In a televised address to the nation five days before the presidential election, President Lyndon Johnson announces that on the basis of developments in the Paris peace negotiations, he has ordered the complete cessation of “all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam.” Accordingly, effective November 1, the U.S. Air Force called a halt to the air raids on North Vietnam known as Operation Rolling Thunder.
The President further disclosed that Hanoi had finally agreed to allow the South Vietnamese government to participate in the peace talks. Johnson said that the United States would consent to a role for the National Liberation Front, though he stated that the latter concession “in no way involves recognition of the National Liberation Front in any form.” The National Liberation Front (or Viet Cong, as it was more popularly known) was the classic Communist front organization that included both Communists and non-Communists who had banded together in opposition against the Saigon regime. Domestically, President Johnson’s action drew widespread acclaim; both major presidential candidates expressed their full support. The reaction in Saigon, however, was much more subdued; President Thieu issued a communiqué declaring that the United States had acted unilaterally in its decision to halt the bombing.