George Smathers, JFK, LBJ and Nixon

U.S. Senator George A. Smathers sharing a laugh with Governor Collins and President Kennedy. 1961. Black & white photoprint, 8 x 10 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. , accessed 24 February 2020.

George Smathers lives in infamy as the winner of the nasty 1950 Florida Democratic Primary for US Senate. In that primary Smathers defeated liberal icon incumbent Senator Claude Pepper with a red-baiting campaign that ushered in the McCarthy era. But Smathers Senate career saw him as close as anyone to the center of power. Close personal friends with John F. Kennedy, Smathers was the only non-family member that was part of the wedding party for his wedding to Jackie.  Smathers was also close with Lyndon Johnson and was at the center of Richard Nixon’s Miami-based political operation, introducing Nixon to Bebe Rebozo and selling Nixon his property on Key Biscayne.

A unique historical figure, we discuss Smathers on this week’s Florida History Podcast.

You can listen to the Florida History Podcast on Anchor (which hosts our show), SpotifyGoogleAppleRadio PublicBreakerOvercastCastro or Pocket Casts. Overcast, Castro, Spotify, Radio Public and Breaker have App Store apps for free which enable you to subscribe and listen on your iPhone if you do not use the Apple Podcast app. We release a new episode weekly.

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