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

"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)
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(Continued from page 22)

Bradlee: But the drama of it. I don’t know, somehow . . .

JFK: How could it be more interesting than this sort of checkerboard chess struggle of the next seven months?

Bradlee: Talk about that, because this is what appeals to me most about you.

JFK: I mean, look at the cold decisions that have to be made that are really life or death. I mean, running in Wisconsin? And what do we do about Mike DiSalle? And how can it be handled?

Cannon: There are 175,999,995 people who aren’t interested in it. You say, “What could be more interesting?” Why are you this interested, and the rest of the millions aren’t?

JFK: Well, if they were in it. I mean, their lives are interesting to them. I’m having the same struggle that they’re having in a different sphere, but in the most sort of dramatic way, for the great effort, the presidency of the United States, my checkerboard struggle is going on. As I say, what is sports, spectator sports, the same thing. Johnny Unitas, he might find it interesting to play in a sandlot team, in front of four people, but he’s playing for the Colts, the best team in the United States, for the world championship. I mean, I must say, he must find that very absorbing. I’m not comparing the presidency with that, but I’m just saying that, how could it be more fascinating than to run for president under the obstacles and the hurdles that are before me.


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