On the way to the Convention - JFK campaigning in 1960.

On the way to L.A. - JFK campaigning in 1960.
On the way to the Convention – JFK campaigning in 1960.
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NBC Radio – 1960 Democratic Convention Preview – July 5, 1960 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

It’s just the season – Summer. Every four years between July and August, it brings out the horserace known as a Presidential election.

Conventions are a lot different now than they were in 1960. On this day in 1960, the Democratic convention was still very much up in the air, with Senator Lyndon Johnson tossing his name into the mix at the eleventh hour.

On this broadcast – a Democratic Convention Preview with coverage of testimony given before Platform and Convention committees ahead of the convention assembled by NBC Radio News. The candidates are looked at and the chances of any of the three candidates getting a majority of delegate votes on the first ballot are mulled over.

1960 was promising to be a pretty dramatic year for politics. What is interesting is how much time the networks (both radio and TV) devoted to coverage and laying out issues – of which there were plenty.

The major candidates for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination were Kennedy, Governor Pat Brown of California, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, and Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. Several other candidates sought support in their home state or region as “favorite son” candidates without any realistic chance of winning the nomination. Symington, Stevenson, and Johnson all declined to campaign in the presidential primaries. While this reduced their potential delegate count going into the Democratic National Convention, each of these three candidates hoped that the other leading contenders would stumble in the primaries, thus causing the convention’s delegates to choose him as a “compromise” candidate acceptable to all factions of the party.

Kennedy was initially dogged by suggestions from some Democratic Party elders (such as former President Harry S. Truman, who was supporting Symington) that he was too youthful and inexperienced to be president; these critics suggested that he should agree to be the running mate for another Democrat. Realizing that this was a strategy touted by his opponents to keep the public from taking him seriously, Kennedy stated frankly, “I’m not running for vice-president, I’m running for president.”

Further evidence our political process has changed dramatically over the years. In 1960 useful information was a Number One priority ahead of any election or public issue. These days, not so much.

Here is that half-hour preview of coming attractions in 1960, as heard on July 5, 1960 from the NBC Radio Network.


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