U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson Election and Term Part 2

About the U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, a brief history of his first election and presidential term.

36th President



Election: Nov. 3, 1964...

Encouraged by the signs of a Democratic landslide, Johnson dazzled the country in a burst of whirlwind campaigning designed to bring him every possible vote. In town after town, he stood up in his car, with a bullhorn to his mouth, personally leading the crowds in the rhythmic cheer: "All the Way with LBJ! All the Way with LBJ!" The die-hard Goldwaterites stubbornly pooh-poohed the huge crowds that Johnson attracted everywhere. Goldwater supporters insisted that when the votes were counted, the ballots of millions of "silent conservatives" would put their man over the top. "In Your Heart You Know He's Right," declared their solemn campaign slogan. "In Your Guts You Know He's Nuts," answered back some irreverent Democrats.

On election night Johnson told reporters, "It seems that I have spent my life getting ready for this moment." As the returns began to come in, the President was not disappointed. He won 61.1% of the popular vote, topping FDR's supposedly unbeatable record of 60.8% in 1936. His margin over Goldwater was nearly 16 million, as compared to Kennedy's plurality of only 120,000 just four years before. In the electoral college, Johnson carried 44 states and buried his opponent by a count of 486 to 52. Aside from his native Arizona, Goldwater carried only the five states of the deepest South, whose white voters applauded his outspoken opposition to Democratic civil rights initiatives. After seeing the final election figures, Johnson declared, "For the first time in all my life I truly felt loved by the American people." The humiliation of his 87-vote senatorial win was finally forgotten.

After the election, the President retired to the LBJ Ranch to bask in the glow of his mammoth victory. The Vice-President-elect, Hubert Humphrey, joined him there, and was soon fitted out with a 10-gallon hat much too small for his massive head and size 11 cowboy boots for his size 9 1/2 feet. The two triumphant Democrats posed together for photographers, roping steers on the banks of the Pedernales.

Jan. 20, 1965...

At his inauguration, Johnson refused to wear the traditional top hat and cutaway coat and chose instead a gray business suit and plain fedora. He was sworn in by Chief Justice Earl Warren on the east portico of the Capitol. Even though he had prepared himself for the chilly Washington weather by wearing long underwear, he caught a severe cold as he watched the inaugural parade in his honor.

As a veteran of 25 years on Capitol Hill, LBJ emphasized cooperation between the executive and legislative branches, and he used his veto power sparingly. None of his 30 vetoes was overridden.

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