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RFK Speaks at UAW Conference

Feb. 19, 1964 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy paid a brief, sentimental visit today to an enthusiastic and friendly union audience today in Washington, D.C. He told the audience it was his first public appearance since his brother was assassinated. An aide explained later that it was Mr. Kennedy’s first direct speech to a nongovernmental group since the President was killed Nov. 22. The Attorney General made public appearances during his recent trip to the Far East and has appeared on television in the U.S.

Mr. Kennedy’s visit with the 700 delegates that made up the General Motors subcouncils of the United Automobile Workers’ Union was billed as nonpolitical. But the Attorney General, who is prominent among those being mentioned for the Democratic Vice-Presidential nomination, acted very much like a politician. He entered the long hall at the Mayflower Hotel at the back and worked his way down the main aisle, shaking hands and saying hello. The Attorney General then told the delegates that he wanted to speak to them because there was no other organization with which President Kennedy had been more closely identified than their union.

“You played a major role in putting him in the White House and made it possible for him to achieve at least part of his program,” the Attorney General said. “He always had a very special place in his heart for the U.A.W.” He told the delegates he wanted to thank them on behalf of the whole Kennedy family for the support they had given the President during his lifetime and their expressions of sympathy when he was killed. The union men and women cheered and applauded Mr. Kennedy warmly before and after his speech.

The Attorney General looked fit. He seems to have shed his air of melancholy. He spoke of his brother’s death matter-of-factly, although it obviously required an effort to do so. As he left the hall, a delegate in the balcony leaned over the railing and yelled: “Attaboy, Bobby!” The Attorney General responded with a grin and a wave.


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