Nixon and Kennedy
I feel sorry for Nixon because he does not know who he is, and at each stop he has to decide which Nixon he is at the moment, which must be very exhausting.
— KENNEDY, ON NIXON, 1960 1
SHORTLY BEFORE NIXON DROVE to the television studio for the first of his four debates with John F. Kennedy in the presidential election of 1960, his running mate, Henry Cabot Lodge, telephoned him and in a long call urged him to "erase the assassin image." 2 Nixon in any case was determined to modify his image of a pugnacious destructive campaigner. There would be no more cries of "We can win if we start slugging!" as he had said in 1958. He would now be the enlightened statesman, superior in wisdom and experience to the brash young senator from Massachusetts with small knowledge of foreign affairs and none at all in administration.
Although cartoonists made merry with Old Nixon and New Nixon masks, the press on the whole gave the vice-president respectful treatment, especially after he successfully routed Nelson Rockefeller's weak bid for the presidency without publicly saying a word in opposition to him. Time and Life were openly partisan, praising his wisdom and compassion. 3 Stewart Alsop, in an influential little book, Nixon and Rockefeller, predicted that Nixon would make a good president, saying he had "the boldness and decisiveness, the instinct for 'moving quickly to shape events,' the sure feel for the realities of power, the strong intelligence, the cool toughness and simple guts in time of crisis." 4
But Nixon found himself running against a man of formidable natural gifts, who brought intellectuals swarming into his camp as had Franklin Roosevelt, and who charmed even the most cynical of reporters. Lean, athletic, handsome, a shock of boyish