if you wish to skip the introductory material and proceed directly
to the video of which there are three parts. The entire broadcast
runs sixty minutes. Will Barack
Obama ever acquire a television
presence as powerful as the one John F. Kennedy projected half a century ago? Will the Cook County Democrats ever again sponsor a coast-to-coast political broadcast?
Presidential candidate Senator John F. Kennedy and Chicago's Mayor
Richard J. Daley on the floor of the Chicago Stadium shortly after
8:30pm on Friday, November 4th, 1960. In the background you can
see his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
has been made of Richard J. Daley's efforts to ensure that Senator
John F. Kennedy prevailed at the polls on November 8th, 1960.
A key---though largely undocumented---element of that effort was
the purchase of half an hour of prime time on the NBC television
network by the Democratic Party of Cook County so that the nation
could watch J.F.K. addressing a wildly enthusiastic crowd at the
Chicago Stadium on the Friday before the election.
It is normal for local political organizations to purchase time
locally to promote candidates. But for a local organization to purchase
national television time is a rarity indeed.
What viewers from coast-to-cast saw the night of February 4th, 1960,
was Senator John F. Kennedy at his best, thanks to a local party
organization at its most powerful.
within range of WNBQ-TV (Chicago's NBC owned-and-operated station
now known as WMAQ-TV) saw an additional half-hour that preceded
the Kennedy speech---the culmination of what might have been the
ultimate "torch light parade" honoring not only the head
of the ticket but its state and local components as well.
J. Daley's purchase of the 8-8:30 half hour on Channel 5 had the
added benefit of locking the Republican national organization out
of the Chicago market during prime time that night. In all other
markets, the Republicans purchased this slot on NBC for an address
by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on behalf of presidential candidate
Richard M. Nixon. Since the Cook County Democrats had already bought
this time period, the Republicans had to settle for a tape-delayed
broadcast of the Eisenhower speech at 10:15---well after prime-time---following
WNBQ's late evening news. Both half-hours are remarkable examples
of stagecraft and scripting and of Richard J. Daley's ability to
target demographic groups that were essential to the victories of
Both half-hours are remarkable examples of stagecraft and scripting
and of Richard J. Daley's ability to target demographic groups that
were essential to the victories of his party. Present-day political
gurus would do well to study this video.
the broadcast was Vince Garrity (seen on the left). Vincent Depaul
Garrity was a life-long loyal Democrat (some might call him a party
hack) who served, for time, as a trustee of the Metropolitan Sanitary
District (now known as the Water Reclamation District).
Vince was also a Chicago radio personality: in the 1960's he was
morning man on WAAF radio. (The NBC announcer is Greg
Part 1 (of 3): The torchlight parade
30 minutes of the Cook County Democrats
pulling out all the stops for a variety of candidates, notwithstanding a steady downpour.
Hosted by Vince Garrity. Featured are candidates Sam Shapiro (Lieutenant
Governor), William Clark (Attorney General), Jim McLaughlin (Secretary
of State), Michael Howlett (Comptroller), Paul Douglas (U.S. Senator),
Otto Kerner (Governor), and Dan Ward (Cook County States Attorney)---plus
floats, bands, and near chaos as the limo carrying John F. Kennedy
Here's a log of significant events in this segment:
02:27: Interview with Samuel Shapiro, candidate for Lieutenant
03:35: Interview with William Clark, candidate for Illinois Attorney
04:35: Interview with Jim McLaughlin, candidate for Illinois Secretary
04:59: Limousine passes carrying Senator John F. Kennedy, Mayor
Richard J. Daley and R. Sergeant Shriver.
06:07: Interview with Michael Howlett, candidate for Illinois
06:41: Interview with U.S. Senator Paul Douglas.
07:14: Interview with Otto Kerner, candidate for governor.
08:42: Interview with Steven Bailey, parade marshal. (Bailey was
head of the Pumbers Union which, to this day, organizes Chicago's
downtown Saint Patrick's Day parade).
09:00: Interview with Dan Ward, candidate for Cook County States
24:55: Interview with Theodore A. Jones. This is perhaps the most
interesting of all the interviews.
was an African-American, and his appearance was clearly an effort
to make certain Chicago's Black voters made it to the polls on
November 8th. Though Jones was introduced simply as a Kennedy
"fan", he was one of the most important African American
leaders of the Democratic Party in Illinois as well as a civil
rights activist. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois
in the 1930's he had both experienced and fought against racial
discrimination. Following graduation, he became one of the state's
first African American CPA's. During World War II he served as
a budget officer for the U.S. Fair Employment Practices Commission.
Following the war he was associated with some of the business
enterprises of boxer Joe Louis.
The Democrats rewarded Jones for his loyalty. President Kennedy
appointed to the Federal Committee on Equal Opportunity in Housing.
President Lyndon Baines Johnson named him Great Lakes Regional
Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Governor Otto
Kerner named him Illinois State Revenue Director in 1966. From
1963 to 1971 he served as a trustee of the University of Illinois.
Jones was later found guilty on two misdemeanor counts for filing
false tax returns in 1977.
Jones subsequently became President of the Chicago chapter of
the NAACP and served as a trustee of the City Colleges of Chicago.
He died in April of 2001 at the age of 88.
Part 2 (of 3): Station break (includeing an Otto Kerner for Governor commercial and a re-elect Paul Douglas spot).
The message of the Kerner commercial (he advocates a balanced
road construction program, not just one based on the contruction
of "super highways") is significant: the following day
(Saturday, November 5th, 1960), Chicago's Northwest Expressway
(later the Kennedy Expressway) would be opened to traffic.
Part 3 (of 3): Senator John F. Kennedy's address.
Note especially his grand entrance on
the floor of the Chicago Stadium (could Bob
Deservi ever expecedt to have engineered a similar entrance for his
former boss?). The reaction for the candidate is so enthusiastic that
it eats up precious minutes of paid-for network time. Indeed,
Senator Kennedy's 30 minutes run out as he speaks of the Peace
Corps (proposed in a San Francisco speech several days earlier). And NBC, with other programs in its Friday night schedule, pulled the plug on the future POTUS.