Table of contents for The first modern campaign : Kennedy-Nixon and the election of 1960 / Gary A. Donaldson.

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The First Modern Presidential Campaign: Kennedy-Nixon and the Election of 1960
Table of Contents
Chapter one
Chapter two
Chapter three
Chapter four
Chapter five
Chapter six
Chapter seven
Chapter eight
Chapter nine
Chapter ten
Following World War II the American political process began going through a series of changes that, by 1960, finally evolved into the modern presidential election campaign. The first postwar election, in 1948 between President Harry Truman and the Republican challenger Thomas Dewey, is often described as the "last campaign," the last of the old style presidential elections.(1) Truman won that year the way candidates had won elections for decades. He built a coalition, pandered for endorsements from party big wigs, labor leaders and urban machines; and he made deals behind the scenes and in smoke-filled rooms. To cap off his campaign, he took to the political hustings by train, speaking to the nation and making news from the platform of the rear car. His celebrated whistle-stop tour was a rousing success; he saw the people, and they saw him, as he moved through the nation stopping at little towns and cross roads. The crowds grew through the fall, and on Election Day the effects were felt at the polls. No other presidential candidate in American history had done more to take his campaign to the people. That campaign, so prominent in election lore, was not the last time a candidate would use a train to campaign, but it was the last time a campaign would be won from a train's rear platform, and it was the last time a candidate would base his campaign almost solely on a series of train trips. The age of the whistle-stop ended with Truman's 1948 victory. By 1960, candidates would campaign on television, travel on jet airplanes to speaking engagements, and engage in long drawn-out primary campaigns. And by then, the candidates' image had gone a long way toward replacing campaign issues. It was that presidential campaign, between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy, that changed the American campaign process. It was the nation's first modern presidential campaign.
The most obvious distinction of the 1960 campaign was the importance that image played in the outcome; for the first time in American history a candidate's image was a deciding factor in an election. John Kennedy, really a little known senator from Massachusetts with a reputation for personal wealth and a lack of experience, made extensive use of television to present himself to the American public, to put his face into America's living rooms. It was the first campaign covered extensively by television, and the result was the emergence of an indelible and popular image. Some of it was manufactured by public relations people, and it was mostly favorable. Kennedy was portrayed as a war hero. He presented the image of vigor, youth, and activism to follow his slogan of getting the nation "moving again." He was handsome; he had a wife who looked like a movie star; he had kids. It was all a wonderful image, and the American people were fascinated and charmed by the entire package. 
	One person who became enamored with the Kennedy image and its accompanying mystique was the journalist Theodore White. White wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Making of the President-1960, which was published a year after the election. His writing on the 1960 campaign is a wonderful addition to political reportage, but White is often charged with flawed journalism for his biased reporting and selective use of sources.(2) While writing his book on the 1960 campaign, White was drawn very close to the Kennedy camp, particularly to Jackie Kennedy. For that reason he is often criticized for being a shaper of the Kennedy image; but he was, in fact, shaped by it-in much the same way the nation was aroused by the Kennedy image. White was star-struck by the Kennedys.(3) Consequently, he saw only good in Kennedy, the candidate who did everything right and won the hearts, minds, and votes of the American people. In contrast, he disliked Nixon-and mostly everything about him. According to White, all that Nixon did was wrong, and thus he lost the election. Image played a deciding role in the 1960 campaign, and it played a key role in White's book. 	
	Image is just part of the story of the 1960 campaign, but because of image, as it was played that year, American elections would never be quite the same again. Growing directly out of this election would be the manufactured candidate, someone who could look good for the cameras, whose image could be manipulated for American voters, a candidate who could be made to appear to be something he was not. Under the obvious assumption that a strong image does not necessarily translate into strong leadership, it must be assumed that the introduction of image as a primary factor into the American electoral process is detrimental to that process. The 1960 campaign, the first modern campaign, opened those flood gates.
1. Perhaps the best example is Zachary Karabel, The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election (New York, 2001).	
2. See particularly, Joyce Hoffmann, Theodore H. White and Journalism as Illusion (Columbia, Missouri, 1995).
3. It was White who interviewed Jackie just weeks after the Kennedy assassination and, in a Life article, invented the image of the Kennedy presidency as Camelot after the popular musical stage play then on Broadway. Theodore H. White, "For President Kennedy: An Epilogue," Life, Dec. 6, 1963, 158-60.

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1960.
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963.
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994.
Presidential candidates -- United States -- Biography.
Political campaigns -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Democratic Party (U.S.) -- History -- 20th century.
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- History -- 20th century.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1953-1961.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1961-1963.