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1964: Election triumph for Lyndon B Johnson

VIDEO : A profile on winning candidate Lyndon B Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson has been elected president of the United States defeating hard-line Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona by an overwhelming majority.

The man who took over the presidency last year after the assassination of President Kennedy got the largest popular majority in US history - greater than Franklin D Roosevelt's landslide victory in 1936.

His Democrats won 44 states and the District of Columbia with 486 votes. Senator Goldwater took just six states with 52 electoral votes.

Final results are still coming in but the Democrats took 293 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Republicans won 139 taking 11 from the Democrats, mostly in the South.

Electronic analysis of results showed a groundswell of support for President Johnson from young blacks voting for the first time since the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Democrats won 27 of the 35 seats in the Senate, among them two of the late President Kennedy's brothers - Robert and Edward.

This should allow controversial legislation - such as on medical care and area redevelopment projects - to get through relatively easily.

'A mandate for unity'

In his victory speech at the Municipal Auditorium of Austin, Texas, President Johnson thanked his supporters, his "loyal wife" and paid tribute to his predecessor, President Kennedy and vowed to continue his program of social reform.

The 36th President of the United States will have Hubert Humphrey as his vice-president.

He said the victory was "a mandate for unity for a government that serves no special interest ... it will be a government that provides equal opportunity for all and special privileges for none."

Senator Goldwater's concession speech at the Camelback Inn, near Phoenix, Arizona, was defiant in the face of crushing defeat.

He indicated his party's loss was due to internal differences within the Republican Party saying the moderates "have no difference at all with the Democratic concepts".

Heads of state in Europe reacted with relief at the news that a Democrat had won the presidency.

President Johnson received telegrams of congratulation from the Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin and President Anastas Mikoyan.

Moscow Radio said Americans had chosen the "more moderate and sober policy" towards East-West relations.

British Prime Minister Harold Wilson also sent a telegram and has plans to go to Washington soon to discuss Anglo-American relations with the president.

In Context
The campaign for the 1964 election took place in the middle of the escalating Vietnam War.

Senator Goldwater's demands that North Vietnam should be continuously bombed and his questioning of the US social security system proved unpopular.

The Democrats adopted a social reform platform, with President Johnson, also known as LBJ, campaigning as a candidate of peace, pledging not to widen US military involvement in Vietnam.

But soon after his election he increased the number of US troops in the region after sustained attacks by the communist Viet Cong. Troops numbers continued to mount reaching a peak of 550,000 in 1968.

In spite of this increase, there seemed no end to the war and LBJ's public support declined.

What is more, the cost of the war sucked money away from social programmes and began to fuel inflation.

Living standards for black Americans failed to improve and there were several race riots in the mid to late 1960s all over America.

On 31 March, 1968, LBJ shocked TV viewers with a national address in which he announced major reductions in the bombing of North Vietnam and a plan to request peace talks. He also said he would not be running for nomination for the 1968 presidency.

In 1969 LBJ retired to his ranch in near Johnson City, Texas. He died in January 1973 of a heart attack.


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