NEW YORK (AP) — President John F. Kennedy openly scorned the notion of Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson succeeding him in office, according to a book of newly released interviews with his widow, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

She said her husband and his brother then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy even discussed ways to prevent Johnson from winning the Democratic nomination in a future contest.

The book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” includes a series of interviews the former first lady gave to historian Arthur M. Schelsinger Jr. shortly after her husband was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. Over seven sessions, she recalled conversations on topics ranging from her husband’s reading habits to the botched Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.

The book will be published by New York-based Hyperion Books on Sept. 14. The Associated Press bought a copy on Thursday.

JFK chose Johnson, a Texas senator and former political rival, as his running mate in 1960. But Jacqueline Kennedy told Schlesinger in the 1964 interviews that he often fretted about the prospect of a Johnson presidency.

“Jack said it to me sometimes. He said, `Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon were president?”‘ she recalled. “And Bobby told me that he’d had some discussions with him … do something to name someone else in 1968.”

Johnson was sworn in as president after JFK’s assassination and was elected to a full term in 1964. He declined to seek re-election in 1968.

Jacqueline Kennedy said JFK, a Democrat, had named Henry Cabot Lodge, a Republican he had defeated for a Massachusetts Senate seat in 1952, as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam because JFK was so doubtful of military success there.

“I think he probably did it … rather thinking it might be such a brilliant thing to do because Vietnam was rather hopeless anyway, and put a Republican there,” Jacqueline Kennedy said.

JFK sent military advisers to Vietnam to help train the South Vietnamese Army to contain communism. Johnson, as president, would later commit ground troops to the conflict.

Jacqueline Kennedy painted an unflattering portrait of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the book, calling him “tricky” and suggesting he was sexually adventurous. She said he had mocked her husband’s funeral and Cardinal Richard Cushing, who celebrated Mass at the funeral.

“He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and said that he was drunk at it,” she said. “And things about they almost dropped the coffin. I just can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible.”

The book comes with eight audio CDs of the interviews.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s voice is strong and clear, but the interviews are occasionally interrupted by sounds of her children, Caroline, who was 5 at the time, and John Jr., who was 3.

The book barely mentions JFK’s assassination. In a forward, Caroline Kennedy says her mother had discussed the assassination at length with historian William Manchester but later sued to keep much of the material from being published until 2067.

Caroline Kennedy said the interviews in the new book were “by far the most important” her mother, who died in 1994, ever gave.

“My mother willingly recalled the span of her married life and shared her insights into my father’s private and public political personality,” Caroline Kennedy wrote.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (5)
  1. Karen says:

    What a weird reaction to Martin Luther King. I do not believe that MLK laughed at her husband’s funeral. I can not imagine that at all. And why did she even bring it up? Wasn’t she mourning at her husband’s funeral?

  2. joeboy says:

    Why was FBI taping MLK

    1. Ramin says:

      Over at Firedoglake, there is in my opinion, on the sertatgic missteps of Caroline Kennedy over the past few weeks and they call into question her ability to make sound political choices.I think the Governor is absolutely right to not announce his choice until after Hillary formally resigns- I don’t blame Hillary for not putting all her eggs in one basket by the way- she’s saying she won’t resign from the Senate until after she is confirmed as Sec’y of State- but I am not sure why Mayor Bloomberg expects Gov. Patterson to announce his choice now, given Hillary is still Senator.On another note, it’s not lost on many pro-Hillary, Anti-Obama folks that appointing Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary’s seat is a bit like throwing salt on an open wound when Kennedy and her uncle Ted (apparently, the Liberal Lion of the Senate didn’t like being taken for granted by the other Clinton, Bill) threw their support behind Obama and when Caroline may have had a role in nixing the idea of Hillary for VP.

  3. joeboy says:

    Typical racism in 1950″s and 1960″s

  4. Sandy says:

    I agree complicitly with your asiylnas between JFK and Obama. JFK loved America and governed that way. Obama hates America and governs that way. In my eyes, Obama is the BIGGEST FAILURE of a president this country has ever elected. I wasn\’t too crazy with Clinton he was the beginning of a dark time for our country, but even he was a better president than Obama. At least with Clinton, I knew he loved America without question. With Obama, it is without question that he hates the country he governs. I still shake my head at the people who cast their vote for this loser. With just a little bit of research, anyone could have known how he would be A DISASTER.Reply

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