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Reuther Cool to Endorsement of RFK for VP

Mar. 22, 1964 - Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Workers, today brushed aside a proposal that the union endorse Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (pictured with UAW officials) for Vice President. The proposal was made at the union’s convention by John McCarrell, president of Fisher Body Local 544 in Pittsburgh.

Reuther declared: “I think we could do nothing more damaging to Bobby Kennedy than to get him involved in running for the Vice President under these circumstances. Sometimes your friends are your worst enemies on these kinds of things.”

Reuther’s remarks were well received by the 2,300 delegates attending the convention in Convention Hall in Atlantic City.

Reuther explained following the convention’s afternoon session that a union endorsement of Kennedy would damage the Attorney General “because nobody runs for the Vice President.”

Reports have circulated that President Johnson, who will speak before the convention tomorrow, is angered over what he believes is an effort by the Attorney General to capture the Vice-Presidential nomination. Both men have denied any rift.

Reuther told the delegates, in response to McCarrell’s proposal: “The Democratic party will meet in this convention hall in August, and when it meets I am sure that it will be able to work out that problem, and certainly the President of the United States is going to have considerable to say about that.”

The subject arose less than 30 minutes after Robert Kennedy left the hall. He had accepted the union’s social justice award to President Kennedy on behalf of the President’s widow.

The union leadership has avoided taking any public position on the Vice-Presidential nomination. However, a number of the union’s top leaders privately favor Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota.

In his talk today, Robert Kennedy recalled that the auto workers had been among his brother’s strongest supporters. He said he thought of his brother “really as the President of the young people,” those young in age and in spirit.

“I think of all the things that still remain to be done,” Kennedy said.

But he noted that President Johnson had already shown that he intended to move ahead with President Kennedy’s program, and he expressed confidence that Mr. Johnson would have nine years to progress toward those goals.


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