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US Presidential Elections and Foreign PolicyCandidates, Campaigns, and Global Politics from FDR to Bill Clinton$
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Andrew Johnstone and Andrew Priest

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813169057

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813169057.001.0001

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Leadership Experience in the Cold War

Leadership Experience in the Cold War

Cuba, Khrushchev, and Quemoy-Matsu in the 1960 Presidential Election Campaign

(p.128) 6 Leadership Experience in the Cold War
US Presidential Elections and Foreign Policy

Sylvia Ellis

University Press of Kentucky

The 1960 presidential election was the first modern campaign and one that took place at the height of the Cold War. The closeness of the election outcome led scholars to ask what tipped the balance in John F. Kennedy’s favor. However, as Robert Divine pointed out some years ago, we can also ask why did he not win more convincingly given recent American defeats abroad? Although numerous foreign policy issues engaged the candidates during the 1960 campaign, this chapter focuses on the three major issues that came to life during the campaign—Cuba, the Soviets, and the tiny offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu—and to argue that Kennedy fumbled in his handling of all three but still managed to convince enough of the US electorate that he could be trusted to lead the nation on the world stage.

Keywords:   1960 election, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Cuba, Quemoy and Matsu

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