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Entries in Lyndon B. Johnson (1)

Thursday
Sep082011

Jacqueline Kennedy Reveals JFK Feared an LBJ Presidency

National Archive/Newsmakers(NEW YORK) -- President John F. Kennedy was so "worried for the country" about the prospect that Vice President Lyndon Johnson might succeed him as president that he'd begun having private conversations about who should become the Democratic Party's standard-bearer in 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy recalled in a series of oral history interviews recorded in early 1964.

She said her husband believed strongly that Johnson shouldn't become president and, in the months before his death in November 1963, he'd begun talking to his brother, Robert Kennedy, about ways to maneuver around Johnson in 1968.

"Bobby told me this later, and I know Jack said it to me sometimes. He said, 'Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?'" she said.

The president gave no serious consideration to dropping Johnson from the ticket in 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy recalled. But he did have some talks about how to avoid having Johnson run for president in 1968, at the end of what would have been Kennedy's second term, she said.

Jacqueline Kennedy's recollections, in a series of interviews conducted by writer-historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and kept private by the Kennedy family until this month, depict a distant and at times disturbing relationship between a president and the man who ultimately did succeed him in office upon his assassination.

The tapes are illuminating not just for the words but for how they're spoken, the distinctive, breathy voice -- at times wistful, at times wickedly irreverent -- revealing a new dimension of woman who carefully kept herself out of the public eye. With sounds of matches striking, ice cubes clinking, and even her children playing in the background, it's a rare snapshot into the life and private recollections of Jacqueline Kennedy. They also detail under-the-surface tension that lingered between Jacqueline Kennedy and her husband's successor.

ABC News' Diane Sawyer will host a prime-time, two-hour special based on the tapes Sept. 13, featuring exclusive audio of Jacqueline Kennedy's interviews. The transcripts are being released in book form this month in Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.

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