WASHINGTON, June 5, 1968 (UPI) -- President Johnson today led a horrified nation in praying for the recovery of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was critically wounded in an assassination attempt in Los Angeles. Lawmakers voiced fear "the world has gone mad." Johnson, who succeeded to the office of president when John F. Kennedy was slain before his eyes in Dallas four years ago, said "There are no words equal to the horror" of this newest tragedy.
"All America prays for his recovery," Johnson said. "We also pray that divisiveness and violence be driven from the hearts of men everywhere."
The President, who spent much of the night watching television accounts of the tragic shooting and its aftermath, also ordered the Secret Service to immediately assign a detail to guard the other presidential candidates.
Johnson consulted with Attorney General Ramsey Clark and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. The attorney general ordered the FBI into the case under authority of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Clark also ordered James P. McShane, chief U.S. marshal, to take command of a guard detail posted at Kennedy's home, Hickory Hill, in suburban Fairfax County, Va.
Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr., who was consoled by the Kennedys when her own husband was assassinated by a sniper two months ago, wired Mrs. Kennedy: "I am praying for our country in this period of great national tragedy and peril."
"Make no mistake about it," said Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn). "Our society is threatened."
A mass was offered in Boston by Richard Cardinal Cushing who sadly said he had prayed at the funeral of President Kennedy that such a thing might never happen again.
Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York expressed "shock and sorrow at the tragic event" and canceled two scheduled appearances in Washington today.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who served with the former attorney general in the cabinet, said: "I am deeply shocked and distressed by this senseless act of violence."
Sen. Ralph Y. Yarborough (D-Tex.), who was riding with Lyndon B. Johnson two cars behind the presidential limousine when President John F. Kennedy was slain by a sniper in Dallas, said today:
"The horror of it is that political assassination in this country is becoming as common as it is. America has to reorient and take stock of itself that this has become so common in our public life."
"My God," gasped House Speaker John W. McCormack on being told of the shooting. "What is this country..." and his voice trailed off. "It's terrible, it's indescribable."
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield said he was "terrible disheartened and saddened that another member of the Kennedy family has been attacked in this manner."
Senate Republican Leader Everett M. Dirksen termed the shooting "a disaster of national proportions" and said it only emphasizes the lawlessness which grips the nation.
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, visiting the Air Force Academy in Colorado, said his "hopes and prayers" were with Kennedy. He canceled a graduation speech at the academy and flew to Washington.
"It is a shocking and terrible thing that has happened," Humphrey said. "Our hopes and prayers are with Sen. Kennedy and those others who have been the victims of this dreadful act of violence."
Cong. Paul Findley (R-Ill) said, "That family has been plagued with tragedy. It's terrible. It points up the need for immediate action to establish law and order."
House Republican leader Gerald Ford, a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy, said, "it's shocking, unbelievable."