Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Day After the 1960 Election

After presidential elections come concession speeches from the losers and the victory speeches from the winners -- usually. In the case of a particularly close election still within living memory, 1960, things weren't quite so simple. By the end of election day that year, no one was sure yet who had won. Early in the morning on November 9, Vice President Richard Nixon spoke to his supporters but did not concede, though he did note that things weren't trending his way.

Writing in 1960: LBJ vs. JKF vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies, David Pietrusza takes the story from there: "At 9:45 a.m. PST Herb Klein -- not Richard Nixon -- stood before the cameras to announce that the great chase had ended, just as he -- not Richard Nixon -- had so casually announced it had begun ten months earlier...

"Klein read Richard Nixon's terse concession -- a telegram Nixon had already sent to Kennedy: 'I want to repeat through this wire congratulations and the best wishes I extended to you on television last night. I know that you will have the united support of all Americans as you lead the nation in the cause of peace and freedom in the next four years.' "

Kennedy gave his victory speech on television that day at the Hyannis Armory, mentioning Nixon's telegram as well as one from President Eisenhower.

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