Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

September 05, 1964

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have just signed a proclamation designating the week of September 6th as College Students Registration Week.1 I won't take any of your time going into it, but it may interest you. Only 52 percent of these young people cast ballots in recent presidential elections compared with 82 percent of the men and women in their 60's.

1 Proclamation 3614 (29 F.R. 12817; 3 CFR, 1964 Supp.).

The American Heritage Foundation, the group that met with us once before with the chairman of both parties, in the White House, are interested in this matter and they have conducted this poll. It was at their suggestion that we are issuing this proclamation. Get Mac2 to get you a copy of it.

2 Malcolm M. Kilduff, Assistant Press Secretary.

[2.] The first thing I want to say this morning is about the Chilean election, that it was an internal matter in which the people of Chile were the only judges of the issues. The election reminds us once more, however, of the strength of democracy in Chile and throughout the Western Hemisphere.

It reminds us that the last 6 months have been good for democracy and progress in the Americas. Prospects in a number of important countries are more hopeful now than they were 6 months ago, and the prospects for those who are hostile to freedom are weaker.

The Chilean election reminds us of the advances which the Alliance for Progress is making throughout the hemisphere. Mr. Frei, in the campaign, expressed his intention to work for the economic and social development of his country within a democratic framework which emphasizes personal liberty. These are our goals and the goals of the Alliance for Progress.

We wish the Chilean people well. We look forward to cooperating with their newly selected leader just as we have in the past with his distinguished predecessor. We hope that the next 6 years will be a period of peace and prosperity and a period of continued progress in economic and social reform.

Let me say again that I see yesterday's events in Chile in the context of Latin American affairs generally. In that context, the Chilean election seems to me to reinforce our hopes for a very bright future in the Americas. Each country in the hemisphere must work for progress and democracy by its own methods. We have a long road to travel, but we are on our way.

[3.] Another item that may interest you: General Taylor3 is coming back, in accordance with the plans which we previously made, but which he delayed last week because of the political situation in Viet-Nam. I look forward to meeting with him early next week, and also with Ambassador Lodge,4 who has done an outstanding job abroad in explaining our policy and purpose in Viet-Nam to our allies in Europe.

3 Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, U.S. Ambassador to Viet-Nam.

4 Henry Cabot Lodge, former U.S. Ambassador to Viet-Nam.

These meetings, like other meetings which we have had in the past on Viet-Nam, will be devoted to a careful review of our programs, and the reaffirmation of our simple basic purpose which is to help the free people of that country in their struggle for progress against the Communist subversion and terror.

[4.] I think you should know also that I plan to have a talk with Mr. Dean Acheson, former Secretary of State, who has returned from 8 weeks of the most delicate and diplomatic talks,5 He is in the country today, and he will be in the early part of the week, perhaps Monday or Tuesday.

5 Mr. Acheson served as personal envoy of the President to the Geneva conference to mediate the dispute between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus.

Although the situation in Cyprus has not yet been resolved and the situation there remains full of danger, all Americans can be very proud of Mr. Acheson's patient and skillful efforts to help find the honorable and peaceful solution. I believe when such a settlement is found, it will be clear that his work was a major constructive element in the process.

The United States continues to have an intimate interest in finding such a settlement because of its close ties with all parties and its commitment to freedom and peace for this eastern wing of the great alliance.

[5.] A couple of other matters that might interest you:

[Reading] "I have been advised by Secretary of Defense McNamara that a new and significantly improved weapon--the Polaris A-3 missile--will soon become part of our strategic missile force. The new A-3 will be deployed for the first time aboard the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Daniel Webster when she begins her first patrol later this month.

"The A-3 missile which was put into accelerated development in 1964, has a range of 2,500 nautical miles, some 1,000 nautical miles greater than that of the A-2, and more than double that of the A-1. This new weapon not only has a much greater range, but it is extremely accurate and incorporates the latest technological advances to assure that it will be able to penetrate to its target, including those protected by possible ballistic missile defense systems.

"With the A-3, our Polaris submarines will be able to operate over much wider areas. For example, a submarine armed with A-1 missiles for targets 1,000 miles inland has some 700,000 square miles of sea room in which to maneuver. Armed with the A-3, the same targets can be covered and the submarines will have more than 8,000,000 square miles of ocean in which to hide. Operating in the 700,000 square mile area, an A-3 submarine can hit targets nearly 2,500

miles inland."

The statement is more extended. I won't take your time on it, but it will be available for you.6

6 The statement as released by the White House contains the following additional paragraphs:

You will recall that in January 1961 this administration ordered an acceleration of the development of the A-3 missile and a speedup in the construction . of Polaris submarines. This resulted in the production of one submarine each month as opposed to one every 2 months under the old schedule. As of this date, 16 Polaris submarines are deployed on station, 8 more than would have been available under the old plans. Under the original schedule the Daniel Webster would not have deployed until July of 1965, and with A-2 missiles. The first A-3 would not have been deployed until a year from now.

No land area on this earth is beyond reach of these submerged missile ships of our Navy. They are truly a global deterrent to war.

We have made great strides in developing the Polaris system in a very short time. It was less than 4 years ago, November 1960, when the first Polaris submarine deployed. Now, 16 are on station armed with 256 Polaris missiles.

Eight Polaris submarines have gone to sea for their initial patrols since the beginning of this year. In the next 8 months we expect to deploy 11 more, all but one of which will carry the A-3 missile.

Polaris submarines now operate in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and before the end of the year will be operational in the Pacific as well.

All 41 Polaris submarines planned as part of our strategic forces will be operational in 1967. Twenty eight will carry the A-3 missile and 13 will have the 1,500 nautical mile A-2. The A-1 will have been phased out.

The Fleet Ballistic Missile system, highly invulnerable, dependable, and accurate, gives the United States a force which can deliver a crushing and retaliatory blow to an aggressor.

[6.] I am informed by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Secretary of Defense this morning that--[reading]-"they are proceeding with the development of a new, high-powered, long-lived reactor which constitutes a major step forward in nuclear technology, and will make nuclear power more attractive in the construction of our aircraft carriers.

"Two of these reactors could power an attack aircraft carrier as compared with eight reactors required for the U.S.S. Enterprise. Four are considered for the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy. The development program will be under the direction of Vice Admiral Rickover.

"The new two-reactor 'plants will provide approximately the same total horsepower as that provided by the four and eight reactors. In addition, it will almost double the fuel life. It is important to note that the new two-reactor plant will be less expensive than others, particularly with respect to operating costs. A carrier powered by this new plant will require refueling only once in the life of the ship."

There is some more detail in the statement, but I think it is too long to give to you.7

7 The statement as released by the White House contains the following additional paragraphs:

The Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission are confident that the reactor will be developed in time so that it could be installed in a carrier in the 1968-69 time period.

Development of the two-reactor aircraft carrier propulsion plant is another significant step in the creation of a nuclear powered Navy. It is part of a continuing program to develop reliable, advanced nuclear propulsion plants for both surface and submarine use.

The Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission will have further details.

[7.] We have exchanged correspondence between the United States and Brazil, expressions of our solidarity during the Tonkin Gulf incident. Those letters will be made public to you if you are interested in the exchange.8

8 See Item 561.

[8.] Later this month Random House is publishing a book--and it is right here; I am making some editorial changes--in which I will discuss my philosophy of government and my views on the issues. This book is devoted to what I have said and done since becoming President, and what I have believed in all my life.9 The earnings from the book, if there are any, will be turned over to charity.

9 Johnson, Lyndon B. "My Hope for America" (New York: Random House, 1964, 127 pp.).

I am ready to take any questions now for a few minutes before I take a walk. If any of you want to go with me, you can go with me.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, sir, you said you would withhold a statement on whether you would engage in televised debates until you received the nomination. Will you now engage in debates with Senator Goldwater on a regularly scheduled news program?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't reached any decision on that. I haven't said I would withhold the statement. I said we would cross the bridge when we got to it. I haven't reached it yet.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us your reaction to Mr. Nixon's statement that the Democratic Party is now the party of big business?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I haven't heard from Mr. Nixon. I didn't know that he had said anything like that.

Q. He said the Republican Party is now the party of the people. Would you agree with that?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the Democratic Party and the Republican Party both are trying to do what they think is best for all the country, without regard to any specialized segment of the country. I think the whole question is the approach to it, and which course is more likely to attain the best results. I don't think that the Democratic Party wants any business government, any labor government, any big government. It is just interested in the best government for all the people.

I have expressed my philosophy in that field many times. I don't think in order to be for the private enterprise system you have to be against Government; or in order to be for the workingman, to be against business; or in order to be for business, to be against labor.

I think we can all work together. As a matter of fact, I have given a good deal of thought to a big problem that confronts our country. If you will take a little time, I will go over some of my ideas in connection with that very thing.

I think this Nation's most important concern, as far as we can see ahead, is and should be the unity of this country. Never in the history has any people succeeded in building a free society on such a huge scale and with the variety of such different religious denominations, ethnic stocks, and races.

We have witnessed the complete destruction by inner conflict of many nations because they pitted race against race and religion against religion, group against group.

What your question implies or suggests is class against class. That must not happen here in either party. All of us in government, and all of you in the press, and all responsible, constructive citizens everywhere have a responsibility to see that it doesn't.

Against the great odds we build one society from many. There is one good reason for that, because we have been willing to subordinate our loyalties to any one group to the loyalty to a greater group.

I have expressed that to you many times, and I won't go into a great deal of detail, but probably the most memorable occasion was when I assumed the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate in 1952-when we had been routed in the election by a very popular war hero, General Eisenhower--I rejected Mr. Taft's philosophy that it was the duty of the opposition to oppose.

That was his statement: it is the business of the opposition to oppose. I rejected that, and said I think it is the business of the opposition to do what is best for America-that is where our greater loyalty lies, ahead of loyalty to any of these other groups and parties.

We must subordinate our loyalty to any group to a greater loyalty and commitment to the moral principle upon which this Republic was founded, that is, to freedom and to justice and to the brotherhood of man.

We must not lock ourselves in with our prejudices. We must be prepared to learn, to be able to change our minds, to demonstrate compassion and humility toward others of different faiths, different origins, different colors, different sections, different professions.

An underlying theme in the history of the Republic has been the often painful but always successful reconciliation of different people into one national community of Americans.

I think you heard Mrs. Johnson say when she used to address envelopes to send out agricultural bulletins in my district that the thing she thought gave us such great strength was the names indicated they had more than a dozen different nationalities living in that one little central Texas district--a real melting pot in America.

All we have to do to realize the benefits of this principle is to look at the political life today, sitting in the courts, in the executive branch of the Government, the Congress-Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Negroes--many men and women whose fathers came to this country from another land; you heard Senator Pastore say that the other night: that he was the son of an immigrant to this country-men from Japanese-American and Chinese-American minorities, representing both parties and the public interest.

But the point I want to make is not of any special group. We all have a lot to learn about each other and about ourselves, and what is needed most today is, in my judgment, in this country, as I said in the beginning, unity, and, as I say now, understanding. We need a recognition that all Americans of every race, religion, ethnic origin, that all that most Americans want is the right and the opportunity to be treated as Americans, as members of our national community, and to live by the law and under the law.

I want to urge all men and women in this land of ours to resist with all their dedication the spiritual cancer of hate. If we hate others, we not only sin against them in the eyes of the Almighty God, but we undermine and eventually destroy our own integrity. By hating, we indicate and express that poverty of the spirit which is far more dangerous to a nation's future than the economic poverty that we are making war on and that we have announced as our objective to eliminate.

So I want to suggest this morning that we proceed with our adventure in freedom, a part of which is the grand tradition of political campaigns with a firm commitment to law, a just and efficient enforcement of all laws, a faith that a people which has learned to triumph over prejudice will once more demonstrate the vitality of our most striking ideal: E Pluribus Unum--from many, one.

[11.] I expect to be here for the weekend. We have to celebrate Jack Valenti's birthday. He is one year older today, and shows it. He was late to work this morning for the first time. He got in after the sun had been up and had to go pull the curtain, with the sun shining in my eyes. He is usually there early.

[12.] We go out to Detroit for a brief visit Monday. We will be back here. I have a series of meetings coming up the latter part of the week.

That is about all I know to tell you.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Goldwater today announced a very extensive speaking schedule in the South, Middle West, and East beginning September 15th. Can you give us any clues as to what your campaign schedule will be?

THE PRESIDENT. We will, as I have said before, determine our departures from Washington by the condition of the affairs of the Nation. We have a job to do here, and we are going to try to do that first. When, as, and if we can, we will make as many appearances as we think we can without neglecting the interests of the Nation.

I will try, always, to be accessible to you, available to you. I will meet with you as frequently as is possible, or as often as you may feel the need. But just where I will be at some certain day in October, I can't determine, and I don't want to announce, because then you have me cancelling and adjusting my plans, things of that kind. That makes more of a story than my appearance would make, or maybe what I had to say makes.

I know sometimes you emphasize the change in plans, the details of them, and I don't want to confuse you or frustrate .you. I will announce them just as soon as it is possible for me to announce them.

There will be occasions when even Mrs. Johnson will say to Liz10 that she hopes to go with me to Detroit and it will be carried as hard news that she is going, even though we have not confirmed it. We talk those things over. But we know reasonably certain we are going to Detroit and this is our plan. But as soon as we did know that, with certainty, we announced it to you.

10 Mrs. Elizabeth S. Carpenter, Press Secretary and Staff Director for the First Lady.

It still could change, if there was some development in the world that would hold us here. The first consideration is going to be running the country and carrying out the duties of the Presidency.

Q. Mr. President, the Democrats up in Pennsylvania seem to be expecting that you may drop in on them in Harrisburg Thursday night. Can you give us any help on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I answered that question before. As soon as I am able to, I will tell you. It will save all of you a lot of time if you don't speculate. If I had known that I was going to go to the ranch this weekend, I would not hesitate to tell you I would be there. But I have no plans to do it. I can't tell you ahead of time.

I see George's11 briefings and most of them are taken up in speculation and not a great deal of good comes out of them, because he can't tell you if he does not know and I can't tell you if I don't know.

11 George E. Reedy, Press Secretary to the President.

[14.] Q. You spoke in your statement about pitting group against group, religion against religion, and race against race. In his statement the other day at the opening of his campaign, Senator Goldwater said--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't want to have any connection with a jab or reference to anybody. You talk to Senator Goldwater about his views. I have expressed mine positively, affirmatively, and completely, without reference to anybody or Senator Goldwater, but just myself. If I say I believe I loved my mother, you would say it is a jab at Senator Goldwater. You just have to be more--

Q. Can I go on with the question? Senator Goldwater said that you are, in a sense, ignoring violence in our streets and he accused you of not providing enough moral leadership. Do you see any contradiction between these persistent remarks of his on violence in the streets and his meeting here in the White House to seek ways to reduce racial tensions in the campaign?

THE. PRESIDENT. I think you make your point.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, I read a suggestion that your speech.--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I might say--

Q. Mr. President, I read a suggestion that your speech in Cadillac Square may not be a political speech. That would seem strange to me, but anything can happen. Would you tell us, will it be a nonpolitical or a campaign speech?

THE PRESIDENT. I am still working on it. Is somebody passing out something I am going to say? There are a lot of leaks in this place.

Q. The tone of it. I wasn't there, but I think Mr. Reedy said he was not certain it would be a political speech. Is that true?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I had not seen anything like that. I am going to Detroit to speak to a group of workingmen who invited me 3 or 4 months ago to come out there and make an address to them on Labor Day. I am going to discuss in, I hope, a constructive manner the problems of our country and the times in which we live.12

12 See Item 562.

I don't know, but there may be some of those workingmen that belong to various parties. It is not a party-sponsored affair, except that my expenses will be borne by the party. But that is the only connection that any party has with it. It is not the Democratic Party of Wayne County or Detroit, and so forth.

I have not completed my speech. I am working on it. I believe that it will be acceptable to all Americans. I think it will follow very much my philosophy here that I have outlined to you, as will most of my speeches. I don't want to accept an invitation of a church, or a labor organization, or a group of workingmen or businessmen, or newspapermen, and get into matters that would be offensive to them.

At the same time, I am going to exercise my right of free speech. But I am going to try to do it with judgment, fairness, and a word that I like very much that I reiterated several times, "understanding."

Q. Mr. President, in the past, some other Democratic candidates for President have followed up the Cadillac Square speech with a number of other appearances, going up even to Flint.

THE PRESIDENT. We are not going to plan our activities for the next few weeks based on any traditions or any practices of Presidents who have preceded us. Our first obligation is to do this job that we are doing here, today, and I will be doing it all day today, and I will be doing it all day today and all day tomorrow, right in this house.

But if I can get off a few hours Monday, I am going out there and speak to the folks there at their Labor Day meeting like I would go the Fourth of July. And then I am coming right back here to burn some midnight oil this week, but without regard to who went where, any time.

Q. Mr. President, you are not characterizing this speech, then?

THE PRESIDENT. We never characterize any speech. The President of the United States is not in the business of applying labels and making speculations on matters of this kind. You will have copies of the speech, and if you want to indulge in that, it is all right. You can say it is conservative, progressive, prudent, or radical; it is political or nonpolitical; whatever you want to say about it.

You would get irritated if I commented on your description of it. So you call it what you want to. We don't do it. George has told you many, many times, in repetitions, and you are not going to get him to change his mind. I will not change my mind. We will not say this is going to be a major speech, a minor speech, or a middle-sized speech, or a political speech or nonpolitical, or any of that. Characterize it any way you want to.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, the question of ending the draft was injected into the campaign the other day. Have you seen any early results of a study you requested from the Defense Department on that line?

THE PRESIDENT. AS you know, several months ago we told you what we were proceeding to do in that field. We have the best people in the Selective Service and the Department of Defense and the White House examining and evaluating that program, and the whole effect it would have on our mobilization effort, and how many billions extra it would cost if the draft were done away with and how we can maximize the results with a minimum of cost.

One of the distinguished members of the Armed Services Committee of the Congress talked to me the night before last in some detail, or 3 or 4 nights ago, and his estimate was that it would cost us several billions to act precipitously in the matter, compulsively. That is the purpose of this study. We expect probably an interim announcement of some kind in the next few weeks, and probably some definite conclusion early in the spring.

From time to time people are going to read about these things and hear about them and make observations about them. With 190 million people in the country, they are all going to have an interest in this field. But that is the position of the Government.

Governor Stevenson had some thoughts back in the middle fifties sometime about how we could end the draft. I think Senator Goldwater commented on Governor Stevenson's thoughts, but I don't want to advertise either position. If you are interested in making a historical study about it you can see what Stevenson said and what Goldwater said about his action.

You will hear a lot of that in the months to come. But you really would not have a solid, accurate, or substantial conclusion on it, I would think, before early spring, because there are too many bases that have to be touched and too much work has to be done.

Q. Would it be correct to say that you share the view of President Eisenhower in 1956 that, in effect, the draft should not be made a campaign issue, the question of ending the draft should not be made a campaign issue?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I would agree with General Eisenhower on a good many things, and always have. I don't think that the service of a man to his country ought to be involved in politics. I say that without reference to any individual, General Eisenhower or anybody else. I think we have demonstrated, and I have been on the committee for 24 years up there, and I think the Selective Service System should be free from any politics, Republicans and Democrats and Independent boys wearing the uniform.

Q. Mr. President, sir, I think I understand thoroughly your statement there, but could you explain for us a little more how people who don't want to be in a position of creating disunity, who don't want to hurt the welfare of the country, but who might have honest differences of opinion with, say, the leader of the Government, how would they get their ideas across?

THE PRESIDENT. They don't have any difficulty doing that, I observe.

Alvin A. Spivak, United Press International: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's twenty-ninth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 12:48 p.m. on Saturday, September 5, 1964.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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