July 12, 1960
LOS ANGELES. -- I arrived in this city in the middle of the evening Sunday after a most pleasant and quick trip by jet from New York.
I discovered on arriving at the airport that, despite the fact I had told my grandson I had a car to meet me and I would appear at National Committee Chairman Paul Butler's dinner as soon as I had done one or two little errands, I was still met by a determined group of people who wished to have me whisked away in an official car escorted by motorcycles and a charming girl guide. This was something I learned long ago I could do without with great pleasure. So, the kind people who wanted to do everything for me found me a most reluctant guest.
I insisted on getting my own bags, and on finding the car which I knew had been sent for me and which was a modest little economy car, I discovered that the very delightful young driver was named John Kennedy. He told us his name with a sheepish grin, and added that he came from Illinois and was for Stevenson.1
The kind hosts who met me had arranged a welcoming group bearing Stevenson banners at some distance from where our plane landed. So, after getting our bags, we walked down and greeted them. They had met Adlai Stevenson at the airport the day before; in fact, it was, I was told, the largest demonstration that had ever been seen at the airport.
How much value there is in demonstrations and people's signatures we will find out in the next day or two. I am afraid that the delegates who come here with the votes that will nominate the candidates are not very much affected by the banners and the signatures and the telegrams that pour in.
I reached the dinner in honor of Paul Butler to find the speaking about to begin. This was a money-raising dinner, so it was gratifying when it was announced that a very successful job had been done by the finance chairman and that the results went even beyond their expectations.
I was urged to come and sit on the dais and asked also to speak, but since all the candidates, including Mr. Stevenson, who is still a candidate waiting for a draft, were on the list of speakers, I felt that someone from the outside would be out of place. I was glad of the chance, however, to listen to each man state to this audience of several thousand what he thought was important.
Of course, I know I am prejudiced, but it seemed to me that the man who made the most sense, who analyzed the situation before us most clearly and told us what should and could be done about it, was this undeclared candidate, Mr. Stevenson.
From the main dinner we went into another room where Dore Schary was presiding over a second dinner, and there I spoke for a few minutes before the candidates were asked again to speak. This time I left immediately after speaking, since my watch said it was 2:30 A.M., though according to California time it was still only 11:30 P.M.
Finally, I reached the home of my friends, the Hershey Martins, to find peace and quiet and a good night's sleep.
Monday morning dawned with beautiful weather, which the Californians tell me they are putting on for the convention, and apparently as much activity as can be put into a day was planned.
The newspapers, of course, are announcing that the Kennedy bandwagon is rolling according to schedule, and the news of Gov. Pat Brown's announcing for Kennedy, though he said he had not released the California delegation from their first-ballot vote for him, was met with great rejoicing by the Kennedy forces. Many of the delegates, however, are Stevenson delegates, and such a division is also true of some of the other states, though they are being heralded as sure to turn to Senator Kennedy.
So, if Senator Kennedy wins on the first two or three ballots, we will all be able to go home on Thursday and we will know in November how the people feel.
I am truly sorry that Mr. Truman is not going to be here, for somehow he belongs at a Democratic convention.
Index to this Document: Brown, Edmund G., Sr. ("Pat"): JFK, endorsement of; Butler, Paul: ER and; Campaign finance; Democratic National Convention, 1960 (DNC 1960): California delegation and JFK; JFK and; presidential balloting; ER on; Stevenson and; Stevenson supporters and; Kennedy, John F.: Pat Brown's endorsement of; campaign organization of; DNC 1960 and; Kennedy, John F. Jr.; Martin, Mayris Chaney (Mrs. Hershey): ER's friendship with; My Day; Roosevelt family; Roosevelt, Eleanor: Paul Butler and; DNC 1960, arrival at; family of; Hershey Martin and Mayris Chaney and; Dore Schary and; Stevenson, ER campaigns for; Schary, Dore: DNC 1960 and; ER and; Stevenson, Adlai E.: DNC 1960 and; popular support for; ER's campaigning for; ER's support for; Truman, Harry S.: ER, DNC 1960 and
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at https://erpapers.columbian.gwu.edu/.
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