Interview with Kenneth M. Birkhead, November 12, 1975

Project: Earle C. Clements Oral History Project

Interview Summary

Former Assistant to Senator Earle Clements, Kenneth Birkhead describes his first meeting with Clements in 1952 when Birkhead was with the House Congressional Campaign Committee. He talks about Clements' support for Alben Barkley for president during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1952, and his own participation. Birkhead talks about Clements' feelings toward Adlai Stevenson as a presidential candidate, Clements' work on the Senate Campaign Committee, and the reason for Clements' quick rise to an influential position in the Senate.

He discusses Clements' relationship with Lyndon Johnson, Clements' admiration of Hubert Humphrey, Clements' lack of close personal friends in the Senate, senators Clements did not like, and Clements' opinion of Joseph McCarthy. He talks about Clements as a moderate progressive; and Clements' reaction to Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation decision. He talks about Lyndon Johnson, and Clements' relationship with the Eisenhower administration. He talks about Clements as a pragmatist, Clements' relationship with the news media, and Clements as secretive.

He discusses the effect of Johnson's heart attack on Clements' role with the Senate Campaign Committee, and Johnson and Clements' relationship with the Democratic National Committee. He talks about Clements' relationship with A.B. "Happy" Chandler, reasons for Clements' defeat by Thruston Morton in the 1956 Senatorial campaign, Clements' support for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and Clements' relationship with Alben Barkley. He talks about Clements as a fund-raiser for the Senate Campaign Committee, the importance of polls to Clements, and gives his own opinion on why Clements returned to Kentucky as Highway Commissioner under Governor Bert Combs. He says Clements was strong-willed, and also says Clements was given only two hours' notice of his daughter Bess Clements' wedding to Tyler Abell.

Interview Accession

1975oh033_clem006

Interviewee Name

Kenneth M. Birkhead

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1975-11-12

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Birkhead, Kenneth M. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 12 Nov. 1975. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Birkhead, K.M. (1975, November 12). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. Earle C. Clements Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Birkhead, Kenneth M., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. November 12, 1975, Earle C. Clements Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7qjq0str6p