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February 19, 2012


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 concludes our report on Chapter 15 of Chris Matthews’ new book, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero, published by Simon & Schuster.

The title of Chapter 15 is GOALS.

Chris tells us that Jack’s friend, Ben Bradlee*, told him on Veterans Day weekend that what he had been hearing about Dallas, Texas, where he was headed in a couple of weeks, was not good.

The Bradlees & Kennedys, White House Family Living Room, May 29, 1963, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library Photo

JFK said that the “mood of the city was ugly.”  

That mood had been evidenced 1st hand by UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson when he was hit in the head with a sign by a Dallas woman.

But, even so, JFK was “looking forward to running against Senator Barry Goldwater” in 1964.

JFK’s confidence was high but at the same time he knew he had to win Texas & “perhaps” Georgia as well. 

He also needed to raise money.

Chris writes that JFK spent the next weekend with Torby Macdonald & on Monday, November 18, he made a political trip to Florida with George Smathers.

On the morning of November 22, JFK spoke to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.

This would be the President’s last speech.

JFK said:

“without the United States, South Vietnam would collapse overnight.”

Chris doesn’t include this, but before the speech JFK was presented with a Texas Stetson cowboy hat & when the crowd called for him to put it on, he laughed & said:

“I’ll put it on in the White House on Monday.  If you come up there, you can see it then.”

Chris writes that before he flew to Texas, JFK had asked his national security aide, Michael Forrestal**, to complete an “in-depth study of every possible option”  in Vietnam, including “how to get out of there.”

Michael Forrestal


*Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee was born in Boston.  He is 90 years old. Like JFK, he attended Dexter School & Harvard.  He later became editor of the Washington Post.

Mr. Bradlee lives in the Todd Lincoln House in Georgetown, & also in Drayden, Maryland.

Todd Lincoln House, 3014 N Street NW, Georgetown, http://www.ghostsofdc.org

    **Michael Forrestal’s father, James, was appointed as the 1st Secretary of Defense by President Truman in 1947.

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