Face the Nation transcripts November 17, 2013: JFK assassination 50th anniversary

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on November 17, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Luci Baines Johnson Turpin, former Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth, former Associated Press correspondent Mike Cochran, former Chief Resident at Parkland Hospital Ronald Jones, Douglas Brinkley, Thurston Clarke, Larry Sabato, David Gergen and Peggy Noonan.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We begin our broadcast with Luci Baines Johnson, the daughter of Lyndon Johnson. She was a 16- year-old student at the National Cathedral School in Washington. She was in Spanish class that day when she got word that there had been trouble in Dallas.

Good morning and welcome.

JOHNSON: Good morning, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you so much.

JOHNSON: It's my honor to be here.

SCHIEFFER: You were in Spanish class.

JOHNSON: Yes. we had just finished lunch and walked back in to our Spanish class and had not settled into the class yet and a young girl came running in saying, "The president's been shot. The president's been shot."

And of course the entire class was in a state of a deer in headlights and trauma. And our teacher said, "Girls, girls, we know nothing about the truth of all of these rumors, and until we do, there will be Spanish."

You can imagine no one of course was listening to those instructions, but the instructions of the heart were overwhelming.

SCHIEFFER: What happened after you got this first word?

JOHNSON: Well, shortly afterwards, while there was a twitter in the room, the bells of the National Cathedral began to ring and ring and ring. And 400 girls, without saying a word, rose from their chairs and walked single file down into the gymnasium, which also served as our chapel.

Without any instruction, these 400 women, young women fell to their knees and listened to our headmistress tell us that the president indeed had been shot; his condition was considered very troubling. Governor Connally had been shot and his condition was unknown but considered very troubling. And they asked for all of our prayers.

But no one ever said a word about my father or mother. No one said a word, period. And then we were dismissed. And I wandered out into the quadrangle of the school in a daze. I looked over and saw that the Secret Service had very thoughtfully sent a man I knew, one of my father's detail, and I turned and ran in the other direction as if I could run away from the inevitable. And of course I wasn't capable of outrunning a Secret Service agent.

SCHIEFFER: But you were afraid he was coming with bad news?

JOHNSON: Of course I was. And he grabbed me, and he said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Luci." And I just beat on his chest and said, "No, Gene, no."

And he said, "I'm sorry."

And no one even mentioned what "I'm sorry" or "No" was all about because the words were just unsayable.

SCHIEFFER: Well, when did you finally find out what had happened to your mom and dad and that they were safe?

JOHNSON: Well, I asked Gene. I said, "And Daddy and Mother?"

And he said, "They're OK."

SCHIEFFER: Did you ever see your mom and dad that night when they finally got back to Washington? I know it was very late.

JOHNSON: My -- my mother, yes. My mother came straight home and to comfort me momentarily but then to be all consumed by the work at hand. And my father went immediately to the executive office building and did not come in until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.

I did see him. We hugged briefly. And then for the days and weeks to come, it was, sort of, 24/7. There was so much that had to be attended to.

SCHIEFFER: Did he -- how did he seem? Was he different than you had come to know him?

JOHNSON: Strong and steady, determined to do the right thing, measured. When all the rest of the world was in a state of great trauma, I think he knew that indeed an evil person had killed our president but it was his responsibility to show the world that they couldn't kill our country. And so the continuity of serving the American people must go on, and that was, I think, his every moment.

SCHIEFFER: When did you finally move into the White House? And what must that have been like?

JOHNSON: Well, one night I heard my mother and father actually had raised voices. And that was just not in their temperament. And my mother was saying, "No, Lyndon, we just can't. We just can't."

And my father was saying empathetically but firmly, "Bird, we have to."

And she said, "Why, Lyndon?"

And he said, "We have to move on December 7th because that's the date that's convenient to Mrs. Kennedy and to the Secret Service and it is their convenience that we must honor."

And my mother said, "Any day but."

And he said, "I'm sorry."

And I was a post-War baby. I didn't understand that December 7th was a day that would live in infamy forever for their generation. November 22nd had become that day for me.

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