Tuesday, July 12, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2007


Los Angeles, California (JFK+50) Today Bernie Sanders offered his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the presidency but 56 years ago, July 12, 1960, Lyndon Johnson debated John Kennedy in quest of that same office.

The hour-long debate was conducted without a moderator before the combined delegations of Massachusetts and Texas at the Biltmore Hotel ballroom.  
LBJ challenged JFK to the debate after the front runner offered to meet with any delegation that invited him.

Senator Kennedy acknowledged that many of the Texas delegates, who outnumbered the Massachusetts delegates by a large margin, would not support his civil rights proposals.

Senator Johnson followed with a twenty minute opening statement in which he pointed to his efforts on the floor of the United States Senate "while some men who would be president" were absent.  He was referring to the fact that JFK was out campaigning instead of taking care of his Senate responsibilities.

JFK closed the debate by complimenting LBJ on his work in the Senate and saying that he supported the Texas senator's decision not to enter the primaries.  JFK also expressed his hope that LBJ would continue in his role as majority leader.

Since JFK went on to win the nomination on the first ballot the following evening, it is natural to conclude he won the debate with LBJ, but Senator Johnson did secure the support of some uncommitted Texas delegates and "won almost all former slave states" in the balloting on July 13th.

In addition, Lyndon B. Johnson, without having campaigned in any of the sixteen primaries, was selected by JFK as his vice-presidential running mate and the rest is history.


"Kennedy-Johnson Debate," Our Campaigns,

"The Great Debate, JFK's legacy:  The party's over," by Kathryn Cramer Brownell and Bruce J. Schulman, November 22, 2013,

LBJ at Biltmore Hotel
 July 10, 1960
Library of Congress Photo