KC Johnson

LBJ & George Reedy, 20 Aug. 1964

All of the President’s advisors understood that Barry Goldwater’s vulnerability in his many reckless statements about the threat of nuclear war—and Johnson slyly made the point in this clip with press secretary George Reedy.

President Johnson: They’re going to get reapportionment into this platform, which would be awful. It just divides the hell out of it.

They’re going to get the Negroes in, and big parades, and that’s going to be bad.

I don’t know what we can do about it; I just think we’re going to get this thing in an impossible situation. Just impossible. I just think it’s going to be rioting and killing and murder, just as messy as it can. But I don’t know anything I can do.

George Reedy: We’ll just have to—I think the main thing you can do is this: that you, as President, can counteract any damn thing in that platform, by statements. I think . . . we’ve played that law-and-order theme heavy, but I think maybe we’ve even got to play it heavier. And we’ve got to play that atom theme as heavy as we can. I think it’s a little bit too early right now to—

President Johnson: What theme?

Reedy: The atom theme.

President Johnson: Yeah. Atom. A-T-O-M.

Reedy: Right.

President Johnson: But you don’t say it. You let it . . . OK.

Reedy: Yes, sir.

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