Off Beat: Former JFK advance man has no shortage of stories

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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Dan Ogden: Paving the way for JFK

Dan Ogden: Paving the way for JFK

When Dan Ogden recently told us about participating in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, he happened to mention another notable aspect of that presidential race. Ogden and his brother were working for opposing sides.

After winning a fellowship in 1960, Ogden spent a year with the national Democratic Party. Ogden worked as an advance man for JFK — setting up rallies and campaign speeches in several Midwest cities.

Meanwhile, “My brother was an advance man for Henry Cabot Lodge, who was the Republican candidate for vice president,” Ogden said.

His brother, Robert Ogden, went to Harvard and Yale Law, the longtime Vancouver resident explained.

Dan Ogden did his undergraduate work at Washington State College, and then went on to the University of Chicago, which was a much more liberal institution than the Ivy League schools, he said.

Ogden visited Washington, D.C., between a couple of assignments, at the same time Robert was there.

“We had dinner, and he took me by Republican headquarters and showed me maps and where they had their advance men.”

A woman asked what Dan Ogden did.

He told her, “I’m an advance man for Sen. Kennedy. She laughed and said, ‘Oh, you damned liar.’

“My brother said, ‘No. He really is.'”

It wasn’t the only time he’s been involved in an Ogden-vs.-Ogden campaign. A year ago, Dan and wife Val endorsed opposing candidates for Clark Public Utilities commissioner.

“We agreed to disagree,” he said.

And then there was the time Dan Ogden outpolled himself in an election. It wasn’t a high-visibility race: Whitman County precinct committeeman. After doing some campaigning for a fairly low-profile position, the Washington State political science professor drew more than 600 votes on the Democratic side. Only one vote was cast for a Republican committeeman: It went to Ogden, too.

“I ignored it,” he said.


Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.