BOSTON (AP) — Had Twitter been an option in 1960, a pregnant Jacqueline Kennedy might well have used it to communicate with voters while largely confined to her Massachusetts home and notably absent from her husband’s presidential campaign.
Instead, she penned a newspaper column called “Campaign Wife,” mixing discussion of policies and issues with personal stories and her advice on everyday matters such as child-rearing and shopping.
A half-century later, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is using Twitter to re-create Jackie’s weekly glimpses into the life of a presidential candidate’s spouse. The first tweets, expressing her dismay at not being able to campaign in person, were posted Friday — 50 years to the day that her first syndicated column was published.
“For the first time since Jack and I have been married, I have not been able to be with him while he is campaigning,” she wrote.
Another tweet: “You can imagine how frustrating it is to be in Hyannis Port reading all that he’s doing and not participating in any way.”
Kennedy learned she was pregnant early in her husband’s campaign, and by summer her doctors had advised her to keep traveling to a minimum. Concerned that voters would negatively view her absence from the trail, John F. Kennedy’s advisers suggested that she pen the weekly columns to keep her in the spotlight and appeal to female voters.
“I decided one way to keep from feeling left out was to talk through this column to the friendly people all over the country” she declared, in another of the column excerpts tweeted on Friday.
The seven columns — some of the later ones were written at her Washington home — were distributed by the Democratic National Committee and released from Sept. 17 to Nov. 1, 1960. It is not known how many newspapers around the country carried them.
“It was really a mix of what was going on in her life, and trying to make the segue to the principles and policies of the campaign,” said Rachel Day, a library spokeswoman.
Kennedy, then 31, gave birth to a son, John, Jr., on Nov. 25, 1960, 17 days after her husband defeated Richard Nixon in the presidential election.
The Twitter feed, (at)JBK1960, is a companion to the JFK Library’s ongoing Twitter feed (at)Kennedy1960, which reconstructs day-to-day developments in the 1960 campaign and had more than 3,600 followers by Friday.
Online: John F. Kennedy Library and Presidential Museum, http://www.jfklibrary.org