Wednesday, January 14, 2015



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, January 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy, candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, spoke at the National Press Club* here in Washington on the topic "The Presidency in 1960."

Senator Kennedy said...

"The modern Presidential campaign covers every issue in and out of the platform from cranberries to creation.  The history of the Nation has largely been written in terms of the different views of the Presidents...or by the Presidency itself."

JFK said that history should tell the voters they have a right to know "what any man bidding for the Presidency thinks about the place he is bidding for..."

One of the things they should know, the Senator said, is if the candidate would be willing to use the power that he sought.

JFK was not particularly complimentary of the Dwight D. Eisenhower presidency.  He believed Ike governed with a "detached (and) limited concept" of his high office.  

Senator Kennedy believed the times required a stronger leader...a "vigorous proponent of the national interest and an active participant in the legislative process."

Like Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, JFK said that the 1960s would require a President who would be "in the very thick of the fight," not a James Buchanan or Warren G. Harding but an Abraham Lincoln or Woodrow Wilson. 

JFK concluded.... 

"We will need a real fighting mood in the White House--a man who will not relent in the face of pressure from his Congressional leaders...but the White House is not only the center of political leadership, it must be the center of moral leadership...

Lincoln's hand did not tremble.  He did not hesitate.  He did not equivocate. For he was President of the United States."


The American Presidency Project, by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley,  "The Presidency in 1960," by John F. Kennedy, National Press Club, Washington, D.C., January 14, 1960,

*The National Press Club, a professional organization for journalists and communication professionals, was founded in 1908 in Washington, D.C.  Every President since Theodore Roosevelt has been a member of the NPC with the exception of Warren G. Harding.

In 1927, the National Press Building was completed in the Nation's Capital.

National Press Building 
Library of Congress Photo (1927)