JFK Library releases White House tapes

John F. Kennedy delivered his final State of the Union address in January of 1963. On Tuesday, the Kennedy Library gave the world a fascinating new insight into his presidency when it released White House audio tapes recorded later that year, in the last three months of his administration.

CBS News correspondent Bill Plante reports that the recordings show that an Oval Office meeting with the Soviet Foreign Minister could be interrupted by the president's children.

"Daddy!" one of them is heard yelling.

"You can just open the door there, just have you say hello to my daughter and son," Kennedy says. "Come in a minute and say hello. Say hello to the Minister. Do you want to say hello to John? And you know the Ambassador."

Photos: The Brothers Kennedy
Photos: Secrets of Camelot
Photos: JFK, the White House years
Photos: JFK, the assassination

In a meeting with political advisers about the 1964 campaign, Kennedy muses about a problem familiar to Democrats today: How to get the support of younger voters in a tough economy.

"What is it that's going to make them go for us? What is it we have to sell 'em? We hope we have to sell them prosperity, but for the average guy, the prosperity is nil. He's not unprosperous, not very prosperous but he's not going to make out well off. And the people who really are well off hate our guts," Kennedy said.

Toward the end of 1963, there were 16,000 American military advisers in South Vietnam. In the Oval Office, a Marine general and a State Department official had just given the president completely opposite views of the Vietnam situation.

"You both went to the same country?" Kennedy asked. "Well, I mean, how is it that you get such different - this is not a new thing, this is what we've been dealing with for three weeks. .....What is the reason for the difference? I'd like to have an explanation."

Then on November 19th, 1963, three days before he went to Dallas, the president refers to a meeting the following Monday, which instead became the day of his funeral.

After an adviser tries to schedule a meeting for that Monday, Kennedy calls it "a tough day."

It was a dark day for the nation but a life illuminated by these tapes.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent