To coincide with the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birthday, we're posting a few new transcripts with and about Reagan from the Nixon tapes. At the time of these calls, Reagan was the Governor of California and a rising star of the national Republican Party.
When Richard Nixon∇ hired diplomatic correspondent John Scali∇ of ABC News as a special consultant, it gave him entry to the news media grapevine and allowed him to find out what his predecessor in office, Lyndon Johnson, was saying about him.
In this clip, Haldeman∇ relays information passed on by Scali about a long conversation that an ABC executive had had with Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, during a flight from Austin, the closest major airport to the Johnson's ranch, to Washington, D.C.
Through their interactions with the White House while Congressmen, Senators, or Governors, several future presidents have been captured on the White House tapes. For Presidents Day, we have pulled together some of the recorded conversations with Gerald Ford∇, Ronald Reagan∇, and Richard Nixon∇ before they moved into the Oval Office.
Six hours earlier, Johnson had met with Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey, a man widely perceived as a front-runner for the vice-presidential nomination who had emerged as the administration's most effective defender in the upper chamber. After that early afternoon meeting, Humphrey, the Senate majority whip, gave a rousing pro-Democratic statement to the press. Now, pleased with Humphrey's response to GOP attacks on the administration, Johnson phoned him, encouraging him to continue his rhetoric and told him to "every day . . . to say, 'The Democratic Party is the one party left for America, because the other fellows don't stand for anything.'"
This segment picks up two-and-a-half minutes into the call.
In this call to Walker Stone, editor in chief of Scripps-Howard newspapers, Johnson was still bubbling over positive coverage of German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard's visit to the LBJ ranch in December and was inspired by a letter received from J. Frank Dobie, a renowned Texas folklorist, University of Texas faculty member, and guest at the ranch during the visit of Chancellor Erhard. According to his secretaries, President Johnson would carry Dobie's letter "around in his pocket" for another week. Dobie's letter praised Johnson's "start" as one that combined "nobility with effectiveness" and recommended that Johnson seek the counsel of Walker Stone because "no other newspaper man I know knows as much and thinks as soundly." Here, Johnson asked Stone to spread another glowing report.
After exploring that issue, Stone asked Johnson to take things more slowly and not take health risks, to which the President complained about having his personal life restricted by the presidency. Then Johnson took the opportunity to prepare his old acquaintance for the upcoming State of the Union address. In a pithy section, Johnson defended his proposed poverty plans to this Oklahoma native by emphasizing that the programs would encourage work and improve productivity among poor African Americans, Mexicans, and Appalachians. After this call, Johnson followed up his concerns about Black Americans by taking a call from Whitney Young of the National Urban League.
The segment below is divided into two parts. The first covers the talk about Johnson's work pace. The second explores the state of the union address and the War on Poverty.
In mid-evening on New Year's Day, President Johnson's attention turned to one of his most valued advisers in the Senate and arguably the most influential southerner in Washington, D.C., save for Johnson himself. While visiting with several Texas friends, Johnson called up Georgia senator Richard Russell, a man considered by the President as his mentor and by the President's children as "Uncle Dick." The group revisited old times, discussed the whipping that the University of Texas's national champion football team had put on Roger Staubach and the Navy Midshipmen in the Cotton Bowl, and engaged in the rituals of ribbing and bragging associated with serious deer hunting. In between those moments, Johnson explored policy toward West Germany, wheat sales to the Soviet Union, aid to Indonesia, and the defense industry in Georgia.
The call lasts for over ten minutes. For this transcript and audio clip, there are three segments from that call, each offering a sampling of discussions between the President, Lady Bird, Senator Russell, and A.W. "Judge" Moursund about drinking, football, family, and deer hunting.
LBJ was famous for his powers of persuasion, dispensing them with what became known as "the Johnson Treatment." He used his imposing physical size and intimidating personality to emphasize his point. In this call, LBJ is in full "Johnson Treatment" mode with Representative Albert Thomas (Democrat, Texas) on the receiving end.
In this call, with characteristic bluntness, President Johnson berates Representative Albert Thomas (Democrat, Texas) over a clause forcing the President to publicly report to Congress on wheat sales to the Soviet Union and argues that it would resonate poorly with the American public.
NB: This clips contains language that may not be suitable for children.
President Johnson called the Haggar clothing company to order some new pants, providing specific (and sometimes graphic) instructions on how they should be customized for him.
In this July 1964 call, about 3 weeks before the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, LBJ asks Robert Wagner, a former Democratic Senator from New York, to leak to the press that the party leaders support the President's right to choose his running mate and that a divided party is something to be avoided.
LBJ suggest that he say, "that they don't want the president to be required to sleep with anybody he doesn't want to sleep with. And he ought to have a man with vice president that he trusts and likes and can work with him. We oughtn't to have a divided ticket to start, and therefore, you expect to support the man the President selects . . . I just don't think it can do us a bit of good to have a divided thing there, a divided party."
In an effort to provide space for negotiations during the Vietnam War, Johnson ordered a cessation of air strikes against North Vietnam on December 25, 1965. After one month of failed attempts to use diplomacy to promote peace, President Johnson voiced his intentions to former President Eisenhower to proceed with offensive attacks against the North. In a telephone conversation recorded on January 25, 1966, Johnson insisted upon the impossibility of extending the bombing pause without progress in negotiations. Evoking the criticism of Senators Wayne Morse (D-OR) and J. William Fulbright∇ (D-AR) regarding his policy decisions in Southeast Asia, the President turned to Eisenhower for counsel. The General responded by labeling Johnson's critics "overeducated Senators."
Of all the congressional members on the Warren Commission, Ford∇ was the least known to President Johnson. He had been first elected to the House in 1948, the same year Johnson won his Senate seat. Ford's first and only intensive encournter with Lyndon Johnson had occurred in 1957, when both men served on a bipartisan House-Senate committee formed to draft the legislation creating NASA∇.
At 1:33 P.M. CST, acting press secretary Malcolm Kilduff confirmed at a Dallas news conference that President Kennedy died, officially, at 1:00 P.M. CST. Within minutes the information was relayed to the Boeing 707 (known by its tail number 86972) carrying Pierre Salinger and six members of the Cabinet who had been heading toward Japan.
Approximately 35,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean and 900 hundred miles west of Honolulu, the VIP Boeing 707 known as SAM 86972 was carrying six members of the Cabinet and Pierre Salinger to a conference in Tokyo when it received a garbled but alarming bulletin over the UPI∇ teletype. At Dean Rusk∇'s instruction, press secretary Pierre Salinger contacted the White House Situation Room to confirm the news about shots being fired at the President's motorcade in Dallas. Navy Commander Oliver Hallett took the inquiry from Salinger, who could not remember any code names but his own. Hallett struggled to deliver the blood-curdling confirmation dispassionately, though misstatements and his tone betrayed Hallett's own shock at the news.
Some 30 minutes after leaving Dallas aboard Air Force One after President Kennedy's assassination, President and Mrs. Johnson placed a telephone call to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The Johnsons offered their condolences to Mrs. Rose Kennedy, mother of the late President. Sergeant Joseph Ayres, the steward aboard Air Force One who initially talked with Mrs. Kennedy, would later tell William Manchester that he had to check himself from saying "President" Johnson. But Rose Kennedy used the appellation without hesitation.
During the flight aboard Air Force One from Dallas back to Washington immediately following President Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson made some calls that were routed throught the White House. Shortly after expressing their condolences to Mrs. Rose Kennedy, the Johnsons spoke to Nellie Connally∇, wife of John Connally. The Texas governor, the only other person injured in the shooting at Dealey Plaza, was one of President Johnson's closest political associates, having managed Johnson's 1960 campaign for the presidency.