Lyndon Johnson in Brooklyn is almost as pathetic a spectacle as
a Brooklyn Congressman in Washington. Neither has the slightest
thing to do with the reality of the environment.
-- Murray Kempton in the New York Post, January 22, 1960
With the eight Republican years of Dwight D. Eisenhower nearing an end, 1959 was a year of feverish anticipation for ambitious Democrats who aspired to the 1960 presidential nomination. The Democrats were still the nation's majority party. They had managed to win Congress in 1954, in 1956 and--by landslide proportions--in 1958, despite Eisenhower's great popularity. Eisenhower could not run for a third term and his probable successor as Republican party leader, Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, lacked popular appeal. Whereas Eisenhower had transcended party, Nixon was a party man. But he could not win the presidency with Republican votes alone. Accordingly, the Democratic party, hungry to enter the White House after eight years on the outside, seethed with internal turmoil for the right to contest Nixon.
The list of aspirants was long, and at the top of it was Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, an active though unannounced candidate following his re-election to the Senate by a record plurality in 1958. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota was the candidate of the liberals. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, the advocate of air power, was certain to run. Adlai Stevenson would not make another overt try for nomination, but he was obviously receptive. Then there were dark horses galore: Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown of California, Governor G. Mennen (Soapy) Williams of Michigan, Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, Governor Robert Meyner of New Jersey.