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During his improbable rise, which began when he demanded and received a high-powered job in the nation’s capital, Feldman served as assistant to the SEC chairman, counsel to the Senate committee investigating General Douglas MacArthur’s firing, and counsel to another committee studying alleged stock market manipulations.
It is in that last position that he made a fortuitous connection that altered his life. Next door to Feldman’s office was an ever-inquisitive Senator Kennedy, who wanted to know if any of his constituents were implicated in the stock market scandal.
The two got to know each other, and one day in 1957, after the investigation had ended, Kennedy told Feldman he planned to run for president in 1960, and asked him to join his incipient campaign staff.
As Feldman recalls, "It didn’t seem like he had much of a chance. A junior senator from Massachusetts, a Catholic, no history of major accomplishments. But I said it will be an exciting experience."
That it was.
During the campaign, Feldman worked on policy, drafted stump speeches, and fed news releases to the media. But perhaps his most important task was to help prep Kennedy for the debates. Kennedy, whose vigor and tan contrasted sharply with Nixon’s pallid appearance, won the election on the strength of those debates. "Before the first debate all the polls showed us losing – some by a wide margin," says Feldman. "After the first debate the crowds doubled and tripled … and we knew that the tide had turned."
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