President John F. Kennedy was so “worried for the country” about the prospect that Vice President Lyndon Johnson might succeed him as president that he’d begun having private conversations about who should become the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer in 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy recalled in a series of oral-history interviews recorded in early 1964.
She said her husband believed strongly that Johnson shouldn’t become president and, in the months before his death in November 1963, he’d begun talking to his brother, Robert Kennedy, about ways to maneuver around Johnson in 1968.
“Bobby told me this later, and I know Jack said it to me sometimes. He said, ‘Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?'” she said.
The president gave no serious consideration to dropping Johnson from the ticket in 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy recalled. But he did have some talks about how to avoid having Johnson run for president in 1968, at the end of what would have been Kennedy’s second term, she said.
“He didn’t like that idea that Lyndon would go on and be president because he was worried for the country,” she said. “Bobby told me that he’d had some discussions with him. I forget exactly how they were planning or who they had in mind. It wasn’t Bobby, but somebody. Do something to name someone else in ’68.”