Johnson and Humphrey


In the photo taken by John Dominis for LIFE/Getty, the morning after Lyndon Johnson’s election victory in November 1964, he celebrated by outfitting the new Vice President, Senator Hubert Humphrey from Minnesota, in western duds and putting him on a horse at the Texas ranch. Hubert did not look comfortable–Johnson considered his vice president as a ‘greenhorn’ and enjoyed placing him in uncomfortable position.

At the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Johnson kept the three likely vice presidential candidates: Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd and Minnesota Senators Eugene McCarthy, and Hubert Humphrey. He kept his choice secret from three candidates as well as from the rest of the nation. Even before announcing Humphrey as his running-mate with much fanfare, he praised his choice’s qualifications for a considerable amount of time before announcing his name. The next day, Humphrey’s fiery acceptance speech overshadowed Johnson’s own acceptance address.

His vice-presidency, however, was less successful–he disagreed with many of LBJ’s policies, but he couldn’t publicly criticize Johnson. Johnson threatened Humphrey that if he publicly opposed his Administration’s Vietnam War policy, he would destroy Humphrey’s chances to become President by opposing his nomination at the next Democratic Convention. Many liberals and progressives felt let down by Humphrey, a sentiment reflected in a satirical song by Tom Lehrer entitled “Whatever Became of Hubert?” (“I wonder how many people here tonight remember Hubert Humphrey. He used to be a senator…”).

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