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LBJ Confers with DNC at White House

Jan. 11, 1964 - President Johnson made his first frankly partisan speech tonight to the first purely political group he has invited to the White House. Standing under a picture of Abraham Lincoln in the State Dining Room, the President told members of the Democratic National Committee he could not understand why his budget had not gotten a warmer Republican reception. “I always though there could be nothing more satisfying to economy-minded Republicans than the reduction of the budget,” he declared. He recalled that Representative Leslie Arends (R-Ill.) had accused him of providing “something for everyone” in his budget. “He sounds kind of sorry, doesn’t he?” Mr. Johnson asked, and his guests laughed. The President quoted Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) as saying that the Johnson budget “out-Roosevelts Roosevelt, out-Kennedys Kennedy, and makes Truman look like a piker.” “What finer compliment could anyone have?” Mr. Johnson inquired, and the Democratic leaders cheered. These critical Republicans, the President insisted, are “good patriotic men who just have a little difficulty understanding a President when he tries to do something for all the people.”

The White House reception came at the end of a day in which the Democratic party paid its farewell to John F. Kennedy and formally opened the political era of President Lyndon Johnson. Meeting for the first time since the assassination, the Democratic leadership divided its attention between saluting its former leader and starting the election campaign of his successor. Committee members paid their respects to Mr. Kennedy by resolution and then expressed their loss more personally with a visit to his grave across the Potomac in Arlington National Cemetery. Then the party leaders joined the President at the White House reception. Before the day was over, the Democrats had begun organizing the national convention that will nominate Mr. Johnson next August.



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