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 7)

JFK: Well, I think my biggest help, really was getting started, and my father’s having been known. And therefore when you walked up to somebody, you had some entree. That’s a far greater advantage to me, I think, than the financial [unclear]. Coming from a politically active family was really the major advantage.

Cannon: You think there’s more advantage in having financial backing, so that you didn’t have to worry?

JFK: Well, I have to worry, because I could be defeated.

Cannon: But you don’t have to worry about your family, about being out of a job, if you should be defeated.

JFK: No, but I worry, I wouldn’t like to try to pick up my life at forty-five, -six, or -seven, and start after twenty years of being in politics, and try to pick up my life then. That would be a source of concern to me. Many politicians probably are lawyers and would start in something else. I’m not a lawyer. It would be a problem for me to decide. Maybe need a different degree. I mean, it’s like having your leg up to your ankle or to your knee amputated, it’s still disturbing.

Bradlee: Jack, what career might you pick?

JFK: I don’t know what I’d do. This just happens to be . . .

Bradlee: Does that mean that politics is an all-inclusive profession?


JFK: I don’t see really what you do out of it. I went in when I, college, politics. Where would you go? What would I do now? I couldn’t possibly. I don’t know what I’d do.


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