Friday, January 23, 2015



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, January 23, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy, the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, spoke at the Presidential Campaign Kick-off Dinner held at the Sheraton Park Hotel here in the Nation's Capital.

The candidate began by responding to Vice-President Richard M. Nixon's charge that he was "confusing strong presidential leadership with table-pounding."  Senator Kennedy reminded his audience that President Harry S Truman had also been accused of being a table-pounder.

JFK said...

"The facts...are that during the last eight years of inaction and reaction...a little more of Harry Truman's brand of 'table-pounding' might have gone a long way."

The Senator supported his viewpoint by pointing to the "high farm surpluses and low farm income...neglected slums, overcrowded classrooms, underpaid teachers and the highest interest rates in history" that characterized the Eisenhower-Nixon years.

Drawing on his nomination acceptance speech of July 1960 in Los Angeles, Senator Kennedy said...

"Perhaps we could afford a Coolidge after Harding, a Pierce after Fillmore.  But after Buchanan...(we) needed a Lincoln-after Taft we needed a Wilson-after Hoover we needed Franklin Roosevelt.  And after eight years of Eisenhower, this nation needs a strong, creative Democrat in the White House."

John Kennedy was confident he would be that Democrat.  He added...

"I think we can win.  I think we will win...we must..." 

Earlier on that Saturday 55 years ago, Senator Kennedy had a breakfast meeting at his home on N Street in Georgetown with Governor Mennen Williams* of Michigan and a lunch with Governor Pat Brown of California.

G.Mennen Williams and 
David Ben Gurion
Photo by Moshe Pridan (1959)

*G. Mennen Williams (1911-1988) was born in Detroit and graduated from Princeton University.  He earned his law degree at the University of Michigan.  GMW was the 41st governor of Michigan serving from 1949-1961.

JFK appointed him as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and in 1983 he became the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court of Michigan.

Governor Williams opposed LBJ as VP because he believed him "ideologically wrong on civil rights."