motorcade to speak to them.
Afterwards, JFK’s motorcade followed along the creek to the city of Logan, where he held a rally in the evening of April 25, 1960 on the steps of the courthouse. Local attorney Dan Dahill described it as “a carnival atmosphere.”
During the day, Kennedy brought up his Catholicism and told the crowd, “I refuse to believe that I was denied the right to be president the day I was baptized.”
By all accounts, JFK and his siblings campaigned hard in West Virginia and did not shy from interacting with the local Mountaineers. Howver, the Kennedy family money also paved the way for a pivotal primary victory with Jack capturing 60% of the vote.
Apparently, the leader of the Humphrey forces in Logan County – Raymond Chaffin – switched his allegiance to JFK the day before the primary. Later, Chaffin admitted that his group had received a $35,000 “cash compensation” at that late hour, convincing him to switch sides.
Throughout the rest of his political career, JFK was grateful to the people of West Virginia for giving him the political victory needed to springboard himself to the Democratic nomination.
“I would not be where I now am, I would not have some of the responsibilities which I now bear, if it had not been for the people of West Virginia.”
President John F. Kennedy, June 20, 1963
[127, p. 228]