JFK defends "extravagant" campaign spending in 1960

In an appearance on “Face the Nation” days before the Wisconsin primary in 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy defends his campaign’s spending and says advertising has always been a costly endeavor
In an appearance on “Face the Nation” day... 02:41

(CBS News) -- How times have changed. Or not. As Jeb Bush makes headlines these days for his attempts to raise $100 million even before he's even announced he's running for president, fifty years ago, campaign spending was also front and center in the news.

In the early days of the 1960 campaign, then-presidential hopeful Sen. John F. Kennedy was under attack from his opponent Senator Hubert Humphrey for spending too much money in his effort secure the Democratic nomination.

Humphrey called Kennedy's campaign "the most highly financed, the most plush, the most extravagant in the history of politics in the U.S." At that point, Kennedy had spent $72,000 (about $575,000, in today's dollars) on radio, TV and mailers in Wisconsin.

That Sunday on Face the Nation, just days before the Wisconsin primary, Kennedy defended his spending.

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Senator John F. Kennedy on Face the Nation in 1960.

"Our TV and radio time is easily ascertainable, and it about the same as Senator Humphrey's," said Kennedy. He went on to say that overall, campaigns are expensive.

"I think you should realize, however, that the Brookings Institute states that President Eisenhower's campaign in 1952, when costs were lower, was $2,500,000 ....It is unfortunate that campaigns cost some money, but I must say that I think ours is a reasonable expenditure," he added.

Even corrected for inflation, that $2,500,000 translates into just short of $20 million, a far cry from the over $1 billion that spent by each presidential nominee in the 2012 campaign.