Wednesday, January 2, 2019

J.F.K. Runs for President

John F. Kennedy launched his presidential candidacy fifty-nine years ago today in the Senate Caucus Room at the Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. 

In concluding his brief remarks, he said:  For 18 years, I have been in the service of the United States, first as a naval officer in the Pacific during World War II and for the past 14 years as a member of the Congress. In the last 20 years, I have traveled in nearly every continent and country--from Leningrad to Saigon, from Bucharest to Lima. From all of this, I have developed an image of America as fulfilling a noble and historic role as the defender of freedom in a time of maximum peril--and of the American people as confident, courageous and persevering.

That room, where Robert F. Kennedy also began his presidential campaign in 1968, is now known as the Kennedy Caucus Room.  Since 1972 the building has been identified as the Russell Senate Office Building.

Theodore H. White’s first foray into presidential post-mortems, “The Making of the President, 1960,” has become a classic of the Kennedy and Nixon campaigns.  But also noteworthy is Tom Oliphant and Curtis Willkie’s excellent book, “The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign.”  This book tells how the Kennedys methodically laid the groundwork for the 1960 nomination after JFK’s defeat for the vice-presidential nomination in 1956. 

The photo here is a recreation of a 1960 campaign headquarters, which is on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

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