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The Daisy Option

White House aide Jack Valenti plots the Johnson campaign’s scorched-earth strategy.

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Illustration by Tony Millionaire  

For the president:

Here are suggestions on what course the campaign should take. It is based on the polls and what they reveal—on conversations with newsmen and state political leaders—and on what has been written in the various newspapers. It assumes some validity in all the above three sources.

I. FACT: Our main strength lies not so much in the FOR Johnson but in the AGAINST Goldwater.

Therefore: We ought to treat Goldwater not as an equal, who has credentials to be President, but as a radical, a ­preposterous candidate who would ruin this country and our future.

Method: Humor, barbs, jokes, ridicule. If we lambast him in rebuttal, if we answer his charges seriously, if we accept him as a legitimate candidate, we will be elevating him. Practically all our answers ought to be mantled in ridicule. We ought to get some gag writers to destroy Goldwater-Miller with barbed replies, garmented in humor. We must make him ridiculous and a little scary: trigger-happy, a bomb thrower, a radical, absurd to be president, wonderful local chamber of commerce president but not the Nation’s leader, will sell TVA, cancel social security, abolish the government, stir trouble in NATO be the herald of World War III.

We must depict Miller as some April Fool’s gag—cannot possibly consider him vice-president material. Show absentee record, lack of confidence in him by his own constituents. We must treat as first objective: maintaining in the public mind the firm fear that Goldwater as president would be a vast national joke if it weren’t so dangerous to imagine. If we treat him seriously, we will surely lose support.

II. FACT: It is becoming certain that as the campaign goes forward the main thrust of Goldwater-Miller will be to demean the president—the smell of scandal, Bobby Baker, Estes, McCloskey, immorality, thievery, Johnson family fortune, TV station, etc.

Therefore: We should attack on two levels. First, to establish the origin of the Johnson family fortune—based on one thing and one thing only: the appreciation of the worth of a TV station. Once this has been firmly rooted, it is difficult to make credible some supposed wrong-doing.

And second, to hit Goldwater-Miller HARD through other voices on their own immorality of the Republican party.

Method: First, to show the appreciation of the general run of TV stations. Show specific appreciation of a dozen or so TV stations in other cities, how they have grown in value.

Attack Goldwater-Miller for refusal to show sources of income. Intimate Miller has connections with pin-ball operators. Cite Goldwater’s mother on payroll. (He wants old people to take care of themselves without government help, yet he uses fraudulent write-off to support his own mother.)

Strike hard at John Byrnes on Baker case and Representative Anderson on Billie Sol Estes. Goldwater’s connections with gamblers.

Our objective here: to establish Goldwater-Miller as candidates of contradiction—and almost laughable as candidates for the two top offices.

We need to set forth the opposites of Goldwater’s statements. He needs to be shown up as totally incredible.

SO: 1. Treat the ticket as joke. Theme: This would be funny if it weren’t so serious. Use gags, barbs of humor.

2. Don’t rebut seriously. Don’t bring G-M up to the J-H level.

3. Only strike seriously when they take up the nuclear issue again.

4. Attack Republicans before being attacked on specific immorality within the Republicans.

5. Lay groundwork for source of Johnson family fortune: appreciation of TV-station value.

6. Keep fear of Goldwater as unstable, impulsive, reckless in public’s mind. This is our strongest asset. Don’t let up on the possibility of Goldwater dismantling federal government—specific hits on social security, TVA, farm subsidies.

7. Never let up on “contradictions.” Show and show again how he is on all sides of question. This is the best way to prove instability, uncertainty.

8. Finally, president stays above the battle. He is president and acts like one.


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