12. Notes of Meeting1

THOSE ATTENDING THE MEETING WERE

  • The President
  • Secretary Rusk
  • Secretary Clifford
  • CIA Director Helms
  • George Christian
  • Tom Johnson

Secretary Rusk: We expect a call during lunch on the status of the Paris talks today.

The President: Fine, let’s go on.

Walt Rostow: Ambassador Bunker has a good report on Vietnam. It shows action in land reform and other areas.

The President: Huong has a good image with our press. Let’s get him before them more.

Should we brief the Congress, Dean? Your briefings with the leadership have been good.

Secretary Rusk: The sessions were more relaxed than I have had before.

The President: Clark (Secretary Clifford), who called whom on the call to the Vice President?

Secretary Clifford: He called me about his statement on troop withdrawal. I told him I had not predicted any U.S. troops would come home next year. Thieu has. Also, he asked if it were true a Marine unit was coming home now. I said yes, but it is a rotation.

Secretary Clifford: The Vice President has had three flubs.

1.
Withdrawal of troops.
2.
Minority plank vs. majority plank.
3.
Bringing Marine unit home now.2
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He needs a man with him every day we trust and respect to give him correct guidance.

Secretary Rusk: Thinking should be done before rather than after. Tom Hughes would be good.

The President: 1. I want the Vice President to win. 2. I want the Democratic Party to win. They are better. No question of Humphrey against anybody. 3. I have told the Cabinet not to let the record of its Departments be distorted. I want the Cabinet to do what is appropriate to help the Vice President.

Where I help depends on where the Vice President wants me to help.

Secretary Rusk: I would like to have a briefing session with Humphrey. Does he want to show a little space between us and his position.

The President: He wants space. In his heart he is with us, but he thinks it is politically wise to keep space.

[Omitted here is discussion of Nixon’s potential personnel selections for the Department of Defense and the Supreme Court.]

Walt Rostow: There is procedural progress, but no substantive progress. We will meet privately Mondays and Fridays. Averell and Cy believe other side does not understand Manila Formula.3

[Omitted here is discussion of strategic weapons talks and the Pueblo.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings. No classification marking. The meeting was held in the White House Mansion. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary)
  2. In a speech at Philadelphia on September 9, Humphrey stated that certain military units could be withdrawn from Vietnam by late 1968 or early 1969. In Denver later that day, Humphrey downplayed the differences between the majority and minority planks on Vietnam adopted by the Democratic National Convention and noted that he would have been able to run based upon the minority plank. See The New York Times, September 10, 1968. In a September 10 speech before the American Legion in New Orleans, the President stated: “We yearn for the day when the violence subsides. We yearn for the day when our men can come home. No man can predict when that day will come, because we are there to bring an honorable, stable peace to Southeast Asia, and no less will justify the sacrifices that our men have died for.” The full text of this speech is in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-69, Book II, pp. 936-943.
  3. In the Manila Communiqué of October 25, 1966, the United States and Allied nations declared their intention to withdraw from Vietnam within 6 months of North Vietnamese disengagement. See Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, vol. IV, Document 281.