LBJ Selects his Vice President


During the 1964 Democratic convention, President Lyndon Baines Johnson phoned his younger brother Sam for his ideas on who to select as his running mate.

“Now, I knew damned well he had probably made up his mind several weeks back, but I decided to go along with his cat-and-mouse game. As a matter of fact, this would be a good chance to smoke him out, the way our daddy would do it. Having already assumed it was Humphrey, I tried my old reverse-elimination gambit.

‘I kinda like Senator Pastore myself,’ I said. ‘He made a damned good speech this evening.’

He actually snorted when I said that. ‘Goddamnit, Sam Houston, what in the hell’s gone wrong with you? How could an Italian from a dinky little state like Rhode Island possibly help me?’

‘There’s Adlai,’ I said, ‘He’s got the egghead vote good and solid.’

‘Don’t need him,’ said Lyndon. ‘With Barry Goldwater running, I look like a Harvard professor to the eggheads.’

‘Maybe you oughta get a Catholic like Gene McCarthy. He’s awful strong in the Midwest.’

‘He’s not exactly what I’m looking for. There’s something sort of stuck-up about Gene,’ he said. ‘You get the impression that he’s got a special pipeline to God and that they talk only Latin to each other.'”

My Brother Lyndon, Sam Houston Johnson, edited by Enrique Hank Lopez, Cowles Book Company, Inc., 1969.