Updated: 7:27 AM ET December 7, 2010
Did JFK Steal The 1960 Election?
BOOK REVIEW: Kennedy v. Nixon: The Presidential Election of 1960 by Edmund Kallina Jr., professor, University of Central Florida
By Roger Stone Did Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley steal Illinois and thus the 1960 presidential election for John F. Kennedy? Kennedy carried Cook County, which includes Chicago, by 318,736 votes -more than double his national margin of 118,574 votes. This new book by Edmund Kallina fairly examines all sides of this intense political debate, which has vexed historians and fired up partisans since that razor-thin election. However, Kallina reaches the wrong conclusion, that is that the Illinois result wouldn't have changed the election's outcome, thus minimizing what he admits was widespread voter theft and fraud on election day. Mayor Daley himself gave away the game on election eve when he said, "With the Democratic organization and the help of a few close friends," the Democrats would prevail on election day. There is sufficient evidence that the "few close friends" mentioned include Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana--a fact Kallina pretty much ignores. Federal special prosecutor Morris Wexler conducted a quiet inquiry into 1960 Illinois election fraud and the evidence was pervasive. Mayor Richard J. Daley stole Illinois' 27 Electoral College votes for fellow Democrat John F. Kennedy, denying Richard Nixon the presidency. Kennedy won the state by 8,858 of 4.7 million votes.Kallina believes vote fraud did occur in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois, but not on a scale that changed the outcome. Mayor Daley was known for stuffing ballot boxes and giving ward bosses and precinct captains vote quotas. Two recounts of Chicago-area voting later showed that Democrats had likely stolen tens of thousands of votes for the Democratic ticket, including down-ballot races. Special prosecutor Wexler's report, issued in April 1961, found "substantial" miscounts in the 1,367 precincts it examined, including unqualified voters, misread voting machines and math mistakes. In one precinct, voters asked where to deposit tickets for drawing for hams. In another, a precinct captain handed out slips of paper entitling voters to free lunches. In many precincts, boarding house bums and vagrants were promised and given a shot of whiskey for a vote. There is substantial evidence that these fraudulent voters were shuttled from polling place to polling place and were "repeaters." Wexler's inquiry was hampered by the non-cooperation of Cook County officials and the Democratic machine, where Wexler was stonewalled. Wexler brought contempt charges against 667 election officials, but the cases were dismissed by a Democratic judge. Three people were convicted on criminal charges. Professor Kallina actually concludes the widely held belief that Chicago shenanigans robbed Nixon in 1960 is one of the myths about the election. He is wrong. Kallina notes, "Winning Illinois would not have been enough to propel the Republican into the White House; he would have had to carry Texas or a combination of other states to give him the 269 electoral votes needed then to win." That is, of course, the point. The evidence of voter fraud in Texas, where the Kennedy-Johnson ticket carried the state by a scant 50,000 votes was as widespread and odious as that of the daily machine in Chicago. Thousands of Texas ballots were thrown out on the technicality that all of those who went to the polls did not scratch out the names of the candidates for the presidency for whom they did not want to vote, as the law required. Republicans - who were not joined by Nixon, who was graceful in defeat, if privately furious, charged this had taken the state's electoral vote away from the Vice President. The requirement was applied in some counties and not in others. Lyndon Johnson's vote stealing capabilities marred his first election to the Senate, where ballot boxes disappeared while others were stuffed, requiring a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, by which Johnson stole his U.S. Senate Seat from Conservative Democrat and former Governor "Coke" Stevenson. Texas Republicans were also hurt by a last-minute Johnson dirty trick. In an appearance in Dallas, Johnson and his attractive wife, Lady Bird, were subjected to a small-scale version of some of the unpleasantries that Nixon and his wife had encountered in their tumultuous visit to Latin America. The Johnsons were jostled and heckled as they inched their way through a crowded hotel lobby. There was some spittle aimed at them as they made their way across the street to another hotel. It was one of those things that most Texans don't like to have happen to their own, particularly to a Texan accompanied by his lady. Johnson charged that Republican Congressman Bruce Alger organized the demonstration and that Republican money paid for the preparation of the Johnson-scorning placards that were borne aloft by an unruly crowd in an attempt to downgrade Johnson as the native son. Alger told Senator Barry Goldwater that both were patently false and that Alger was not on the scene. The crowd was likely part of Dallas' bustling right wing community, but Johnson exploited the situation adroitly. It is interesting to note that Alger was handily reelected. Unlike Illinois, Johnson left little to chance--45,000 disallowed ballots for the Nixon-Lodge ticket, in which voters had circled the Nixon-Lodge ticket, rather than cross out those candidates they did not want to vote for or burnt within 24 hours of the election in Democrat-dominated counties where election board authorities insisted they had no room for storage. The shift of Illinois and Texas, where victory was indeed stolen from Richard Nixon, would have elected the vice president. It's popular for liberal historians to rant about Nixon's paranoia and how it sowed the seeds of Watergate. Nixon had good reason to fear being cheated. Despite a number of mistakes, and including his miserable appearance and performance in the first televised debate with the bronzed and confident JFK and being massively outspent, Nixon came from behind to win the 1960 election. Political lore tells us that the television audience was twice as big for Nixon's flop performance and appearance in the first televised debate than it was for the second and third debates, in which Nixon was generally conceded to have bested Kennedy. What many historians failed to note, is that the fourth debate audience, the debate in which everyone agreed Nixon dispatched Kennedy, was as large as the first debate. Nixon had been sidelined with a staph infection, spending three weeks in the hospital after Labor Day while Kennedy crisscrossed the country. Nixon came roaring out of the hospital in weakend condition, gaunt, and underweight. He took on a breakneck schedule to make up for lost ground. A diet of milkshakes allowed him to gain 15 lbs he had lost in the hospital, and his vigor returned for the closing weeks, in which he undertook a punishing schedule, unwisely keeping a campaign pledge to visit all 50 states, while Kennedy concentrated on swing states with large electoral vote bounties. Despite all these setbacks, Nixon closed fast and won the 1960 election, only to have it stolen from him. The role of organized crime and the Chicago mob in both Kennedy's earlier West Virginia Primary win and the effort to steal Illinois is undeniable. Special prosecutor Wexler's report details voter intimidation as well as thugs ferrying "ghost voters" from polling place to polling place. This, I believe, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy's deal with the Chicago mob, would sow the seeds for John F. Kennedy's assassination. According to Sam Giancana's daughter, Ambassador Kennedy agreed to kill the Eisenhower Justice Department's efforts to extradite Santo Trafficante and Carlos Marcello to prominent mob chieftans in return for the mob's help in Chicago. Ambassador Kennedy was traditionally closer to the New York mob where Frank Costello had been his partner in the bootlegging business. Some in the Chicago mob had actually provided funds for Nixon's 1950 election to the U.S. Senate because the Chicago boys controlled the Los Angeles mob through LA Gangster Mickey Cohen. Nonetheless, Ambassador Kennedy got $1 million for the Kennedy campaign coffers from the Chicago Mob, and made his deal for an election day steal. After Bobby Kennedy became Attorney General and began pressing for the deportation of Trafficante, Giancana contacted Ambassador Kennedy. Kennedy demanded 50% of the action of the Cal-Neva Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada to keep up his side of the earlier bargain. Fifty percent of the share in Cal-Neva were transferred to singer, Morton Downey, Sr., a crony and straw man for Joe Kennedy. When felled by a stroke, the old Ambassador was powerless to stop Bobby Kennedy from proceeding against the mob. That Giancana played some role in Kennedy's assassination is likely. That an identified mob button-man Jack Ruby killed Oswald to silence him is not coincidence. The Warren Commission, by the way, says Ruby had "no known associations with organized crime," which historians have conclusively disproved. Kennedy ended up with 303 electoral votes to Nixon's 219. The shift of Illinois and Texas would have made the difference, and this is the point Professor Kallina misses. Victory was stolen from Richard Nixon.