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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 1, 1972)
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by Michael (O.J.) Nelson
77?'s s r?e first of two stories on the First District
candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Man At Work: Keep Thone in Congress," read the
bill boards along Hwy. 77 between Lincoln and
And Charlev Thone was at work last Friday,
campaigning for re-election from the Fust
Congressional District. In six days he will face Darrel
Beig, the Democratic nominee in the general election.
Before the day was over the Nebraska congressman
had delivered a luncheon speech, held a press
Conference, shook hands on a small town's main
street, taped a television interview, appeared on a
Beatrice radio station talk show and put in
appearances at two banquets.
The billboards could easily be read as the red
Chrysler barreled down the road. But Thone didn't
take time to look. His wife was driving, which gave
him a chance to reread and edit a speech he was to
give that noon.
The speech, however, wouldn't be given. The
luncheon format would be too casual for a formal
address. It would be similar to the open-line radio
talk show for which he was now heading.
It was almost time for the show to begin when
Thone walked into station KWBE. He exchanged
pleasantries and handshakes with members of the
managerial and news staffs. Th , after the owner's
wife brought him a gigantic glass of milk, he made his
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Congressman Thone ... on the campaign trail.
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Thone . . . said he favors an end to "the lousy,
rotten Vietnam War."
way to a sound studio, sat down and took off his
coat exposing a set of leather suspenders.
Drinking milk must be one of his habits. Thone
said he has been an avid milk fan for the last 25 years.
"I remember when he was here two years ago," the
owner said after the show had begun. "He always
wanted milk. Never coffee, just milk."
When the show started, Thone told the audience
that the major issue in this campaign was his record:
whether he had voted as his constituency wanted.
'During the hour-long show he fielded 10 phoned-in
questions on the war, the economy and amnesty for
He said he favors a speedy end to "the lousy,
rotten Vietnam War." If the United States involves
itself in any future Vietnam-type conflicts, he said, he
would advocate a military victory instead of the
current "no-win policy." However, he added, he
would respect diplomacy and would oppose the use
of nuclear weapons in such a conflict.
He said he is opposed to mass amnesty for Vietnam
war draft-dodgers. Each draft-evader's case must be
judged individually he said.
"Do you think it's fair or healthy for all of
Nebraska's Washington delegation to be from the
same political party?" asked one caller.
"Are you a Democrat?" asked the GOP
"Yes," she replied.
"I thought I detected a bit of partisanship in your
question," he said, laughing.
He said he favors a one party delegation. If it were
split, he explained, the Democrats would cancel out
the Republican's votes and vice versa.
"You get the goddamnedest questions on these
call-in programs," he declared after the show." But
it's nice to have people who are concerned and
interested in the issues."
More questions were to follow. Thone only made a
few opening remarks to the Beatrice Chamber of
Commerce's "Meet the Candidates" luncheon. The
floor then was turned over to the audience.
Thone seemed well aquainted with many of those
present. Although inquiries were written on cards, he
correctly guessed questioners' identities several times.
"I'll bet Bill asked this one," he said after scanning
the first cai !. ..icerned tax credits for persons
paying for their childrens' college education.
A man shouted from a table at the back of the
room: "We're not poor enough that we can get
money from the government for our kids' education,
but we're not rich enough we can write it off our
taxes as something else."
Thone told the crowd he's co-sponsoring legislation
which would provide tax breaks for college students'
He said he is supporting another piece of legislation
which, if passed, would help students. He said he
opposes proposed increase in the minimum wage
from $1.60 to $2.20 an hour. Such an increase, he
said would hurt students who might be looking for a
But if the increase passes, and he said he believes it
will, he will continue to fight for a student wage
"Most of you," he told the businessmen, "can't
afford to hire students at $2.20 an hour. But you
could hire them at a lower price, and I want them
After the luncheon, Thone had to wait for his wife,
Ruth, to finish talking with a small group. She
seemed to be campaigning as hard as he. "She's the
best campaigner in the family," he says.
He met her (he calls her "Ruthie") in 1952 when
he was a young attorney investigating Communist
infiltration on the NU campus. Ruth then was editor
of the Daily Nebraskan and had decided to investigate
the investigating committee.
She interviewed him in the fall of that year, but
she said it was three or four months before he asked
"It took him a while to get the message," she said.
They were married in 1954.
But the post luncheon greetings were not to be the
last that afternoon. On the way back to Lincoln there
was one more stop: Hallam, population 312.
Mrs. Thone parked the car on the main street. A
campaign aide opened the trunk ("This is a rolling
campaign headquarters," he said) and grabbed some
Although there is not even a Thone bumper sticker
on it, the rolling campaign headquarters description is
accurate The trunk is filled with Styrofoam hats,
boxes of bumper stickers, pamphlets, leaflets and
other campaign paraphernalia. All trumpet Thone's
Ruth took one side of the street and her husband
took the other. Like everywhere else he'd been that
day, there were handshakes ("Hello, I'm Charley
Thone, your congressman.") and hearty laughs mixed
with a bit of politics.
One reception was not so friendly. A grocery clerk
almost ignored h.m as he tried to talk with her. One
reason might have been her political affiliation: on
the door was taped a "Berg for Congress" flyer.
Walk.ng back to the car, Thone said: "An election
every two years might be difficult, but it forces you
to stay in touch with the people."
Wednesday, november 1, 1972
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