166. Memorandum From Senator Mike Mansfield to President Johnson 1
- Two Meetings on Viet Nam with Democratic Members of the Senate
On June 28, I met with two groups of Democratic Senators to consider the question of Viet Nam. Participants in the first meeting were Committee Chairmen or their designees. Those attending the second meeting were drawn from the bottom of the seniority list of Democrats in the Senate, in order and as available.
The meetings were held on a confidential basis. Completely free discussion was encouraged. Members were asked to speak out on whatever aspects of the Vietnamese question were on their minds.
There was no attempt to obtain a consensus. What was sought rather was a free flow of the concerns, ideas and attitudes of the older and the younger Democrats in the Senate. Yet, in the general outpouring of thought, there were several points so constantly reiterated and so unchallenged as to suggest areas of very heavy agreement. They may be stated as follows:
- There is general support for you among the Members in your overwhelming responsibilities as President;
- The prompt end of the war is seen as most essential and there is confusion and deep concern that we have not yet found the way to end it, either by extension or contraction of the military effort;
- There is no sentiment among the Members for an immediate withdrawal;
- There is a strong conviction that candidates of the Democratic Party will be hurt by the war.
Enclosed are brief summaries of the various lines of thought and ideas which were expressed at the two meetings on yesterday.2
There is also attached herewith a copy of a memorandum which was sent to you after a similar discussion on Viet Nam among a group of Senators from both parties which took place a year ago.3[Page 465]