JFK in Forth Worth got up close to Texans happy to see him. (www.codewit.com) It was so darkly ironic and therefor all the more painful, recalled my late, great friend Liz Carpenter, a proud sixth-generation Texan, because “a real effort was made to inspire peoplei into giving President Kennedy the warmest and most enthusiastic welcome the Lone Star could muster.” Liz Carpenter and Lady Bird Johnson (notevenpast.org) I first met Liz in 1990 to conduct an interview for my book First Ladies, volume 2, about her work as First Lady Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Press Secretary but we remained good friends from that day forward and talked about everything under the sun. It was in her capacity as an aide to then-Vice President Johnson that she was in the official party on President and Mrs. Kennedy’s fateful trip to Texas. She knew well about the misgivings about the President including the city of Dallas on his itinerary. Liz Carpenter. (notevenpast.org) During the 1960 presidential campaign, the equally unabashed Texas-proud Lady Bird Johnson, had been campaigning as the wife of the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate when she was spat upon in Dallas by those opposing JFK and LBJ because they refused to support racial segregation. Dallas protestors at Stevenson’s speech. (dmagazine.com) Less than a month before the Kennedys arrived in Texas, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been hit on the head with a placard by someone advocating that the U.S. pull out of the United Nations. Senator William Fulbright point-blank told JFK, “Dallas is a very dangerous place. I wouldn’t go there. Don’t you go.” This view was supported by no less a person than Texas Governor John Connally. JFK, Connally and LBJ. He felt the Dallas stop should be reconsidered since some elements there could be “too emotional.” A Dallas woman wrote White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger, “Don’t let the President come down here. I’m worried about him. I think something terrible will happen to him.” An Austin newspaper editor, “He will not get through this without something happening to him.” FDR, Jr. seated at far right in car with JFK campaigning in 1960. Liz Carpenter recalled, however, that President Kennedy insisted on keeping Dallas in the itinerary. He pointed out that his Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., son of the president, had told him how each time his father’s public schedule and open-car parade route through cities
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