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 21)

Cannon: Does it ever concern you that you have lost your sense of privacy? You obviously can’t have . . . since everybody knows you now.

JFK: That’s the real pleasure about Jamaica in a way. You really can’t go any- place particularly now without . . . But I don’t mind, I think that’s part of run- ning, so I’m delighted, really. I used to walk down the streets in ’45 and nobody knew me. Now that’s fifteen years of effort has gone into getting known. I mean, it isn’t pleasant for the person, but as an investment of energy it represents some . . .

Cannon: What’s your reaction when someone comes up and says, “I saw you on television”?

JFK: They come from Massachusetts? [laughter] It’s all right. I don’t mind. I’m asking their support, so, you know.

Cannon: Do you take any special efforts to maintain a sense of privacy? Do you have a private phone? Unlisted?

JFK: I do. But everybody seems to have it.


JFK: Have we covered everything?

Bradlee: I just would like two minutes on the magic of politics. [laughter] Be- cause I go back to this guy who told me I ought to run against Styles Bridges.11 And for about two minutes, I just talked. And there was this whole marvelous sense of mission, that you’ve been thinking about. Somebody must have said that to you. “You can be . . . ,” never mind president, but you can go so high. It’s an adrenaline on a man.

JFK: I agree. It’s stimulating. Because you’re dealing with . . . Life is a struggle and you’re struggling in a tremendous sort of arena. It’s like playing Yale every Saturday, in a sense.


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