40. Editorial Note

In a speech at Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 30, 1968, Vice President Humphrey pledged to halt the bombing of North Vietnam. He would undertake such an action, he noted, “as an acceptable risk for peace” since “it could lead to success in the negotiations and thereby shorten the war.” However, he added that prior to a cessation, he “would place key importance on evidence—direct or indirect, by word or deed—of Communist willingness to restore the demilitarized zone between South and North Vietnam.” He further stated that he would support the resumption of bombing if the North Vietnamese “were to show bad faith.” The text of the speech, which was taped and then broadcast nationally that evening, is in The New York Times, October 1, 1968.

In a memorandum to President Johnson at 8 p.m., September 30, Walt Rostow advised the President to make no comment on Humphrey’s plan and noted that “our general attitude towards the speech should be, in backgrounding, that we Don’t see a great deal of difference between the Vice President’s position and the President’s.” Rostow also described comments he had received from Rusk: “His judgment is that it need not give us trouble. He would not have expressed the matter in precisely the Vice President’s terms, but we should not go looking for marginal differences.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. 1 [2 of 3])