1960 Democratic National Convention


1960 Democratic National Convention

Infobox National Political Convention
year = 1960
party = Democratic


image_size =
caption =
date = July 11 - July 15
venue = Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
city = Los Angeles, California
presidential_nominee = John F. Kennedy
presidential_nominee_state = Massachusetts
vice_presidential_nominee = Lyndon B. Johnson
vice_presidential_nominee_state = Texas

The 1960 Democratic National Convention was held in Los Angeles. In the week before the convention opened, Kennedy received two new challengers when Lyndon B. Johnson, the powerful Senate Majority Leader from Texas, and Adlai Stevenson II, the party's nominee in 1952 and 1956, announced their candidacies. However, neither Johnson nor Stevenson was a match for the talented and highly efficient Kennedy campaign team led by Robert Kennedy. Johnson challenged Kennedy to a televised debate before a joint meeting of the Texas and Massachusetts delegations; Kennedy accepted. Most observers felt that Kennedy won the debate, and Johnson was not able to expand his delegate support beyond the South. Stevenson was popular among many liberal delegates, especially in California, but his two landslide defeats in 1952 and 1956 led party leaders to search for a "fresh face" who had a better chance of winning.

Two Johnson supporters, including John B. Connally, brought up the question of Kennedy's health. Connally said that Kennedy had Addison's disease. JFK press secretary Pierre Salinger of California denied the story. A Kennedy physician, Dr. Janet Travell, put out a statement that the senator's adrenal glands were functioning adequately and that he was no more susceptible to infection than anyone else. It was also denied that Kennedy was on cortisone. (Geoffrey Perrett, "Jack: A Life Like No Other", New York: Random House, 2002, pp. 253-254)

The Vice Presidential nomination

Kennedy won the nomination on the first ballot. Then, in a move which surprised many, Kennedy asked Johnson to be his running mate. To this day there is much debate regarding the details of Johnson's nomination - why it was offered and why he agreed to take it. Some historians speculate that Kennedy actually wanted someone else (such as Senators Stuart Symington or Henry M. Jackson) to be his running mate, and that he offered the nomination to Johnson first only as a courtesy to the powerful Senate Majority Leader. According to this theory, Kennedy was then surprised when Johnson accepted second place on the Democratic ticket. Another related story is that, after Johnson accepted the offer, Robert Kennedy went to Johnson's hotel suite to dissuade Johnson from becoming the vice-presidential nominee. Johnson was offended that "JFK's kid brother" would brashly urge him to stay off the ticket. In response to his blunt confrontation with Robert Kennedy, Johnson called JFK to confirm that the vice-presidential nomination was his; JFK clearly stated that he wanted Johnson as his running mate. Johnson and Robert Kennedy became so embittered by the experience that they began a fierce personal and political feud that would have grave implications for the Democratic Party in the 1960s. Despite the reservations Robert Kennedy had about Johnson's nomination, the move proved to be a masterstroke for his older brother. Johnson vigorously campaigned for JFK and was instrumental in helping the Democrats to carry several Southern states skeptical of Kennedy, especially Johnson's home state of Texas.

The nomination was carried by voice vote, although many there thought that more people screamed "NO!" than "Aye!!!"

On the last day of the convention, Kennedy delivered his acceptance speech from the adjacent Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In the end, the Kennedy-Johnson ticket was assembled and went on to secure an electoral college victory and a narrow popular vote plurality (slightly over 110,000 nationally) in the fall over the Republican candidates Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

sequence
prev=1956
list=Democratic National Conventions
next=1964

ee also

* [http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/1960+Presidential+Election+Primaries.htm Full table of Presidential primary results]


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