John Connally – the real target?

Nov 27, 1963 (Parkland hospital bed)

John Connally
And I know of course that some now speculate that well, it was me that the man was after, not him. Of course I had been campaigning all over Texas all last year for eleven months, all this year riding in parades, horseback, in cars, open cars, on street corners. I could have been an easy prey for anyone, with no security whatever, so I don’t place any stand on this except I think the man did what he intended to do, shoot both of us. And that’s the only thing I can think.

 

Nov 22, 1988 (Nightline)

Forrest Sawyer (00:00)
Governor Connally, how about it? Do you think you might have been the target?

John Connally (00:03)
Well, no one knows what was in the mind of Lee Harvey Oswald. I would say there are two two things that would mitigate against it, certainly. First, Oswald certainly had no way of being sure that I was even going to be in the car with President Kennedy. That’s number one. Secondly, if he really wanted to kill me, he could have done it 100 times in 100 different places all over Texas. I was speaking all over the state at the time, basically unprotected. It could have been done in a much much easier fashion and probably in a way that he would never have been apprehended. So I think all the logic would dictate otherwise. In any event, I think if I was a target, I was probably a secondary target. The man fired three shots. He hit three times. He hit President Kennedy twice, and me once. So I have to assume that at the worst or the best, however you view it, he hit precisely the individuals he was shooting at.

Forrest Sawyer (01:07)
Well, you say three times. The Warren Commission actually said there were two bullets. You have said in the past you thought there were three bullets. Do you think there might have been somebody else there shooting as no.

John Connally (01:16)
There were three shots. And I think everyone who knows anything about it recognizes that there were three shots. The Warren Commission got confused in their resolution, I think, because they only found two bullets, but there were three shots fired. There’s no question about that. And the President got hit by the first one, I got hit by the second, and he got hit by the third. Now Mr. Reston talks about the motive of his hatred of me, Oswald’s hatred of me. Yet he fired at General Walker, according to Mr. Reston in his book, a short time before that and apparently had no such hatred of him. So I don’t know by what logic you can assume that I was his primary target.

Motorcade

The motorcade route had been well publicized. A map of it was even on the front page of The Dallas Morning News the day of the assassination (11/22/63):

A motorcade will carry President Kennedy, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, Sen. Ralph Scarborough, Gov. John Connally, and most Texas congressman from the airport…

Connally’s dismissal that “Oswald certainly had no way of being sure that I was even going to be in the car with President Kennedy” doesn’t negate that there were several other open cars in the motorcade. Oswald could simply have been waiting and watching the vehicles until he recognized Connally riding with JFK, “Oh, there he is!”

Motive

Oswald’s dishonorable discharge from the military for his conduct in Russia. Connally was Secretary of the Navy at the time Oswald appealed to have his dishonorable discharge reversed. It was rejected.

Malcolm Kilduff (The Hensley Report, 1991)

Malcolm Kilduff (00:02)
That was true. But then you turn around and you take a look at it and you find that Lee Harvey Oswald was really not associated with any of those movements on civil rights, and he wasn’t associated with…

Bob Hensley (00:13)
Then why did Oswald kill Kennedy?

Malcolm Kilduff (00:15)
In my opinion, he never meant to kill Kennedy. Lee Harvey Oswald had been in the Marine Corps, had been discharged under less than honorable circumstances because of his… he went AWOL to Russia, where he met Marina. He married Marina, then came back and he was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps, and who signed off on his general court martial papers but the Secretary of the Navy. And who was the Secretary of the Navy? John Connolly.

And I have always felt and I feel to this day that he was interested in killing John Connolly. I don’t think that he had, there was never any reason, there was never a motive for Lee Harvey Oswald to have killed John F. Kennedy, but he had a motive for wanting to kill John Connolly.
And I think you have to look to motive.

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