THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Ladies and gentlemen: The events of the past week in regard to the railroad situation should give us all occasion to pause for some serious reflection. We should be grateful that things turned out in such a way that we have time for that reflection.
It is fundamental to our whole idea of civilized society that we settle disputes by a meeting of the minds, by a free interchange of conflicting ideas, by responsible acceptance of the best possible solution. This is what happens at the collective bargaining table. In any dispute there are always at least two sides, and it has been my experience that each side usually has a deep-seated belief that its viewpoint is correct.
In some countries the solution is determined by the strongest. free men, however, must take a very different role. They must realize that they can remain free only when they are ready to give and take, when they are willing to reason together, when they are ready to look for that common ground upon which all groups can stand honorably.
There is in any large-scale dispute a question of the public interest. This interest must always be overriding. But we must never delude ourselves that we are serving the public interest if at any time we suppress the legitimate rights of the conflicting parties. The ultimate objective of our system of government is a society of free men who know how to live together and how to get consent rather than to get coercion.
I am very proud of the fact that both the railroad brotherhoods and railroad management agreed to a request, based upon the national interest, that they give free collective bargaining another try. I can understand how difficult this decision was for both of them. Their differences have been aired and have been argued for 4 dreary years. Both sides were tired of the seemingly endless negotiations and, under such circumstances, there is almost irresistible temptation for a trial of strength. But when they were asked to serve their country by resisting this temptation, they both agreed to do so.
What is now going on is collective bargaining in the truest sense of the word. The men who are assisting the two parties to the dispute are present as mediators and conciliators and can bring some new points of view.
We owe a deep debt to Dr. George Taylor and to Mr. Kheel for coming here and working with us under very trying circumstances and on very sudden notice. We are not trying to impose a solution. We are just trying to be helpful in arriving at a solution by consent. This is, to me, a matter of the most vital importance to our country.
I will follow the negotiations very closely. I have met with the negotiating parties again this morning, and I am going to do everything that I know to do to be helpful and constructive. Success in this case can be an enormous step in strengthening the foundations of collective bargaining. I know that this is in the hearts and minds of those around the table. I do not know what our result will be, but I do know that this thought will be a basic element in reaching a successful conclusion.
[2.] Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chief of Staff of the Army, will join Secretary Rusk in South Viet-Nam on Friday, April 17. General Wheeler will serve as the Department of Defense's representative in a series of conferences which Secretary Rusk will conduct with Ambassador Lodge, General Khanh, and others. To continue to observe the situation, Secretary Rusk and General Wheeler will remain in South Viet-Nam 2 or 3 days.
[3.] The world record for aircraft speed, currently held by the Soviets, has been repeatedly broken in secrecy by the United States aircraft A-11. The President has instructed the Department of Defense to demonstrate this capability with the procedure which, according to international rules, will permit the result of the test to be entered as a new world record. The Soviet record is 1,665 miles an hour. The A-11 had already flown in excess of 2,000 miles an hour.
[4.] I have invited President de Valera of Ireland to visit the United States.
Are there any questions?
Q. Mr. President, when did you invite President de Valera?
THE PRESIDENT. Several days ago.
Q. When will he come, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. That depends on him. He will notify us if he accepts.
[5.] Q. Mr. President, on the trip to South Viet-Nam that you spoke of, is there going to be any discussion there of the possibility of Ambassador Lodge's stepping out of that position in view of the growing political attraction?
THE PRESIDENT. Not any that I know of at all. His services there have been very satisfactory, and he has done a very constructive job.
[6.] Q. Mr. President, will you be prepared to ask for legislation if these talks on rails fail?
THE PRESIDENT. I am not here to bury collective bargaining. I am here to preserve
it. I am prepared to carry on negotiations with the thought that we are going to reach a settlement, and I hope and pray we will.
[7.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you can give us your opinion of what happened out in Wisconsin with that substantial vote for Governor Wallace and what the political implications might be.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Wallace got 25 percent of the votes and 75 percent voted against him.
[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you anticipate pushing for dairy legislation this year?
THE PRESIDENT. We are giving consideration to what we will do in that field, but we have reached no final conclusion.
[9.] Q. Mr. President, sir, at what point in Mr. Lodge's career will it become necessary for you to re-evaluate his role as your ambassador?
THE PRESIDENT. I evaluate it every day, and it is a very constructive role, as I have just said.
[10.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Khrushchev had some complimentary things to say about you and Mr. Rusk during his tour of Hungary. I wonder how you feel in response, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. I am glad to see that Mr. Khrushchev is playing the role of peace and seeking to preserve peace in the world. That certainly is the desire of this country. When he talks in peaceful terms, he will always have our ear.
[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you think the debate on civil rights in the Senate should move faster?
THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter for the Senate to determine. I think it will go on for some time yet, but I believe at the proper time, after all Members have had a chance to present their viewpoints both pro and con who desire to do so, I think the majority of the Senate will work its will, and I believe we will pass the bill.
[12.] Q. Mr. President, the Republicans have a new slogan, referring to you as "Light Bulb Johnson." Do you regard that as a knock or a boost?
THE PRESIDENT. I would say that they are plagiarizing the Washington Post.
Q. I will have to ask you to expand a little on that, Mr. President. I don't know quite what you mean.
THE PRESIDENT. I thought it first appeared there.
Q. Oh, no.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that they originated it.
Q. I used it, but I quoted them as saying it first.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, they are not very original.
[13.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of saving money, Secretary of the Air force Zuckert admitted the other day to Senator Williams that he used a Government plane to fly to Las Vegas for a party last April for Senator Cannon. Now, in view of your attempts to economize in Government, do you condone this kind of thing? He said it was an inspection trip. Was this the kind of a wasteful practice you are trying to eliminate?
THE PRESIDENT. I would suggest that you talk to the Secretary and get the details. I am totally unfamiliar with them.
[14.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided when you are going on your antipoverty trip? And where you might be going?
THE PRESIDENT. We are going, but we don't know when, or where.
Q. You think it might be next week?
THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't care to speculate.
Q. Mr. President, there seems to be a point raised by some Republicans in the House that the poverty program will benefit Negroes more than any group of whites. Do you have any comment on this approach by the Republicans?
THE PRESIDENT. I think it will benefit all Americans, and I don't think that we should speak in terms of benefit of any particular group. I believe that we have a comprehensive and workable proposal. I think that it is commanding the attention of the constructive and able legislators, and I have no doubt but what the committee in due time will act affirmatively.
I would hope that we would find very few people who would want to stand up and be counted as being against doing something on poverty. There will be some adjustments made, and some amendments proposed, and those will be reasoned out. But we have a unity of thought in the Cabinet. The Attorney General, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Shriver, and a good many private groups in this country have given a great deal of thought to this legislation. The 20 percent in the poverty group are not limited to any race or any religion or any section.
I would think we should approach this on what is good for America, instead of criticizing it because some group might get some benefits from it. Our goal is to wipe out poverty in this country. President Roosevelt spoke of the third that was ill clad and ill fed and ill housed. In a 30-year period, we have now got that down to the one-fifth that are ill fed and ill clad and ill housed. We hope, as a result of this beginning, that we can reduce that percentage materially. We hope to have the support of all good Americans of all parties.
[15.] Q. Mr. President, there have been a number of stories printed recently concerning the television community antenna situation in Austin. Do you think there is any reason why the terms of the option agreement that is involved there should not be furnished to the FCC as requested?
THE PRESIDENT. I have said before that shortly after I entered office that I have no interest in any television any place. The interest that Mrs. Johnson held and my family held had been placed in trusteeship and any statements in connection with the operation of those interests would have to come from the trustees. I am unfamiliar with it, I am not keeping up with it, I am not concerned about it.
[16.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to go out to Arizona to dedicate the new Glen Canyon Dam sometime this summer?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't have any plans to. I wouldn't want to foreclose it, but I have not accepted anything.
[17.] Q. Mr. President, is the fate of constitutional government in Brazil causing you any more concern this week since your message? 1
THE PRESIDENT. We are always concerned with any developments in this hemisphere, and we are always interested in them, and we understand that they are moving ahead. We hope that those moves will be good moves and that we can get our allies and others who are interested in the fate of the world to cooperate with us in building a strong, democratic society throughout this hemisphere.
1 To Ranieri Mazzilli, President of Brazil (Item 243).
[18.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of travel, it has been reported that you have made up your mind not to leave the United States mainland this year. Is that true, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. That is true, unless some unforeseen emergency should develop that I cannot now anticipate. That statement was made in the first few days I was in office, and I reiterate it now. I think we have a program before the Congress that requires my attention; we have problems in the foreign field that require constant evaluation; we have an election this year; I am new in the office. All of those things combined-we have no Vice President--indicate to me that unless there is some feeling that great advances could be made, or unless some unforeseen emergency develops, I would not plan on any trips out of the continental United States.
[19.] Q. Mr. President, Governor Wallace will be entering the primaries in both Indiana and Maryland in the weeks to come. If he should poll 25 or 30 percent of the votes there--
THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't want to get into any "iffy" questions. If you can stand that, I would just wait and see what happens out there and then you will have the best evidence. I don't want to speculate on what might happen, because, very frankly, in my own races from time to time, I have confirmed to my own satisfaction that I am a very poor prophet. One time I thought I had won a race by 100,000 and I lost it by 100,000 in my own State.
[20.] Q. Mr. President, could you give us a progress report on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Cuba?
THE PRESIDENT. They are moving out. They have fewer troops there than they had months ago. There are still some troops there, but the number has declined substantially.
Q. Could you give us a figure, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't want to get in any numbers game because I don't think, first of all, that anyone really knows--can speak with cool authority in that field. But our judgment is that they have moved troops out.
[21.] Q. Mr. President, pessimism has been expressed about the forthcoming Kennedy Round of GATT negotiations to get underway next month. I think there was quite a bit of that in Mr. Christian Herter's speech2 in Detroit on March 30th. What is your view as to your hopefulness of success of these negotiations?
THE PRESIDENT. We hope for the best. I am optimistic. I never go into anything with a prediction of defeat in advance.
2 Printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 50, p. 671).
Q. Do you believe that they will be successful?
THE PRESIDENT. I have answered the question as best I could.
[22.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to appoint a campaign manager to handle your election to the Presidency?
THE PRESIDENT. I plan to try to be President of all of the people up until the convention, and then we will let the convention determine where we go from there.
Merriman Smith, United Press International: Thank you, Mr. President.