How Adlai Stevenson Put John F. Kennedy in the White House

in Inside the Presidential Debates

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780226530413
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226530390 | DOI:
How Adlai Stevenson Put John F. Kennedy in the White House

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In 1955, two of the most powerful men in the United States, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, both suffered heart attacks. Eisenhower decided to run again in 1956, while Adlai E. Stevenson, former Illinois governor, entered the primaries and won his party's nomination. The two electoral contests between Eisenhower and Stevenson were a turning point in presidential campaigns. Both traveled the country meeting voters, but the Republicans made extensive use of television, too. In 1959 Stevenson wrote an article about television and politics for This Week magazine. The following year, he proposed the establishment of what he hoped would become a national institution, a great debate for the presidency: televised presidential debates. That fall, Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Massachusetts senator John F. Kennedy would have four televised debates. The state of Illinois played a major role in determining the outcome of the 1960 presidential election, won by Kennedy.

Keywords: televised presidential debates; presidential election; Adlai E. Stevenson; Dwight D. Eisenhower; television; John F. Kennedy; Richard M. Nixon; Illinois; politics

Chapter.  5464 words. 

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