Wednesday, July 24, 1963: Clinton meets JFK

Bill Clinton, 16, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, shakes hands with President Kennedy during a Boys Nation reception at the White House. The pictures were taken by Arnie Sachs of Consolidated News Photos.

From Clinton's autobiography "My Life" (2004): 

     President Kennedy walked out of the Oval Office into the bright sunshine and made some brief remarks, complimenting our work, especially our support for civil rights. After accepting a Boys Nation T-shirt, Kennedy walked down the steps and began shaking hands. I was in the front, and being bigger and a bigger supporter of the President's than most of the others, I made sure I'd get to shake his hand even if he shook only two or three. It was an amazing moment for me, meeting the President whom I had supported in my ninth-grade class debates, and about whom I felt even more strongly after his two and a half years in office. A friend took a photo for me, and later we found film footage of the handshake in the Kennedy Library.
     Much has been made of that brief encounter and its impact on my life. My mother said she knew when I came home that I was determined to go into politics, and after I became the Democratic nominee in 1992, the film was widely pointed to as the beginning of my presidential aspirations. I'm not sure about that. I have a copy of the speech I gave to the American Legion in Hot Springs after I came home, and in it I didn't make too much of the handshake. I thought at the time I wanted to become a senator, but deep down I probably felt as Abraham Lincoln did when he wrote as a young man, "I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come."
* Video (from Clinton Foundation): @
* Kennedy's remarks (from American Presidency Project): @
* "Pres. Kennedy Compliments Delegates to Boys Nation" (Associated Press, published July 25, 1963): @
* More about Boys Nation (from American Legion website): @
* Consolidated News Photos: @
* Arnie Sachs obituary (Washington Post, 2006): @ 

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