Newly Released Tape Shows John F. Kennedy Fretted Moon Program was Tough Sell

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BOSTON, MA (AP).- After setting a soaring vision to land a man on the moon, President John F. Kennedy struggled with how to sell the public on a costly space program he worried had “lost its glamour” and had scant political benefits, according to a newly released White House tape. Kennedy and NASA Administrator James Webb hashed out how to strengthen public backing for the mission, such as by highlighting its technological benefits and military uses. And in a scenario that echoes today, the two worried about preserving funding amid what Webb calls a “driving desire to cut the budget,” according to the tape recorded two months before Kennedy was assassinated. “It’s become a political struggle now,” Kennedy says, near the end of the 46-minute tape. “We’ve got to hold this thing, goddamn it.” The Sept. 18, 1963, conversation is among 260 hours of White House