January 2, 1960: John F. Kennedy Announces Candidacy for President

On this day – January 2, 1960, U. S. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy of Massaachusetts first announced that he would run for President. He made the announcement in the Senate Caucus Room in Washington, DC.

I am today announcing my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.

The Presidency is the most powerful office in the Free World.  Through its leadership can come a more vital life for all of our people. In it are centered the hopes of the globe around us for freedom and a more secure life.  For it is in the Executive Branch that the most crucial decisions for the next half-century will be made during the next few years — how to end or alter the burdensome arms race with the Soviet Union, which is now moving ahead of us in the missile area — how to maintain freedom and order in the newly emerging nations — how to rebuild the stature of American science and American education — how to prevent the collapse of our farm economy — how to prevent the decay of our cities — how to achieve, without further inflation or unemployment, expanded economic growth benefiting all Americans — and how to give direction to our traditional moral purpose, awakening every American to the dangers and opportunities that confront us.

These are among the real issues of 1960.  And it is on the basis of these issues that the American people must make their fateful choice in the next few months.

In the past 40 months, I have toured every state in the Union and I have talked to Democrats in all walks of life. I therefore believe that I can win the nomination, and win the election.

I believe that every Democratic aspirant to this important nomination should be willing to submit to the voters, in a series of primary contests, his views, his record and his accomplishments. I therefore announce that I shall file in the New Hampshire primary, and I shall announce my plans with respect to other primaries as the filing dates commence.

I believe that the Democratic Party has a historic function to perform in this coming election, comparable to its function in 1932.  I intend to do my utmost to see that that victory is won.

For 18 years, I have been in the service of the United States, for four years in the Pacific, and for the last 14 years as a member of the Congress.  For the last 20 years, I have traveled in nearly every country and every continent — from Leningrad to Saigon, from Bucharest to Lima.  From all of this, I have gained an image of America as a decisive and important place, from which the fight for freedom all over the globe must be conducted, and of the American people as courageous, persevering and confident.

It is with this image in my mind that I begin this campaign. (Speech as delivered.)

On the campaign trail throughout 1960… Kennedy- the candidate – and his team (brother Bobby is at far right) work the phones on the night of the Wisconsin primary, April, 1960. Kennedy edged out Humphrey, with 56% of the democratic vote. (Recognize any others in the photo?)

Stan Wayman / Time Life Pictures / Getty

5 Responses to January 2, 1960: John F. Kennedy Announces Candidacy for President

  1. Marie says:

    BTW – when asked by reporters about the Vice-Presidency… he made it very clear that he was running for President not VP. If he didn’t get the nomination then he would be back in the Senate but not voting to break a tie!

  2. Marie says:

    Others of note: Press Secretary Pierre Salinger holding phone and aide Larry O’Brien tilting his head. Don’t know the gentleman closest to Bobby.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Patrick Kenneth O’Donnell, (later changed to Kenneth O’Donnell.

    We met at the ‘illustrious’ Celtic Club on Prescott St. when he ran for Governor in 1966.

    Pierre Salinger said of him:
    It was my impression that O’Donnell had the greatest influence in shaping the President’s most important decisions. He was able to set aside his own prejudices against individuals and his own ideological commitments (I would rate him a moderate Democrat) and appraise the alternatives with total objectivity. It was impossible to categorize O’Donnell, as White House observers did with other staff members, as either a “hawk” or a “dove” on foreign policy, or a Stevenson liberal or Truman conservative on civil rights. JFK gave extra weight to O’Donnell’s opinions because he knew he had no personal cause to argue. Ken had only one criterion: Will this action help or hurt the President? And that, for O’Donnell, was another way of asking: Will it help or hurt the country?

    Daniel Patrick Murphy