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was no couple they were as close to.

After that, the elder Gore and Kennedy "forged a really good friendship going into 1960," said Kent Syler, special projects coordinator at the Gore research center and assistant professor of political science at MTSU.

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John F. Kennedy, left, prepares to speak in front of Nashville War Memorial Auditorium on Sept. 21, 1960. Day later, with the help of Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore, Kennedy would have his first presidential debate against Richard Nixon.(Photo: File/The Tennessean)

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The talk wasn't for the faint of heart.

Gore also made a comment that would prove even more prescient 14 years later, when Nixon, who had beaten weaker Democratic competitors to win the nation's highest office in 1968 and 1972, was forced to resign amid the Watergate scandal.

"That may have been an exaggeration of kindness, but she did write that," Gore said. Those calls continued once Kennedy moved into the Oval Office. Al Gore said his father asked him to listen in once, "rightly or wrongly."

answers simple but emphatic, avoid repeating earlier answers and, in a bit of rhetorical rerouting that any contemporary debate viewer has noticed, feel free to go off topic and answer unasked questions.

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Some of the material is dated, washed over by the sands of time. Al Gore, who has seen the briefing papers, said references to Quemoy and Matsu, two islands near Taiwan that became the focus of a Cold War crisis in the 1950s, are "quaint" now. (He laughed when recalling that former Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett, a Kennedy antagonist during the civil rights movement, was once asked about Quemoy and Matsu and answered, "I think we could find a position for them on the Fish and Game Commission.")

"Stare at Nixon. This makes him nervous. Sen. Albert Gore wrote in a one page memo to the Kennedy campaign, referring to a previous debate in which Kennedy, the Democratic nominee, was in New York and Nixon, the Republican nominee, was in Los Angeles.

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The papers involving Kennedy offer insights into a fascinating period of history, including letters from Tennesseans who were concerned about the young candidate's Catholicism. And they show how a presidency that ended 50 years ago today began with the advice and support of his colleague from Carthage.

"Kefauver ended up winning it when my father got the microphone and threw Tennessee's votes to Kefauver," former Vice President Al Gore said in a phone interview Wednesday. "But he always chuckled when he quoted President Kennedy as saying later on, 'Albert, you did me the biggest favor you ever could have done, because if I had ended up with that nomination, I never would have been able to be successful in 1960.' "

The two men clicked

But the two men and their wives clicked politically and personally. Former Vice President Gore said his mother, Pauline, always appreciated a letter she received from former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy "some years after the assassination." The handwritten letter said that while the Kennedys might have each had closer friends as individuals, there Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Chronograph Gmt

Gore is gone now, too; he died in Omega Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy For Sale 1998 at age 90. But his papers live on in the Albert Gore Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, including debate briefing papers and correspondence with Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson and others.

Gore had known Kennedy since at least 1953, when they both entered the Senate. They competed for the Democratic vice presidential nomination at the party's convention in Chicago in 1956, but the delegates ultimately nominated Tennessee's other senator, Estes Kefauver, to be Adlai Stevenson's running mate.

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"Gore was a very good student of the Senate and legislative issues," he said. "It was a tribute to him that they relied on him and Senator Fulbright to advise on a lot of the issues."

As John F. Kennedy prepared for what would be his final debate with Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential campaign, a good friend from Tennessee weighed in with a few pieces of advice.

The friendship seemed unusual on the surface. Gore was a Baptist son of a farmer from rural Tennessee. Kennedy, 10 years younger, was a blueblood, a Catholic son of an ambassador from Boston.

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The debate memos show Gore, both individually and as part of the panel, advising Kennedy on matters of style and substance. He urges the young senator to "project an image of responsibility," keep his Omega Watches Photos

Thanks in part to his debate performances, Kennedy, then a senator from Massachusetts, went on to win a narrow victory over Nixon that November, becoming president at the age of 43. Before he could finish his third year in office, he was killed by an assassin in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

"Don't call Nixon a liar, but be quick to point out inconsistencies," Gore wrote.

´╗┐coached JFK before 1960 presidential debates

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"It was during the confrontation (Kennedy) had with the steel companies," Gore said. "My father's memory of it was that as a young boy I was startled by the strength of expression, including some words that (the president) probably wouldn't have used if he had known that I was on the extension."

the 1960 campaign, Gore quickly got on board with Kennedy, even though Tennessee Gov. Buford Ellington corralled most of the state's Democratic leadership to support Johnson for the presidential nomination, Syler said.

At some point in the campaign, Albert Gore, Sen. William Fulbright of Arkansas and Clark Clifford, an adviser to several presidents, formed an advisory panel, Syler said.

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