President Obama comes to Bridgeport this Saturday.
He’ll be at Harbor Yard arena, campaigning for Democratic candidates 3 days before the gubernatorial and senatorial elections.
I plan to be there — one of the items on my to-do-before-I-die list is to see a sitting president — but I also wonder how many people will make the connection to a similar Bridgeport event half a century ago?
Two days before the presidential election — Sunday, Nov. 6, 1960 — John F. Kennedy came to Connecticut. Nearly 50,000 people waited hours in the cold rain — until 3 a.m. — to hear the Massachusetts senator speak from a 2nd-floor Waterbury hotel balcony.
After a couple hours’ sleep, Kennedy attended early mass at a church next door. He headed off to Hartford, New Haven and — finally — a Sunday afternoon rally in Bridgeport.
I was in the Bridgeport crowd. I don’t remember much at all — I was just in 2nd grade, brought there by my father — but I do recall a tremendous sense of excitement, before JFK arrived and throughout his speech.
Connecticut had not gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since FDR, in 1944. But in the aftermath of Kennedy’s electrifying Connecticut visit, state Democratic chairman John Bailey predicted he would beat Richard Nixon by 30,000 votes.
Bailey was wrong. JFK won by 91,000.
Much has changed in 50 years. This year’s election is not for president, and indications are it will not be a good one for Democrats.
But once again, on the weekend before an important vote, Connecticut will enjoy the presidential spotlight.