Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Special Reports

Race For The White House: Lyndon B. Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 01, 2020 - 21:00   ET



MAHERSHALA ALI, NARRATOR: You're the accidental President. Leader of a nation in mourning. Now, you've got to make the tough calls, confront your demons, outwit your enemies and prove you've got what it takes to be the leader of the free world.


REPORTER: President's car is now turning on to Elm Street and it will be only a matter of minutes before he appears at the Trade Mart.

It appears as though something has happened in the motorcade route. It was definitely the President's car.


SHERWIN MARKMAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON 1966-68: We were traumatized. It was in a sense, like what happened to us after 9/11


REPORTER: President Kennedy has been assassinated. Its official now, the President is dead.


MARKMAN: It was incredible that our President, this beautiful man, with his beautiful family could be just eliminated, just like that.


REPORTER: There's only one word to describe the picture here and that's grief and much of it.


ALI: Kennedy's Vice President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, becomes the 36th President of the United States. He insists on taking the oath of office onboard Air Force One as soon as Kennedy's body is loaded onto the plane.

RICK PERLSTEIN, HISTORIAN & JOURNALIST: He didn't want a single gap in legitimacy of government. He also insisted that Jacqueline Kennedy be in the photograph beside him, because he wanted that symbolic continuity.

ROBERT MANN, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA & PUBLIC AFFAIRS LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: It's hard to imagine someone coming into office in those circumstances. It's also hard to imagine anybody better prepared for that moment than Lyndon Johnson.

PERLSTEIN: LBJ had been preparing for this moment, all his life. Power was, you know, the center of his being.

MARK UPDEGROVE, PRESIDENT & CEO OF LBJ FOUNDATION: Prior to accepting the vice presidential nomination in 1960. Lyndon Johnson had been perhaps the most powerful senate majority leader in history, but he's been sidelined by the Kennedys.

ALI: Vice President Johnson is so eclipsed by JFK's star power that many people don't even know who he is.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I've never heard of him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't ring a bell?



BARBARA A. PERRY, PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES DIRECTOR, MILLER CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: There was a television program called candid camera and they asked people out on the street whose Lyndon Johnson?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lyndon Johnson? Does he live out on the farm?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might look in the phone book see where he is.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, 36TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm here today to say I need your help.

ALI: Johnson is now President.

JOHNSON: I cannot bear this burden alone.

ALI: In a less than a year's time he knows he will be judged by the American people at the ballot box.


UPDEGROVE: He's an accidental President, and he knows. And he also wants to earn the office in his own right.

PERLSTEIN: He was like a lot of powerful man, insecure. You might even say neurotic. NICOLE HEMMER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES MILLER CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Lyndon Johnson is one of those people driven in many ways by paranoia and pessimism.

PERRY: He always is fearful that what he wanted most would be taken away from him and what he wanted most was to be a powerful and beloved President of the United States.


ALI: As LBJ worries about losing his grip on the presidency a political Lone Ranger is making a name for himself in Arizona.

HEMMER: Barry Goldwater really was embodiment of the American West. He was chisel faced. He wore Stetson. He was an individualist.

LEE EDWARDS, DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION, GOLDWATER CAMPAIGN: He flew his own plane. He liked to ride horses. He was a cowboy. He was a straight shooter.

PERLSTEIN: You know, be posing with a jet, looking like an astronaut.

ALI: For some frustrated Republicans, outspoken Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater is the man they want to take control of their party.


SALADIN AMBAR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Barry Goldwater represents the strong, right, conservative party element within the Republican Party.

GOLDWATER: We need an administration to stand up for America all over the world to work for freedom.

BARRY GOLDWATER JR., SON OF BARRY GOLDWATER: My father fiercely believed in liberty and freedom, and he felt that our government had gotten too paternalistic. Instead of offering people a hand up, we were doing too much of a handout.

Margaret O'MARA, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: What propelled his politics were belief in small government and in fighting communism as fiercely as one could.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC SERVICE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Barry Goldwater felt that the Americans were not fighting the Cold War with everything at their disposal. America had nuclear weapons, why not use them?

GOLDWATER: America deliverable nuclear capability may be cut by 90 percent. Now, this ladies and gentlemen will not serve the cause of peace.

PERLSTEIN: The kind of young conservatives who looked at Barry Goldwater as their hero really saw themselves as James Dean kind of rebels. This is a new brand of conservatism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies, Gentlemen, it's a privilege to have on this show. The senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater

ALI: But rooting for Goldwater is problematic. He is always saying he doesn't want to be President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be a candidate in 1964?

GOLDWATER: Well, I've said hundreds of times that I am not...

ALI: But is Goldwater being entirely honest?


GOLDWATER JR.: My father was good friends with John F. Kennedy. They served together in the United States Senate.

EDWARDS: They had an opportunity to spend time with each other, to respect each other. Although, their points of view were considerably different. One the liberal, the other conservative,

GOLDWATER JR.: He would have sit in JFK's rocking chair and drink whiskey with him, and they got to talking about running against each other. And that delighted my father, and they decided that they would campaign together and that was all set up. They had it all planned.

ALI: Those dreams have been crushed by the assassination of JFK.

GOLDWATER JR.: That took all the wind out of my father's sails for running for President

PERLSTEIN: He really had no savor for running against LBJ, who he didn't really trust and didn't really respect.

GOLDWATER JR.: He did not like Lyndon Johnson. You thought Lyndon Johnson was a bully and a crook.

HEMMER: So Goldwater understands that he was probably going to have to face the decision about whether to run. There was already a movement that was surging around him, but his heart had really gone out of it at that point.



KHALIL MUHAMMAD, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, RATE & PUBLIC POLICY, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: 1964 opens ready to explode on the question of race and the future race in America.

MANN: In the South, and elsewhere, African-Americans are not treated as people who have the same rights as whites do. They're not allowed to eat in restaurants, they're not allowed to work in certain jobs.

ALI: The struggle for civil rights will dominate the election. AMBAR: There are riots in Harlem, their rights in Philadelphia. There's all kinds of uprisings in the country owing to the oppression of black folks in the United States.

MUHAMMAD: It's an accident of history that a Southern Texan would find himself at the crossroads of this great moral question.

UPDEGROVE: There are various points in Lyndon Johnson's political career earlier on, when he was compelled to support segregation. He would not have been a viable political candidate in Texas otherwise.

HEMMER: The Democratic Party in many ways had been built on an anti- civil rights platform. The party's strength was very much in the South.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Nobody believes that Lyndon Johnson is going to be a friend or a champion for civil rights.

ALI: President Kennedy with his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy has battled to end discrimination. Now LBJ takes up the fight.

JONES: When he winds up as President of United States in the middle of this civil rights upsurge, it turned out the whole time, there was a part of that nobody knew.

ALI: Johnson is determined to push through a far-reaching civil rights bill aimed at banning racial discrimination.

AMBAR: He understands that it will win favor with liberals, with African-American voters, it will be the thing that will entrench him as a heroic President.

UPDEGROVE: His aides tried to talk him out of it.

MARKMAN: There's a famous conversation between Johnson and Senator Russell, leader of the Southern Democrats. Russell says to Johnson, if you persist in pushing these civil rights acts through Congress, the South will be lost to the Democratic Party forever and you will also lose the election.

UPDEGROVE: And Johnson, this great creature of power, responds, "Dick, if that is the price for this bill, I will gladly pay it.


JOHNSON: We must abolish not some, but all racial discrimination


HEMMER: For Johnson to come in and attempt to dismantle one of the most important parts of the Democratic Party, its support for segregation and black disenfranchisement, that was a really big deal and it also meant that he could lose his own party. So the electoral risks were big.

[21:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: --or this is not merely an economic issue or a social, political or international issue. It is a moral issue.


ALI: LBJ has rolled the political dice, and he's not the only one taking again.


GOLDWATER: Today, I want to tell you that I will see the Republican presidential nomination.


PERLSTEIN: That changes Barry Goldwater's mind is really the most extraordinary grassroots draft effort on the part of impassioned conservatives all over the country who are calling him to save civilization.

EDWARDS: Frankly, it was young conservatives like myself at the time, saying, "You must run, you must run. You're our guy."

ALI: But Goldwater has another reason for running. He wants his new brand of conservatism to take on the liberal Republican establishment.

PERLSTEIN: He says, I want to give voters a choice not an echo. And this idea was that the liberal Republicans really were just imitating the Democrats. He really wanted to offer an alternative.

O'MARA: That Republican establishment viewed Goldwater and the Goldwater insurgency as problematic, as a danger for both the party and the nation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He advocates the use of small tactical nuclear weapon, and he charges the democrats for being soft on Communism.


ALI: Goldwater has an adversary, New York Governor and leading light of the Republican establishment, Nelson Rockefeller.

PERLSTEIN: Nelson Rockefeller is literally one of the richest people in the country who really is an American aristocrat.

HEMMER: You have these two men who represent this real split in the party - the libertarian West and the eastern establishment, and now they're going to have a showdown for the 1964 nomination.

ALI: Rockefeller's deal deep pockets are useful, especially for crushing political opponents. HEMMER: He believed that if he bought up all the advertising space and all the advertising time, that he would be able to defeat Barry Goldwater.

PERLSTEIN: Rockefeller has people secretly recording and transcribing every utterance that Barry Goldwater makes in order to try and sabotage him, to catch him saying something crazy.

ALI: While Rockefeller and Goldwater slug it out on the campaign trail, Lyndon Johnson is fighting to push a civil rights bill through the Senate.

JONES: He's one of the most Machiavellian players in American politics. He basically will do anything to cut a deal, to get a deal, to get where he's trying to go.

ALI: Along the corridors of power, LBJ is rallying support for this bill.

PENIEL JOSEPH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS- AUSTIN: As a politician, he's brilliant. We talk about the Johnson treatment, Lyndon Johnson is six foot four, and he can cajole, he can seduce. He can also intimidate.

ALI: On July 2, 1964, LBJ walks into the East Room of the White House and transforms the lives of millions of Americans.


JOHNSON: I'm about to sign in to the law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


MANN: This is a time when everybody is watching television to watch a President sign a bill. Every network is covering it. This is a moon- shot moment.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: The symbolism of the moment, a Southern White Democrat, President, signing this into law is huge. Let us


JOHNSON: Let us lay aside the irrelevant difference and make our nation whole.


ALI: For many watching, this is a betrayal of what the Democrats have traditionally stood for.

PERRY: While Lyndon Johnson was jubilant, at least in public to have passed this historic bill, he's melancholy that night in the aftermath.

MUHAMMAD: LBJ essentially fretted that he might in fact lose the South forever as a result of signing the Civil Rights Act.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The fear for him was all "What did I do? I'm the big man for a day. I've made history. But now I have an election to win in November and what is the boomerang effect of this?"



HEMMER: The Republican Convention kicks off at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. 25,000 people show up to protest Barry Goldwater, because Goldwater didn't vote for the Civil Rights Act.

ALI: Barry Goldwater is one of just six Republican senators to oppose LBJ Civil Rights Bill.

GOLDWATER JR.: He was falsely accused in 1964 of being a racist. He fiercely as opposed to segregation and supportive integration here in Arizona.

UPDEGROVE: Goldwater is opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not because he doesn't believe that segregation should be banned, but simply because he believes it's not constitution. He believes each state should decide for itself what it should do the issue of segregation.

MUHAMMAD: He took it as an affront that the federal government would assume the responsibility of ensuring that all 50 states treated their African American citizens with legal and political equality.

RIGUEUR: This question about is Barry Goldwater racist actually doesn't really matter. What matters is that Barry Goldwater is complicit in racism. That he is supporting racists.



MARTIN LUTHER KING, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: So think he articulates the philosophy, which serves to give aid and comfort to the racists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: that we want the nation and the world to know that Senator Goldwater is not fit to be a candidate for President of the United States...

ALI: Within the Convention Hall, black Republicans face open hostility



RIGUEUR: For black members of the Republican Party it is a dangerous time. In some instances, they're roughed up. They're beat up. One person is set on fire by a Goldwater supporter. They're told to get out or to keep in their place if they know what's wise for them. BRINKLEY: Goldwater was representing the pitchfork in America, the people that are fed up that had enough with their taxes being wasted, that had enough of the federal government taking care of people on welfare. And a lot of young Westerners, people that were gun toting, Second Amendment people, they gravitated to Goldwater.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, Iowa casts 14 votes to Senator Goldwater, 57 votes for Senator Goldwater (ph)...



MANN: Not only have they finally taken over the Republican Party, but they think they're going to win the White House.

ALI: But Nelson Rockefeller, and the liberal establishment did not go quietly into the night.

HEMMER: Nelson Rockefeller takes the podium at the convention. He's like, give me five minutes. Just let me speak for five minutes. I'll say my piece. I'll get off the stage.



NELSON ROCKEFELLER, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no place in the Republican Party for such hawkers of hate, such purveyors of prejudice...

MANN: Nelson Rockefeller gets up there, and he starts lecturing, the Goldwater delegates about their intolerance, about the way that they're destroying the party.

ROCKEFELLER: The Republican Party is in real danger of subversion by a radical, well financed, highly disciplined...


HEMMER: He speaks for five minutes. He's interrupted 22 times by booing and noise, people trying to get him off the stage.


ROCKEFELLER: And warning of the extremist threat, its danger to the party.


HEMMER: He does try to make the case against Goldwater. He says that Goldwater is too extreme, but it's clear at that point that the Convention is very much for Goldwater--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must proceed in an orderly manner.

ALI: On 16, 1964 Goldwater accepts the nomination. The right wing of the Republican Party is Victorious.


MANN: The Convention is his chance to hit the reset button to restart things and say okay, here's what you've heard, me. You've heard that I'm a racist. You've heard that I'm reckless. You've heard that I'm an extremist, but I'm not.

EDWARDS: You know, they thought that, well, now he's going to temper his language, now he's going to moderate, that's not the Goldwater style.


GOLDWATER: I would remind you that extremism, in the defense of liberty is no bias.


MANN: That speeches are making a point, I am an extremist.


GOLDWATER: And let me remind you also that moderation and the pursuit of justice is no virtue.



PERLSTEIN: He was willing to say, I'm not going to turn away from my principles or my ideals in order to get a single vote.

HEMMER: It is a speech that fundamentally appeals to Goldwater supporters. They love it.


GOLDWATER: I have never in all of the political years of my life seen such a fired up grassroots movement and ladies and gentlemen, that's wins campaigns and that's what will beat Lyndon Baines Johnson.


JONES: Here comes this firebrand out of the heartland. This firebrand from the West. And he fires up a lot of people and he's scares a lot of people.



ALI: Johnson will take on Goldwater in the race for the White House. But first, he must confront an enemy from his own party - a Kennedy,

PERLSTEIN: Lyndon Johnson and Robert F. Kennedy despise each other. Robert F. Kennedy sees Lyndon Johnson is this kind of lout who dishonors the memory of his, dignified noble brother. Lyndon Johnson was terrified that RFK had it in him to sabotage his presidency.

ALI: But many Democrats want Bobby to play a starring role.

NAFTALI: Many of the old Kennedy guard were desperate for Bobby to be LBJ's running mate in 1964. There seemed to be a poetic justice. Bobby Kennedy, the inheritor of his brother's idealism was the future of the Democratic Party.

ALI: LBJ was having none of it.

MARKMAN: In order to stall Bobby without actually having to say, I don't want Bobby as Vice President, he said no sitting cabinet officer in my administration is going to be selected as vice presidential candidate, because I think they should spend their time doing their jobs on behalf of the American people. Not everybody saw through that as, "Bobby, you can't have it."


ALI: LBJ suspects Bobby has his eyes on more than the vice presidency.

MARKMAN: Johnson believed with cause, by the way, that Bobby wanted to displace Johnson as a nominee. So Johnson directed Marvin Watson to go to Atlantic City where the Convention was to be held to make sure that the Convention would come off in good order.

And what Marvin discovered was, the convention would open with a film, honoring the memory of John Kennedy, followed immediately by a major speech by Bobby Kennedy. Marvin Watson confronted John Bailey, the Democratic Chairman, and said, "What is the purpose of this?" And Bailey said to promote Bobby Kennedy's candidacy as President.

AMBAR: You know, this is very Shakespearean. The king has been killed. We have a new king, but we have a prince in waiting, Bobby Kennedy

NAFTALI: Johnson did not want to be some kind of footnote in the story of the Kennedy dynasty.

MARKMAN: So they changed the program so that the film and the Bobby Kennedy speech would be given at the end of the convention, after the nominations.

ALI: LBJ hopes he sidelined Kennedy. But with the Convention about to open, there's another problem looming.

JOSEPH: Mississippi has broken the Democratic Party's rules by having an all-white delegation that disallowed African Americans from being a part of it or going to the convention.

RIGUEUR: The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, in part, led by Fannie Lou Hamer emerges during this period, calling out the exclusion, the racism, the segregation, the violence that sits within the Democratic Party,


FANNIE LOU HAMER, AMERICAN POLITICAL LEADER: If the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America, is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave...


JOSEPH: Linda Johnson is watching this from the White House on TV, and is panicked.


HAMER: --we want to live as decent human beings, in America? Thank you.

ALI: The issue of civil rights is tearing his Convention apart and threatening to shadow Johnson's dreams of running for President.


PERLSTEIN: If the delegations decided that Lyndon Johnson couldn't control his own Convention, maybe he couldn't control the country. Maybe - just maybe in the dark recesses of Lyndon Johnson's paranoid mind, they would throw their votes to another candidate.

ALI: Johnson proposes a compromise, favoring the all-white delegation, assuring the Freedom Democratic Party their time will come at the 1968 election.

JOSEPH: The irony is, he's saying, to get the civil rights you want, you have to capitulate to the forces of white supremacy.

ALI: It all weighs heavy on LBJ.

PERLSTEIN: This chaos activates all the deepest wellsprings of Lyndon Johnson's neurosis, and he tells us why he doesn't even want to run. He wants to quit.

LUCI BAINES JOHNSON, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON: And my mother wrote him a note that speaks to the fact that she believes he ought to run. Because if he didn't, his friends would fear that he had deserted them and his enemies would feel that they just hadn't been up to it. And indeed he ran.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A roaring crowd cheered the first family as the President's name was put into nomination and Lyndon Baines Johnson was nominated by acclimation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President Lyndon Baines Johnson.


JOHNSON: I asked the American people for a mandate not to preside over a finished program. I asked American people for a mandate to begin.

ALI: Johnson has countered the threat to his nomination. But the Convention isn't over yet.

SEN. HENRY M. JACKSON, WASHINGTON: And now Robert Kennedy.


MARKMAN: I was there to witness that convention just erupting in adulation for Bobby Kennedy.

REPORTER: 16 minutes the Convention came to a halt, as they hailed in memory of the fallen President.

PERLSTEIN: And applause was absolutely delirious. It went on for a minute, after minute, after minute.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I first want to thank all you for all that you did for President John F. Kennedy. And there were periods of happiness you laughed with him and when there were periods of sorrow, you comforted him.



GOLDWATER: If that had gone on as a originally planned, I think Bobby would have been nominated instead of Lyndon Johnson

ALI: Outmaneuvered by Johnson, Kennedy now has no choice but to throw his support behind LBJ.

KENNEDY: The same effort, the same energy, the same dedication that was given to President John F. Kennedy must be given to President Lyndon Johnson.


ALI: Lyndon Johnson must defeat Barry Goldwater to shake off the tag of the accidental President. And to do that he will get his hands dirty.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six, eight, nine...


HEMMER: On September 7 1964, the Johnson campaign releases an explosive new ad.

MANN: There's probably 50 million people watching television that night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero


HEMMER: It is the most stark, the most dramatic, the most fear mongering ad. It only ever runs once. It's really controversial.

SID MYERS, FORMER ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, DOYLE DANE BERNBACH: The Cuban missile crisis was just about a year and a half before that, so the American public was frightened to death of nuclear holocaust. So we did a commercial that addressed that situation


JOHNSON: These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God's children can live, are to go into the darkness.


MYERS: There was chaos. It was just chaos. The Republican Party was up in arms.


JOHNSON: We must either love each other or we must die.


EDWARDS: We were stunned. We didn't know it was coming. Never mentioned Goldwater, didn't talk about what he may have said or not said about nuclear weapons, but played off of the fear that Barry Goldwater was a dangerous man. He was a wild man, inclined to shoot from the hip and if you elect him, we're going to get into a nuclear war.

MANN: Suddenly, it's a news story. 50 million people watch it on Monday night, the network newscasts show that spot in its entirety to probably another 100 million people. It may have been the most effective use of $25,000, which is what spot cost in the history of political advertising.

ALI: The attacks on Goldwater continue.

MYERS: Goldwater said I think the American people would be better off if we just sawed off the Eastern Seaboard and let it flow out to sea. Oh, really? We showed that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can a man who makes statements like this be expected to serve all the people justly and fairly?


MANN: Political advertising in presidential campaigns was never the same after those spots.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high.


EDWARDS: Those attack commercials were a Pandora's box, open it up, and out come all the attack commercials.

ALI: Will Goldwater retaliate?

EDWARDS: Our response was dictated by the Senator and the Senator said, "You're not going to do an attack commercial, because this is a campaign of principles and not personalities.

ALI: Principles alone don't win elections. All the opinion polls show Johnson beating Goldwater, but LBJ doesn't just want to win, he wants to win big.

PERRY: Johnson wanted to do everything in his power to not only ensure a victory, but to ensure a landslide victory.

PERLSTEIN: I wouldn't be surprised if he harbored fantasies of winning all 50 states. I wouldn't be surprised if he harbored fantasies of winning all 200 million votes. Even if that means taking underhand tactics to a whole new level.

EDWARDS: We were going to have a peace and democracy and freedom commission. Six hours before we announced it, the White House announced their commission on peace and freedom. It just cut the legs out from under us. How do they find that out? We figured out that we must be being bugged.

ALI: So who's doing the spying? None other than operative from the Central Intelligence Agency.

PERRY: It was thought that because the CIA was going down in power in Washington, its star was descending, and so what better way to get into the good graces of the President, then to infiltrate his opposition campaign and help him to win the presidency.

EDWARDS: The CIA planted the spy in our campaign headquarters and she was a secretary and made sure that all advance copies of the speeches were provided to a team working were - in the White House - in the White House, the floor above the Oval Office. It got so bad, we were making crucial, critical calls and exchanging of information on a paid telephone, outside our headquarters.

[21:50:00] ALI: With the election only a month away, the polls have Johnson ahead by 30 points. But that means little to LBJ.

PERLSTEIN: Lyndon Johnson is running in the homestretch like he's one vote ahead or he's like, suffering a manic episode. It's a little nuts plunging into crowds to the secret services horror, climbing up on the roof of his motorcade and, you know, kind of giving these old fashioned stem winding Texas style speeches.

HEMMER: Lyndon Johnson never believed he had the 1964 election in the bag. So this idea that he could lose this at any moment, that was his fear come November that someone was going to take this away from him.


ALI: If Barry Goldwater stands any chance of winning the election, he must hit Lyndon Johnson where it hurts the most.

GOLDWATER JR.: The South traditionally was mostly all Democrat. But with Goldwater, all of a sudden were had somebody who could speak for their belief in freedom and the South started turning.


AMBAR: White Southern voters recognize that here was a candidate that was speaking to their interests, namely pushing back against the tide of civil rights.

PERLSTEIN: When he was touring the south, he was greeted like a conquering hero. People would come from miles around and they would cheer him like he was the Messiah.


GOLDWATER: You and I on November the 3rd can do something about limiting the role of the federal government.



ALI: LBJ's Civil Rights Act has cost him dearly in the South. In a last ditch effort to win back votes he sends his wife Lady Bird and daughters Linda and Lucy on a tour through the Southern states.

LUCI JOHNSON: "The Lady Bird" special was born. It began in Virginia and went on all the way down to New Orleans. My father said Lucy Baines we need you to go campaigning for us, telling them why you feel their support is so desperately needed.

UPDEGROVE: Lady Bird Johnson understands Southerners. She speaks with an accent that is as thick as gravy on the chicken fried steak.


LADY BIRD JOHNSON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good man to do nothing.


UPDEGROVE: And she wants her fellow southerners to understand what her husband has done by signing the Civil Rights Act into law, he has brought the South firmly into the 20th Century.


LADY BIRD JOHNSON: Southern men and women have never been one to retreat into the complexities of the world.


PERRY: She was a very, very potent politician in her own right. But she was in enemy territory.


LADY BIRD JOHNSON: I heard it said and I agree, that the South is not a matter of geography, but a place of the heart.


UPDEGROVE: People were spitting invective at her at almost every turn.

LUCI JOHNSON: I remember people literally throwing tomatoes at my mama, at our train and I remember seeing signs that said "Black Bird Fly Away Home."

ALI: The South may be getting behind Goldwater, but it's up to all 50 states to choose the next President.


REPORTER: CBS news coverage of election night continues.

REPORTER: President Lyndon Johnson apparently has made history. He has won the presidency in his own right by the largest majority ever run up by any presidential candidate in our history.


PERRY: Johnson lost only six states Barry Goldwater's home State of Arizona, which is a natural, but also five states in the south, the old Confederacy, including Mississippi.

ALI: For President Lyndon Johnson, it's the realization of an ambition that's burned for decades.

LUCI JOHNSON: It was exciting beyond belief, to watch my father be elected in a landslide on his own. Up until then, we felt that we were the guardians of President Kennedy's administration.

JOSEPH: When we think about Lyndon Johnson and that campaign, Johnson wants to win and it's both ego, it's politics, but it's also reassurance and control over the Democratic Party that it's his party.

BRINKLEY: Suddenly, he's not just President in his own right. He truly is, who he always dreamed of being having unbridled power and be able to put through programs that were near and dear to his heart, one after the another in the next few years.

ALI: But the 1964 election would ultimately have another more surprising winner.

HEMMER: Barry Goldwater loses in 1964 in an absolute landslide. It's one of the worst losses in American presidential history, and yet in many ways, he won the party.

JONES: '64 is a moment that a different brand of conservatives grabbed the Republican Party. This new right, that is no longer seen as this kind of stuffy Country Club thing, but has a real populist edge to it.

HEMMER: By 1980, when Ronald Reagan wins, it becomes clear that this is Barry Goldwater's party. There was an old joke that Barry Goldwater really did win tonight 1964. It just took them 16 years to count vote.