Mr. Poinier, ladies and gentlemen, my friends and fellow crusaders:
To be perfectly frank and honest with you, I am very surprised to see you here on Saturday afternoon. I think it is a wonderful day, though, for America when the press demonstrates such a very high sense of responsibility-by choosing to watch the President instead of the Preakness.
This has been an extraordinary day for me. I woke up with my favorite New York morning paper--The New York Times-and saw my wife below the Statue of Liberty, sandwiched in between a Republican Governor that's a candidate for my job and a Republican mayor who's a candidate for somebody's job. There she was pinned by two Republicans.
I am deeply touched that you should come here and pay this extraordinary tribute to me--a man who on March 31st declared himself an early scratch.
I hope you lovely ladies will let me share some of this credit with your husbands who could have been at the racetrack. I may have saved all of you some housekeeping money. Who knows? I also hope that my reassessment has not caused any commotion in your own households. I understand that some of you gentlemen may be thinking of changing your occupations, too. You will have to turn in your drawing pads--because you are going to miss me that much--all of me--my button nose--my cute ears--my big, ten-gallon hat--my big, blacksnake whip.
I have always envied you your freedom of expression. You are living proof of the wonders of democracy--where one man's artistic license is another man's credibility gap. So I am going to miss you, too, although it will be nice to bite into my morning Texas grapefruit without you biting back in your morning newspaper.
But we will not be too far apart. I think some of you may know that a collection of your work, spanning all the years of my public life, will be on display in the Johnson Library at the University of Texas. It has been assembled by an impartial panel of experts: Marvin Watson, Jack Valenti, Governor John Connally, my cousin Oriole, Patrick Lyndon Nugent, and Yuki as the tiebreaker. The family had no trouble finding a title for this historic volume. It will be called "In Cold Blood."
I suppose, though, I could have had it worse. After all, I could have been up against a columnist with all of your talent. Thank goodness Walter Lippmann never learned to draw.
Some of you may remember what Boss Tweed said when Thomas Nast was crusading against him. He said, "I don't care what they print about me. Most of my constituents can't read anyhow. But them damn pictures!"
Well, most of my constituents can read. A modern President gets both barrels from the press. And I have learned something from you cartoonists. You have taught me that there are some virtues to being a Republican. It must be wonderful to belong to a party that offers you the natural protection of an elephant hide.
Yes, you are teachers--and your talents and traditions are unique. You are quite in the American tradition. The best of your art is innovation, a creative and constant search for the truth to lead us on.
I like your imagination and your humor, even if I don't like the characters that you select for it sometimes. The greatest of your skills are those that you sharpen against the whetstone of argument and controversy-those that serve as the cutting edge of democratic dialogue and the destiny of free men.
There are some who say you are at your best when you are most angry or, I think, sometimes just downright cruel. I disagree. Your talent and your tradition are much too precious to be spent in just negative and destructive purpose.
I believe you will continue to make constructive use of your gifts. The best memories you have given me for all my life are those that I hope your profession will continue to give this Nation all of its life: humor, understanding, courage, compassion, faith, and the best of all your wit and wisdom.
Mrs. Johnson is sorry that she cannot be here this afternoon. She has, I think, this week broken a record that Mrs. Roosevelt established after some four terms in the White House. Mrs. Johnson has had the help of a jet instead of an iron horse.
There is something about this house that causes some women not to like to stay in it all the time, I have observed.
We are glad though that some of you women who are here for the first time can spend a part of your weekend with us. We hope you have enjoyed your trip. We have enjoyed seeing you. And I will have a chance to say hello to some of you in the next room. Thank you very much.
[At this point President Johnson was presented a collection of cartoons which were drawn on the day he withdrew from the 1968 presidential campaign. He then resumed speaking.]
Is Mrs. Willie Day Taylor here? Willie Day is one of the best things that has happened to us in our life. I mean all of the Johnsons. She has raised both of my daughters. She has stood by watching me with my wife and she has nursed me all through the years.
Thank goodness, with your help, she has collected, I think, the most unusual collection of cartoons of any person in public life. I want to thank her, again, for her dedication through the years.
I want to thank all of you for not just your talents, but your generosity and the trouble you have gone to, to help her help me.