A Tale of Two Campaigns

September 16, 2020

About This Episode

What would it take to win the White House in 1960? For the Kennedy campaign, it started with building a trusted team, and a readiness to try new campaign strategies and tactics. In this episode, we’ll look at how Kennedy and Nixon’s campaign decisions helped make or break the election, and how some of those innovative strategies would influence modern campaigns through today.

Featuring interviews and archive audio from David Axelrod, Amy Dacey, Barry Goldwater, Jill Lepore, Fredrik Logevall, and Tim Naftali.

View the transcript of this episode.

From the JFK Library Archives

IFP-140 Address to the Houston Ministers Conference. September 12, 1960.

TNC:27 (excerpt) Press conference given by President Harry Truman announcing his reasons for resigning as a delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention. July 2, 1960.

TNC:28 (excerpt) Press conference given by Senator John F. Kennedy in response to President Truman's criticism of Kennedy's candidacy for president. July 4, 1960.

TNC-191-E5-EX (excerpt) 1960 Democratic National Convention. July 15, 1960.

USG:1-W (excerpt) Scenes of the nomination of John F. Kennedy for President and Lyndon B. Johnson for Vice President during the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. July 1960.

Houston ministers film: State by state list of air dates for the film JFK’s address to the Houston Ministers Conference. Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Presidential Campaign Files, 1960.

Religious literature: Anti-Catholic material (1 of 8 folders): Booklets, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings on JFK’s religious beliefs, the role of religion in the 1960 campaign, and opposition to JFK based on his religion. 1960: 23 April-23 September, undated. Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Presidential Campaign Files, 1960.

Oral Histories

Barry Goldwater (audio and transcript)

Marjorie McKenzie Lawson, #1 (transcript)

Marjorie McKenzie Lawson, #2 (transcript)

See full source list for this series.


Photo of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon courtesy of AP Images.

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