| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 1 John F. Kennedy's most famous
turn of phrase was inspired by the headmaster of his New
England prep school, according to a new book on America's only
president to have won the Pulitzer Prize.
In his 14-minute 1961 inaugural speech, which addressed the
United States' role in the Cold War, Kennedy told Americans to
"ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can
do for your country."
Kennedy, it turns out, had heard something like it before.
Two documents unearthed by MSNBC television host Chris
Matthews in his book "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," show that
the future president's headmaster at the elite Choate boarding
school in Connecticut in the early 1930s had used a similar
"The youth who loves his alma matter will always ask not
'What can she do for me?' but 'What can I do for her?" the
headmaster said, quoting a Harvard University dean.
The book says that Kennedy, who was nearly expelled from
Choate for his rebellious hijinks, boosted his 1960
presidential bid with small but well-timed moves.
For instance, ahead of a televised presidential debate
between Kennedy and then vice president Richard Nixon, both
candidates agreed not to use makeup.
But at the last minute, unbeknownst to his opponent,
Kennedy applied a thin layer of makeup, Matthews' book says.
Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize for "Profiles of Courage," a
credential that helped bolster his prestige as a candidate, was
"no happy accident," the book says.
In fact, Kennedy's father, Joseph Kennedy, had lobbied
members of the Pulitzer screening board one at a time.
Kennedy was assassinated less than three years after taking
office. The book is being published this week by Simon and
(Editing by Mark Egan and Xavier Briand)