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Jim on History looks back at the only election John F. Kennedy lost in his political career.

In 1956, Senator Estes Kefauver seized the Democratic Vice-Presidential nomination by an eyelash.

The Tennessean edged out Kennedy on the second ballot in an open floor fight to become the running mate of Adlai Stevenson, who had refused to pick anyone.

The final ballot was as dramatic as any Democratic convention has witnessed.

When the second roll-call was completed, but before the result had been announced, Kennedy had 648 votes, 38 1/2 votes short of the required majority.

He was far ahead of the Tennessee Senator.

Then the states began to wave their standards to switch their votes.

The lead seesawed.

At that point, Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, who was running third, withdrew in favor of his colleague and released the delegates pledged to him.

That started a stampede to the 53-year-old Kefauver.

The Senator went over the top on the basis of new votes that Missouri had cast for Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota.

Kefauver’s nomination was made by acclamation upon the motion of Kennedy.

The final official tabulation as reported by The Associated Press gave Kefauver 755 1/2 votes and Kennedy 589.

This Convention had 1,372 delegates, with 686 1/2 votes comprising a majority.


WATCH: Jim on History, JFK vs Kefauver


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