Two Kansans Mentioned in Vanity Fair RFK Article

It was another very sad time in 1968.. 40 years ago this weekend, America mourned the assassination of another Kennedy.  Robert Kennedy was slain by Sirhan Sirhan after winning the California Presidential Primary.  His loss was a major story for a few days during the nation's 2008 Presidential campaign.. and is receiving some notice of remembrance in the national headlines.  I hope you caught my interview with author Ray Boomhower, whose book, "Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary" was featured Thursday on 13 NEWS AT 4.  (We're also showing on the Video Player this weekend, so you can see it.)

But don't miss the Vanity Fair article in the June edition.. "The Last Good Campaign."  The article includes stories with two Kansans you may have heard about before.  (One of them running for U.S. Senate.)   Here are some excerpts from the article, about RFK's visit to K-State.

"Kennedy ate a second breakfast at the K-State Student Union, where he told a group of university officials and student leaders, "Some of you may not like what you're going to hear in a few minutes, but it's what I believe; and if I'm elected President, it's what I'm going to do."  Before leaving for the Ahearn Field House, where the rally would be held, he stopped in the men's room and stood at a urinal next to Dan Lykins, head of KSU Collegians for Kennedy.  Lykins tried making small talk.  Kennedy cut him off and asked, "What kind of a reception do you think I'll get?"

"There's more anti-war sentiment here than people think, and my gut feeling is that people loved your brother."

"But what kind of a reception will I GET?"

"(Eugene) McCarthy has some support, but I think they'll give you a standing ovation."

"I hope you're right," Kennedy said grimly.

The students jumped up, cheering, stamping their feet, and scuffling up clouds of dust that dimmed the light and hung like smoke.  They cheered because Kennedy was youthful and handsome, John Kennedy's brother, and he reminded them of happier times.  17 year old Kevin Rochat, the son of a KSU official, cheered because he thought everything had gone wrong since JFK's assassination, and only his brother could make it right.  Ralph Titus, who managed the university radio station, believes these conservative students cheered because Vietnam had made them uneasy. 

Kennedy himself looked so nervous and vulnerable that Jim Slattery, head of the Kennedy for President Club at nearby Washburn University, had a sudden urge to climb onto the platform and hug him.  He thought, "Come on!  You're my guy!"  Slattery, who would later be elected to Congress from Kansas, reread the KSU speech during the second Iraq war and decided it was so powerful "because Kennedy was talking about what was right."  As Bobby started to leave, waves of students rushed the platform, knocking over chairs and raising more dust.

Photographer Stan Tetrick of Look Magazine, watched the melee, and shouted, "This is Kansas!  He's going all the way!"

-Thurston Clarke, Vanity Fair

(Robert Kennedy died on the morning of June 6th, the day after he was shot in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.)   Please leave your thoughts with us.  To read the entire Kennedy article, check out     RH


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