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After the Debate, a Bonfire in the Square LOS ANGELES The adaptability of one’s arguments to the foe of the moment, not to mention \(exappearance into liaison of apparently personal and bitter differences, are plays of politics politicians would as soon the voters not attend, much more calamitous be amused by, but Senator Johnson and Senator Kennedy cannot help itthey are too exposed. Perhaps, if Mr. Rockefeller accepts the Republicans’ vicepresidential position, the senators will be able to take ‘consolation from the correlative ludicrousness of their current enemies’ position. P. is probably just as well that the Kennedy-Johnson debate the day before Senator Kennedy’s nomination did not become a pitched division on the issues. In the retrospect, not to say the prospect of four months’ campaigning together, the senators can take the same attitude toward their dramatic confrontation that wrestling match promoters sometimes adopt with reporters: it’s a good show, and you get free tickets, don’t you? Johnson’s press man, George Reedy, had kept half a dozen reporters waiting around some time the night before the debate, promising them an important announcement, but none came forth. The next morning, however, Johnson met the press with the texts of a wire from “an old friend of mine, John Fitzgerald Kennedy from Massachusetts,” asking to appear before the Texas caucus, and a wire from Johnson to him suggesting a debate before the Texas and Massachusetts delegations. Johnson, of course, was confident, perceiving a “revolt” against an attempt to “hogtie” delegates for Kennedy, as well as desperate straits in the Kennedy camp, what with him sending wires to Southern delegations. In the civil rights connection, Johnson thought to enlighten the reporters with the fact that on 50 quorum calls on civil rights in 1960, all of which the Majority Leader answered, one of his opponents for the nomination had been absent every time. A reporter asked him if the second place on the ticket appealed to him. “No,” Johnson replied. “I think most people know my views on that. I feel my position gives megreater opportunity to serve.” Thereupon two Texas reporters proceeded to the Statler-Hilton and first asked Sen. Kennedy about the debate. He said he had not received the wire yet. Kennedy and Johnson then met by chance outside the North Carolina caucus, and with flash bulbs popping, Johnson told Kennedy he’d sent a wire, and Kennedy said he’d call him about it. Johnson obliged the North Carolina and Wyoming caucuses and Perle Mesta’s little party for 10,000 by reading out the wires. He told the Carolinians he had not “hesitated a shimmy” in supporting farmers’ legislation, on which, of course, Kennedy has shimmied like a belly dancer. Before the Wyoming delegates he said of these same farm issues, “I’ve been voting with you on these things I’m not a recent convert.” As for missing many crucial votes, “I don’t think they ought to be elected because they have neglected their duty.” Senator Kennedy retired for a while to a suite at the Blair House. Conferring with his headquarters by telephone while reporters and photographers waited outside, Kennedy drafted his reply to Johnsonthat he would be glad to appear befpre the Texas In Retrospect, A Fascinating Encounter caucus at 3 o’clock that day and would proceed as Johnson and the Texans wished, but would not bring his own delegation with him. Casual and confident, he said to reporters as he left, “I will go to the Texas delegation this afternoon and discuss any matters of interest.” Johnson received this news by phone as he left the Mayfair Hotel, where a Washington caucus had broken up before he arrived. Arriving at the Biltmore, he leaped out of his Cadillac and, sweat darkening his hair, led with his chin through the crowds. From the jammed elevator landing he pre-empted the first elevator that opened. One of the ordinary citizens did not like being left off and fought briefly but strenuously with Johnson’s bodyguard to get on, which he did. In the excitement Johnson said “watch it” and someone kicked over a cuspidor. “There goes the Southern vote,” sighed a Johnson assistant. Debate Sans Debater Reporters bird-dogging Johnson’s suite on the seventh floor teemed around the elbow of the corridor and exchanged notes. Would Johnson regard Kennedy’s wire as an acceptance? Had Johnson scored a breakthrough? “It’s all very nice,” said one young reporter with an Ivy League accent, “everyone is being very LincolnDouglasish about t.” Gov. Price Daniel and John Connally of Fort Worth told the press about 1:30 that the Texans would meet at 3 o’clock and there would probably be a debate. “I regret your rejection of my invitation that we debate the issues before the joint delegations,” Johnson had wired Kennedy. “I fail to understand your unwillingness to expose the Massachusetts delegation to the benefit of a free debate.” And “May I earnestly ; Jack, urge you to reconsider.” “A revolt has begun,” Gov. Daniel told the national pre3s, “against those who would push and cram a nominee down our throat.” Furthermore, as to Kennedy, “a majority of the delegates from whom we have heard do not believe he can win in November.” The meeting place, the Biltmore’s Grand Ballroom, itself suggested the historicthe seven balconies, each bristling with the artillery of the network television brigades; the candelabra, and the old-world chandelier; the inset columns, topped with gold, along the walls, and the traditional painted ceiling. The chairs had been set out in arcs smoothly spanning the great chamber. The reporters were let through the mob assembling outside and sat together on the left side, waiting and speculating: Who would “win”? Would they kill each other off? Did Kennedy, by coming, hope to thrust Stevenson, the real threat to him, further into the shadows? Did he also have in mind the charge, of a rigged convention? Jake Jacobsen, secretary of the Texas delegation, said with some pride that “this took a lot of thinking” and that Kennedy “really blundered.” For the Johnson cause the debate was a windfall. Two podia were spiked with 16 microphones. At 2:15 two whitening TV lights were turned on, and the ballroom glistened under them. At two minutes to three, Johnson came in with his wife. The press swarmed after him like water swirling after a stick. Amid great disorder, and in Kennedy’s absence, Johnson took a position at the microphone. John Bryson, the mustachioed Life photographer, could be espied behind his camera, somehow perched high above the crowd. The Texas delegation came in from a side entrance, and Johnson flashed V’s, bucking he head like a bronc to their cheers. Although Kennedy had still not arrived, Johnson began, reviewing the development of the debate, saying it was designed “to focus the really serious issues,” and remarking, visa-vis Kennedy’s decision not to bring his delegation, that “Apparently Jack wasn’t as sure of his home delegation as I feel I can be.” Then, with a flourish, Johnson said, “Senator Kennedy, is he is here, I will now yield to you.” Of course, he was not, as everyone knew. During the ensuing pause, Johnson gave some more V signs, and the Texans roared their approval. The Debate Begins Gov. Daniel asked if Senator Kennedy was there, and was told he was on his way. “Reminds me of an old vaudeville show,” said one reporter to another” ‘Now, do you see that I have nothing in my hand?’ ” The other, responding, suggested, “Let’s sing ‘The Eyes of Texas’ to set a proper mood.” Daniel asked who was watching the side door and learned Jake Pickle was. “Will you please open up that door and let everybody from Texas in there who can possibly get in here?” he said to him. This, of course, evoked considerable laughter, and Daniel added about the main entrance, “That door is fbr delegates from Massachusettskeep it open for them.” Kennedy arrived. If his delegation was not present, many of Ms fans were; and the Texans, as well, received him with enthusiasm. He sat down beside Daniel with an amused smile, stroking his underchin, no fear or alarm in his face, and waited while Johnson introduced him as “a man of unusually high character, a man of great intellect . . . John Fitzgerald Kennedy.” When he went to the mike, there was pandemonium and photography, and Johnson rejoined him for the pictures. Speaking without notes, forcefully, with his right hand gesturing in emphatic rapport with his inner tension, ‘Kenn dy made l i a powerful impression. 0 his feet only seven mutes, he dealt with the situation lightly, and far from making a “first affirmative speech,” argued rather for his candidacy in Texas in November. There had been rumors that since he might seek to replace Johnson as Majority Leader, as Time Magazine said he would, Johnson might switch to Stevenson, and the Boston gentleman-politician may have had this in mind when he said he had supported Johnson every time for Majority Leader, and “If I am kept in the Senate by popular demand, I shall continue to vote for him as the presidential nominee and as Majority Leader if he shares my fate.” He did not, he conceded, expect a groundswell in the Texas delegation for him, and did not ask their support, but was visiting the Texas caucus in the hope that the delegates would leave the convention united behind the purpose of winning in November, “in Texas as well as Massachusetts.” Johnson had suggested “we might debate the issues,” but he did not think Johnson and he disagreed on the great issues that faced them. “Our great challenge is to demonstrate that we can make the free society work,” he said. There Historic, For Surprising Reasons was the need to prevent the economic calamity that high interest would bring about. And we would need to change the Secretary of Agriculture. Though he himself came from an urban background, Kennedy said, “I have supported, for the past four or five years, strong parity support prices. Any other policy shortchanges not only the farmers but the consumers.” “If Senator JohnSon is nominated, I will stump all over Masachusetts for him,” Kennedy concluded, “and I am confident that if I am nominated in this convention, Senator Johnson will take me by the hand and campaign with me all over the state of Texas.” Very well received, Kennedy had spotted Johnson on a possibility he evidently feared: a lukewarm Texas campaign for his candidacy. He had referred glancingly to disagreements with the Texans on civil rights, but he would support the platform “in all of its particulars,” and was confident Johnson Would if he was nomin ted. He had not drawn any blood on Johnson’s record, keeping firmly in mind his desire to carry Texas. Johnson’s Thrusting Johnson had announced he would not ask Kennedy for “equal time” but that he would siaeak after him. As far as anyone knew that , was to be the end of itif Kennedy had a rejoinder coming, the audien-.e didn’t know it. Johnson’s approach was entirely different from Kendedy’saggressive, bristling with criticisms of Kennedy, and much more ponderous, mostly read, somewhat slowly, from a text. He was proceeding on the assumption that he and the Bostonian were having a debate. He could not, however, without the Massachusetts delegation present. He asked the delegates from Massachusetts to stand: only six or seven did so. He called attention, then, to the presence of a former mayor of Boston in the audience. He planned to spend all the energy he had, he said, to see that the Democratic nominee “not only carries Texas and Massachusetts, but sweeps the entire nation.” Reading, he said the Democrats would not veto or vote for a man because of his religion or region. The international situation was serious, and “through panic and lack of judgment we could in a matter of moments destroy our civilization.” A hundred years ago, he said, an easterner had been considered for the presidency, “but the convention in its wisdom turned West, and Abraham Lincoln was nominated.” Lincoln had said ” ‘none of us is great enough’ the job, and, added Johnson, “in today’s greater crisis we are I think, none of us really great enough.” Then Johnson began his thrusting: “I share Sen. Kennedy’s views of the last four or five years on the farm program. I’ve shared ’em for 24 years, since I first went at any time in my public life embraced any of the policies of Ezra Taft Benson.” He had never been against damming streams and rivers, REA, rural telephones. “I feel no superiority because of my race or my religion or my region,” Johnson saidclamping his lips together and snapping his head forward for emphasis after the word, “region.” “I think we Protestants proved in West Virginia that we will vote for a Catholic. Now what we want is equal treatment, proof that some of these Catholic states will vote for a Protestant.” As president Johnson said, he would see to it that “no person is discriminated against because of race, religion, or region; and I shall see to it that every person’s full constitutional rights are protected, regardless of his color.” Defending his civil rights performances fOr the right to vote, he noted that six days and nights, “I had to deliver a quota of 51 men on a moment’s notice. On those 50 quorum calls Lyndon Johnson answered every one of ’em. Although some men who would be president on a civil rights platform answered none.” On 45 roll calls on civil rights, “Lyndon Johnson answered all 45. Admittedly I didn’ have the problem that some of my people did, of opposing Sen. Morse and Sen. Humphrey in four primaries. But some senators missed 34 of the 45.” This was fairly close bayonet work with Kennedy sitting right behind him on the platform. But it got closer. “I did not think you would reward negligence. I did not think you would reward me for inattention, nor did I think, as Al Smith did, that you would penalize me,” Johnson said. Having spoken 18 minutes, Johnson announced that he should like to hear anything else Senator Kennedy would like to say. Concluding two minutes later on the note that Kennedy was “one of the ablest leaders in our party” and that he knew all the Texans would support him if he was nominated, Johnson gave the mike back to Kennedy. Kennedy refused to join in combat, choosing overhead flares instead. “He made some general references to candidates, but since they were not specific, I assume he was thinking about some other candidates and not me,” he said, smiling broadly. If he won the