Friday, November 14, 2014



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-one years ago this morning, November 14, 1963, President John F. Kennedy held what was to be his last news conference in the State Department Auditorium here in the Nation's Capital.  

President Kennedy, who gave no opening statement,  was asked...

"It now seems unlikely that you will get...your tax bill or your civil rights bill in this session of Congress.  Does that disturb you?"

JFK answered...

"Yes...both these bills should be passed.  The tax bill has been before Congress for nearly a year (and) the civil rights bill...for a much shorter time.  There may be a very long debate."

The President was also asked questions about America's military role in Southeast Asia. One of these was...

 "In view of the current situation in South Vietnam, do you still expect to bring back 1000 troops before the end of the year?"

JFK answered:

"We are going to bring back several hundred before the end of the year, but..on the question of the exact number...we (will) wait until...November 20."

This is the last question John F. Kennedy would ever be asked at a formal news conference:

"The Senators from New England met this morning...and agreed to renew their annual appeal for relief on wool and for the lifting of restrictions on residual oil.  What can you do and what will you do to help...?"

JFK's response....

"It is a fact that the imports of woolens and worsteds have gone up from about 15 to 22 or 23 percent.  So there has been a sharp increase, and it is a matter of concern.  

In the case of residual, we are attempting to--that is a matter of great Venezuela, which is a country under Communist attack and...we have to consider that obligation as well as our obligations to the domestic coal industry.  So we have not forgotten New England."

JFK at News Conference
Washington, D.C.
Photo by Abbie Rowe (1961)
JFK Library Image

Thurston Clarke writes in JFK's Last Hundred Days,...

"Kennedy's sixty-fourth press conference was a grim affair.  He was mad at Congress for cutting his foreign aid budget."

Clarke goes on to say that while the President's responses seem "cool and reasonable" in the transcript, he appeared "nervous and tense" on the television screen.

Clarke also tells about a party in the evening where UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson warned the President about visiting Dallas.  Jackie's designer, Oleg Cassini, overheard the conversation and took the President aside and asked...
"'Why do you go? Your own people are saying you should not.'"  JFK "stared back wordlessly and shrugged." 


"JFK's Last Hundred Days," by Thurston Clarke, The Penguin Press, New York, 2013.

"Kennedy and the Press," by Harold W. Chase and Allen H. Lerman, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1965.