KC Johnson

LBJ & Robert Kennedy, 26 Oct. 1964

With Robert Kennedy, from late October, on the President’s (ultimately unsuccessful) efforts to secure the defeat of  perhaps his least favorite member of the Senate, Delaware Republican John Williams:

President Johnson: We are trying to beat Williams, very confidentially. That son-of-a-bitch is going to give us hell for four years, if he’s still there, and we’re within four points of beating him—

Robert Kennedy: Yeah.

President Johnson: —if we could the Negroes to come down and get their people to vote. So I told ‘em to put in my schedule that we would be in Wilmington at 3.30—

Robert Kennedy: Yeah.

President Johnson: And Dover at 5.00, before we went to New York [for the Madison Square Garden speech].

Now, I’ve told Marvin Watson (who’s in charge of my schedule, Jack Valenti’s gone) that if this [an early LBJ arrival in New York] is important to tell them in Delaware we’ll be there at noon, and we’ll try to get through at 2.30 at Dover, and leave at 3.00, and get up there [to New York] by 3.30 or 4.00.

Robert Kennedy: Well, that would be terrific, if you could do it.

President Johnson: Now, if it’s that important, we’ll do it.

I want to beat this son-of-a-bitch Williams—

Robert Kennedy: I can understand that.

President Johnson: Well, now, if I do this, you get some Negroes—you talk to Roy Wilkins, and get him to send one or two of his organizers into Dover and Wilmington. They got a lot of people registered, but they say they won’t vote.

Robert Kennedy: You know who’s good? That Charles Evers from Mississippi.

President Johnson: Yeah?

Robert Kennedy: They could get him up there.

President Johnson: All right. Well, now, I can’t do that—

Robert Kennedy: I’ll call him.

President Johnson: Will you do that for me?

Robert Kennedy: Yeah.

President Johnson: I’ll give you—I’ll give you—

Robert Kennedy: And I’ll get the—

President Johnson: I’ll give you three hours—

Robert Kennedy: And I’ll get the people there [to Delaware].

President Johnson: I’ll give you three hours before the Madison Square Garden [speech]. I’ll be in New York not later than 4.00.

Robert Kennedy: OK. And I’ll get Burke Marshall to get—

President Johnson: And you just do it quietly, and call on anybody in the federal government you need. But do it where they don’t catch you.

Robert Kennedy: Yeah. We’ll do it.

President Johnson: We want all the money—and I’m putting some money in there—but we just want to keep him from hounding us every day for four years.

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