Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

August 18, 1964

THE PRESIDENT. [I] I have a moment here, before I have some recordings I want to do and I have a 12 o'clock meeting. George1 told me that a suggestion that I made to him earlier might be helpful, if I carried it out. So I thought I would review with you some of the things we are going to do the rest of the week, so you can have some advance notice of it.

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

I have some real news for you this morning. I can announce positively that the husband and father in this house has not, repeat not, seen a moose all day and is mighty happy to have his family back with him.

As a friend observed this morning, he said he had read about some of my problems and he believed the White House is the one place where the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. We have been doing something more than watering the lawn around here, though, and we have some other plan. We put in a busy time over the weekend seeing all the press and going to church Sunday.

[2.] For your information, guidance, and background, I want to tell you about some of the plans in the days ahead. As you know, we have been conducting a number of meetings with leadership of all segments of our national life, Congress, business, labor, public school superintendents, State university presidents, women's groups, foreign language publishers, chiefs of bureaus, members of the press, and so forth. A number of other such meetings are in the planning stages.

We will have some women's organizations in, leaders of other organizations and trade associations in various fields, leaders of Negro groups throughout the country, with whom we want to talk especially about observance, compliance, and enforcement of laws of particular concern to civil rights groups. These meetings will be announced as the plans are completed and as soon as we can get confirmation on the invitations.

This week we have a number of sessions scheduled at the White House that may be of interest to you and to the country. On Tuesday, at 5 o'clock, that is today, we will meet with the Community Relations Citizens Committee from all sections of the Nation and Governor Collins.2 One of the members stayed all night with me last night, Mr. Palmer Hoyt of the Denver Post, and got me up early this morning.

2 LeRoy Collins, Director of the Community Relations Service, Department of Commerce, and former Governor of Florida.

On Wednesday, August 19, at 11 :30 a.m. we will have 5,000 young people on the White House lawn as part of the White House seminar program. Let me say that our Nation's leadership challenge knows no age. Our young citizens have very great responsibilities in these times for active community leadership, wherever they live or attend school.

On Wednesday, August 19, in the evening, we have invited all Members of Congress, from both parties, to the White House for a richly deserved "Salute to Congress." When the record of this Congress is completed, it will place the 88th Congress in the record books as the most productive and, I think, the most constructive in the 20th century. Executive and congressional relationships could hardly have been better.

Before Members return home, I want to congratulate them personally, salute them, have them all to the White House once again. As you will remember, they were here a short time after I assumed the Presidency.

On Thursday, August 20, at 4:30 p.m., we have a broad cross section of small business leaders coming from throughout the Nation for a meeting at the White House on the general subjects we have followed before. We want to discuss economic opportunity for American enterprise. We want to explore a subject of first importance, the continued growth of job opportunities for all of our people. We will discuss the fiscal policy of the Government. We want to discuss law observance, law enforcement.

On Saturday, August 22, we are inviting the Democratic Governors from 34 States to come to the White House for a working session in the afternoon and to stay with us for dinner that night, if they can. We are inviting all the Governors, although we know some of them are unable to come to the convention and some may be unable to come to Washington, may be out of the country.

In this administration we have given, and expect to continue to give, unusual attention to the constructive potential of the Federal-State relations. As I indicated last week in my remarks to the State university presidents, I feel a new era of resurgence and vitality is coming among the States. We want the Federal and State relations to enter a new era, too, and we are confident that it is possible.

One of the first meetings that I held after assuming office--after assuming office in November, I held the meeting in December-was with the Governors. Since then, I have had well over 100 meetings with at least 37 of our Governors, either here or in their States. We have met with 85 percent of the Democratic Governors and 50 percent of the Republican Governors. I hope to meet with them all and often.

Earlier this year the Republican Governors met here in Washington. I invited them to the White House. Unfortunately, they were not able to come. This week, for the first time this year, the Democratic Governors will be in this vicinity. So that is why we have asked them to come to the White House, if they can.

There is much we will talk about. Our programs are set now. Most of our appropriation bills have passed the House and the Senate and have been signed or are in conference. So we want to review with the Governors the impact of Federal activities on their State economies over the next 12 months. We will have a complete discussion and will review with them the impact of our defense and space programs and where we will be developing; the new opportunities for Federal and State cooperation in education and health programs--the Hill-Burton Act was signed this morning--the three educational bills we signed the latter part of last year; the mass transit program, and what it means for our metropolitan areas, just enacted; what we can all do together to increase the growth of plants and payrolls, new jobs and new opportunities.

[3.] We have gotten below the 5 percent barrier on unemployment and we want to keep moving. We will make to them a private report of a little survey that we are doing on the capital expenditures that are being made, capital investment that is providing jobs out in the States to help us break through that 5 percent unemployment figure.

As an illustration, one man told me if we could get the tax bill passed that his company could add 20,000 new people. He told me the other day that he had broken through and added 22,000 so far. So we are working with a good many companies asking them to do that, to help reduce the heavy youth unemployment.

We brought that down from 16 to 13, and the total unemployment is down for the first time, under 5 percent, in several years. We will review the full range of the record number of major legislative accomplishments and what these bills mean in helping our State governments meet their responsibilities.

[4.] The economic health and prosperity of the Nation today requires closer understanding and, I think, much closer cooperation among all our levels of Government. I believe it is in the interest of all the people for the White House and the State houses to work together with a new outlook, with a new trust, a new creativity, and this is our objective now in all that we do.

[5.] I just might add, for your information, that we have been meeting with various Governors who have been coming in and have been talking about problems in their State and politics in their States. A number of them spent the weekend with me at the White House. The same thing has been true of mayors who have come to the White House, mayors from the Midwest, Mayor Daley of Chicago, Mayor Wagner from New York, various mayors. We had the Midwest Governors in 2 or 3 weeks ago and we had Governor Brown and some of the Midwest Governors, the Governor of Indiana, and others in for dinner and they spent the weekend with us.3

3 The President referred specifically to Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, Mayor Robert F. Wagner of New York, Governor Edmund G. Brown of California, and Governor Matthew E. Welsh of Indiana.

So this time we will add to that by inviting them all. That is all I have to say, except that we are going to continue every week bringing people in from over the Nation to exchange viewpoints with and to discuss our problems with and to ask for their help.

[6.] If you have any questions on this schedule, or these points, I will be glad to have you ask them. I cannot spend the time on detailed questions, because the Prime Minister of Iceland has landed and is en route to the White House now. He is going to come in the southwest gate and I will greet him and take him into the office for a meeting. If you want to, I will take him on a little walk. I haven't had one and you can go with us.4

4 Immediately after his news conference the President greeted Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson of Iceland and walked with him through the White House grounds. They were accompanied by members of the press.

[7.] Q. That meeting with the Governors is Saturday afternoon of this week, sir?


[8.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about your plans for next week?

THE PRESIDENT. No, but maybe Jack Valenti 5 can. With regard to the convention, I expect to go up later Thursday evening--I don't know what time--if I go at all.

5 lack Valenti, Special Consultant to the President.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, will you entertain a question about your schedule this morning?


Q. Did you have a long visit with Senator Humphrey this morning, or can you tell us about it?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't have a long one. After the signing there he wanted to report to me on a little situation there on the Hill, and he did. We discussed it a little earlier at breakfast. We didn't get to finish it.

[10.] Q. With respect to what you are saying about the economy, I don't know whether it is too early to ask this, but I was wondering how seriously the Government looks at the status of the automobile problem.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't want to get into a general press conference. I just said that. This man is on his way here. There is nothing to say at this stage of the game. They are going through their routine.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, you said you talked politics with Governors and mayors. Did they give you an outlook on the situation throughout the country in November?


Q. Can you tell us about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think we ought to take time right now to talk about that. It is good.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, in relation to next week's schedule, have you decided how you will communicate with the convention on your vice presidential choice--how or when?


Q. Mr. President, did I understand that you might not go to Atlantic City at all?


Q. I misunderstood.

THE PRESIDENT. Evidently. I didn't say I would, or I wouldn't.

Q. You will go, if you are asked?

THE PRESIDENT. We will announce that, when we know definitely what we are going to do.

[13.] Q. Are there going to be any special ceremonies for the signing of the antipoverty bill on the 20th, I believe it is?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I believe there is a signing schedule arranged for and it seems to me it is on Thursday.

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

Note: President Johnson's twenty-seventh news conference was held in his office at the White House at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, August 18, 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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