In the 1960 presidential race, Democrat John F. Kennedy carried the electoral college by a comfortable margin, 303 out of 537 electoral votes, but his popular vote margin was a narrow 49.72 percent to 49.55 percent for Republican Richard Nixon. One of the major issues troubling voters about Kennedy was the fact that he was a Catholic.
To address fears that his being Catholic would impact his decision-making, he famously told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960:
I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.”