April 14 Convocation: The Primary That Made A President - The 1960 Presidential Contest


In the spring of 1960, West Virginia was in the national spotlight as John F. Kennedy spent five weeks in the state campaigning against Sen. Hubert Humphrey in the presidential primary. His victory not only propelled him to the nomination of his party, but also undermined the conventional wisdom that a Catholic could not be elected president.  As one of only a few primaries in 1960, a victory in West Virginia was crucial to Kennedy for it would prove that he could win in a strongly Protestant state. As a headline in the Parkersburg (WV) paper proclaimed: “Kennedy will either bury the religious issue or it will bury him.” Dr. Robert Rupp will discuss both the logistics and the importance of Kennedy’s battle in West Virginia—and why this primary “made a president.”

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