His was a presidency filled with idealism, glamour and excitement, observed co-anchor Harry Smith on The Early Show Friday.
"The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans," Kennedy said in his inaugural address.
A young senator had been elected to lead his country.
Now, 47 years later, the nation has chosen another young senator.
"Change has come to America," Obama declared this week while addressing a huge crowd in Chicago's Grant Park after word came that he'd won.
And the similarities between Kennedy and Obama are, as Smith put it, "striking."
Kennedy was 43 when he was took office, and Obama is just three years older, bringing a certain youthful vigor to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- including young children.
Both Obama and Kennedy were criticized for lacking experience -- and both knew the power of well-chosen words.
"Ask not what your country can do for you," Kennedy said during his inaugural address. "Ask what you can do for your country."
During that speech in Grant Park, Obama referred to "the times we were told that we can't -- and the people who pressed on with the American creed: Yes we can."
Kennedy had more than his share of charisma, and Obama, says Smith, knows how to light up a room.
But it's their wives who might be the real superstars -- both seen as glamorous and possessing a.
Both men overcame significant obstacles to become elected.
Kennedy overcame still-widespread anti-Catholic sentiment to win the presidency.
During his famous civil rights address, he said, "This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal."
And perhaps even Kennedy would have been surprised that, four decades after that speech, the first African-American was elected the president.
Kennedy was, and Obama is, someone who professes great optimism.
And one ofof Camelot sees the similarities.
On the campaign trail for Obama, Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, told a rally, "I have never had a candidate who inspires me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But I do now. And that candidate is Barack Obama."