October 19 Campaign Wife

by Jacqueline (Mrs. John F.) Kennedy

October 19, 1960 Column

This week had two high points for me.

First, on Thursday, I accompanied my husband to the studio in New  York for the third of the Great Debates. For the two previous debates, I had been at home, giving  a Listening Party. Now I know the suspense the candidates must feel that all is being risked in that fateful hour.

Jack always show such control under stress – more than I ever could; an absolute calm beforehand – then, when it is over, he relaxes and laughs and is happy to talk about it with me and with his friends.

Perhaps because I was right there and involved in the tension too, I thought that this was his very best performance. I was so surprised when my sister told me she thought the second one was better. Jack looked tired, but I was proud of him for not wearing any make-up and simply presenting himself as he is – a dedicated man concerned about the future of his country.

When it was all over, I saw him off at the airport. It was after midnight, and he was going to arrive in Detroit at 4 a.m. and start a whistle stop tour early in the morning. I am not sure I share the supposed dream of American women – to see their sons become President – being President is one thing; you could  not help but being proud of that – but running for the office is another; an ordeal you would wish to spare your sons and husbands. You worry and wish you could diminish the strain but, of course, you cannot. 

Perhaps it is fitting that the highest office in the land demands the severest effort.

Then Monday I want to Arlington, Virginia, to meet with 200 or more women who were staring out on “Calling for Kennedy” week. I can’t tell you how excited and gratifying it was to see so many eager and intelligent women ready to work for my husband.

Not only are they calling on other women to find out what they believe to be the most important problems facing the United States today, but they are enlisting volunteers for the final phone campaign to be sure people vote on November 8.

While I was in Virginia, I talked on a branch line with Mrs. Robert Winalski in Hartford, Conn.; Mrs. James Haney in New Brunswick, N.J.; Mrs. Jerold Hofferberger, and Mrs. Anne Bliss in Baltimore, Md.; Mrs. W.M. Marley in Durham, N.C.; Mrs. V.E. Levine in Binghampton, N.Y.; Mrs. Alfred Arden in Evansville, Ind.; Mrs. K. Clement in Chicago, Ill.; Mrs. Connie Ives in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Mrs. Arthur Miller in Dallas, Texas; Mrs. N. Stapleton, Jr. in Denver, Colo.; and Mrs. Goldie Kennedy in Los Angeles, Calif.

All of these women have organized “Calling for Kennedy” programs in their own states. Now I know why Jack says “One woman is worth 10 men in a campaign.”

When we first thought of the “Calling for Kennedy” program, we hoped to have special buttons made to identify the canvassers but last week, in the interest of time, the women were asked to make their own. The ones I saw this morning were much more clever and original than any we could have made. One I remember was a map of the United States with Jack’s name cut out from newspapers and magazines in every state, and “Calling for Kennedy” across the top.

Someone asked me during the press conference this morning if my husband was tired. I answered yes but that he seemed to thrive even when campaigning day and night in all parts of the country. As for Caroline and me, the suspense is beginning to be almost more than we can bear. The things that make it worthwhile are the encouraging letters I get from thoughtful people throughout the country, and marvelous women like those this morning who are working so hard for Jack.

Source: JFK Library

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2002-2015. All Rights Reserved.