John F. Kennedy And Richard M. Nixon

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The 1960 Presidential election set the tone for the decades of political elections that would follow. John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon both led ambitious efforts to try and win the presidency, and it became clear from the onset of the campaign that religion was going to play a pivotal role in how the candidates were viewed and in the outcome of the election. This was the first national election where the debate over religion took center stage, in addition to the widespread availability of television in people’s homes, and the increased use of money in funding a campaign. There were several candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1959. Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson of Texas, who was also the Democratic leader in the senate, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, former presidential nominee Adlai E. Stevenson, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey of Minnesota were the six men competing for the bid. Senators Johnson and Symington both chose to forgo participating in the primaries in the hopes that they could secure the Democratic nomination without officially declaring candidacy. Symington’s candidacy was “rooted in the fact that he had steered a cautious political path that made him agreeable to all party factions” and would hopefully be enough to win the bid, but ultimately he couldn’t get the support that was necessary. Since Johnson was from Texas, he already had the support of the majority of the South, and thought that that in conjunction with his friendships with senators from the West would be enough to gain him the votes for the nomination. By the time he started making moves on the West coast, it was too la... ... middle of paper ... ...dy camp. The memo discussed how choosing a Catholic running mate would help the Democrats defeat Eisenhower and it made the argument that “the Catholic vote was large and powerful because of the concentration of Catholics in 14 states with 261 electoral votes and because Catholics turned out to vote in greater proportion than did non-Catholics” . When Al Smith was the first Catholic candidate to run for the presidency in 1928 and was defeated, it was assumed that he lost the election because of his religious affiliation. “The [Bailey] memo addressed the Smith question directly. Marshaling voting data and historical analysis, Sorensen concluded that it was a myth that Smith lost simply because he was a Catholic” . This document helped the Kennedys to create a strategy on how to handle the religion issue on the campaign trail and win the presidential election in 1960.
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