A good friend of mine named Jerry Doherty asked me to, he was running Indiana. I wasn't a particular fan of Bobby's; I became one after I worked on his campaign. Jerry asked me to go out to Indiana. It kind of reminds me of a story of a judge I use to take out to eat -- he called it "eating" -- but he would drink nine double stingers on the rocks at the Locke Ober Café. It cost me almost a week's pay to take him out, but he was a raconteur it was worth it. We'd go out. This guy was working for Jack Kennedy in West Virginia, and Jack's father came up to him and said, "We really thank you for working for Jack down here and giving up your law business and coming down here for a month." And he said, "Jack's an asshole! I'm workin' for Kenny O'Donnell who's a good friend of mine." That guy came up for a Federal judgeship and he didn't get it, and Joe called him up and said, "I didn't think you'd want to take an appointment from an asshole, so, we passed you over." I was working for, Jerry Doherty, who was a good guy, and I got to love Bobby Kennedy when I worked for him.
Malone: What kind of work were you doing for Kennedy?
Doyle: We organized huge phone pools. We'd get volunteers and we'd give them a script, and they'd call, and we'd . . . it was the primary, and he was running against Brannagan, who was Governor of Indiana, among other things. Indiana was so crooked, so openly crooked, that the Governor picked the Registers of Motor Vehicles in each town, and in the cities -- each ward had their own Registry, and the ward leader, the town Democratic leader, in their Democrat list, would become the Register of Motor Vehicles. Usually, the Registry was in the guy's garage or living room. The same thing with voting booths. The voting booths were in the ward leader's garage or living room. So when you went to vote in the primary, you'd have to go into Governor Brannagan's chosen lieutenant's voting booth. And when we said, "How come it's not in the schools?" they looked at us like we had two heads! How could anybody make money if it was in the schools? And every single state worker was docked from their pay, like the Community Chest or the United Fund. Five percent of their wage went to the Democratic party. Or if the Republicans by some odd chance won the election for Governor, it went to the Republican party. Right off their payroll! Deduction. So they had a different outlook.
I thought Massachusetts was crooked until I went to Indiana. In the main voting ward in Indianapolis, was Brannagan's headquarters. There was one voting machine with no curtain; two guys, one on each side of the machine, facing the machine as you voted, and behind the machine was a huge poster of Brannagan for Governor, in case you didn't get the message when you walked in the door -- it was Brannagan's headquarters -- and they watched you vote. That's the kind of thing we ran into in Indiana.
When Bobby Kennedy came to Indiana we had to deal with the Leapers and Jumpers. The Leapers would leap out of the crowd and grab him. His hands and wrists would be bloody with scratches at the end of the day, and swollen. He used to like French cuffs but he couldn't wear French cuffs because . . . they wouldn't steal the cufflinks but they'd just knock them off. He's lost two or three sets of cufflinks every single day, so he stopped wearing French cuffs. And then there were the Jumpers. You'd be in a motorcade going down the street and you'd look ahead and there would be people bobbing up and down, screaming Bobby! Bobby! It was a hell of a thing. Especially in the black wards in Indianapolis . . . Jack Kennedy . . .You'd go into these houses and they'd have a picture of Christ on the wall and they'd have a picture of Jack Kennedy, a campaign poster of Jack Kennedy on the wall. It was really spooky. You knew something was going to happen to Bobby. I worked a lot of campaigns and never had that feeling, you just knew something was going to happen. And the body guards, professional football players like Rosie Greer -- most of them were volunteers, it wasn't Secret Service type stuff. They were volunteers and there were some heavy duty athletes that were part of our entourage.
Malone: Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked The Pentagon Papers, and also worked for Bobby Kennedy, saw him the day before he was shot, and he was shocked because he just walked up to his hotel room in the evening and there was no security.
Doyle: There was never security like we have security now. Bobby's favorite saying, he'd whisper to somebody, "T.M.B.S., T.M.B.S.," and you'd run around and grab suit coat jackets off the guys. He'd say, "Too many blue suits! Too many blue suits!" In those days we all wore suits when we worked, and he didn't want us to look too formal or professional, he wanted us in our shirt sleeves, so we looked like "The People" (laughs). There was no security but there was an overwhelming sense, of dread. Because of what had happened to Jack, you just, were afraid. But it was also fun, everybody had a lot of fun. We weren't afraid of the Jumpers and the Leapers. The parochial schools would put the entire student body on the sidewalk, for two hours before the motorcade went past the school. It was just phenomenal, the reception he got.
Doyle: Lying in bed. Poppy had had a baby just before I went to Indiana, and so they said, "Why don't you take California off, and catch up with us in New York". We, both of us, were going to go over to work New York. We were just watching The Late Show in bed with the baby -- we had a whole bunch of babies -- the infant was in bed with us. We went to sleep, and I still don't know, because we came to, and he was being shot. I really don't know whether we saw it live or rerun. It was at the same time it happened. It was very difficult, we never really recovered from it. Nor did the country. I've never seen a candidate excite that kind of enthusiasm . . .
sitting in the backyard. I had a highschool class reunion planned . . . We have
this big farmhouse and were gonna have the reunion at our house. I had stocked
beer, and beer, and some beer, for the party. We were sitting in the backyard
absolutely blown away by the tragedy of his assassination. I canceled the high
school reunion, and we were just sitting in the back, and Poppy's father called
and said "Why are you there? The Boston Globe says you're on the
funeral train." We were quite upset that we didn't go
down and get on the funeral train. In the Boston Globe they had
reported that everyone on the invited list of people were on the train
and we were on it. We laughed because we realized how many times we'd
seen our names on lists of people who gave $1000, and we hadn't had $1000
in the bank for a long time. We realized that this was just kudos. They
didn't want to put us through the expense of going on the train, and they
wanted to put somebody on the train, so they put our name in and somebody
else on the seat. That was the level of camaraderie and acknowledgment that
you got with the Kennedy campaign
Bob Doyle was born, in 1937, at Northampton, Massachusetts. He attended public schools and graduated from Holy Cross College (1959), and obtained his law degree from Georgetown (1963). He served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1961, mostly at the Pentagon on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has practiced law in Northampton from 1963 to the present and has been active in Democratic politics ("it seems forever"). He lives in the foothills of the Berkshires. With his friend and colleague, Peter D'Errico, he has for the past decade represented, among others, traditional native peoples and nations. He is married to Poppy McCluskey and they have eight children. [Eric Malone]