Thursday, November 12, 1959
November 12, 1959
November 12, 1959
Accompanied by his wife Jackie, JFK made his first trip to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to campaign for the April 5, 1960 primary. Kennedy was in potentially hostile territory for a Democrat from the East. The Chippewa Valley was solidly Republican and the Democrats in the area strongly favored neighboring Minnesotan Hubert H. Humphrey.
Wisconsin had an early primary and Kennedy was going all out to show that he had broad electoral support. Primaries were still an underused tool for candidates seeking the Presidency. Most delegates were still picked in smoke-filled back rooms by party bosses.
While in Eau Claire he visited the campus of what was then the Wisconsin State College at Eau Claire. Eager to show his gravitas, Kennedy spoke about national security issues, saying that it was imperative that the United States beat the Soviet Union in the space race and predicting that Latin America, “may well pose a threat to our own security far greater than that posed by any distant corner of the globe.”
He also played to regional issues, saying in Bloomer and Chippewa Falls that he supported the need to raise milk price supports (something he had been against previously) and calling the farm issue the top domestic issue in that year’s election.
In the evening of November 12, 1959, JFK attended a reception at the Eau Claire Elks Club that was attended by 300 people, many of them women formally attired in dresses, heels, hats and gloves who were keen to shake hands with his wife.
JFK would later return to the Eau Claire area to campaign on February 26, 1960, that time drawing a crowd of 1000 to the evening reception at the Elks Club.