tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN November 23, 2013 7:00pm-8:31pm EST
our entire environment. that only begins with flowers and trees and landscaping. >> that is from a film created by the johnson administration with lady bird johnson talking about beautification, her signature issue. she was a natural campaigner, a successful businesswoman, and a savvy political partner to her husband, our 36th president, lyndon baines johnson. good evening and welcome to c- span's "first ladies." we will tell you the story of claudia taylor johnson, known to everyone as lady bird, wife of the 36th president. here to tell our story tonight are two guests, cokie roberts, political commentator for abc news and npr. she's also the author of two books about women's political history. eddie lloyd caroli is a first lady's expert. she is the author of numerous books. she is currently working on a new biography of lady bird johnson. ladies, i want to start with the beginning, where we were 50 years ago this week.
this is an administration birthed in national tragedy. over the immediate challenges of the brand-new first couple? >> they were enormous. no one knew if it was a widespread plot. the country was in terror for a. of time. they had to be both taking over and making sure that there was a peaceful transition of power without seeming to take over. because of the image of pushing the kennedys out of the way. had to be very, very careful. lyndon johnson was very lucky that yet lady bird to help them with that. she had a good year for knowing what exactly to say and when to say it. >> in particular, what did she do in those first weeks? >> she said she felt onstage for a part she never rehearsed. in fact, i think it would be
hard to find a first lady better prepared than she was. she started taking notes while she was waiting to hear if president kennedy had died. on the way back, she made plans to put their radio station into a blind trust so they would not be accused of profiting from it. she took over very fast. she was a good study. >> i want to lay off that idea. that was an administration that documented itself extensively. there was a daily diary that which she recorded herself. there were the lyndon johnson phone tapes -- >> fabulous. >> there was also a naval television crew that documented them. was this new to the administration or had this been
going on a while? >> i think the amount of documentation is new. she did not record every day, because sundays were too full. she had her little recording machine, and days she was too busy, she would stuff brown envelopes with menus, and she would get an hour one day and record. those recordings are still being transcribed. they are wonderful. her white house diary is, i think, 800 pages, but that is only 1/8 of what she has on those pages. >> there were recordings before this. we have some kennedy recordings. we have roosevelt recordings. john quincy adams's wife wrote when she was first lady, "the autobiography of a nobody." i think that most first couples have an awareness of the magnitude of the job. lady bird johnson had such a sense of history that she
understood. she said she dared herself to be productive. >> throughout this program we will see some of the video from the naval crew that followed her around to document her days in the white house. we will start with one of those. this is lady bird johnson in 1963, recording that first, tragic day that brought them into the white house. >> one leg of mrs. kennedy was almost entirely covered in blood. her right glove was caked with her husband's blood. she always wore gloves.
she was used to them. never could. that was somehow one of the most poignant sights -- exquisitely dressed and caked in blood. i asked her if i couldn't get somebody to come in to help her change and she says, oh no, that is all right. perhaps later i will ask mary gallagher but not right now. for a person that gentle, that dignified, you could say she had an element of fierceness. she said, i want them to see what they have done to jack. it was decided that he should be sworn in there in dallas as quickly as possible. there, in the very narrow confines of the plane with
jackie on his left, her hair falling in her eyes, but very composed, and then lyndon, and i was on his right. judge hughes with the bible in front of him. a cluster of secret service people and congressmen we had known a long time. lyndon took the oath of office. >> what are you hearing there that people should understand about lady bird johnson? >> she is very specific heard i had forgotten how she yet so many details. her descriptions of that and also before that when she talks about walking into the hospital and the kennedy car was still there and she saw this bundle of pink blossoms and the blood around it. she is a very astute observer. >> she is also a wonderful writer. she writes intentionally.
she is also clearly upset in that recording. you can hear it. she is trying to both described the situation, but at the same time, give homage to jacqueline kennedy, this very meticulous woman, caked in blood. she is trying to tell you what is happening, but not to sensationalize it. >> for her to follow in mrs. kennedy's footsteps, it has been referred to as a delicate dance of being respectful but needing to take control. >> many people said that it was a daunting act to follow. she said, i feel sorry for mrs. kennedy, not for me because i still have my husband. i think she made a special effort not to imitate.
lyndon johnson advised her not to beautify the mall because the kennedys had done something similar. she was amazingly absent. she did not have envy of anyone. she considered the kennedys a different generation. i find her amazing in that she knew that jacqueline kennedy was extremely popular but she had a role to play, too. >> she would fill in for jackie kennedy many times. she was pregnant, she lost the baby, she was unwell, and there were a lot of things that she didn't want to do. mrs. johnson filled in. she knew the role well and she was a quintessential washington political wife. she had been on the scene since
the 1930's and she knew it well. she had a cadre of other political wives that were extraordinary women. they all gathered around her. that also made that transition somewhat easier. >> we should say at the onset, one of the women who gathered around was your mother. can you talk about the friendship between your parents and the johnsons? >> my father was first elected to congress in 1940. he was 26 and my mother was 24. that was before world war ii. the rules were still there of calling. so you had to go calling, the supreme court on monday, the cabinet on tuesday, i am making up the days, but there was my mother, this 24-year-old girl, her first day of having to go calling. the horn honks outside and she goes running down and it is lady bird johnson and pauline gore,
al gore's mother. they took her calling on the first day and the friendship has been warm ever sense. all throughout their husband's political lives, and when they both became widows, they traveled together and had a wonderful time. >> we're going to step back in time and learn more about the woman who became first lady. before we do that, a reminder about your involvement. these programs are interesting because of your questions. we hope you will join in tonight. you can tweet us at c-span's website. we are also taking questions on our facebook page. here are the phone numbers -- we will mix your calls and questions throughout the program.
where was she born and to whom? >> she was born in a town -- well, you can't really say a town because it was really not much of a town, either -- karnak, texas in december 1912 in a big house. one of the things i have found it in studying first ladies is how many married down into families lower them -- lower than them socially, economically, and sometimes, education. it made a big impression on me to drive past the house where the lady bird johnson was born. the big columns. it is near the louisiana border. you drive 300 miles west and you see that cabin where lyndon johnson was born. she came from a far wealthier background than she did. >> what is important to know about her childhood and what shaped her? >> i think the death of her mother. she was only five when her
mother died in what i consider mysterious circumstances. she was a very lonely child, although she said she wasn't but how would she know what any other kind of childhood would be like? she had two older brothers, but they were sent away to boarding school. they were a good bit older. particularly the older one, tommy, she said she really never knew him. when he died in 1959 of pancreatic cancer, she said that she had cried harder than she had ever cried in her life. it was a lonely childhood, i think. even the name lady bird, it is said it came from a nurse. she says in her interview with mike gillette that it was really two little african-american playmates, the children of hired help that decided to call her that because they did not like claudia. it was not considered acceptable to say that she had african- american playmates, so the nurse
was brought in and it was attributed to the nurse. >> and an aunt who was dysfunctional -- the aunt was someone she had to take care of. there she was. a little girl all by herself in this big house with a father who was around but had no clue what to do with her and this, sort of, and nutty old southern aunt and some playmates here and there. the big advantage to that was that she became a world-class reader. >> how important was it for southwestern women of that vintage to get an education? was it unusual that she went to college? >> yes, slightly, but by that time more women were going to college. you're talking about the 1920's. it was more common than a generation before that. >> do we know why she was interested in journalism? >> i think it was for a lot of
women -- do you have an answer? >> she was interested in high school and an early interest. and i think as part of her plan to get out of that area, that part of texas. >> a lot of women could write. they learn to write. that was something they thought they could do. my mother wanted to be a journalist. they both ended up as politicians. >> the interesting thing about her approach, she was from a wealthy family. she not only got a college degree but also got a teaching certificate and learned stenography. >> that is what a girl did to prepare for all possibilities. isn't it interesting she felt the need to prepare for all possibilities with how much money she had? >> she had a good income. she was inheriting about $7,500 a year in the 1930's, which was about what five schoolteachers could make. her aim, i think, was to get out of there. some faraway place like hawaii or alaska.
she went to the same journalism school as walter cronkite. the same professor. this is about the same professor as a favorite. paul bolton. she hired him to have the news division, the same professor, when she bought the radio station. we forget how very well-trained he was as a journalist. >> how did she meet lyndon johnson? >> by chance, supposedly. certainly true a woman they both knew and must've heard something about each other before. it was a september afternoon when lady bird had dropped into the woman's office. her name was jean, a woman lady bird had grown up with. lyndon johnson by the same office on the same day. it was, as lady bird says in one of the interviews, it was electric going from the first minute. love letters, which are just the courtship letters, released by
the library last valentine's day, everyone should read them online. search lbj courtship letters, and you can read the transcript . they were conducting a hot and heavy courtship. >> and fast. he was not going to waste any time. she was either going to marry him or not. >> he was, at the time, a congressional aide. >> you could be an aide and not run, but he clearly had ambitions. she was for those ambitions. >> he called it whirlwind but he wanted it from the get-go. >> she says, hold on here.
she says, are you going to marry me or not? she finally said, ok. but thoughtlyndon it was too fast. the and certainly thought it was too fast. the woman who introduced them and the father thought it was too fast. against really all of the family council, she went ahead. what she said when she got in the car, that saturday morning and they drove down to get married, she really did not make up her mind until about 6:00 when she went down to the church. >> and was very young. 22 and he was 26. >> she was not quite 22.
>> 21 to 23 was normal to get married. >> i have two questions. did lady bird johnson have contact with kennedy after she was first lady and did she ever have doubts about the vietnam war? >> did they continued their contact after the johnson white house? >> yes. the tax bill, he gave her four pens, one for her and one for each of the kids in the library. during the white house years, the contact was rather formal. johnson certainly invited mrs.
kennedy back but she never came back while they were there. they give gifts to the children. i know the christmas for example, they gave john junior a fire engine. they reached out to her after the white house though. in the 1980's, after she was widowed, we would not say they renewed a friendship but established a friendship on martha's vineyard in the summer. >> when you look at the documentary of it, certainly should -- certainly she supported her husband publicly. in her private materials, did you ever find any doubts about the vietnam war? >> she said if you will start a war comment has to be about a big event like pearl harbor. to me, that meant she thought they did not have in vietnam. >> it was so hard with the protests. they were so personal. that would put you in a position where you just want to support him no matter what.
>> michael is in washington dc. hi. >> i want to let you know this program is fabulous. thank you so much. i watched from the beginning. my first question is, did lady bird johnson have any of the former first ladies living at the time? jackie kennedy did not come back obviously. did she have any of the former first ladies back at the white house and was she the oldest, longest living former first lady? >> the longest living was bess truman. a very close tie. bess truman made it to 95 and she was 94. very close. the other question -- >> other first ladies come back?
>> i do not remember who else was around to come back here and maybe eisenhower and truman. >> lou hoover? >> no. i know the johnsons went to the trumans in independence because that is where they signed the medicare act. they conferred with the eisenhowers about how to give the ranch to the nation, which eisenhowers had done with the gettysburg farm. i do not remember any luncheons with former first ladies. >> lyndon johnson gave lady bird a movie camera. there are many hours of family home movies now recorded and accessible to historians and other researchers at the lyndon johnson library. we will see one of those next from the 1941 special election. >> that suit went all over texas.
a night rally. some of the gestures have persisted through the years. weight was not his problem then. sometimes, he would sweat down three or four suits a day. all i did in those days was wait and look. this is in competition with a carnival. never try to do it. >> they are fun to watch with commentary. >> those are accessible to anyone online. just put johnson, lbj, home movies, 35 of them come up and you can watch them all. she said that was for their favorite campaign and was the only one they lost.
>> would you talk about his regression from congressional aide to congress? >> when she married him, she was a congressional aide and that is when she started out. she got the new year's eve, 1934, she had been married six or five weeks. he served about a year before they went back to texas so he could be head of the national youth administration. she then goes back in 1937, when he is elected to congress, and she is therefore about a dozen years as a congressional life. -- wife. she is very good at networking with other women. a very loyal member of the congressional wives club. and she is a very loyal member of the senate wives. in the house years, in 1941, lyndon enlisted. he enlisted and went off on active duty.
she ran his congressional office. i do not think we have another first lady who ran her husband's office. bess truman worked in her husband's senate office and lady bird johnson was always careful to say in all the letter she sent out that she was volunteering her services. >> it was remarkable. he left her in charge. off he went. then various friends of his reported to him she was running the office a whole lot better than he had. coming back to networking with political women, it was an extraordinary group of women to begin with. what they were doing was not something that's sitting around drinking tea and tanning desk tending to -- they were politically active both in their husbands' campaigns and the larger campaigns, voting registrations and all of that. they were very active in the district of columbia. no matter where they were from,
at a time when it would not have been popular were it known where they were from, they worked with the african-american women here in washington on all kinds of social service issues. they created a social safety net. >> one thing that was interesting in the home building that home video we saw, she said, my job at the time was to sit and watch. at what point did it become ok and acceptable for spouses of congressional candidates to become seen as being actively involved? >> some had been active from the beginning. louisa adams talked about the vocation. they had been much more active than anybody gives them credit for. all through history.
eleanor roosevelt was out there doing campaigning. it was considered bad form if you did not do a certain amount of campaigning. >> it was behind the scenes come most of it. i think lady bird johnson deserves credit for being the first life of a presidential candidate to go out on a speaking tour of her own. that was really new. eleanor roosevelt campaigned for other candidates but i do not think she campaigned for her husband until she ran for that third term in 1940 because it was not considered ladylike to be open about your support for your husband. you are behind-the-scenes organizing women to put up posters were sending out letters. you're thanking people. what did lady bird johnson say, the wife of a candidate, her job is to walk behind him and say thank you. it was behind-the-scenes until the 1960's.
>> jackie kennedy did do some ads in spanish. >> next is a question in georgia. >> hi. my question, i have two. first is, what were lady bird johnson's hobbies? what were the relations with the kids? >> how old are you? >> i am nine years old. >> how did you become interested in lady bird johnson? >> my mom has been telling me about these programs. i really like history for a while. i wanted to be able to call in and watch one, and i am able to now. >> thank you for participating.
that is great. the questions were, did she have hobbies? >> are number one was nature, the outdoors. people told me if she was doing some he she did not particularly like, like sorting through pictures or doing work that was boring, she would just start humming or whistling and taker of self to a place where birds sang and flowers bloomed. a wonderful defense to have, i think. >> she did enjoy the photography , too. >> the second question was about her children. >> she was a mom. there was no question she was a present mom. lyndon johnson is two or three months younger than i am. of course, a few years younger. she was always around and so were they. as she grew old, they were very wonderful caretakers for her. >> we need to talk about -- we said at the outset she was a successful businesswoman in her own right.
she was the first self-made millionaire among first ladies. how did she become that? >> she inherited money from relatives and bought a radio station in 1943. i think the figure generally given is $17,500. she was then very active in seeing it was turned around from a money-losing operation to a moneymaking operation. she went down and lived in austin for six months or so. mopped floors and windows. >> i could not get over this when i read it in her oral history. she takes over a radio station and starts running it. how do you do that? she did. she went in and changed the building and changed the staff. cbs came in as an affiliate. it became a highly successful station she was running. johnson just said to her, go run that station and off she went and did it.
>> she drove the distance. >> back and forth constantly. i did that as a kid, too. it was no fun. no interstate highways and no air conditioning in the cars. it took a long time. those trips. >> is it fair to say she was a successful businessperson but it did not hurt to have a politician that eventually became the majority leader of the senate as your spouse? >> yes. many people have charged her when it came time to apply for a tv station, the fact that her husband was a senator. other people just did not apply for the license. she kept a really careful eye on the reports she demanded when she was in washington. she demanded weekly reports. people said she went over them with a fine tooth comb, suggesting different sales pitches to use to sell air time. she was active in who got hired. she was managing a good station.
>> it was just the beginning. it became a communications empire. >> with tv. >> also, the johnsons, with lady bird, really her investment, they bought the acres and the texas hill country known as the johnson ranch. >> we will are more about that in this next video. >> the living room was the oldest in the house, and she referred to this as her hearts home. we have a few things that speak to her connection to the room. one of the things she wanted to highlight was the native american heritage here in the hill country. we have a small collection of arrowheads over there. mrs. johnson had her daughters look for arrowheads. she would pay them, each one dollar for every arrowhead and she found linda was doing quite a bit better collecting them. it turned out linda was paying her schoolmates $.50 and collecting a dollar from her mother. she had an eye for copper and collected various items through
the years and had gifts from various friends. one of the objects that was gathers attention is the three television sets. the president loved to watch the news. abc, nbc, cbs would all show the news at the same time. the president would turn down the volume on the televisions he did not want to watch. mrs. johnson's favorite program was gunsmoke and she continued to alter her schedule to capture an episode of her favorite western. >> the ranch was dubbed the texas white house and life revolved around the home. to show you the importance of the ranch and the home, the johnsons return home 74 times during johnson's five years as president. mrs. johnson loved to show off the texas hill country and her home. the guests to the ranch would often informally gather in the den and various heads of state came to visit. a president of mexico, israeli
prime minister, to name a few. they would visit with the johnsons rate here in the den. the dining room was a special place for lady bird, where she entertained guests and picked out the wallpaper depicting a country seen very similar to the country. similar to this scene, she would have seen out her window that she had installed at her request. mrs. johnson gave a tour of the house in 1968 that was found where she featured the china you see here purchased in mexico, very colorful. the president would sit down at this end of the table, where you see the cow hide chair, with typically mrs. johnson at the other end of the table and one feature you will notice next to the president, a handy telephone, president johnson loved working the telephones and in the middle of the meal could make a call or answer one or it mrs. johnson was not necessarily happy about it but she got used to it because lyndon johnson was such a workaholic. mrs. johnson spent a lot of time here at the ranch and it was
very important because it provided such a respite from the turmoil of washington, particularly later, where the johnsons could come home and recharge batteries and make the connection back to the land and displays they valued so much. >> how important was the ranch to them? >> she did not like it at all. she said the house looked like charles addams house. she was very annoyed when he bought it. she got to love it. as you heard, she called it her heart's home. twice in the first ladies series, which we have referred to a lot, the biography of her is written by lou gould, the dean of the series. he makes a point in here about the difference between the kennedys, a people of the east coast, and people of the sea, and the johnsons, people of the land, which spurred their love of conservation. does the connection make sense? >> it does make a lot of sense.
the whole being a part of texas, and there was a whole homeless country of its own, it is very different from the boston early part of the country, all of that. this is where the country spread to and grew up. and became exciting and every -- on your own, out there. being at a ranch like that, it emphasizes it. but mrs. johnson was very interesting talking to the phone club about bringing the chancellor there. that was a great success of bringing him to the ranch and serving him texas food instead of it being a white house state dinner. that part of texas has people of german descent. they were also around. that was a wonderful moment for the people of texas.
>> many statements have been made about lyndon johnson's career and what a powerful person he was and how happy he was. what were the vice presidential years like for lady bird? >> great for her but terrible for him. she loved it. she traveled a lot. she talked about arriving in feeling like she had been put down in the middle of national geographic or the travel was good. she really thrived on being second lady. she filled in a lot for mrs. johnson. >> if he was unhappy and her role was really to keep the domestic life going, how did she help him through that?
>> he was always trying to get him to go to the gym because he put on a lot of weight. she tried to get him to watch his diet. she invited a lot of people he would like to see. they were not good years. everybody will agree he did not do well. the vice president, that job is a little difficult for strong people. >> she started these women lunches. she had them in places like seneca. again, people think this is something new under the sun, that just recent first ladies had been interested in women and women's issues and promoting the role of women around the world. mrs. johnson was doing that back when she was second lady. >> this 1960 campaign, this was the one where she really came into her own and campaigned and understood what it was like to be on the national stage in ways she had not in the past. >> i do not think anyone knows
what it is like until they are on it. that is always a shock to how experienced you are as a candidate. to ride as president and vice president as a whole other thing. >> the 1960 ticket with the roman catholic on the ticket, a big selling job to do. also, the south was changing at that time. can you talk about how the johnsons approach, the people who lived in the south during the campaign? >> mainly by identifying with them. johnson was very key in that. she emphasized her alabama roots where her mother was from. she had spent time there with her cousins as a child. she insisted on spending time in the south. but she also, when they went home to texas, they had a awful incident where they were attacked and she was very rudely and somewhat dangerously treated.
a lot of clinical analysts think that actually through texas to them because people were so shocked to see a lady, particularly a ladylike mrs. johnson, treated in such a fashion. the main thing is texas did go for the ticket and had it not, kennedy would not have been elected as it whenever we are talking about the pick for vice president all of that, the only time we can ever actually prove the vice presidential pick made a difference is the johnson bid. >> she held talks all across texas and insisted on shaking hands with all the 500 women who showed up. after texas did go for kennedy johnson, didn't robert kennedy say, mrs. johnson won texas for us? >> when approached during campaigning about the catholic issue, how did mrs. johnson replied to people? >> i am not sure i ever heard her reply to the question.
>> i don't think was a question addressed to her. i think is much more subtle a check -- sotto voce. >> the next call from kyle. you're on. >> good evening. i appreciate c-span having the first ladies series good one question i had, how is ms. johnson treated on the lady bird express? i know she came to charleston in 1964. i believe the congressman -- a big powerful congressman in the state. he went out on a limb to do all he could for her, but i think she was treated pretty bad here in charleston. overall, how was she treated in the rest of the south and what was their relationship with the johnsons? >> a little bit later on, we will have a clip.
it fits nicely with the campaign style and the approach in the south we are talking about. >> in 1964, we were in a different place because the president had signed the 1964 civil rights bill in the summertime. the south was up in arms. mrs. johnson absolutely insisted on taking what was the lady bird special through the south, saying this is the part of the country i am from, i will not write off the south. so, they all got organized and i found just recently in my basement, since i live in the house i grew up in, all of the advance work for the lady bird special in my mother's handwriting. she said, she has various places we cannot find a local politician to show up. the women, who were wise of members were they with them, my father, as the caller said, served as something as an mc on the train.
my mother told the story they would have to go ahead because there were bombs along the way and threats all along the way. not only was mrs. johnson on the train, but so were the johnson daughters. that was a lot of coverage. >> we would come back as i mentioned a little bit later on and have reflections from linda, the daughter who was part of the campaign. i wanted to just ask this question when we are talking about her approach to politics and campaigning from a facebook viewer. he asked, essentially asking whether or not she could have had a political career in her own right if she had been born later. >> i somehow do not see her as running for office but she developed the traits. she started taking speaking lessons, public speaking lessons, in 1959.
that was a far cry from where she started out where the only thing she did was working in the back room with the letters and getting other women to do the speaking. lyndon's mother and his sister were the ones she turned to in the 1940's. she did develope. maybe another time she would've been. >> also, what happened with my mother, contemporary, was that my father was killed in a plane crash and my mother ran for her seat. that could have easily happened with mrs. johnson. what she said to my mother, when mama called lady bird to say she was running, mrs. johnson said, that is wonderful, but how will you do it without a wife? [laughter] >> to demonstrate how essential she was to lyndon johnson's of the approach, we have a clip, a well-known one. lady bird's critique of an lbj
speech, one right after a press conference and you can hear how very direct she is with the president in his approach and presentation. >> you want to listen for about one minute or would you rather wait for tonight? >> yes ma'am, now. >> i thought you looked strong and firm and a reliable guide. you look splendid. close-ups were much better than the distance once. >> you cannot get them to -- >> they were destined or more close of an distance once. during the statement, you are breathless. there was too much looking down. i think it was a little too fast. not enough change of pace. dropping voice at the end of sentence. there were a considerable pickup and drama and interest when the
questioning began. your voice was noticeably better and your facial inspections noticeably better. i thought your answer was good . i thought your answer on vietnam was good. i really did not like the answer on the dog because i think i've heard you say, and i believe you actually have said out loud that you do not believe you ought out of the country this year. i do not think you can very well say you need it any time is convenient for both people. >> what are we here and there? >> a very firm, educated evaluation of a speech. i think it is wonderful. >> he clearly wanted her analysis. he relied on it. as you listen to the tape all the way through, he starts backing away from the phone and starts getting somewhat defensive. "well, they told me to do that." no one likes to hear that direct a criticism but he relied on her to tell him the truth.
>> they were obviously very close and valued clinical partners. the flipside is there were challenges in their marriage because of lyndon johnson's infidelity, something he would occasionally brag about. how did this affect their partnership if it did at all? >> is important to realize that that german mists changed how -- journalists changed how they cover the presidents. she lived in washington all those years and watched as franklin roosevelt's
relationship with lucy, john f. kennedy's relationship with other women, reporters did not write about that. in the johnson years, perhaps encouraged by the president himself, they did start writing about the women who were around him. i think time magazine in april 1964, lyndon johnson had been president only three or four months, had this article about lyndon johnson driving around the roads of texas with a glass of beer on the dashboard and a beautiful young reporter on his side cooing into his ear, mr. president, you are fun, i think is bad line. -- i think was the headline. i do not think you will find any articles on previous presidents. it is important to her member she came into the spotlight at a time the spotlight had changed. >> here is one critique of president johnson about this aspect of his life in his biography.
would you talk about how they're reporting relationship has changed, you said nothing is new under the sun. we have prior examples of prior first ladies who doubt with this but times are changing. >> i was not aware of this in terms of his views. no one would talk about it, certainly not the moms. what has happened in terms of reporting is -- part of that has to do with the increases the numbers of women in the ranks of reporters because there is a sense that the personal is political and i think that where you saw them -- the huge shift was in 1984 with gary hart. before that there was a sense of what happened on the trail. and that did change with the increased number of women on the bus.
>> back to phone calls. caller: how are you? one question has occurred to me about labored and all the first ladies, how big of a staff do they tend to have in the east wing, do they have their own speechwriters, the social secretary, how big of a staff is there generally that the first lady has at her disposal? >> thank you for asking that. in many ways lady bird johnson created the framework. >> she went into office, she hired liz carpenter as a secretary and chief of staff. and beth able as social secretary. they really took over the east wing and hired others obviously
to help. that was the first time there had been a press secretary chief of staff. >> who knew what they were doing. >> i tried to find out the number and i was told by her office that it very has not only did she hire a large, competent staff herself, but she also brought in on loan people from other departments. for example for the beautification campaign she brought in people from the secretary of interior's office so it was not on her budget. truly hard to come up with a number. i was somewhere in the 20's. >> and she had this cadre of clinical women who worked with her on many of these things especially on head start, for instance when she got very engaged in creating head start. my mother was very engaged with her as were several of the other political wives so she had a lot of on tears, very highly
-- a lot of volunteers, very highly trained, smart volunteers as well. >> how long was it before the office of first lady was established in how was that done? >> that is difficult to answer. most people .2 mimi eisenhower. -- point to mamie eisenhower. back at the beginning it was mostly relatives or friends. the sister-in-law did volunteer work so it is hard to document. the roseville women always had their social secretaries and packed those on. liz carpenter had been a reporter since 1942, when lady bird met her. their friendship went back so she chose people and they stayed with her the entire time in the white house. and after. >> as mrs. johnson became in
demand on these issues, what they called beautification, people wanted her everywhere. she had to create essentially an office of surrogate. which was such a funny notion because we think of the first lady as the surrogate for the president. we have surrogates for the surrogate. host: you are on. caller: i am pleased you are doing this series. the first ladies are getting their due. i wanted to mention earlier you asked if mrs. johnson ever had former first ladies at the white house. i know she had to at the ranch, mrs. carter and mrs. ford. i believe it was probably in the late 1980's.
and also i wanted to mention that mrs. johnson's centennial was last december 22, 2012. and in honor of that the post office issued a commemorative stamp. mrs. johnson was the fifth first lady to have a stamp. the others were martha washington and dolly madison and abigail adams and mrs. roosevelt. host: the producer tells me you have a connection with her. what is it you would like people watching this program to know about mrs. johnson? caller: oh, my. cokie and betty are doing a terrific job, thank you. she was very warm. she was unflappable. she had a delicious laugh, it was a hearty belly laugh.
she was such a good role model for all of us who knew her and loved her. when you work for mrs. johnson for the president, too, although i did not know the president. you became part of the family. she was my friend and i loved her. she loved me, too. it was a privilege working for her and knowing her and her family. they have certainly followed in her footsteps and they are terrific. it has been an honor. guest: at mrs. johnson's funeral, all the staff no matter how old they were and how far away they were came, including some secret service men who had retired long before but who loved her so much that they made
the huge effort to get there. host: is there anything in the diary that would shock us today? guest: she would not put it in. host: let's go to marvin, watching us on the air. caller: i was at the texas delegation at the democratic convention. jfk said, you were such a great senate majority leader you should stay there. did lady bird johnson want lbj to accept the nomination and would have lbj have been as successful in his various jobs without the support of lady bird johnson?
host: we can start with the second one first. guest: she would say that. an enormous part of his success. guest: she and others did not want him to take the second spot on the ticket. they considered john kennedy a junior member of the senate and he should wait his turn. no one could have campaigned harder than she did. guest: sam rayburn had to be convinced. my father went to him and said do you want richard nixon to win? there you are.
host: how did she choose her cause, beautification? guest: it was a heartfelt thing. she did not choose the project. she did not change the curtains that needed changing because she said the next family might not like it and she acted as though that would be the last year in the white house. after lyndon johnson won so big in 1964, she sent out requests for advice on what she should do and the word came back she, like other first ladies, should do something about washington. the beautification of washington came out of that but it became clear that her committee, the beautification people had split and some wanted to go national and that is the emphasis on national parks, highway beautification, mary lasker who was part of that move, said
these highways are terrible. she was thinking of the new jersey turn pike. although signs, it could be better. that was highway beautification, getting the junkyards removed or covered up with fences and the washington park. even the washington part split into two. one group wanted to plant tulips, the dog would set. people wanted to polish the statues and make it more beautiful for tourists and others who wanted to go into the poor neighborhoods where sports fields, recreation facilities were not there and do something for those in regards. the important about her is she incorporated them all. >> she beat the united states congress and there was no hiding behind, you know, the man, and
she did not pretend that she was not doing it. she was up their lobbying and it was very tough. it sounds nicey-nicey, the beautification. the billboard lobby was against any of this. the billboard lobby was against any of this. they were people as there are ways are in these situations, people pushing harder saying she was not doing enough. there needed to be a much bigger emphasis on cleaning everything up and people saying you're going too far. she hung in there and she kept it up, even as the congress is really -- she was a very powerful force. that was the first time -- first ladies had always lobbied from martha washington on. but that was the first time there'd such public lobbying. >> we promised we would show the
special ladybird train. it demonstrates her political skills that she put to her environmental issues. let's watch that now. >> the whole nation at this election are to cross roads between past and future. we face many problems together. peace is one and economic prosperity is another. we have reached good and workable solutions in the past. it takes men in washington who care about the people of the south and it takes citizens here at home with a vision of the future. today, any parts of the south present one of the nations proudest picture progress. a democratic century needs to face a future together with imagination and feel. we do not plan to turn back. [applause]
>> mother did month the south -- did not want the south to think that we didn't want to vote. just because we knew there were a lot of people who didn't like the civil rights bill, for instance. she hoped that she could appeal to them to recognize that that was a time that was coming and that change had to be made and we were moving forth. there are a lot of african american citizens who were there and we wanted to reassure them. now, we ran into some people that didn't like us. they were very vocal. there were threats that they were going to blow the train up and so they ran a car through
before hours just in case if it was on the tracks would blow up the sidecar and not get us. and then there were threats all along the way, but it was a wonderful success and mother would stand on the back of the train like she had seen harry truman do and she would tell them how proud and how happy she was to be here and she hoped that they would vote for her husband. >> and cokie roberts right behind lady bird johnson. >> owes political skills apply to the campaign. >> cokie mentioned how controversial this was. was it really a tough job selling this of the congress and was it a difficult job at the lobbying group?
>> the billboard lobby was very strong. i think we forget how strong it was. i think maybe now the judgment is she tried to do too much on that. it was very hard. but she did. >> in washington, people don't realize this beautiful city we live in is much more beautiful because of her and mary lasker, her friend was a wonderful philanthropist. this profusion of flowers and trees and the fact that you just come into the city and are greeted by total beauty is a result of her having been here. >> this was a complement to lyndon johnson's great society programs or was it an independent campaign? >> it was a little of both. i think it was required of every
first lady since her, what would be your project? michelle obama was asked that even before the nomination. it was a complement to society and also uniquely hers. >> but the first ladies who have succeeded her, did you see both michelle obama and laura bush have both quoted her. i think that's what betty was saying. she took a while and she had that big landslide. she was no longer the heir to the job. she said i have a pulpit and i have to use it to do good. they took those words and follow them very consciously, quoting her. >> and remember that she continued that work after the beautification, if we want to use a terrible term which she hated also. she continued it after she left the white house. i think until 1990, which is 22 years after leaving the white house, she continued to give that highway beautification
award out of her own pocket to highway workers in texas who had done most to beautify the highways of texas. i'm always interested in which first ladies continue their projects afterwards and which ones forget that they ever did that. >> here are some of the key accomplishments and challenges. the establishment of medicare and medicaid, the signing of the civil rights act which had an kennedy administration legislation, the worn commission -- the warren commission report with the findings on the kennedy assassination, the establishment of the outer space treaty which people say today still is the framework for how the international community treats outerspace. and of course vietnam war. >> and the voting rights administration of 1965 which is
one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation which made it possible for people to get the vote and to get themselves in a better situation. the civil rights bill started under president kennedy but i don't think there would have been anywhere on earth kennedy could've gotten that bill through congress. i think it took lyndon johnson and his great skills as a former majority leader and an incredible arm twister to get that bill through. this tape certainly shows that. >> each of these programs has talked about how the first lady and the first couple have used the white house as a base for their lobbying, as it were, their relationships in washington. how'd did the washingtons use the white house? >> is used for different than
the kennedys. they had a month of mourning after the assassination, of course. but by early january of 1964 they were having their two or three evenings a week getting congressman and their spouses in small groups. they could've done it in one big reception and cotton some footage, but they did it because they got much closer to the congressmen. i was struck by the fact that she used the white house -- many of the congressman's wives had never been upstairs and certainly the kennedys didn't open the second floor. but she had the women and reporters up stairs. i think she only lived in the white house only a month and she had women reporters going to the family bathrooms and looking at the living quarters. it was completely different from jacqueline kennedy's attitude that the upstairs was off- limits. >> don't underestimate the power
of that, because people when they feel that they are in the inner sanctum and have gotten something special, they are likely to be nicer to you. >> women reporters were coming into their own during this. and mrs. johnson, by having lots of news to cover, help them with their careers. >> yes, i'm sure they appreciated her being so open. i was struck by the fact that when she had the women reporters to the upstairs quarters she said i felt good about it because i've always been open about my life and i think that is why i am pleased to share most aspects of that with the reporters. but she said one thing she would do next time is put away the books she was reading, because a week later an article appeared, which may been coincidence, but listing the books that mrs. johnson liked. so even she i guess would have put the bible out there. [laughter] mrs. johnson fired the kennedys chef, but she insisted that all the acquisitions be american- made, which would've been different to jacqueline
kennedy's approach. >> jacqueline kennedy told her to get china made in france. but she did not she got china made in the u.s. pitcher was her own woman. -- she was her own woman. >> they had the first white house wedding in 53 years. right.first lucy's wedding and -- right. weddingcy's and they had both the daughters married while they were in the white house. it was a very joyous thing to have peered by this time they were getting into the vietnam war and into some of the real nastiness. to have the weddings was a really nice moment of sitting back and saying this is a family. >> who did the daughters marry?
>> lucy married in august of '66. she married pat nugent in a catholic ceremony, not in the white house. so linda's is the first white house wedding of a president's daughter, i believe, since the wilson daughter in 1914. and she married -- he had been a military aide. >> was she very much involved in the planning of the things? >> oh yes. everything became political, whether or not there is a union label in lucy's gown, her diary has a lot about what an ordeal that was for her. >> she had to make two dresses, is that right? >> adapter lucy's wedding i know -- a day after lucy's wedding, i know she fled to the virginia farmer she sometimes went when she didn't want to see anybody.
of course after linda's wedding the president flat, so i think they both found it stressful. barbara is watching us in san francisco. caller: i want to say love your program. the question i have is what linda and lucy are doing now and, children they have each. -- and how many children do they have each? >> linda is here in the virginia suburbs of washington. her husband was governor of virginia and senator. and linda has been very active in all kinds of causes where she has been very effective. she was the first lady of virginia and has been a political wife herself in those robes. lucy married patrick nugent and they divorced. i think she had four children and now is married to another man. lucy's christmas cards just have a million kids. linda now has three grandchildren.
>> lee turpen has a connection with the johnson family? >> yes, he has a business in texas. >> what was lady bird's most challenging time in the white house? was it the vietnam years? >> yes. they were hard on the whole country, but we were also going through this huge generational fight. people outside the white house screaming, hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today? can you imagine? this is something that you had to put up with despite buying the best for the country. >> she kept going out despite those speeches. she said, i don't want to shut myself off, which would've been easy to do.
>> in 1999, lady bird johnson give an interview to c-span and she spoke about vietnam. >> where is vietname going to fit in? >> a wretched obstacle along the way which you couldn't escape, couldn't shake off. >> when did you see him at his lowest? >> during those days. i think when the bags began to come home. by that, i mean -- >> boydy bags. >> by that i mean they would come in at night on freight trains and i don't know if this is good planning. but oftentimes i would be in my
way back from a trip from somewhere and at the station as i would get off there were these freight trains and the bags are being unloaded onto other kind of vehicle. and i knew what he was doing and i knew i couldn't help them. >> did you try to help in anyway? >> yes, of course. >> will what did you do? >> i would say to the best you can. i think a lot of people and. -- understand. what can you do in a situation like that? >> as for public sentiment against the war mounted, can you walk us through the president's ultimate decision not to seek reelection and what ladybirds: that was?
--and what lady bird >> well, she says, and i think there's other evidence to support this, that she wrote in her diary in 1964, i know when the time to leave will be. and it is exactly when she picked, march of 1968. she was such an authentic person that i don't think she dreamed that up later. certainly, as 1967 wound on there is a big meeting i think in september of '67 at the ranch. she talks about being called in with the top advisers and she says i don't want another campaign. i don't want to ask you people one more time to help out. but it was hard for lyndon johnson to walk away from the presidency, i think. i believe there was a sentence written that he would include in his state of the union and then he said he forgot it couldn't find it in his pocket or something. i think she very much wanted him not to run in march of '68. he of course found it difficult.
>> so finally she was worried about his health. we haven't touched on that. >> it was really a massive heart attack and he was quite affected by it and the whole family was affected by it. so i think that was something that they always had hovering over them and she had been very protective of his health and of his diet as best she could be. and so it was something that was always on her mind and in fact he did die in january of 1972. >> that was four years after the white house. >> 1973. >> i think he lived four days after what would've been another term. >> he had a heart condition. >> the national tumult can tenet -- continued in 1968 after the announcement was made with the martin luther king assassination and the robert kennedy assassination. how did the johnsons hold us all together, knowing that they would be leaving? >> it was a terrible time.
1968 was just a year that, here we are in the week of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 assassination that was the beginning of america's loss of innocence in a way. but we had no notion of what was going to happen after that. trying to keep the country together and keep it in some sense of not falling into despair was something that all the political leaders had to do. the president tried, but it was regard for him because he was seen as the symbol of the problem by so many of the people. >> lyndon johnson was just four years after he left office in 1969, lady bird living 30 more years and many of those active ones. we return to the lbj library to return a little bit more about how they worked there and prepared a library for the recording of the johnson administration's history. >> we are in the private office of mrs. lyndon johnson at the lbj library. i was her social secretary from 1976 to 1990.
a typical day would be spent with her coming in in the morning am probably around 9:00 and she would come in toting a straw bag in each hand filled with some of the things that you see on her desk that she had taken home for signing or speechwriting or event planning, whatever she was working on. she would always say when she came in to the office that she felt like a little girl as she had a straw satchel in each hand, like several bags. she would in to work and her desk was always very orderly. she had a calendar that she worked in, daybook, and she kept files on your desk, file she was working on, trip she was taking. she was on the board of the banks, national geographic, smithsonian. she would keep large envelopes on her sofa with either the title are the dates on them so that she could pick them up, work on them and close everything back in them.
if she worked on her desk with letters she was processing, when she was processing, which he -- when she completed things, she would put them on the floor. but she stayed at the office most of the day, making phone calls are working on projects that she loved so much. she loved this office because she could look out at her alma mater and then a quarter through to the capital. in the city she looked so much. she would stay here all day and that was pretty much monday through friday. when we were having guests at the ranch she would sometimes go out a few days early and stay in the different guestrooms to check on the water and the lights to be sure everything was working like the tv in the different rooms. we would also make a stop on the way out to the ranch to the store to pick up magazines that were just specific for whoever was coming to the ranch for the weekend.
very thoughtful, very meticulous and gracious about that. we had three of the staff of the time. -- office staff at the time. they handled her calendar. we had a person came from the white house and a press secretary who helped work on speeches and then i was in the office. so that chair was usually occupied by one of us a good part of the day as we rotated during projects that she was working on. but friday afternoon she was ready to leave and go to the ranch which she really called home. at about 330 in the afternoon -- 3:30 in the afternoon she would say, do i have anything else to do? if the answer is no, she would say tell the secret service am ready to go. she would get up and we would pack those little saddlebags up and she would take off and head out to the ranch for the weekend. she would be back here on monday morning normally. i was so fortunate to be here and learn some much from her in the way she did things in a way she entertained. i like the way she entertained. i think that is one reason we did so well together.
i really loved her sense of making people feel at home. she was so good at it. >> the business of being just specific, she was so awful about things for you. -- guest specific, she was so thoughtful about things for you. when i got married, they were in the white house when i got married and she sent out to the house a beautiful print of the capital seen from the white house in the 19th century. it was just so perfect. the capital is the building i grew up in and their view of it now. and it was signed by them. >> so we have learned from you that she continued to be a very active first lady, post first lady into her very late years.
>> into the 1990's, i think the macular degeneration in her 90s, she had to stop reading and that is when she really stopped giving speeches i was told because she couldn't see the notes well enough. but certainly into the 90s she was very active and then we were talking earlier about how even after the stroke she continued to see people, just valiantly going out to restaurants, even though she couldn't voice her reaction, she laughed and made people feel that she really appreciated them. >> was very active at the library and very interested in the work. i was there at least three times in this century, the 21st. she was always there. >> and she was so important in the building of the library. she looked into the smallest detail how they were going to attach certain aims to the wall. she had herself raised in a crane so she could see with a view would be from her office which was on the top floor.
she was very important in the building of the library. and where it would be located, because she had traveled to the fdr library and thought that the hometown might not be the best place. >> karen in cleveland. hi, karen. caller: i had two questions. one was about how she felt about her daughter lucy getting married at such a young age and the second question about her involvement in the johnson school of education after his death. >> the work in texas was all of the peace. she was very interested in that work. that is a great place. it is a wonderful school. she was private about her views about her daughter getting married young, but obviously it was something worrisome. but then once lucy had made up her mind her parents embraced it and embraced her husband. >> in her post-white house years, her work for conservation and beautification was recognized with the presidential
medal of freedom in 1977 and a congressional gold medal in 1980. also, the national wildflower center -- it was created. where is that located? >> in austin. it was on her 70th birthday and it has since moved, but it is still in austin and it is really quite an operation. answering questions from all over the world about what species will grow where and showing people model gardens. she continued to visit that right up until she was in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank. she knew the people who work there. she really continued to be active in that area. >> as a time with lady bird johnson comes to an end, we will return to the ranch in texas one last time. >> this is mrs. johnson's private bedroom. it was part of the 1967 remodeling. she specified to the designers that she wanted this to be her
forever room. she specified certain elements she wanted. if i are placed, east facing -- a fireplace, east facing windows and a large bookcase to displace the many mementos and keepsakes she gathered through the years. the birds, the china. and also cameras. mr. johnson gave mrs. johnson a camera as a wedding gift and she became quite the photojournalist. she had an 8mm camera to capture home movies, we have hours and hours of her home movies. as well as the recorder here are mrs. johnson every night at the white house would record her daily observations. this became the basis for the book which is a very insightful diary of those tumultuous years of the 1960s. now mrs. johnson wrote for 34 years after the president's death. in her later years mrs. johnson love to sit here at this desk to keep up with the correspondence and all of her activities as a very active former first lady.
also in the space we have mrs. johnson's closet with all of the clothing, her formalwear, the ranch clothing with the boots and the hats, a lot of for colorful outfits and your shoes. one of my favorites is the straw hat with the bluebonnets painted on top. and then her private bathroom that is again very reflective of the importance of family with all the photographs of those who mattered so much to her and to her grandchildren and great- grandchildren she was known as nini, a very special person in their lives. lady bird johnson had a great sense of history and infecting her years in washington she would often be a true guide for texans who went to the nation's capital. i had the fortune to meet lady bird johnson while working at harry s. truman national historic site and i was very impressed that she wanted to see how the truman story was being interpreted, knowing that one day her story would be told here at the lbj ranch.
>> after mrs. johnson's death in 2007, the ranch was then ceded to the national park service. it is available free to visit if you happen to be in that part of texas in the texas hill country. you really get a sense of the johnson's life and you're there. so she died at the age of 94. sharon cooper wants to know how the country respond to her death. >> there was an outpouring of love. >> everybody showed up. former presidents and first ladies and members of congress and all the people you would expect to be there, but also this wonderful response of her staff and the secret service. seeing them coming was really quite something. i think also the point we just heard that the park service channel and make about her sense of history. it is something we can enjoy some much and that he has made a
point several times, all of this is available to us. all we have to do is go to our computers and mrs. johnson has made it possible for us to see their home movies, read their love letters and most important from my perspective, hitters -- hear those johnson tapes. she allowed those tapes to be open to the public without knowing what was on them, which is very gutsy. we have learned enormous amount about american politics and american history from listening to those tapes. >> and where are she and the president buried? >> just on the road from the ranch house in the family cemetery. >> not the library, but they chose to be out in the countryside, the country that they loved. >> their family cemetery where some of his siblings come i think his mother and father are buried there. you can walk from the ranch to
the cemetery to the birthplace to the schools in 10 minutes, i don't know, a very short time. >> what should her legacy be seen as among first ladies? >> i think she was an outstanding first lady who really wrote the book for modern first ladies, what they needed to do to be noncontroversial and yet contribute to a spouse's legacy. it would work for a man, too, you know. [laughter] >> she understood that she had a megaphone and that she could use it for good and she did that and expected that all or its to the same. -- expected all of her successors to do the same. thank you to the white house association for their assistance. thank you for being with us once again tonight. ♪ [captions copyr