WASHINGTON -- Today is Lyndon B. Johnson's 56th birthday and very possibly the happiest day of his life.
It is the day he returns to Atlantic City, N.J., to accept with due solemnity and formality the Democratic nomination to his first full term as President.
He is due back at the seaside convention site early tonight. A motorcade will carry him down one of the narrow Atlantic City streets and convention officials exhorted everybody to turn out and welcome him.
Johnson, a master showman as well as a master politician, paid an unexpected and triumphal visit to Atlantic City Wednesday night to announce to the wildly cheering delegates of the Democratic National Convention his choice of a vice presidential running mate, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota.
Though the feeling had been building for weeks that the ebullient Humphrey would get the nod, Johnson spun out the drama almost to the last moment but not quite. In an impromptu news conference at nearby Andrews Air Force Base, Md., shortly before his flight to Atlantic City Wednesday night he introduced the smiling Humphrey as "the next vice president."
Decision Began Earlier
Johnson's day of decision began many hours earlier with a brisk 15-lap walk around the south lawn of the White House the equivalent of almost four miles.
At first he told a panting throng of accompanying newsmen, "we've gotten close to decision," and left it at that.
Then on lap No. 11 or 12, he said casually, "you can say that I said I would probably call Sen. Humphrey in the afternoon, and if he is agreeable ... ask him if he would like to come down here."
Johnson praised the Democratic platform as one on which he was "proud to stand, a platform built on solid performance and framed for a future of prosperity and peace."
And talking of the candidate he was about to recommenl for vice President, he said:
"If you select him, you can proudly say to the American people: This is not a sectional choice. This is not just merely the way to balance the ticket. This is simply the best man in America for the job."
Roll Call Began
When the roll of the states began, Roy McCord of Alabama said his delegation wanted to nominate Gov. Carl E. Sanders of Georgia, hut Sanders bowed out immediately. Alaska yielded to Minnesota, and Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy, who also had been under consideration for the vice presidency, placed Humphrey in nomination.