John F. Kennedy becomes the youngest man ever to be elected president of the United States, narrowly beating Republican Vice President Richard Nixon. He was also the first Catholic to become president.
The campaign was hard-fought and bitter. For the first time, presidential candidates engaged in televised debates. Many observers believed that Kennedy’s poised and charming performance during the four debates made the difference in the final vote.
Issues, however, also played a role in the election, and the nation’s foreign policy was a major bone of contention between Kennedy and Nixon. Nixon took every opportunity to characterize Kennedy as too young and inexperienced to handle the awesome responsibilities of America’s Cold War diplomacy. (Nixon was, in fact, only a few years older than Kennedy.)
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