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 11)

Jacqueline Kennedy: You were so tired. How could you be anything . . .

 JFK: It was so damn close, I was disappointed. I was disappointed that night. Cannon: Did you think that they were going to win?

JFK: Kefauver deserved it. I always thought that [unclear], he’d beaten Steven- son in two or three primaries . . .

Bradlee: You didn’t run in any primaries in that, did you?

JFK: No, but he had, that’s why he deserved it.

Cannon: Was there any sense of [unclear]?

JFK: Afterwards? No, it’s past [or passed].

Cannon: It was past the next morning. You can honestly say, you could go off the next day to home, or to Hyannisport, or wherever, and say, “Well, nice try.”

JFK: Not quite that easy, because I was damn tired, but I have to say, I thought, you know, we did have a close effort, and I had not thought I was going to win, I did much better than I thought I would, I thought Kefauver deserved to win, and therefore I was not desolate. It’s a lot different from now. Now it’s entirely different. Now I’m [unclear]. It would take me a lot longer to recover.

Cannon: How does a politician get over this sense of loss? Sense of defeat?


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