The Campaign Comes to the Living Room

October 1, 2020

In this episode, we take you on a journey that follows the 1960 campaign into millions of living rooms through television, and then explore how the Kennedy team used the new medium to connect with voters. We'll also look at Nixon's television strategy and how the 1960 campaign’s use television would influence future presidential campaigns use of the medium in the decades ahead.

Featuring interviews with David Axelrod, Amy Dacey, Fredrick Logevall, and Tim Naftali. 

From the JFK Library Archives

IFP:130: “At Home With the Kennedys” introduced Senator John F. Kennedy and his family to his Massachusetts constituents, who were encouraged to call in with questions that Kennedy could answer on-air. This program aired on 28 October 1958.

IFP:135 F-12-1M: JFK campaign spot featuring footage of Eisenhower speaking about Vice President Nixon's White House experience at a press conference.

IFP:135 F-72-5M: Actor Henry Fonda appears in this campaign spot to discuss the PT109 incident in support of Senator John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign.

IFP:135-F80-1M: In this 1960 presidential campaign spot, Harry Belafonte and John F. Kennedy discuss equal opportunity for all Americans.

IFP:135 F-91-5M: “Kennedy for President” campaign spot featuring excerpts from the first presidential debate between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. September 26, 1960.

IFP:135 F-109-1M: “Kennedy for President” campaign jingle from the 1960 election.

IFP:135 F-131-1M: Jacqueline Kennedy appeals to Spanish-speaking voters in this 1960 JFK presidential campaign spot.

IFP:135 VT39-5M: Television interview given by Jacqueline Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign, featuring Myrna Loy. 

Richard Nixon on Communism and Khrushchev: In this Republican 1960 campaign ad, Richard Nixon stresses the importance of showing Soviet leader Khrushchev US strength in order to promote freedom everywhere.

Additional Material

Richard Nixon’s Checkers Speech, 1952, via the Richard Nixon Foundation.

“The Man from Abilene” campaign ad, via livingroomcandiate.com.

“I Like Ike” campaign ad, 1952, via New York Historical Society.

Kennedy Campaign Ad with the Sills Family, 1960, via archive.org.

Senator John F. Kennedy on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar, June 16, 1960, via YouTube.

See full source list for this series.

Credits

Photo of John F. Kennedy courtesy of AP Images.

Clip from The Late Show with David Letterman courtesy of CBS.

Clip from The Tonight Show with Jack Paar courtesy of NBC.

Hosts and producers: Matt Porter and Jamie Richardson

Co-producer: Rick King

Research assistants: Megan McKee and Cassie Marando

Special thanks to our Foundation colleagues, in particular Meaghan Hohl and Executive Director Rachel Flor.

We also thank all of our guests for lending their voices and expertise to this podcast.

None of this would be possible without the work by archivists and other staff at the JFK Library and Museum, who make much of the material discussed available to all online and to visiting researchers.

Logo: Brian Kang

Music: Blue.Sessions