• the 1960 presidential election was one of the closest in history. republican richard m. nixon seemed to have an edge with eight years' experience as eisenhower's vice president, while democrat john f. kennedy, a roman catholic, struggled against anti-catholic prejudice. kennedy, however, attracted voters with his sense of mission. he also gained votes in the first-ever tv debates by appearing fresh and energetic, while nixon looked pale, unshaven, and tired. kennedy's words on january 20, 1961-inauguration day, the formal celebration marking the first day of a presidency–set the tone for his administration: "now the trumpet summons us again ... against the common enemies of man–tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."