Kennedy, of course, was trying to become the first Catholic president of the United States. Romney seeks to become the first Mormon president.
After detailing "the real issues which should decide this campaign...and they are not religious issues," Kennedy had this to say:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote – where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference – and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.Head over to the Miller Center of Public Affairs to read and listen to the entire speech>. '
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish – where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source – where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials – and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
"...if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized," Kennedy says towards the end, "then it is the whole Nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people."