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Lot #147
Richard Nixon

Reopening old wounds nearly thirty years later: “Jack Kennedy came to see me.... I sensed that [he] was impressed”

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Reopening old wounds nearly thirty years later: “Jack Kennedy came to see me.... I sensed that [he] was impressed”

TLS signed “R. N.,” one page, 7.25 x 10.5, personal letterhead, May 22, 1989. Letter addressed to journalist Richard Reeves, whose book President Kennedy: Profile of Power is now considered the authoritative work on the 35th President. Nixon has added the greeting “Dear Dick,” in his hand. In part: "This is just a note to tell you that the anecdote Moynihan recounted to you is essentially correct. Shortly after the election, Jack Kennedy came to see me at the Key Biscayne Hotel. He asked me what my biggest surprise was in the election results. I responded that I was confident that I would win Texas. He then observed that the Ohio results came as a particular surprise to him. His campaign pollster, Lou Harris, showed him winning decisively. And since he had campaigned in the state more than I had, he was sure that he would carry it. In fact, I carried the state by a comfortable margin. We then had a discussion of pollsters. Two weeks before the election, Lou Harris predicted that Kennedy would win by a margin of four to five million popular votes. He also predicted that he would carry Ohio by over 200,000 votes. While he did not say so directly, I sensed that Kennedy was somewhat chagrined by the fact that Harris's predictions were so far off the mark. He asked me about my pollster, Claude Robinson…I told him that Robinson had been close to the mark on every one of the major states and I sensed that Kennedy was impressed. If Robinson had not died shortly after the election, my guess is that the Kennedy White House might have retained him. I wish you well as you continue work on your book. I know what an ordeal it is.” In very fine condition. It seems apparent that even more than 30 years after the events described, Nixon's paranoid resentment toward Kennedy was still alive and well. LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

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  • Dates: #314 - Ended October 18, 2006