09 November 2006

46 Years Ago Today...

This story first appeared on 9.November 1960

1960: Narrow victory for John F Kennedy

Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy has emerged as the new president of the United States beating Vice-President Richard Nixon by a slim margin.

Senator Kennedy, aged 43, is a Harvard graduate and war hero. He will be the youngest elected president in US history and the first Roman Catholic.

In his victory speech at Hyannis, Massachusetts, he urged all Americans to help him "move this country safely through the 1960s".

He added: "I can assure you that every degree of mind and spirit that I possess will be devoted to the long-range interests of the United States and to the cause of freedom around the world."

Night of doubt

Then turning to his wife, Jacqueline, who is due to give birth to their second child in three weeks' time, he said they would now prepare for "a new administration and a new baby".

Also standing next to Senator Kennedy during his speech was his father Joseph, once US Ambassador to London. And close by was his brother and campaign manager Robert Kennedy.

After a whole night of doubt as to who was the victor of the great American prize of president, Mr Nixon hinted at defeat at 0315 local time at Republican headquarters in Los Angeles.

As supporters chanted: "We want Nixon!" he told the nation to back their new leader.

"I want Senator Kennedy to know - I want you all to know - that if this trend continues and he does become president, he will have my whole-hearted support," he said.

He did not officially concede victory until some six hours later in a congratulatory telegram to the president-elect.

It has been a heated and exciting election campaign in which television has played an important role for the first time in US election history. Last month millions of viewers watched the pair battle it out in a series of television debates.

With two states still to file a final verdict and Mississippi "unpledged" due to disapproval of both parties' commitments to civil rights, the results so far are:

* Kennedy - 33,029,203 popular votes and 337 electoral votes
* Nixon - 32,725,435 popular votes and 185 electoral votes

President Eisenhower is reported to be unhappy with the Democrat victory.

But he sent his congratulations to the president-elect and called a cabinet meeting to arrange the transition of government ahead of Senator Kennedy's inauguration in January.


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