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 5)

JFK: Well, I mean the political type. I think it’s hard work. My grandfather was a natural political type. Loved to go out to a dinner. Loved to get up and sing with the crowds. Loved to go down and take the train up and talk to eighteen people on the train.

Cannon: What makes you think you aren’t, in a different context?

JFK: I just happen to fit the times. My grandfather, his political career was limited partly because he was part of the immigrant group, who would not achieve success, but partly because he did do these things and therefore he never concentrated enough to get what he really wanted, which was either governor or senator. Now it requires far more work, politics is far more serious business. You really aren’t so much interested in who’s at the . . . really, they try to make, I think the judgment is rather cold in judgment, as to what, the people who have some competence. So the old-type political personality is on his way out. Tele- vision is only one manifestation. I think that the problems are so tough, I don’t think you have to be this hail-fellow-well-met.

Cannon: Why do you say the problems are tough, what are some of these problems?

JFK: I think, all the problems, war, the destruction of the United States and the world, every problem, urban problems, agricultural, they’re all . . . monetary, fiscal, labor-management, inflation. I mean, they’re terribly sophisticated. In the nineteenth century you only have about three problems: the development of the West, slavery, tariff and currency.


Bradlee: But did you have any remote idea, Jack, that when you ran for Congress, in 1946, that you would run for president?

JFK: No, I didn’t.

Bradlee: Remote? Not even when you went to bed?

JFK: Never. Never. Never. I thought maybe I’d be governor of Massachusetts someday.


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