KC Johnson

LBJ & John Connally, 14 Oct. 1964

To address the Jenkins scandal, LBJ reached out to such trusted friends as Texas governor John Connally. After gratuitously suggesting that he might have noticed Jenkins acting once a twice in a way that might have indicated closeted homosexuality, Connally analyzed the effect of the scandal, and offered guidance.

John Connally: It’ll obviously be harmful, because you’ll have ‘em now—they’ll be digging up the Sumner Welles thing [FDR’s ex-Undersecretary of State, who had to resign following revelations that he had propositioned a black railroad porter], at least in their private conversations, you know, and talking about Communists, and homos, and everything else. That have infiltrated the government, and all that sort of thing. Tying into the morals business—although they’ve been talking about morals in a completely different light.

It can’t help, certainly. No question about that. It’ll be harmful, and I think your only answer to it is to be swift and decisive in your actions. That’s all you can do.


Connally: And let me also suggest, just give you something to think about tonight. You’ve got two weeks left. Again, the only place you’re vulnerable at all is on the morals thing, the character thing.

The kind of thing for you to do now is to close ranks. The only way you answer that is not directly, but in your demeanor, in the image that you create.

I would very strongly suggest that you think tonight and tomorrow about making Mrs. Johnson go with you, and the girls go with you, wherever you go, and not let ‘em go independently of you.

Leave the impression now that they’re not all four of you out running in every direction just grabbing votes—and I’m putting it crudely, to make a point—but that you’re consolidating, you’re a family. You’re a husband, and a wife, and two daughters. You are an American family.

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