Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

August 26, 1965

THE PRESIDENT. I guess you all want to get your lunch, but I wanted to tell you what I knew about my plans and I had a statement that I ought to make to you that you may want to file before lunch.

STEEL NEGOTIATIONS [1.] I have had a very friendly conversation this morning with Mr. R. Conrad Cooper, the Executive Vice President of the United States Steel Corporation, and Mr. I. W. Abel, President of the United Steel Workers of America.

I communicated with them separately over the telephone. I said the same thing to each of them, the substance of which was that I pointed out the question I had received at the press conference yesterday, and my reply to it,1 and I asked them to read it and review it, which they had done. I told them that I had relied upon them, in these troubled times, to negotiate peacefully a decent and responsible settlement. I was sure that neither the company nor the union wanted the disruption of work or an inflationary situation in our country; that I regarded both the industry and the union to be my friend, and I did not in any way want to try to dictate details of what settlement should be negotiated.

1 See Item 448 [11].

I felt, very briefly, that this was a matter for them to settle by collective bargaining; that I did believe that the President of the country had an extreme responsibility for proclaiming the national interest and serving the national interest; that I had a right to ask their complete cooperation; that I was asking for that and I expected to receive it, and I believed I would. Both of them assured me that they would be glad to be helpful in any way they could, consistent with their view of what the national interest was and the needs of their respective constituents.

They wished me a happy birthday, and I told them I sure would have one if they carried out my hopes. 2

2 see Item 483.

[2.] I am going to shoot for a departure of between 3 and 4:30. I would like to meet with a group of ladies that Mrs. Johnson is having at the house between 4 and 6 in Texas. I expect I will miss it, but she is having a group that has been working on a library, on our little boyhood home, and things of that kind, and I would like to visit with them if I can get through with my schedule.

I am running behind. I have some Members of the Congress to see, and some meetings with State Department people, and Mr. Bundy,3 and the staff, and I have a Quadriad meeting that is just beginning, so I can't tell. I'd like to be precise, but I can't tell you at this moment. It depends on how long they talk and how much rebuttal I have to make.

3 McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President.

Q. Mr. President, can I ask you a question ?

THE PRESIDENT. If it's in relation to the trip, I want to get off.

[3.] Q. I just wondered if there was any discussion from these men that they would be willing to extend that deadline?

THE PRESIDENT. They did not mention deadline. I told you all that happened.

[4.] Q. It is now on the record you are going to Texas?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

TENSION IN THE CITIES [5.] Q. Mr. President, one question that is bothering a lot of us this morning since the bill signing 4--

THE PRESIDENT. Just one? You don't mean this is just something that bothered you this morning?

4 see Item 452.

I'll tell you a story. Bill White5 came in one time and he said, "You know, I'm bothered and I'm confused." The first 3 years he did that to me I really took it at face value until I found out how many times I had made mistakes and all the headlines I had made. So I just quit trying to clear up confusions or to clear up people bothering. What is the problem?

5 William S. White of United Feature Syndicate.

Q. It has to do with your statement this morning about the dangers of increasing tension in the cities, and you also mentioned the District of Columbia. I wondered if you thought it would be at all useful for you to restate or amplify, or try to help us out, on exactly what you meant?

THE PRESIDENT. I meant just what I said. And that was that we ought to try to face up to these problems that we have, such as the one we are facing up to this morning, before we had to suffer more serious problems and create additional problems.

Every little town in this country that you can see has problems. The young are leaving and the old are staying there, and the town is drying up, businesses are folding, and all of those things. We are trying our best through area redevelopment, through public works, by trying to solve our water problem, the housing problem, trying to solve the urban renewal problem, and to recognize the economic facts of life and meet them while there is time to do it.

Now, some of these places we don't get to until it already happens and we have to do the very thing we would have to do anyway, plus some additional things. And in Los Angeles we found that we could not contain disappointments and the frustrations, and it took rather drastic action to get that situation back into focus, and now we have all the problems we had before, plus all that were created by this situation.6

6 See Items 426, 453.

But the Congress, recognizing our ability of meeting these things head on in this particular instance, had rather wisely acted. There are other places I want them to act on, other fields I want them to act on. And they are acting. They are turning out a good volume.

So, my purpose was twofold. One, was to caution and to point up the desirability of facing up to the problems before they increased in nature; and, two, was to commend them, in this specific instance, for having done a rather effective job.

And, three, to fully recognize the interest of the great State of Minnesota in this field. I saw a good many of them there. Mr. Foley7 has spent a good part of the last 2 or 3 days talking to me about the great opportunity in this field, and I wanted to enlist the aid of all the Members of Congress present.

7Eugene P. Foley, Administrator of the Small Business Administration and newly designated Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

I don't have the privileges of the floor anymore. That's about the only chance I have to appeal to them. I just did this the best way I could.

I did not want to bother anybody or create more problems than I have. I want to solve them before additional ones come along--in Johnson City, New York City, Washington, D.C.--what town were you born in?

Q. Boston.

THE PRESIDENT. Boston.

Q. Do you think it's bad up there?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't say it's bad. We are going to face up to those problems while we can before additional ones develop. That is what they are doing.

This is a rather revolutionary bill, a far-reaching one, a bipartisan one. I pointed that out.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's fiftieth news conference, an informal meeting with White House correspondents, was held in his office at the White House at 12:17 p.m. on Thursday, August 26, 1965.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240791

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