Trump May Not be Wrong Here

By Jack Limpert

“Nothing is presidential except victory. Victory is presidential.”
—Donald Trump, March 29, 2016

In 1968 I was a Congressional Fellow in the office of  Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. I had been working as a journalist for eight years; the fellowship was designed to give journalists and political scientists exposure to the workings of the national government.

In March, after President Lyndon Johnson said he would not run for re-election, Humphrey became a presidential candidate and I became, in effect, an assistant press secretary. I traveled with the writing press; the press secretary traveled with the Vice President, another aide traveled with the broadcast press.

I had never been near the inside of a political campaign and at times I was stunned by the chaos and disorganization. The weekend before the Tuesday election, we were flying somewhere and I was talking with Max Frankel, then the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times. Humphrey was closing strong after breaking with President Johnson on Vietnam and it looked like we had a good chance to win the election.

Back then there was a fair amount of off the record conversation between campaign staff and the press. Talking with people like Frankel, Jack Germond, Walter Mears, and other reporters, we felt we could talk frankly without worrying about getting burned.

It had been a chaotic last few days and I said to Frankel, “Max, if we win, how are we going to run the country? We can’t run a political campaign.”

He said, “Don’t worry, Jack. If you win, we’ll all describe you as political geniuses.”



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