A lawyer and former staff member of the National Council of Churches, Wine was hired by the Kennedy campaign after the nominating convention to help manage and respond to the “religious problem” of JFK’s catholicism. He had become known, in part, to the campaign through his efforts in helping draft the “open letter” covering church-state issues during the West Virginia primary.
As part of his duties, Wine with the help of two assistants and two stenographers answered several hundred letters and inquiries a week, clarifying Kennedy’s stance on various religious and church-state issues.
JFK aide Ted Sorenson (who claimed credit for selecting Wine for the job) recalled in his Kennedy biography that Wine was instructed to never bring up the subject first, but rather to function only to “combat an attack.”
Wine and his team functioned throughout the campaign and he was intimately involved in prepping JFK for his famous September 12, 1960 speech to a gathering of Protestant ministers in Houston, Texas, even going so far as to grill Kennedy on possible questions on the flight to Texas.
Six months after the election, he was appointed Ambassador to Luxembourg and later Ambassador to the Ivory Coast. He was also appointed to several government positions dealing with refugee issues by the Johnson administration.
Wine was born in Huntington, West Virginia, attended the University of Kentucky law school, and died of congestive heart failure at age 71.