In a paradigm analysis the comparison between the youthful and highly articulate Lib Dem leader and John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential election over Richard M. Nixon may be more accurate.
Senator Kennedy as the race's underdog surged to victory based on his telegenic edge over Vice President Nixon, who unwisely spurned the advice of Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower to pass up the debates, which gave the youthful Democratic nominee a chance to showcase his platform for change to a national audience getting acquainted with him for the first time.
In the case of Nixon, who was actually only four years older than the more youthful appearing Kennedy, he had become internationally known as Eisenhower's vice president. Nixon had received vast international media attention for his "Kitchen Debate" with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow just one year earlier.
While Barack Obama was elected on a mandate for change accented by the slogan "Yes we can!" in the case of Kennedy a broad effort was made to differentiate himself from the older leadership of Eisenhower and the Republicans and an administration that chose a high interest, tight money policy designed to prevent debt acceleration and what he advertised as a New Frontier, a bold new image for America and stronger federal action.
Kennedy represented an emerging young executive class that was seasoned by World War Two. He wisely ignored personal attacks on the popular Eisenhower and drew a sharp contrast between himself and his party, which he asserted possessed bold and fresh ideas, and that of a stodgy Republican Party wedded to the past. He mentioned former Republican presidents and presidential aspirants such as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Thomas Dewey.
Meanwhile Kennedy kept repeating the same phrase "Let's get America moving again!" Here is where the comparison between the dynamic Democratic president of the sixties and the youthful, telegenic Nick Clegg of the current election becomes particularly insightful.
The major reason why Clegg's debate performance gave his party at least a significant bump in the polls was that voters liked the contrast he offered to the two traditional parties.
As the Lib Dem super salesman his message consisted of offering something new contrasted with two tired old models, namely Labour and the Conservatives. One could practically hear Kennedy in the background drawing laughs by presenting an old Republican slogan of "Keep cool with Coolidge."