Kennedy After Dark: A Dinner Party About Politics and Power- page 18 | History | Smithsonian
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"It's possible my natural level is in the Senate," John F. Kennedy said—but then he won the 1960 election. As president, he and his wife hosted Ben and Tony Bradlee (left and third from left) at the White House. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

Kennedy After Dark: A Dinner Party About Politics and Power

In this exclusive transcript from the JFK library, hear what he had to say just days after announcing his candidacy for the presidency

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Bradlee: But Jack, I mean, you are! No?

***

JFK: No, I don’t think I am, actually.

Bradlee: But you like it. And you live on it.

JFK: All these things may be true. Listen, I’m just saying, what I would be doing, you know I don’t go out to dinner.

Bradlee: I know, I’m not trying to provoke you.

JFK: I understand. I’d be delighted if I had Hubert Humphrey’s disposition. He thrives on this. He loves to go out and campaign for five days. It’s a lot of work. I just don’t think you have to have that type of personality to be successful today in politics. I think you have to be able to communicate a sense of conviction and intelligence and rather, some integrity. That’s what you have to be able to do. This hail-fellow is passé in many ways. Those three qualities are really it. Now, I think that some people can do that. I think I do that well. I mean, I’ve been really successful, politically. I think I can do that. But it isn’t anything to do with being able to go out and just love it. Dancing [unclear], the Fourth of July.

Cannon: Something you naturally do?

JFK: In my first campaign somebody said to me that he thought after I spoke that I would be governor of Massachusetts in ten years. I think I did well from the beginning in this particular key.

Bradlee: Did that statement create things in you?

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