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Election 1960: JFK on the Campaign Trail

After one of the closest elections in U.S. history, John F. Kennedy, 43, became the youngest elected president, the only Catholic and the first born in the 20th century

  • Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy shakes hands with a crowd in Seattle following his speech on the first day of his presidential campaign.

    The 'Early' Campaign

    En español | Although Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts did not formally announce his presidential candidacy until Jan. 2, 1960, he had been setting the stage for several years. Here, the aspiring Democratic presidential nominee greets fans after a 1959 appearance in Seattle. 
    — Bettmann/Corbis

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  • These Kennedy supporters were leaving no doubt as to who they want for President.  The girls were part of a crowd that came to Flint's Atwood stadium to hear Democratic Presidential candidate John F.  Kennedy (center) September 5th.  Kennedy made a whirlwind one day campaign through Michigan September 5th.


    Officially announced, Kennedy made a whirlwind, one-day campaign visit through the state. Attendees at Flint's Atwood Stadium left no doubt as to whom they wanted for president.
    — Bettmann/Corbis

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  • Senator John F. Kennedy (R) visiting a farm during campaign.

    The Heartland

    The campaign brought Kennedy, scion of a wealthy East Coast family, face-to-face with hardworking Americans who literally lived off the land.— Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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  • Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy campaigns with Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley as a crowd of supporters swarms around his motorcade.


    Kennedy campaigns with Chicago's mayor, Richard J. Daley, as supporters swarm his motorcade.— Bettmann/Corbis

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  • Senator John Kennedy received enthusiastic welcome during his campaigning.  Eager outstretched hands sought to touch the presidential candidate. Kennedy is shown as he was greeted in Denver.


    In Denver, eager, outstretched hands seek a chance to touch the presidential candidate.
    — Bettmann/Corbis

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  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy reaches down and shakes the hand of a well wisher shortly after he boarded a special train en route to a whistle-stop tour of California


    Kennedy shakes the hand of a well wisher shortly after boarding a train for a whistle-stop tour of California.— Bettmann/Corbis

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  • Senator and Democratic presidential nominee, John F. Kennedy, delivers a campaign speech to a large crowd outside the Lawrence Hotel in Erie.


    The candidate appears before an enormous crowd gathered outside the Lawrence Hotel in Erie.— Bettmann/Corbis

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  • Jackie Kennedy and JFK waving to a crowd from the streets of New York City.

    New York

    John and Jacqueline Kennedy (pregnant with their son, John Jr.) wave to supporters in Manhattan.— Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Image

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  • Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy shakes hands with a crowd in Seattle following his speech on the first day of his presidential campaign.

    Friendly Rivals

    Minnesota senator Hubert H. Humphrey (far left) and John F. Kennedy competed against one another during the Democratic primaries. (Humphrey would later become LBJ's vice president.)
    — Stan Wayman//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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  • Sen. John F. Kennedy (L) in campaign headquarters on primary election night with his brother Robert F. Kennedy (R).

    All in the Family

    Back at campaign headquarters, Kennedy confers with his younger brother Robert, who he would later make his U.S. attorney general.
     — Stan Wayman/Time Life Pictures

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  • Miss Susan Stankrauff, of Miami. Florida, a staff member of Senator John F. Kennedy's looks up at a campaign poster of Senator Kennedy (D-Mass.) . After hanging it in the headquarters today.

    Poster Boy

    A campaign staffer from Miami works beneath an image of her candidate.— Bettmann/Corbis

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  • The hands of Sen. John F. Kennedy are shown in this photo taken during the Democratic Presidential Nominee's news conference at the Capitol today.

    A Hands-on Leader

    JFK's hands and gestures attracted a photographer's attention during a Capitol Hill news conference.
    — Bettmann/Corbis

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  • A weary Senator John F. Kennedy, Democratic presidential candidate, rests in his train car near the end of a 2-day railroad campaign in northern California.


    The weary candidate, surrounded by staff and press in a train car, nears the end of a northern California railroad campaign.
    — Bettmann/Corbis

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  • Presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon speaking during a televised debate while fellow candidate John F. Kennedy watches

    Nixon vs. Kennedy

    On Sept. 26, 1960, Kennedy and his Republican rival, Richard M. Nixon, made history during the nation's first televised presidential debate. Many credit the broadcast as being key to JFK's Election Day win.
    — Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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  • Eleanor Roosevelt appears at a rally at the New York Coliseum in November 1960 in support of presidential candidate John F. Kennedy (left) and his running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson.

    From FDR to JFK and LBJ

    Eleanor Roosevelt, the former first lady and widow of Franklin D. Roosevelt, appears at a New York rally to support Kennedy and his running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson.— Bettmann/Corbis

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  • Sen. John F. Kennedy votes

    Election Day

    Kennedy joins approximately 67 million voters in casting a ballot on Nov. 8, 1960. The Democratic candidate, a native of Boston, voted in the West End branch library, Ward 3, Precinct 6.— Associated Press

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  • Massachusetts, USA, 9th November, 1960, Democrat President-elect of the United States of America John F, Kennedy smiles watched by his wife Jacqueline before speaking at Hyannis port Armory on the day his election victory was announced

    The President-elect

    With wife Jackie at his side, John F. Kennedy appears in Hyannis Port on Nov. 9, 1960, the day his election victory is announced.— Popperfoto/Getty Images

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  • Kennedy Inaguration

    The Swearing In

    Among those visible nearby on Jan. 21, 1961, as Earl Warren, chief justice of the United States, administers the oath of office to JFK: Jacqueline Kennedy, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and former Vice President Richard Nixon.— Charles Hoff/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

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  • New President John F. Kennedy & wife Jacqueline Kennedy and others walking to his Inauguration.

    Camelot Begins

    John Kennedy, Jacqueline and others walk from the White House on a frigid Inauguration Day.— Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Image

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  • JFK Tumblr John Kennedy president anniversary november 1963 dallas memories (Library of Congress)

    Learn More about John F. Kennedy

      See more Kennedy slideshows, read remembrances and share your memories at www.aarp.org/JFK.— Library of Congress

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  • AARP Baby Boomers (Sean McCabe)
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Video: John F. Kennedy, 1960: Debating Richard Nixon - Watch this brief biography of John F. Kennedy and learn about his performance in the televised debates against Richard Nixon during the 1960 Presidential Election. View More JFK Videos

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