Thursday, July 14, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2009


Los Angeles, California (JFK50) Today Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump has reportedly narrowed his choice of a running mate down to three.  56 years ago, July 14, 1960, Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kennedy announced Lyndon Baines Johnson of Texas as his VP selection.

Mr. Trump's selection may or may not turn out to be a surprise, but JFK's choice of LBJ even surprised members of his own staff.  JFK's personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, would write that shortly after JFK had received the presidential nomination, the Senator gave her the following message to deliver to Senator Johnson...

"Dear Lyndon...I would like to talk to you in your room tomorrow morning at 10:00..."

Despite this message, Mrs. Lincoln says that there had "never (been) any talk in the office that Mr. Johnson was to be the running mate."  

She believed JFK 's meeting with LBJ was not to offer him a place on the ticket, but "to discuss with him the southern leaders' meeting scheduled for later that day."

Mrs. Lincoln writes that JFK was forced to offer the Vice-Presidency to LBJ only after "news leaks" suggested that he would.  She added that Mr. Kennedy did not expect Lyndon to accept the offer.

When JFK returned from the meeting, he told his secretary that LBJ had not rejected the offer, but had expressed an interest in it.  By 4 p.m., Senator Kennedy made the announcement that Lyndon B. Johnson would be his running mate.

In his book "Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero," Chris Matthews writes that JFK's decision to offer a place on the ticket to LBJ "was a model of cold-blooded politics... a Massachusetts Democrat could not win the presidency without
the support of the "once reliable Democratic South."

Speaker Sam Rayburn passed along the word to the Kennedy people that if a spot on the ticket was offered, LBJ would not turn it down.  It wasn't really that simple. JFK later told Pierre Salinger...

 "I don't think anybody will ever really know how this all came about."

It has been well publicized that despite criticism in some quarters of LBJ's selection, JFK's father liked the idea.  Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. told his son...

"Don't worry, Jack, in 2 weeks they'll say it's the smartest thing you ever did."


"Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero," by Chris Matthews, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2011.

"Kennedy & Johnson," by Evelyn Lincoln, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1968.

JFK and LBJ at the White House
August 31, 1961
Photo by Abbie Rowe, NPS
JFK Library Photo