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President Johnson Prepares McCormack for Presidency — Just In Case

Dec. 3, 1963 - President Johnson took the first steps today to prepare 71-year-old John W. McCormack (pictured right), the man next in line for the Presidency, for “any contingency.” From now on, the Boston Democrat who is Speaker of the House will take part in sessions of the National Security Council and other “key decision-making meetings,” the White House announced. Besides today’s measures to keep Mr. McCormack more fully informed of executive decisions, the Administration is groping for a broad plan to “train” the Speaker for the possibility that he may assume the reins of government. President Johnson, who is 55, suffered a severe heart attack 8 years ago. However, doctors who examined him recently said he was in robust health. Starting with President Eisenhower, Vice Presidents have been kept informed of critical developments and have attended top secret National Security Council meetings and other conferences where major decisions are made. However, since Vice President Johnson succeeded to the Presidency at the death of Mr. Kennedy, there is no Vice President, and there will be none until the inauguration in January 1965. Harry Truman, while Vice President, was not similarly kept informed, and he complained of his lack of knowledge in this field immediately after he became President at the death of Franklin Roosevelt.


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