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Karenna Gore weds Andrew Schiff(2MB QuickTime)

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July 21: The LBJ Tapes IV

July 21: The LBJ Tapes III

June 30: Capitol Steps

June 12: Watergate Anniversary

Apr. 11: 53rd annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner

Feb. 20: The LBJ Tapes II

Feb. 20: The LBJ Tapes

Feb. 4:State of the Union

Jan. 20: Inaugural 1997

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The LBJ Tapes, Part IV

August 1964 was a high watermark in Lyndon Johnson's life. He had just signed the Civil Rights Act. An anti-poverty bill, the cornerstone of his administration's Great Society, became law. Johnson's decisive action against North Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in early August sent his poll ratings shooting upward.

His strategy of playing to the center was working, but the president was tiring of the struggle.

There was trouble among Democrats gathering in Atlantic City to nominate Johnson for a full term. African-Americans from Mississippi and Alabama, denied their votes at local Democratic conventions, demanded to be seated at the 1964 national convention. White Southerners threatened a walkout. Johnson's attempt to find a compromise angered both sides.

lbj signs convention

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Frustrated and unsure about his own ability to bring the racially divided nation together, Johnson decided on the morning of Aug. 25, the day before be was to get the presidential nomination, that he would not accept it.

He read his statement to his press secretary.

johnson on phone Johnson No sign macnamara

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A helicopter was on standby to take him to Atlantic City to make the announcement, he said.

helicopter Lady

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There were other men who could do a better job, Johnson suggested.

protest pilots

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The convention would nominate Robert Kennedy or Hubert Humphrey, he predicted. But Johnson was too tired to care.

LBJ and woman boat

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A letter from the first lady changed his mind later that day. She told him to quit would be wrong for the country, and he could find peace and achievement amidst all the pain.

The next night, Johnson was nominated by acclamation. "Our problems are many and are great, but our opportunities are even greater," he told the convention.

History proved Johnson's political savvy correct. His next four years were filled with pain and anguish. Ultimately in 1968, he chose not to run for another term.


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