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Nixon, pale and underweight from a recent hospitalization, appeared sickly and sweaty, while Kennedy appeared calm and confident. As the story goes, those who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won. But those listeners were in the minority.

The impact of the JFK-Nixon debate - CNNPolitics

The number of viewers who tuned in to the debate has been estimated as high as 74 million, by the Nielsen of the day, Broadcast Magazine. Those that watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy was the clear winner. Many say Kennedy won the election that night. Sorensen says the Kennedy team didn't realize what a game changer the debate was until the following day at a campaign event in Ohio. Nixon performed much better in the subsequent debates and appeared better thanks to the "milkshake diet" his aides put him on to fatten him up.

But, as Schroeder says, the damage had been done. On November 12, , four days after winning the election by a narrow margin, he said, "It was the TV more than anything else that turned the tide. Up to that point, politics had not really been played out on television. Lyndon B. Johnson was too intimidated by the medium to take on Barry Goldwater in , and Nixon, having been burned before, refused to debate on TV in both and Televised debates reemerged , when incumbent president Gerald Ford agreed to take on his Democratic challenger, Jimmy Carter.

They've been standard practice in each campaign season since. Kennedy was subsequently endorsed by Martin Luther King Sr. The African-American vote went heavily for Kennedy across the nation, providing the winning margin in several states. As Election Day approached, momentum seemed to be running toward the Kennedy—Johnson ticket.

How JFK's Clever TV Strategies Helped Him Win the Election

In the final days of the campaign, the immensely popular President Eisenhower began a speaking tour on behalf of Republican candidates. Several key states seemed to shift toward Nixon, and by Election Day pollsters were declaring the election a toss-up. On November 8, , John F. Kennedy was elected president in one of the closest elections in U. In the popular vote, his margin over Nixon was , out of a total of nearly 69 million votes cast. His success in many urban and industrial states gave him a clear majority of to in the electoral vote.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected president, the only Catholic, and the first president born in the twentieth century. Skip past main navigation.

The day politics and TV changed forever

JFK in History. Life of John F. Kennedy Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy and the Press John F. Kennedy and PT John F. Campaign of Despite his youth, year-old John F. Kennedy captured the Democratic nomination in and went on to win one of the closest elections in US history. The Candidates John Fitzgerald Kennedy captured the Democratic nomination despite his youth, a seeming lack of experience in foreign affairs, and his Catholic faith. The Debates Kennedy then challenged the vice president to a series of televised debates.


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