With the primary just two weeks away, presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy arrived in California with a full itinerary of campaign stops. A win in California was critical to the U.S. senator‘s capture of the Democratic nomination.
On May 20, 1968, Kennedy hit the campaign trail with several events throughout Southern California. After leaving the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Los Angeles that morning, he attended a coffee reception in Alhambra followed by a tour of the San Gabriel Mission. Next on his schedule was a visit to City of Hope. Camera crews and reporters followed as crowds surged to see Kennedy that day. City of Hope leaders including Executive Medical Director Paul Wermer, M.D., and Board President Mannie Fineman escorted the candidate through areas of the campus including Lippman Graff, Hope Village and the hospital.
While on his tour of the hospital, he met with a 13-year-old patient in the children’s wing and her parents. The two had met previously when Kennedy inspected a housing project near Fresno in 1966. After the tour, Kennedy visited privately with the girl. She reported that the two exchanged gifts; he gave her his tie clasp and she presented him with a photo of herself and a wallet.
A tireless campaigner, Kennedy rounded out his day with a speech in Pomona and an afternoon flight to San Diego before finally returning to Los Angeles that evening.
Kennedy won California’s Democratic presidential primary in June. Following a brief victory speech a few minutes past midnight on June 5, 1968, Kennedy was shot as he walked through the kitchen of the AmbassadorHotel. He died nearly 26 hours later.
A jacketless Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, flanked on the right by Mannie Fineman and on the left by Paul Wermer, tours the Duarte, Calif. campus in 1968.
COURTESY CITY OF HOPE ARCHIVES