112. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Senator Everett Dirksen1

President: Hello?

Dirksen: Yeah. Thanks for calling back. I had a call from Nixon. He’s rather upset. He insisted that there was some hard evidence that something is going to happen; that there was a meeting and that you would probably go to the country on television with an announcement. I said, “Well, Dick, I don’t know anything about it, but I will call and ascertain whatever the score is.”

President: Well, Everett, I don’t want to talk on the phone and in the papers, and the last experience I had the other day on this gimmick business and on my calling you on the phone twice gave us lots of embarrassment back here. Now, I have told Nixon, and I repeat to you, that I am trying as hard as I know how to get peace in Vietnam as quickly as I can. For that reason, I am not running. Now, when I have anything that I believe justifies or warrants consultation, I will initiate it, and until I do, I don’t want to be handicapped with these public speeches and comments that would indicate it. For instance, when I answer your call, it’s [Page 315] repeated in the paper that I called you twice and that I said so and so and so, and you demanded two or three conditions here that we discussed. Then Ford wonders why he wasn’t called. Then McCormack comes down and says why he wasn’t called. Then Humphrey says, “I understand you were talking to Nixon and Dirksen.” So I am just in the middle. Now, what I am going to do on these things—I am working at it every day and every night. I am going on not television but radio Sunday night,2 but it’s going to be a campaign speech—just as they go on every day and every night, and I don’t call them and worry them about what they say. They denounce me every day, and people that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Now, if there’s anything that involves their duties or their official positions that requires consultation, I’ll get them on the phone, as I did the other day. Until then, I don’t think it’s good to be discussing these things.

Dirksen: Let me give you two assurances: number one, this call never took place, and number two, I presume I’ll have to call him back and say you will consult with him whenever there is something to consult about.

President: Just tell him that I have said all along what my position is, and he knows it, and I am looking at a transcript that I made when I talked to him the other day before you called me at his request.3 I don’t know—I don’t know how I can do more than that.

Dirksen: I won’t say anything about it. So I’ll drop it right there.

President: Okay. I will be in touch with you if there is anything to consult about and I will be in touch with him when and if there is. There is not at this time anything that I would need his opinion on or any announcement I could make. Our position is pretty well known and their position is, I hope, going to be a better one. But I don’t have any confirmation of this.

Dirksen: Well, be assured that this call never took place.

President: Okay.

Dirksen: All right.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Dirksen, October 23, 1968, 6:02 p.m., Tape F6810.06, PNO 8. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared specifically for this volume in the Office of the Historian.
  2. The President’s radio address of October 27 is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-69, Book II, pp. 1093-1096.
  3. See Document 80.