266. Editorial Note

In meetings over several days, President Johnson briefed two of the Presidential candidates on battlefield conditions, the improvement in the South Vietnamese military, and apparent progress at the Paris negotiations. On June 10, 1968, the President met with New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. According to a recording of the meeting, Johnson cited three points that demonstrated increasing moderation in North Vietnamese thinking: 1) they were essentially confirming the presence of their troops in the South, a charge always denied by them; 2) they claimed to have inflicted extensive casualties on U.S. forces and thus were insisting on immediate compromise, a call which belied their own desire for substantive negotiations; and 3) they believed that public opinion, both domestic and worldwide, would compel the United States to come to terms favorable to Hanoi. Rockefeller vowed to toe the line on Vietnam, expressly assuring the President: “Believe me, I’d like to get the nomination, but I’m not going to do it at the expense of this country.” (Johnson Library, Transcripts of Meetings in the Cabinet Room) The next day, the President briefed Senator Eugene McCarthy on the same topics. A full transcript of the recording of this meeting is ibid.