September 28, 1960
NEW YORK. -- I sat among a small group of people Monday night watching the first of the television debates between the Presidential candidates, Vice-President Nixon and Senator Kennedy, and I think most of us agreed that an extraordinary amount of information was packed into one hour. It was a milestone in TV history -- the first time campaigning had been conducted on this level.
There were three women in our party of viewers1 and, curiously enough, all three of us felt a similar strong reaction to the personalities of the two men.
We felt honesty in Mr. Kennedy and distrustfulness in Mr. Nixon.
A gentleman among us said that before the program he had a great many questions in his mind about Mr. Kennedy and that after the one-hour broadcast he felt a number of these questions had been answered favorably.
If Mr. Kennedy can project himself thusly often enough he will persuade a large part of what has been called the independent vote, and that would be a great accomplishment on his part. In any case, I look forward with great interest to the three renewals next month of this joint appearance of the two candidates.
Another gentleman in our group maintained that Mr. Nixon made the most finished presentation of his views and was the more poised of the two. I felt there was very little difference between the two men on this score, and I am also of the opinion that Mr. Kennedy produced more facts about the past and present.
I also was glad to hear both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Nixon bring out the fact that it was impossible to separate domestic affairs from foreign affairs.
For me the amusing thing about the broadcast was that evidently the Republicans feel they must have the same objectives as the Democrats. And to attain these objectives we heard the same old story: "We will do the same thing but we will do it better and it will cost less." Now, certainly no one wants inflation to eat up his savings or to destroy the credit of our country, but as I listened to both of the candidates I thought if they were going to accomplish the same ends they were going to have to do it with very similar financial processes. And it was at this point that we three women felt our strong reaction to the personalities of the two men.
Index to this Document: 1960 presidential election; Democratic Party: compared to Republican Party; ER on; Gurewitsch, Edna: on Kennedy-Nixon debates; Kennedy, John F.: debating skills of; ER's assessment of; Kennedy-Nixon debates: Edna Gurewitsch on; Trude Lash on; ER on; Anna Rosenberg on; Lash, Trude: on Kennedy-Nixon debates; My Day; Nixon, Richard: ER's assessment of; Republican Party: compared to Democratic Party; ER's criticism of; Roosevelt, Eleanor: on Democratic Party; on JFK; on Kennedy-Nixon debates; on Nixon; on Republican Party; on television and politics; Rosenberg, Anna: on Kennedy-Nixon debates; U.S. Government: domestic policy, impact on foreign policy; foreign policy of, impact on domestic policy
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. http://adh.sc.edu.
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/.
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