KC Johnson

LBJ & Robert Wagner, 30 July 1964

LBJ clearly did not view the relationship between the presidency and vice presidency as a partnership; he explained his thinking to New York City mayor Robert Wagner:

President Johnson: Some of these Republicans are trying to stir up a little trouble, friction at the convention.

Robert Wagner: Yeah.

President Johnson: And if you get a chance and you feel disposed to do it, I would personally appreciate it very much if you’d let the word leak out—not [for] direct attribution—but that the leadership there feels like that there’ll be no problem at the convention.

That it’s been traditional to go along with the President, and they don’t want the President to be required to sleep with anybody he doesn’t want to sleep with. And he ought to have a man as Vice President that he trusts and likes and can work with him. We oughtn’t to have a divided ticket to start, and therefore, you expect to support the man the President selects.

Wagner: Right. I’ll be able to do that very easily.

President Johnson: Do you have any feeling that there’s any leader up there that wouldn’t?

Wagner: No, I think that they’re—that they’ll all be 100 percent. I mean, after all, they know that you’re going to be the nominee, and that you’re going to win, and why should they want to fight with you?

President Johnson: That’s what I can’t understand. I don’t think anybody does except there are a few of them [who] want to promote a fight in the papers, and get a little excitement, and I just don’t think it can do us a bit of good to have a divided thing there, a divided party.

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