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LBJ and RFK Form Mutual Admiration Society

July 8, 1964 - President Johnson and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy exchanged high praise for each other today. The Attorney General said the country was fortunate to have Mr. Johnson as President. Mr. Johnson hailed Mr. Kennedy as “our outstanding Attorney General” who he said had rendered a service to the nation in awakening the national conscience to the cause of equal justice.

The occasion was a talk by the President in the East Room of the White House, where he greeted U.S. Attorneys, some of them with their wives and children, who were in Washington for a conference. The exchange was considered noteworthy for at least two reasons. First, there have been reports of coolness between the Attorney General and the President; second, despite such reports, there has been speculation that Mr. Johnson might ask the brother of President Kennedy to run for Vice President on the Democratic ticket this fall.

The remarks by both men today served to support indications in recent weeks that the relationship between them had improved considerably.

Mr. Kennedy’s laudatory remarks today followed his commendation of Mr. Johnson yesterday at the opening meeting of the Conference of U.S. Attorneys. At that time, the Attorney General said President Johnson’s leadership was responsible for general nationwide compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“He has spoken out,” Mr. Kennedy said of the President. “There is confidence in him and confidence in his judgment, and the people have followed him.”

Today, the Attorney General, in introducing the President, commended the Government attorneys to Mr. Johnson as persons who had been “dedicated to the interests of President Kennedy and now with great energy and devotion serve your interest.”

Mr. Kennedy said the attorneys were fortunate in their careers “and they are fortunate in having you as President of the United States.”

Mr. Johnson, who had been sitting with Mrs. Kennedy, smiled broadly and with obvious pleasure as he got up to shake the Attorney General’s hand and address the group.

In Mr. Johnson’s prepared talk, Mr. Kennedy was not mentioned by name. The President, however, in urging the attorneys to be “restless champions of the cause of equal justice for the poor as well as the rich,” said:

“Our outstanding Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, has performed a great service for our nation in awakening our national conscience in this regard.”

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