With two weeks away from electing the next President of the United States, where could you find the Democratic nominee? Well, right here in Rockford, Illinois, of course!
Then-Senator John F. Kennedy campaigned in downtown Rockford in October, 1960. His competition, then-Vice President Richard Nixon, had campaigned here a month before. Illinois was what Ohio is now: a major swing state whose winner was likely to be the next president.
Now, Winnebago County was (and still is) home to a good chunk of our state’s population, though it usually voted Republican. JFK and his team decided to make inroads here.
One of Rockford’s most iconic pictures of that day shows JFK riding on the back of a convertible, gazing at the crowd as he rolls down E. State St.—his cool demeanor clearly evident.
Sometime after passing the News Tower, parading across the river, and turning onto Main St., JFK arrived at the crown jewel of Northern Illinois: The Coronado Theatre.
There, he gave his address. “The Coronado Speech,” it’s now called. The soon-to-be president cracked jokes, outlined his campaign proposals, and rallied his supporters. Check it out below: