Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, on the day following his official announcement of his candidacy for President of the United States, appeared on Meet the Press* 55 years ago, Sunday, January 3, 1960.
Senator Kennedy appeared with Ned Brooks, the moderator, and a panel which included reporters Richard Wilson, John Steel, and James Reston along with regular Meet the Press panelist Lawrence E. Spivak.
The first question, asked by Mr. Spivak, related to JFK's opening statement in his announcement made the day previously that the Election of 1960 was comparable to the Election of 1932. Mr. Spivak wanted specifics.
Senator Kennedy responded that the Election of 1932 contributed to saving the free enterprise system and democracy itself and in light of the increased tensions of the Cold War the case could be made similarly for the Election of 1960.
The Senator said that the Nation really had not faced the "overwhelming problems" that had been building up between the United States and USSR in the 1950s such as the "missile gap."
Mr. Kennedy had said in his announcement that he would not under any circumstances be a candidate for Vice-President. He was asked why.
The Senator replied that there had been no evidence that a Vice-Presidential candidate had contributed to "a single electoral vote" received by a previous presidential candidate. As has continued to be argued today, JFK said voters base their decision only on the presidential candidate under the assumption that their candidate of choice "is going to have a normal life expectancy."
Mr. Kennedy said that if he was not selected as the party's nominee he would work for the ticket and then continue his service in the United States Senate.
Senator Kennedy was asked about the upcoming primaries. At the time, he had only declared himself a candidate in New Hampshire. JFK said that he would wait to make a decision on the others.
He added that whichever candidate won the majority of the primaries should be considered "seriously" for the nomination.
If he were to be his party's nominee, Senator Kennedy was asked about his prospects in the general election.
"I have no doubt that I can beat Mr. Nixon."
JFK cited his five consecutive victories in political contests. He won congressional races in 1946, 1948 and 1950 and senate races in 1952 and 1956.
His loss to Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee in the Vice-Presidential bid in 1956 was to be the only time he lost an election.
The Senator was asked why, despite the problems the nation was facing in 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was still so popular. JFK cited Ike's "extraordinary personality" and relative good times during his tenure as president.
*Meet the Press is the longest running television series in US broadcasting history. The news program made its debut on November 6, 1947. Its first guest was James Farley. Every POTUS has appeared on the program although not necessarily during their service as president.
MTP has produced more than 5100 episodes over 66 seasons. The first moderator was Martha Rountree (1947-1953) Ned Brooks was the second moderator and served in the capacity until his retirement.
JFK made appearances on the program on December 2, 1951, November 9, 1952, February 14, 1954, and October 3, 1960 in addition to his appearance on January 3, 1960.
October 3, 1960