It’s the candidates that have changed, not just evolved.

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1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon–The Epic Campaign
That Forged Three Presidencies

In January 1960, Stevenson received an odd and distinctly unwelcome offer of support. It came during an equally unusual secret visit to the Soviet Union’s Washington embassy. Following caviar, wine, and assurances that the room was not bugged, Ambassador Mikhail A. Menshikov removed a carefully folded document from his suit pocket. Inside, the ambassador told Stevenson, was a message from Nikita Khrushchev. “He wishes me to convey the following: When you met in Moscow in August, 1958, he said to you that he had voted for you in his heart in 1956. He says now that he will vote for you in his heart again in 1960. . . . We are concerned with the future, and that America has the right President. . . .” With that preamble, the ambassador handed Stevenson the Soviet premier’s letter:

— 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon—The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies by David Pietrusza

When we compare all the possible candidates . . . we feel that Mr. Stevenson is best for mutual understanding and progress toward peace. These are the views not only of myself—Khrushchev—but of the Presidium. We believe that Mr. Stevenson is more of a realist than others and is likely to understand Soviet anxieties and purposes. . . . Because we know the ideas of Mr. Stevenson, we in our hearts all favor him. And you [Ambassador Menshikov] must ask him which way we could be of assistance to those forces . . . which favor friendly relations. We don’t know how we can help to make relations better and help those to succeed in political life who wish for better relations and more confidence. Could the Soviet press assist Mr. Stevenson’s personal success? How? Should the press praise him, and, if so, for what? Should it criticize him, and, if so, for what? (We can always find many things to criticize Mr. Stevenson [for] because he has said many harsh and critical things about the Soviet Union and Communism!) Mr. Stevenson will know best what would help him.

— 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon—The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies by David Pietrusza

The idea of Premier Khrushchev’s backing—and his interference in the American political process—shocked and angered Stevenson. Stevenson. “I get more and more indignant about being ‘propositioned’ that way,” Adlai confided to a friend, “and at the same time, more and more perplexed, if that’s the word, by the confidence they have in me. I shall do one thing only now: politely and decisively reject the proposal—and pray that it will never leak, lest I lose that potentially valuable confidence.”

— 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon—The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies by David Pietrusza

Today politicians and some of the electorate appear to have a very different attitude. Has it already happened in the past, but this candidate got caught?

Adlai Ewing Ferd Stevenson II (/ˈædleɪ/; February 5, 1900 – July 14, 1965) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat.

A member of the Democratic Party,[1] Stevenson served in numerous positions in the federal government during the 1930s and 1940s, including the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), Federal Alcohol AdministrationDepartment of the Navy, and the State Department. In 1945, he served on the committee that created the United Nations, and he was a member of the initial U.S. delegations to the UN. He was the 31st Governor of Illinois from 1949 to 1953, and received the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in the 1952 and 1956 elections.

In both the 1952 and 1956 elections, Stevenson was defeated in landslides by Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. He sought the Democratic presidential nomination for a third time at the 1960 Democratic National Convention, but was defeated by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. After his election, President Kennedy appointed Stevenson as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He served from 1961 until his death. He died on July 14, 1965, from heart failure (after a heart attack) in London, following a United Nations conference in Switzerland. Following public memorial services in New York City, Washington, DC, and his childhood hometown of Bloomington, Illinois, he was buried in Bloomington.

Noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who served as one of his speechwriters, described Stevenson as a “great creative figure in American politics. He turned the Democratic Party around in the fifties and made JFK possible…to the United States and the world he was the voice of a reasonable, civilized, and elevated America. He brought a new generation into politics, and moved millions of people in the United States and around the world.”[2] Journalist David Halberstam wrote that “Stevenson’s gift to the nation was his language, elegant and well-crafted, thoughtful and calming.”[3] His biographer Jean H. Baker stated that Stevenson’s memory “still survives…as an expression of a different kind of politics – nobler, more issue-oriented, less compliant to the greedy ambitions of modern politicians, and less driven by public opinion polls and the media.”[4] W. Willard Wirtz, his friend and law partner, once said “If the Electoral College ever gives an honorary degree, it should go to Adlai Stevenson.”[5]

Article author/Editor: Eugenio Zorrilla.

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