Election Express: The man from Boston

By Cathy Poley

Originally appeared on CNN.com

Thursday, July 22, 2004 Posted: 10:48 AM EDT (1448 GMT) 

DORCHESTER, Massachusetts (CNN) — “Kennedy is the Remedy,” “I Back Jack” and “Leadership for the 60s” are just some of the slogans on posters, buttons and pennants that adorn the walls claiming allegiance to John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

These can be seen in “Campaign!” a new exhibit at the John F. Kennedy Library Museum that runs through the 2005 inauguration. The exhibit takes patrons through the 1960 Kennedy Johnson campaign.

“With the Democratic National Convention coming to Boston this July, we wanted to celebrate American traditions of politics and our nation’s history and John Kennedy’s run for the White House,” said Ann Scanlon, library communications director.

One of the treasures of the collection is the painting “Man From Boston” by Jamie Wyeth, which shows Kennedy coming on stage to accept the Democratic nomination for president in front of a golden sea of cheering supporters.

“As Wyatt explains, it’s clearly John F. Kennedy,” Scanlon says. “But he also was reminded of Robert Kennedy when he did the painting and of anyone who runs for office. So it’s sort of a celebration of American politics and those who partake in public service.”

With that explanation, it could represent John Kerry, another man from Boston who is set to accept the Democratic nomination in less than a week.

Some media outlets, including CNN, have mentioned a number of connections between John Kerry and John Kennedy; they have the same initials (JFK), are from the same state and are from the same party.

The exhibit draws no comparisons, but Scanlon mentions that Kerry has been supportive of the museum and library and spoken at forums there. “John Kerry also loves the Kennedy tradition,” she says. “He embraces it just in terms of philosophy and perspective.”

Many museum visitors when asked said they did not see a connection between the two Massachusetts candidates.

“As much as I like Kerry … I think he would like us to make that comparison, [but] I don’t see that happening,” said Charles Ingoglin, on vacation from New Jersey. “I think it is a different time completely. The things that made Kennedy so special I don’t think exist now … I think Kerry should be Kerry.”

Randal Oates from Houston, Texas, saw only one similarity, “Their hair.”

As the election approaches, many voters may be looking at the legacy of one of America’s most popular and revered presidents for clues to what they should look for in a leader.

“In Massachusetts, in New England, across the nation and around the globe, people really embraced Kennedy,” Scanlon says. “So it’s not unnatural for us to look for an energetic vibrant candidate again.”