|Date(s):||April 26, 1964|
|Tag(s):||Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, New Frontier, Wallace Turner, Kennedy Family|
|Course:||“JFK,” Marist College|
|Rating:||5 (1 votes)|
The article, “Robert Kennedy Seen Undecided,” published in the New York Times on April 26, 1964 showcased both the tremendous interest and lack of information on the intentions of both Kennedy and Johnson. New York Times reporter Wallace Turner wrote, “The other surviving brother in the family, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts has told his friends that he doubts seriously if Robert Kennedy knows what he wants to do.” The press interest in Kennedy may not have been as organic as it appeared. Turner served as a Press Secretary in the Kennedy Administration. Despite Kennedy being the popular favorite among Democrats for the Vice Presidency, Johnson detested the idea of choosing a Kennedy as his running mate in an effort to forge his own legacy.
Following the assassination of his brother, the once confident Robert F. Kennedy suddenly felt unsure of himself in Washington. RFK served as John F. Kennedy’s most trusted advisor in addition to being the Attorney General. Although RFK remained the Attorney General for several months under Lyndon B. Johnson, RFK lacked the purpose and drive he displayed while serving his brother. RFK fell into a deep depression immediately after his brother’s death and did not report to work for weeks according to On His Own: Robert Kennedy, 1964-1968, by William Vanden Heuvel.
Under immense internal and external pressure, Robert Kennedy weighed his options for the next chapter of his life. Upon leaving his post as Attorney General in September 1964, the press widely speculated on where RFK would end up. Vanden Heuvel, a close associate of RFK, named some of the positions RFK considered pursuing following his departure from the Johnson Administration. The positions included several ambassadorships, Governor of Massachusetts, and New York State Senator. Taking over JFK’s legacy required RFK to run for office for the first time in his life. Lacking his late brother’s charisma, RFK benefited from immense carryover support from his brother in the Democratic Party.
RFK’s popularity in the Democratic party made him a de facto candidate for Vice President to the incumbent Johnson in the 1964 election. RFK coveted the Vice Presidency because it would give him the greatest ability to fulfil JFK’s policy goals. RFK admired the Johnson administration’s continuation of many of the New Frontier programs and legislation introduced by JFK. Much to the delight of Johnson, the same polls of the Democratic Party that showed the steadfast support for RFK also revealed that Johnson would not need RFK in order to beat Republican Barry Goldwater.
After Johnson passed over RFK for the Vice Presidency, RFK moved north to run for a senate seat in New York. Kennedy would remain a NY Senator until his death during his campaign for the presidency in 1968. Despite not being named a the Vice Presidential candidate, RFK was able to continue JFK’s legacy of the New Frontier in the senate and later on the campaign trail before his own assassination.