PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Two prominent Maine Democrats are recalling their days working for President Lyndon Johnson. Attorney Harold Pachios was assistant press sceretary, and Victoria Murphy was a secretary to the president.
Johnson, the 36th president, is in the spotlight because of the latest best selling installment in a sweeping biography by Robert Caro.
Murphy recalls that when Johnson took office after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he was eager to pursue an ambitious agenda. Murphy says "When you think about health care and clean air... helping the poor, education, his war on poverty-- all of these things-- the country was ripe and he was ready to go."
Pachios says Johnson often mistrusted him because he was not part of the Texas inner circle. As for his dealings with other Mainers, LBJ liked Republican Margaret Chase Smith from their days in the Senate, but frequently butted heads with the equally stubborn Democrat Ed Muskie. --for example, during a lengthy fight over a judicial appointment. Pachios recals when Johnson gave in, and came to the press office. "He said you might as well put out that press release about that judge from Maine. Anybody that wants his man that bad ought to have him. So he respected Muskie. Muskie was in there pumping for his man, and Johnson respected that."
Pachios and Murphy agree that Johnson made serious mistakes over the war in Vietnam, partly because he was worried about being called a coward is he withdraw American troops.
You can hear more of our conversation with Murphy and Pachios Monday and Tuesday on "207."