JFK life

1960 Kennedy for President
Campaign sticker

Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt

Kennedy and Eisenhower
1960 presidential election

On January 2, 1960, Kennedy initiated his campaign for President in the Democratic primary election, where he faced challenges from Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon.
Kennedy defeated Humphrey in Wisconsin and West Virginia, Morse in Maryland and Oregon, as well as token opposition (often write-in candidates) in New Hampshire, Indiana, and Nebraska.
Kennedy visited a coal mine in West Virginia.
Most miners and others in that predominantly conservative, Protestant state were quite wary of Kennedy's Roman Catholicism. His victory in West Virginia confirmed his broad popular appeal.

At the Democratic Convention, he gave his well-known "New Frontier" speech, saying: "For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won—and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier ... But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises, it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them."

With Humphrey and Morse eliminated, Kennedy's main opponent at the Los Angeles convention was Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. Kennedy overcame this formal challenge as well as informal ones from Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee in 1952 and 1956, Stuart Symington, and several favorite sons, and on July 13 the Democratic convention nominated Kennedy as its candidate.
Kennedy asked Johnson to be his Vice Presidential candidate, despite opposition from many liberal delegates and Kennedy's own staff, including his brother, Bobby.

Kennedy needed Johnson's strength in the South to win what was considered likely to be the closest election since 1916.
Major issues included how to get the economy moving again, Kennedy's Roman Catholicism, Cuba, and whether the Soviet space and missile programs had surpassed those of the U.S.
To address fears that his being Catholic would impact his decision-making, he famously told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960, "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me."
Kennedy questioned rhetorically whether one quarter of Americans were relegated to second-class citizenship just because they were Catholic, and once stated that, "No one asked me my religion [serving the Navy] in the South Pacific."

In September and October, Kennedy appeared with Republican candidate Richard Nixon, then Vice President, in the first televised U.S. presidential debates in U.S. history.
During these programs, Nixon, with a sore injured leg and his "five o'clock shadow", was perspiring and looked tense and uncomfortable, while Kennedy, choosing to avail himself of makeup services, appeared relaxed, leading the huge television audience to favor Kennedy as the winner.
Radio listeners either thought Nixon had won or that the debates were a draw.
The debates are now considered a milestone in American political history—the point at which the medium of television began to play a dominant role in politics.

Kennedy's campaign gained momentum after the first debate, and he pulled slightly ahead of Nixon in most polls.
On November 8, Kennedy defeated Nixon in one of the closest presidential elections of the 20th century.
In the national popular vote Kennedy led Nixon by just two-tenths of one percent (49.7% to 49.5%), while in the Electoral College he won 303 votes to Nixon's 219 (269 were needed to win).

Another 14 electors from Mississippi and Alabama refused to support Kennedy because of his support for the civil rights movement; they voted for Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, as did the elector from Oklahoma.
Kennedy was the youngest man elected president, succeeding Eisenhower, who was then the oldest (Ronald Reagan surpassed Eisenhower as the oldest president in 1981)

President Kennedy inaugural address

next: Presidency

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