LBJ Selects his Vice President

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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.

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