There are several factors that account for the public's fascination with John F. Kennedy, both while he was president and since his assassination.
First, Kennedy epitomized charisma, vigor, and youthful confidence. He brought glamor to the White House for the first time in American history. With a photogenic wife and equally attractive children in tow, Kennedy captured the imaginations of voters across every stratum of society.
At 43, Kennedy became the youngest man elected to office. (Note that Theodore Roosevelt is considered the youngest to assume the presidency — he became president after William McKinley's assassination).
According to many who knew him, Kennedy's youthful vitality and charisma was equaled only by his grace. During his years in office, he and his wife Jacqueline entertained a succession of celebrity and royal guests, further imbuing his presidency with the image of glamor and power.
Another factor that has contributed to the public's continued fascination with Kennedy was the fact that he was cut down in the prime of his years. He died before many of his proposals could become law. Before his death, he had proposed civil rights legislation to end racial segregation and federal programs to provide healthcare to the elderly and poor. Kennedy's death elevated his status in the eyes of many of his supporters.
The public also watched Kennedy debate Nixon, the first time presidential candidates had ever gone toe-to-toe on national television. Many voters were impressed by Kennedy's cool confidence and youthful vitality. Today, political commentators maintain that Kennedy single-handedly made style a necessary complement to substance in a presidential candidate.
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