John F. Kennedy photo

Press Conference of Senator John F. Kennedy, Bannock Hotel, Pocatello, Idaho

September 06, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here. I want to make a statement on one matter. I talked this morning to the State Department in regard to the inquiry which I had addressed yesterday to them in response to reports in a newspaper in regard to the fueling of Russian planes in Athens. In talking to Mr. Herter's assistant, he informs me that the field is a field under the control of the Greek Government. Some planes from Russia have flown through there and have been refueled. They stated that they were on a food mission. He is going to inform me later in the day whether the flights have been continued or are continuing at the present time. But I think that the explanation that Secretary Herter's assistant gave was completely satisfactory, and obviously they were concerned about the matter and were following it closely themselves.

QUESTION. Senator, whom did you talk to, Bill Macomber?

Senator KENNEDY. No, my representative talked to Mr. Krebs. We are going to talk to him later in the day about what the exact status of these flights is at the present time.

QUESTION. Who was your representative, sir?

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Salinger talked to him.

QUESTION. What was your reaction in general to yesterday's campaign, Senator.

Senator KENNEDY. Well, I thought it was an excellent day from our point of view, and I think probably one of the best that I have experienced. In addition, I thought it was very impressive from Michigan's point of view. I thought the State and the people there showed a good deal of vitality and cooperation and spirit. Therefore, I thought it was a very impressive day.

QUESTION. Senator, turning to today's campaigning, how important do you think the western tier of States and votes are going to be and how hard do you think it will be to gain success in these Western States?

Senator KENNEDY. Well, I think the Western States are important. Idaho is important - the fact that Frank Church was the keynoter for our [National]* convention. Also, if you put all the Rocky Mountain States and the coast States together, they represent a very important segment of the electoral college. It is for that reason that I have come to Pocatello and to Idaho again.

QUESTION. Senator, we are growing surplus crops in Idaho and we have been restricted on sugar beet growing. Yet we are importing sugar from foreign countries. What would you do if elected President on this particular situation?

Senator KENNEDY. Well, I would attempt to sustain the income of the sugar beet people. Of course, we are going to have to continue to import sugar from abroad. We could not possibly fulfill our domestic needs. But I do think we ought to make a balance which will sustain the income of local sugar producers and also meet the needs of the American consuming public. Actually, a good deal of agriculture has had difficulty, ranging far beyond sugar beets, and in this State.

QUESTION. Senator Kennedy, we here in this part of the State are interested in Burns Creek. We know that although most people are for it, it was defeated and did not even get out of the House. How do you feel about the Burns Creek and other reclamation projects?

Senator KENNEDY. I don't know enough about it to give you a comment on it.

QUESTION. Senator Kennedy

Senator KENNEDY. It did not come to the Senate, did it?

QUESTION. It passed the Senate.

Senator KENNEDY. You will have to inform me again. It is early in the morning.

QUESTION. The Burns Creek bill passed the Senate. It was defeated in the House by the committee. The committee did not take it up before the House adjourned.

Senator KENNEDY. Frank Church and I are flying out together. I am sure he will tell me about it for the rest of the morning.

QUESTION. What are your farm plans for grains, sugar beets, and potatoes?

Senator KENNEDY. Well, I think, of course, that the other commodities I would hope to try to reach a balance on between supply and demand after making a determination of what the potential demand might be in the United States and in the markets overseas and for our surplus distributions in the United States. Any needs that we might have in order to fulfill the security requirements of the United States. And then I would attempt to provide a balance between that demand and the supply. What we are attempting to do is cut down the over-production which helps to break the price.

QUESTION. Senator Kennedy, especially in relation to cobalt, are you in favor of any cut in mineral import quotas?

Senator KENNEDY. I supported strongly the bill which was vetoed by the President, which I think was perhaps the only fair and effective solution that we would have had for the problems of the mineral industry in this State and county. The problems of the mineral industry in Idaho I think are probably more serious than they have ever been before. What is true of Idaho is true - particularly in lead and zinc and some of the other mines, cobalt - through the whole western range. I would think that that represents the most effective solution. The difficulties we are presently experiencing in the Congo are going to possibly have an effect on cobalt. But generally I would put the emphasis on the program which the President vetoed. I think if that bill had passed it would have meant relief to a good many miners and mines in this State and around the west.

QUESTION. Senator, in Indianapolis yesterday, former President Truman, speaking in behalf of the ticket, said of Vice President Nixon, "While he stands at the front door proclaiming charity and tolerance, his supporters are herding the forces of racial, religious, and antiunion bigotry in by way of the back door. And no one will ever make me believe he is not smart enough to know what is going on." Do you have any comment on that?

Senator KENNEDY. No. I did not see the statement of the President. I think you are familiar with the fact that I did not plan to comment on Vice President Nixon or any of his actions until he is out of the hospital. Therefore, I am not participating in any way in any attack on the Vice President at this time.

QUESTION. Senator Kennedy, if I may ask for some information on the Democratic platform, certain proposals of the platform have been opposed in Congress by members of the Democratic Party, notably toughening amendments on the defense reorganization bill and the change in the national quota system of the McCarran-Walter Act. My question is, If you are elected, how will you go about making good on these sections of the platform which have been opposed by some members of your party in Congress?

Senator KENNEDY. Well, the platform represents the viewpoint of the majority of the Democrats speaking as representatives of the party at the party convention. I support strongly that platform. I think in my legislative career, in the matters on immigration - I am thinking of those now particularly because we have had no bills dealing with that matter before us in the special session so we are really talking about the past - but I feel committed to the platform and would do my best, if elected, to implement it, and I think that the power of the Presidency is great. We have not had control of the Presidency for 8 years, and it is very difficult for the Congress, which is a partner of the Executive, to carry out a program in opposition to the wishes of the Executive. The platform on these matters we are going to attempt to carry out if elected.

QUESTION. Senator Kennedy, Congressman Budge from this district is a new member of the House Rules Committee. Have you any comment on the role of the Rules Committee in this special session?

Senator KENNEDY. Yes, the Rules Committee, of course, bottled up two important bills in the House of Representatives. One was dealing with aid to education, and one dealt with the housing bill. Both of those bills would have been very important to the State of Idaho. The Republican members of the Rules Committee refused to vote any of them, to permit these bills to come to the floor of the House. From reports I have read they evidently agreed to have the House go to conference on minimum wage only because they understood that the House conferees would not budge from the House bill, which was $1.15 and hopelessly inadequate. Therefore, I feel that this was an unfortunate act because I think both of those bills are essential. I think that it is difficult for me to understand, in view of the commitments which have been made by many Republicans to housing and education bills, why at least one of them would not vote to permit those bills to come to the floor of the House. It is true that several Democrats joined the Republicans, and I disagree strongly with them. But the majority of Democrats voted in the Rules Committee to permit both of those bills to go to the floor of the House so the House could vote. The Senate had passed both of those bills.

QUESTION. Senator, yesterday's news releases indicate that you might be against automation.

Senator KENNEDY. No, I am not. But I do think it is a real problem, because we are concerned about the effect it has on employment. Automation is constantly with us. Without automation this country would not move, nor would the industrial revolution move. So I am for automation. But I am concerned that the Federal Government use its influence to lessen the impact of new machinery on men, on employment. I saw the result of it most vividly in the coal areas. I am sure you felt it in the mines here in the West, with new machinery, and of course, we have an example - well, you find it in every industry, particularly in mining. So I would think that the Federal Government should interest itself in this as a national problem in the 1960's, so that machines bring a better life and not unemployment.

QUESTION. Thank you, Senator.



John F. Kennedy, Press Conference of Senator John F. Kennedy, Bannock Hotel, Pocatello, Idaho Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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