The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960

By Shaun A. Casey | Go to book overview

5
MOBILIZING THE
TROOPS

The day before the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary in May, Nixon advisor (and eventual titular campaign manager) Robert Finch gave a brief speech to a group of supporters to outline the strategy for the coming campaign. Nixon’s internal polls at that point showed him leading all of the possible Democratic nominees except Kennedy, who led Nixon 52% to 48%. The Nixon brain trust did not think that Kennedy would win big in West Virginia. In the unlikely event that he did, there would be no way to prevent Kennedy from winning the nomination. But without a large victory, they felt, the contest would be decided by the convention, and Stevenson would prevail. There would, however, be tremendous pressure for Kennedy to take the second slot. While they thought that Kennedy was the strongest vote- getter among the Democratic candidates, there was no way to know how many Catholic votes he would bring to the Democrats if he ran for vice president with Stevenson or Johnson atop the ticket.1

Finch promised that the Nixon campaign would be the most unorthodox in the nation’s history. While he did not fully explain what this meant, he did note that Nixon would act as his own de facto campaign manager, consulting periodically with Senator Thruston Morton, chair of the Republican National Committee; Senator Barry Goldwater, chair of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee; and Representative William Miller, chair of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Nixon would be his own chief advisor.

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The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1- The Ghost of Al Smith 3
  • 2- The Lay of the Land 30
  • 3- First Skirmishes 52
  • 4- Preparing for Battle 81
  • 5- Mobilizing the Troops 101
  • 6- Guerrilla Warfare 123
  • 7- A Lion in a Den of Daniels 151
  • 8- The Endgame 177
  • Epilogue 200
  • Notes 207
  • Index 235
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