A look back: Kennedy, Nixon visited Bangor in 1960
TV5 spoke with a local historian who remembers it well.
BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - This week President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden face off in the first of three scheduled presdeintial debates. With all eyes on the candidates, it was 60 years ago this month that Bangor found itself in the middle of a historic campaign. TV5 spoke with a local historian who remembers it well.
“60 years ago, I was eight years old,” said Richard Shaw, who back then was a student at Mary Snow School.
“I do remember it was the only year in the city’s history that both the Republican candidate nominee for president, Nixon, and the Democratic nominee, Kennedy, both came in September of that year.”
As you can see in the video imbedded in this story including TV5 archival footage, times were much different.
“I just think people campaigned a lot more back then," said Shaw. “I remember Kennedy had five campaign stops that day. Five! Three just in Maine, and one in Boston and one in Manchester.”
He went on to say, “They don’t make as many campaign stops. There’s more advance work. I’m not sure Nixon or Kennedy even had Secret Service protection in 1960. Local police and state police you can get a lot closer to, I can tell you that.”
Kennedy was the first to stop in Bangor. Shaw was there.
“I just remember standing there,” he recalled. “There were 3,000 people at the end of the grandstand at Bass Park and waiting and waiting, and then seeing the future president’s plane flyover and waiting and waiting. Then hearing that he stood up on an old convertible coming down Buck Street with Ed Muskie, who was our Senator, and a couple of other people, Democratic people. And then finally, there’s a crush of people at this little makeshift stand at the end of the grandstand, and there he is looking like one million dollars.”
A few weeks later, Nixon visited.
“Nixon, of course, was the vice president for eight years, and he got the auditorium because it was raining,” said Shaw.
Shaw says that six decades later, while the campaigns themselves have shifted, some things haven’t.
“They talked about the same things,” he said. “Promises and kissing babies. They talked about things for the elderly in Social Security, health care, so that much hasn’t changed.”
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