Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference at the LBJ Ranch

August 27, 1966

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.


[1.] Q. Sir, what have you been doing today?

THE PRESIDENT. I read the papers, some messages came in, I signed some bills, signed several congratulatory messages and letters of various kinds that came out of the White House, talked to Senator Dirksen 1 on the telephone--he called me--I got a report on the rain. I guess that is about it.1

1Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois, minority leader of the Senate.

Q. Is this rain going to inhibit the rest of your birthday?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so. We won't walk much while it is raining, but we will have a quite, relaxing, restful day as near as we can. We didn't plan any trips.

Q. How do you feel on your birthday, Mr. president? How is your health? Have you gained or lost weight since the first of the year, and that sort of thing?

THE PRESIDENT. I feel fine. I was a little tired when I came in last night, but I had a good rest during the day yesterday in between various meetings. I am not unusually tired. I doubt that I have ever been in better health. I feel good; I sleep well. I had a wonderful night's sleep last night.

I constantly have a problem with my weight. It is up and down. If I take two or three days on the road, I go down three or four pounds, then I come back up. But weight is no real problem. I haven't had to buy any new clothes. I am still wearing the same ranch clothes I have had all year.

I think I had the best night's sleep I have had in a long time. I don't know whether it was the activities of the day, the fresh air, or sleeping in a bed that you are used to.

Q. Mr. President, might it have been the crowds? We were expecting something not quite so enthusiastic as a result of the polls we have heard about. What did you think about them yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. I thought they were good--enjoyed them very much. I haven't seen anything that would indicate that we wouldn't have good turnouts in any polls that I have read.

Q. Mr. President, do you have anything else to say today about the Governor of Oklahoma?

THE PRESIDENT. No. We appreciated very much his coming out to see us. We enjoyed our visit in Oklahoma. I think Oklahoma is one of the States with a great future.

It is moving forward rapidly, improving its transportation system, conserving its resources, developing its rivers and bringing deep water inland. And the economic development of Oklahoma--like a good many other States right now--is going by leaps and bounds.

Q. Did Senator Dirksen offer you any wisdom over the phone today, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I always enjoy my visits with Senator Dirksen. He passed on his birthday greetings. President Eisenhower had come to the White House personally on Thursday, and talked to me about our trip yesterday.

Senator Dirksen had read reports about it. We reminded him that Luci and Pat 2 had left Washington in company with the dog and had proceeded in the direction of Illinois; he at least had two or three extra constituents for a few days.

2 Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Nugent, the President's son-in-law and daughter, who were married in Washington on August 6, 1966.

He talked to Mrs. Johnson for awhile. They are both great gardeners and beautification experts.

That was about the extent of the conversation.

Q. Does Mrs. Johnson have a surprise party planned for you today?

MRS. JOHNSON. No, I wouldn't say it is a surprise. It will be very casual and homelike, with some good friends and family.

We will have barbecue, Western-style beans and birthday cake; hopefully, a ride around the ranch, if it clears off enough.


[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel you have any special problems on this birthday, as far as the world and the Nation are concerned?

THE PRESIDENT. A President always has many problems. They change from day to day and week to week. Sure, we have problems, grave ones. But we have none that we don't feel confident that we can find the answer to.

The problems that we have--as I have said so frequently all year--are the problems that we have been fighting so hard to attain, namely, full employment, a high standard of living, and better housing.

We are now at a point that I have envisioned and sought all of my adult life--or even as a boy. My earliest memories were hearing my grandfather, who was a leading advocate in this part of the country for social justice, talk about the plight of the tenant farmer, the necessity for the worker to have the protection of bargaining, the need for improvement of our transportation to get the farmer out of the mud with blacktop roads, particularly the red schoolhouse and the tenant purchase program where a worker could attain something of his own. I tried to reflect that in my speech yesterday in Denver.

That was the philosophy handed down to me by my father, that he expressed all through his political life, and also my grandfather, my mother's father.

So, both of my grandfathers and my own father, in his political years, believed in this. And later, when I went to college, the president of my school was constantly preaching better schools, better roads, better living conditions, and better protection for our workers.

Then I went out and taught in a Mexican-American school and dealt with the underprivileged. Folks could stay in school sometimes only 3 or 4 months and then they would have to leave to go and pick the beets or stay in the cotton fields, and things of that kind.

I longed for the day when we could really do something about minimum wages, elementary and secondary education, higher education, and better health, because I saw the effects of the tapeworm and the malnutrition on the children that I worked with, both in the poor districts in Houston and in the Latin American area of South Texas.

I talked to Mr. David Dubinsky 3 this morning. He first excited me about the necessity of having an adequate minimum wage. We couldn't get a rule and couldn't get the bill up on the floor. We had to call a Democratic caucus and we had to really force the hand of the leadership.

3 Former president, International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

We had to almost take the leadership away from the leaders of our own party in the Congress. We had rules problems in those days like you do now in Judge Smith's 4 committee.

4 Representative Howard W, Smith of Virginia, Chairman of the House Rules Committee.

I remember Mr. Dubinsky got three of us from Texas to sign a petition to call a party caucus. That was, I guess, in 1938.

That was on a 25 cents an hour minimum wage, the first one in the Nation. And of the three, we were all threatened with political oblivion and defeat. Two of them were defeated in the next election in the primary of 1938--Maury Maverick of San Antonio and Congressman McFarlane of Wichita Falls. 5

5 F. Maury Maverick, Representative from Texas 1935-1939, and William D. McFarlane, Representative from Texas 1933-1939.

The minimum wage was 25 cents an hour. I don't know what happened to me except I didn't have an opponent. This was my first term and they thought it was kind of fair to give a fellow a second term.

Before then, I eagerly sought to work with president Roosevelt in the NYA 6 and I became State Director for the State of Texas.

6 National Youth Administration.

Smitty 7 asked a number of questions at the Press Office the other day on various birthdays that I had had. I thought about my NYA experiences and how we fought to get more children in elementary school in a work program very similar to what we are doing now in our poverty program; and how we tried to keep the children from dropping out of high school in 1934, 1935, and 1936.

7 Merriman Smith of United Press International.

We tried to have a college program where they could have a higher education. We tried to improve our health activities by training nurses in NYA, just as we are training them today. Here in this room, the first month I was President, we formulated the poverty program.

So through all these years I have sought, asked, and been given the opportunity to make some effort in the field of fighting a war on poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, disease, and for conserving our resources, beautifying our lands.

Our beautification program started when we built 400 highway parks in Texas. We put flowers in them and barbecue benches, and so forth, in the years 1935-36, 30 years ago.

But there is a difference between what a State NYA Director can do, to fight poverty and ugliness and to conserve resources as we did over here on this river in building our dams, and what a President can do. You have seen the ponds on all of these farms and the terracing that we have done. You know of the people that we have in our universities and in the Job Corps. In those days we had CCC 8 and NYA.

8 Civilian Conservation Corps.

Being President does make a difference. Thirty years has made a difference.


[3.] I looked at the record the other day. Some people argue about whether you should say that a grant for a hospital in a city is an urban expenditure. Well, whether it is or it isn't, you saw the one in Ellenville, number 6,647. 9

9 See Item 395.

We are building those hospitals and we are building those parks, we are adding those recreational areas and we are going into the slums, and we are today spending about twice as much--as I told President Eisenhower the day before yesterday--in this field than we were during the late fifties.

We are spending about a third more than we were just 2 1/2 years ago in the fields of education and health alone. In education we have increased our expenditure from $4 billion 800 million under President Kennedy to about $10.2 billion presently.

We have increased our health expenditure about $5 billion. The total appropriations this year for health and education, just those two fields, is $10 billion more than they were 2 1/2 years ago.

When you consider that figure relatively, that is twice as much as Mr. Hoover spent on the entire Federal budget.

So when I come home and Mrs. Davis, who runs the ranch for us, tells me that her little Negro daughter is a runner-up in the all-around best student in the Stonewall School, I get great satisfaction to see the progress that has been made.

She couldn't have been in the Stonewall School 30 years ago. She certainly wouldn't have been the runner-up, one of the two selected. And she wouldn't be looking forward to the day when that child could go to college.

When the chairman of the Texas Board of Regents told me yesterday that he just floated $4 million worth of a bond issue, because the buildings were bursting at the seams and they just had to have more facilities because so many more people were going to college, I thought of the nights that we worked all night long on payrolls for Texas colleges in order to keep NYA kids in school in 1935 and 1936.

Yesterday the Governor10 told me of the great advance that had taken place in our educational system in this State. He rode home with us last night. He expects to come back tonight, along with Melvin and Mrs. Winters, probably Judge and Mrs. Moursund, and maybe Judge Heath, a friend of ours who has an adjoining ranch and is chairman of the Board of Regents of the University.

10 John Connally, Governor of Texas.

We will sit around and count our blessings. But the blessing that I consider best is the opportunity that I have today--that I never had before--as leader of the people of this country in waging a war on the dreadful enemies of all mankind--disease, ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, ugliness, and so forth--and to wage it effectively.

The Congress has given me a good many of those, too. I'll be frank and candid-of course I am disappointed that we couldn't get the demonstration cities bill through just as I recommended it. That is human nature.

Most of you like to have your stories printed just as you write them. But we don't have that kind of system in Government. I can't resign, as you can, if your editor changes your story too much and inserts different facts.

We had a $2.3 billion bill for 6 years. Congress has said that we will give you in effect $1 billion for 3 years, that is close to what you recommended. If you do your first 3 years right, then we have no doubt but that we can move on.

So, I am grateful for that. It took me 20 months to get rent supplements--but I have it. We are on our way. That is something we haven't had in the last 30 years--the period I am talking about.

It has been a long, slow process to get our Teacher Corps so we can go into these areas. I know what we can do. We can get our civil rights bill, our housing, our demonstration cities, our urban renewal, our rent supplements, and our Teacher Corps.


[4.] Look at what you saw in Denver yesterday. I told Senator Dirksen about that this morning. I said, "When they ask you, 'How can these cities handle some of their problems?' the first thing I would say is, 'Go and see Denver.'"

You drove through the places where you would expect to see the ghettoes in Denver and you saw modest homes. I said to some of my people that it looked very much like my mother's home in Austin, Texas, a three-bedroom little home with one bath, with a beautiful lawn, small, attractive, with flowers growing in the windows, well kept with great pride, and happy people living in it.

It would have been difficult to believe that those were Negro homes, if you hadn't seen them standing there and if the Major and the Governor of two different parties hadn't told you that they had, in their judgment, the fairest housing bill of any State in the Union.

They had committees to control housing. The Scripps-Howard publisher and the Denver Post publisher, Mr. Hoyt,11 told me how hard they worked to have these committees go around and help with these problems, encouraging home ownership.

11 Palmer Hoyt, publisher of the Denver Post.

He told how the Negroes had taken really a disproportionate share of their income and put it into home purchase, because they had such pride in the place where they lived.

They had no problem with outsiders coming in and staging big marches and pickets with signs. Some people just felt Denver had to have one. So, some of them came in and urged one. They said it was the biggest flop of the year because these people have their homes and they are happy.

In some of the areas 70, 80, 90 percent of those homes we saw yesterday were inhabited by Negroes and by Mexicans and by people who had a part in home ownership.

My father supported Jim Ferguson for Governor in 1914. He was running for office on building more red schoolhouses, building better roads to our marketplaces and to our cities, and having a tenant purchase program where a tenant could go and buy his home. That is what caused me to put in my Denver speech yesterday that a man who is expected to cultivate, plant, grow, chop, and pick cotton--if he has a chance to get a part of that two bales--has a little better attitude and his work and production are a little bit better than if the landlord gets it all.


[5.] You must remember that this is not exclusively a personal or a party achievement. I had almost a third of the Republican votes in the election. Dirksen said yesterday, "Why did you take all of my Republican Senators off?"

I said, "We believe in equal treatment. We had three Democratic Senators and three Republican Senators. We had Senator Church and two Democrats from Oklahoma. We had Senator Jordan and two Republicans from Colorado. The things we are doing, we are doing together."

I was very pleased that in most of the places people identified themselves as Republicans. Officeholders, Governors, Congressmen, Senators, editors, and other people came up and were pleased with our approach to the peace problem in our reactor speech to the Soviet Union. They were pleased with what I said in Denver.

A man on the stage came up and spoke along this line. They are helping us with that.

The whole New England trip was dreamed up, planned, and envisioned by the dean of the Republicans in the Senate. We never got that over, apparently.

Senator Aiken asked us on the boat to come up and dedicate this project and see the Prime Minister. Then they urged us to come to upstate New York. That is not strictly a Democratic stronghold. We had, I believe, on that trip, four Republican Governors and two Democrats. Someone got the idea that we were using Republicans to elect Democrats.

I didn't see it that way because I didn't see that Governor Rockefeller contributed anything to the election of a Democrat. He participated in the discussions that both Democrats and Republicans are vitally interested in: pollution, rural development, and demonstration cities. So did Senator Javits. So did Senator Aiken. It was a Republican law. The Republicans picked up the law Senator Aiken had written. Our Budget Director vetoed it, was against it until I read on the ticker the UP story saying that the Budget Director had appeared against it.

I asked him, "Why? That sounded like a pretty good bill to be for." We had an argument--and I won it. So, he went back and changed his testimony and testified that we would support the bill. We did.

The first grant went not to elect a Democratic Congressman. It went to a Republican Senator in a Republican State. We did have a Democratic Governor who appeared on the platform. We had a Republican Senator make a speech.

We carried it out just as Senator Aiken outlined it.

The only point I want to make is that these efforts that we are making toward peace, to deter aggression, to drive out poverty, disease, ignorance, illiteracy, ugliness, and waste of resources in the conservation field-I do not have a patent on them. Although they have occupied and been the dreams of my family and of me all of my adult life, they are not partisan.

I am seeing some of them come true because people of both parties supported me, believing that I wouldn't be deeply partisan. I don't think I have been. That is because the people of both parties are helping us today.

Senator Javits is just as enthusiastic about demonstration cities as I am. Senator Aiken is just as much of an enthusiast for a better rural life in rural communities as I am. As a matter of fact, they reported our food bill yesterday out of committee by 11 to 1, I believe.

Most of our votes have been nonpartisan. We do have some partisanship on motions to recommit. I have told you about that: where they can really get up and denounce the program and say it "ought to be recommitted so that we could make it a little better." It's a delaying tactic.

That is human nature. I understand that. I am practical and I don't object to it--provided on final passage they vote for the program they denounced. And that has been happening reasonably well.


[6.] I had a list of our progress this week which we will get for you in a minute. We had a smashing victory last week in passing the demonstration cities bill. The head count showed 41 to 39. We passed it nearly 2 to 1, because some men came over we didn't expect.

This week we passed minimum wage. We now have over 50 bills that have come to the President. I signed the legislative appropriations bill this morning.

I have gone rather fully into responding to your question about why I am so pleased on my birthday. It is because I am seeing these dreams come true. They won't all come true today, this week, this month, or even during my administration.

But in terms of what President Kennedy said in his inaugural address,12 a good many folks in this country are asking not what their country can do for them, but what they can do for their country. And they are doing it for their country.

This week we had an expanded, enlarged, additional authority Peace Corps bill.

12 See "Public Papers of the Presidents, John F. Kennedy, 1961," Item 1.

We had the criminal package bill on the obstruction of justice and witness immunity. That is very important. Former Attorney General Kennedy recommended that. Attorney General Katzenbach recommended that. I urged that upon the Congress, that somebody had to do something about it and we did something about it this week.

There is the minimum wage bill. I remember in President Eisenhower's administration we had a problem. He wanted only 90 cents. We recommended a dollar. Now it is $1.60. We are making progress.

That came about because I remember Mr. Dubinsky telling me about garment workers, working for 10 cents or 12 cents an hour. We had women shelling pecans in Texas, when I voted for the first minimum wage bill almost 30 years ago, at 8 cents an hour. They received 60 cents a day.

So I get great satisfaction from seeing those things going to the Congress and being passed. We had the food for freedom bill passed 11 to 1 out of the Agriculture Committee. That means that we can do something about poverty not only in this country--with our lunches and hot breakfasts and things of that kind--but in other countries, where we kept, for example, 35 million or 40 million people in India from starving.

It takes us back to the Hoover days when we went back to Belgium to help the distressed.

We have scheduled for full action: narcotics, Teacher Corps, Department of Transportation, poverty authorization, elementary and secondary education. All of those come up in the full committees next week.



[7.] Someone said that a good many of these programs were begun under President Roosevelt's administration: education, poverty, NYA. That is true. A good many of them were also advocated by another Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt.

I am a great admirer of the contributions he made to the Nation as you can see reflected in our conservation program.

I was sent a copy of the New York Times, the front page, for the day I was born in 1908. We will show it to you later. You will see that the Presidents of that period and the President of today have a good many things in common--and we are getting some of them done now.

Before I take some more questions, I want to particularly thank all of you for the coverage yesterday--especially CBS, ABC, and NBC--for bringing the crowd, policy statements, peace appeals, and other things, live to the attention of the people.

We are not in any hurry. We want to take any questions that any of you want to ask.


[8.] Q. May I ask Mrs. Johnson a question?

Will any of the immediate family be with you and the President today?

MRS. JOHNSON. Lynda Bird will be here.

Q. Luci hasn't arrived yet?


THE PRESIDENT. Luci was going to fly down. She called me. I said that it wasn't an act of prudence for newlyweds with limited economic resources, whose fathers are sending them through school and both of them going to school, to want to fly down for my birthday.

So, instead, they are driving across the country with the top down and with the dog. It is cheaper that way--and probably more enjoyable.

Q. Did you hear from her though?



[9.] Here are some headlines from the New York Times of 1908. "Roosevelt to Stop Big Man's Rascality--Instructs Farmers in Their Duties."

Q. What was the first headline?

THE PRESIDENT. This is August 27, 1908. You can read it. I want to take your questions. You are not limited to 30 minutes. You can take whatever time you want, and any of you who are bored, you may leave.

I have done my work; signed the bills, letters, and messages and sent some congratulatory messages.

I am attempting to work out some details about President Marcos' visit. 13 I read a very good telegram from him this morning on the Asian thing.

13 See Items 458, 459, 461.

Bill 14 may want to give you the general part of it. I don't care to release the text, but he can give you the feel of the White House in this development about which I have heard from other leaders throughout the world and a good many of them from throughout this country.

14 Bill D. Moyers, Special Assistant to the President.


[10.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to talk today to the Democratic Committee Conference? 15

THE PRESIDENT. They called me early this morning. I neglected to tell you. They sang "Happy Birthday." They told me they had 1,200 delegates; had a united party. I congratulated them on that.

15 See Item 418.

Q. Who called and sang "Happy Birthday"?

THE PRESIDENT. The State Chairman of Ohio. They are having their convention there today. The leading Democrats of the State are there, 1,200 of them. They sang "Happy Birthday" to me over the phone. They gave a lot of applause when he asked,

"To whom am I speaking?" I said, "Lyndon Johnson."

The fellow acted a little nervous. I think he expected to go through two or three secretaries. I got on the red line probably by mistake. He didn't understand the ranch system. Sometimes I do answer the phone here.

Then they laughed and had fun out of that. Then he told me that they had a united party, 1,200 were there, the candidate for Governor, other leading Democratic congressional candidates.

They are very anxious for me to come and tour Ohio and visit with them. I told them I would between now and election. I told them not to be concerned with red ports about people not being united.

I said: "The best proof of the pudding is in the eating. You don't have to have your copy desks take a sample of 200 or 300 or 400 people somewhere. You can just get out and take a sample yourselves.

"I had a pretty good sample yesterday in Idaho which is not strictly a Democratic State; Colorado with two Republican Senators; and even last night in Oklahoma with a Republican Governor. The sample was pretty good. We will come and sample Ohio later in the year."


[11.] Q. I didn't understand you, sir, on the situation with the western conference.

THE PRESIDENT. They are going to call this afternoon at 1:30.



[12.] Q. Mr. President, a moment ago you used "philosophy" for your domestic ideas. You have been giving us your domestic philosophy.

Recently, you have been giving a number of foreign policy speeches looking far ahead, the two yesterday, the one on long-range China, the OAS speech, and so forth.

Do these add up to an effort on your part to lay down a basic philosophy for what might be called the next chapter ahead in world affairs?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I hadn't recognized them as being a new effort. What I said, really, yesterday at the reactor was what I said the first week I was President when I started writing to Mr. Khrushchev--as I tried to point out.

There have been some developments since then. I summarized them yesterday to try to keep them in perspective because I am afraid unless a President does go back and repeat and remind and point up those things, that you may get more concerned with when the airline strike is going to be over than you are with our relations with the Soviet Union.

The Denver speech was an elaboration, perhaps, and a freshening up of what I said in the speech I made as a young Congressman on the floor of the House on our relations with other nations when we had the Truman doctrine pending. At that time I said that we should have a domestic policy and people abroad should judge our foreign policy by what we are doing at home.

That is not anything revolutionary or new, but it does represent my philosophy-and I tried to state it. I thought that was a proper audience.

We are very proud of the fact that the largest support we have in the country is the young age group between 21 and 29. Our support there, according to all the samples or tests, is up in the high 60's.

I make it a point every week to have a series of contacts with them. They may be young teachers, Peace Corps groups, White House Scholars, Presidential Scholars, White House aides--some of the young groups.

I think I had two meetings last week with them. I purposely picked out the university for that purpose. I wanted to repeat it to some of them who may not have been thinking about what I was saying in 1964, or 1934, about my views on these subjects.

I think it is very important for the Communist Chinese, the Russians, the North Vietnamese to know this--as I tried to say in my press conference the other day.

We now have exhaustive studies going on as to how we can take these instruments that we have used to deter aggression in South Vietnam for peaceful purposes. That is what we are using that reactor out there for--the one we went to yesterday.

That is what we want to use Da Nang base for. We have men asking, "What can we do when we have Da Nang air base available as an instrument for social justice and an increased standard of living?"

I read a long memorandum on that coming home on the plane last night. We are hopeful for the future and that was part of the purpose of the speech yesterday in Denver.



[13.] Q. Your statement concerning the Soviet Union appeared to some of us as a restatement by you of the critical need for the two superpowers of the world to understand one another.

I wonder if you could say what made you feel that this was essential, or if you feel that there is really a hopeful prospect for this.

THE PRESIDENT. I have always felt it essential for all of them to understand it. I feel the same way about the Chinese on the mainland and the North Vietnamese. The purpose of the Baltimore speech 16 was so they could really understand what was in our heart.

16 Address "Peace Without Conquest" at Johns Hopkins University, April 7, 1965 (see 1965 volume, this series, Book I, Item 172).

That is a difficulty we have with the Communists when we try to get them to let newspapermen go into China. They refuse it and refuse to let us send them some of our exchange people. This even happens to the Soviet Union. They stop them in Tokyo.

That is notwithstanding the fact that I renewed the cultural exchange agreement.

That is why I suggested the space discussions. I went to the United Nations in Eisenhower's administration to make a similar suggestion. This year I thought maybe we could have a hope of a treaty with Russia. I made our proposal.

They came along some months later and made somewhat substantially the same proposal.

We do think that one of our great weaknesses in the world is the inadequate understanding. I think one of our problems is you don't understand my motivations and I don't understand yours, even though we work close together every day.

I think it is going to take a lot of explaining for the Russians to see what is truly in our hearts, because it is so different from what they really believe. The same thing is true of China and North Vietnam.

When they do understand, I don't think we will have as much trouble. So I am doing all I can to open up these things, to have newspaper people visit them. Look at some of the visas we have approved for people to go there.

We would like to see people go into Red China. We would like for some of them to come in here. I have gone into that in other areas. I tried to touch on that when I talked about our interests in the Pacific in my television speech that Mr. Fulbright 17 pointed out might have involved new commitments. It doesn't. We have no new commitments. We made that clear to him.

17 Senator J. W. Fulbright of Arkansas, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I have no desire to make any commitment by implication, or otherwise, without the approval of Congress--as I showed you before I sent the planes and Marines into North Vietnam. I got that resolution from the Congress on resisting aggression.

All I am saying is that we do have commitments and obligations out there already. I am trying to make those people see that we are not a big, bad wolf, who is going to eat them up.

We ought to find a better way in the world to live together, rather than just shooting off people's heads and cutting their throats.


[14.] Q. Mrs. Johnson, what are you going to have for dinner tonight?

Q. What did you give the President for his birthday, Mrs. Johnson?

MRS. JOHNSON. The present is not a secret, but it is not something that I am going to talk about.

As for what we are going to have for dinner, we are going to have barbecue, western-style beans--because they are expandable and, as you have heard, my husband has a habit of adding a few extra people--a couple of birthday cakes, and some homemade peach ice cream, which is one of our favorites here.

Q. What has your job been as a political wife over the last 30 years.

MRS. JOHNSON. That is a large question. I guess it has been sharing all of my husband's experiences and learning about our country.

If I may, I would like to add a sentence or two about what a trip like yesterday's means. I think it is something like this: You come back with an enormous appreciation of the lusty vitality of this country.

Did any of you ride in that helicopter over Idaho and look down? It looked like beautiful, lush, green patches and right next to it was a slot that looked like the landscape of the moon.

It was as if a giant pin had been drawn across the land dividing it. The difference was water. That is one of our big problems. It is far from solved, but as long as it is there waiting for you, anybody in public life can't help but just get excited about it and you are bound to be hopeful about man's ability.

Then you go to that reactor plant. It is very hard for me to understand anything about atomic science. But I can understand a light bulb. There you see the great possibilities for power that that opens up.

My husband has talked at length about what we saw in Denver, but something else was registering about every step of the way as we rode along several big boulevards with their gorgeous green median strips, bordered by great trees, and with brilliant flowers--all so well kept.

I was thinking that somebody loved this town and gave it a long lead time in planning it. Maybe they are not even around now, but their children are--just as ours will be 30 years from now for the plans that we need to make for the future of our cities.

You have no idea how delighted I was when we got out of the car and the first thing you (turning to the President) said to me was, "Isn't this the prettiest city you ever saw?"

I was pleased you were thinking along the same lines, because what happens to our cities is at the top of the list of problems.

Q. Mrs. Johnson, are you planning any trips of your own this fall?

MRS. JOHNSON. I think mostly I will just go with him. I do have one or two that I want very much to take.


[15.] THE PRESIDENT. I would like to point out one thing that the publishers pointed out to me yesterday. They told me that when Denver was born there was no grass growing in the area, there was not a tree present. They said that all of that was manmade. Man brought in the grass, the trees, the water, the fertilizer that led to the beautiful scenery we saw.

That is what can be done with that kind of an area. We saw the same sort of thing in Idaho.

One of the deepest interests that I have had in the legislative field has been in the field of space, as you know. I had the Sputnik hearings, the investigation where we wrote the first space bill, the selection of the Administrator, and so forth. I never had a chance to go to Idaho.

I shall always be deeply in debt to Joe Martin.18 He appointed me as a member of the House on the Joint Atomic Energy Committee. I sat next to Senator Vandenberg all during my period of service on the committee. I remember how he presented his deepest thoughts on the effect of the atom on international relationships.

18 Representative Joseph W. Martin, Jr., of Massachusetts.

He was always making excellent doodles. When he would leave the room I would go over, pick them up, and put them in a little case. I have some of them framed now.

When I left the House to become a Senator, the first thing I shot for was the Atomic Energy Committee. When I became the leader I had to give it up. Senator Pastore didn't have a major committee and the only way to give him one was to give him one of my own. I did give up that one and now he is the ranking member of that committee.

I said in Idaho exactly what I said in Llano. We had a river washing any number of people into the Gulf. We put in six dams there. Now we have irrigation and beautiful crops, and a pretty recreation area where poor people can enjoy themselves.

I can remember in Llano when you could buy a thousand acres for $500. Recently I saw a green spot and asked how much it was worth. I was told $1,400 an acre. The same thing has happened here. The land has gone from $200 to $600 an acre. The reason is water. Man made the land in Llano 100 times more valuable, because of those dams.

Everybody in this country fought them. We had a big public investigation saying that I caused a manmade flood because we tried to build them. The power companies tried to keep us from building them.

Bob19 will remember, because in those days we had that Senate investigation. We saw what can be done. We had done it here and we are trying to do it in other places.

19 Robert E. Baskin of the Dallas Morning News.

Merriman Smith, United Press International: Thank you.

Note: President Johnson's seventy-first news conference was held in the living room at the LBJ Ranch, Johnson City, Texas, at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, August 27, 1966.

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

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