FROM Laurence Leamer's new book, "The Kennedy Women...

salmagundi

July 26, 1994

FROM Laurence Leamer's new book, "The Kennedy Women," comes this Baltimore vignette from the 1972 presidential campaign, in which Eunice Kennedy Shriver's husband, R. Sargent Shriver, was the Democratic candidate for vice president on George McGovern's ticket (opposing Richard M. Nixon):

"In mid-October, in Baltimore, Eunice attended a beer party for state Senator Joseph Staszak. Eunice was a Democrat the way she was a Catholic, eternally wedded to its verities. To her a man like Staszak, who had just announced that he was supporting Nixon, was a political traitor. She could hardly abide the sight of this room festooned with banners and posters emblazoned DEMOCRATS FOR NIXON.

"She boldly marched up to the stage, took a microphone, and started to speak to the 900 guests. 'Good afternoon,' she began. Eunice had not even gotten into her pitch for Sarge and McGovern when John Jakubik, a Democratic committeeman, tried to yank the microphone out of her hand. 'I haven't finished yet,' she said, and wrested the microphone back.

" 'I'm from a proud Irish family and I know you're proud of your heritage,' she said, her voice barely carrying to the back of the hall.

" 'I came here to dance not to listen to this garbage,' a man shouted.

"Eunice finished her little speech and left. Eunice couldn't help but be discouraged at the failure of Americans to understand her husband's message. 'It's just the mood of the country right now,' she rationalized in mid-October. 'They're not listening to anyone.' "

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