John F. Kennedy's opponent in the 1960 presidential election was Richard Nixon. In the Democratic primaries, Kennedy faced a number of candidates, of whom the most formidable were Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey and Stuart Symington.
The 1960 general election was one of the closest in American history, and many historians have credited the televised national debates, the nation's first, with providing Kennedy the margin that he needed to win. In the debates, the young, vibrant Kennedy looked more presidential than the haggard Nixon, whose five o'clock shadow and pallid appearance did not appeal to voters. By winning the election, Kennedy became the country's first Catholic president.