Given the Troubling Reach of Ron Paul’s Political Shadow, Senator Rand Paul Will Deserve a Fair Hearing—But Not a Free Ride—If He Runs for President
During the 1960 presidential campaign, after Protestant Minister Norman Vincent Peal questioned the fitness of a Catholic to be elected president, Adlai Stevenson quipped: “I find St. Paul appealing, but Rev. Paul appalling.” More than half a century later, the 2016 presidential race may face a second “Pauline” moment.
When John F. Kennedy ran for president everybody knew that his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, had won himself no friends in the Jewish community for his Isolationist views during his service as U.S. Ambassador to the UK in the 1930s. This was the context in which JFK made big news during the 1960 campaign. Wanting MLK’s support, the Kennedy campaign faced problems getting it—including an endorsement of Nixon by Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. on religious grounds. Then King, Jr., was arrested in Georgia, and JFK not only called Coretta personally, but exerted behind-the-scenes influence to get her husband released. MLK all but endorsed JFK, and even “Daddy King” relented.
According to Kennedy aide Harris Wofford, Kennedy told him: “Did you see what Martin’s father said? He was going to vote against me because I was a Catholic, but since I called his daughter-in-law, he will vote for me. That was a hell of a bigoted statement, wasn’t it? Imagine Martin Luther King having a bigot for a father!” Then Kennedy added that he had told the younger King “he understood and not to worry ‘because we all have fathers.’”
This story is brought to mind by recent news that former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul—and father of Kentucky and potential presidential aspirant Rand Paul—will journey to Canada, north of Niagara Falls, to deliver a September keynote at the “Fatima: The Path to Peace” conference, a “traditionalist” Catholic movement akin to actor Mel Gibson’s religious brand, noted for attacking Jews as “the perpetual enemy of Christ.”