Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 – PROMISE: "I shall go to Korea." The World War II hero and popular presidential candidate's October pledge to try to find a way to end the Korean War helped him win the election.
John F. Kennedy in 1961 – PROMISE: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth." The bold Cold War-era declaration accelerated the "space race" at a time when the United States was looking to trump Soviet gains.
Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 – PROMISE: "We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves." Johnson was unable to keep this campaign promise on Vietnam as violence escalated. The following year he authorized a bombing campaign against North Vietnam that preceded deployment of the first American combat troops in Southeast Asia.
Richard Nixon in 1968 – PROMISE: "I have a secret plan to end the war." Some figures close to Nixon argued that he never said it. But the remark has become part of his campaign lore and the promise, misquoted or not, has been citied on occasion by politicians when they call out an opponent for issuing vague guarantees.
Jimmy Carter in 1976 – PROMISE: "I will never lie to you." Carter's campaign pledge in the aftermath of Watergate helped him win the White House. However, political historians often point out that this promise did not insulate him from a voter backlash four years later over a sour economy, soaring energy prices, and the Iranian hostage crisis.
Ronald Regan in 1986 – PROMISE: "We did not—repeat, did not—trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we." Ronald Reagan, in the middle of the Iran-Contra Affair, had to recant his proclamation a year later when evidence showed that the U.S. did in fact trade arms for hostages.