June 5

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jun 5, 1968:

Robert Kennedy shot after California primary

Senator Robert Kennedy (D-New York), a leading critic of the Johnson administration's policy in Vietnam, is shot after making a statement announcing his victory in California's Democratic presidential primary; he died the next day.

Kennedy had initially been a supporter of the Johnson administration's Vietnam War policy, but he became increasingly critical after President Lyndon B. Johnson approved the resumed bombing of North Vietnam in early 1966. Kennedy had declared his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in March 1968 after Senator Eugene McCarthy's surprisingly strong showing in the New Hampshire primary. When Johnson announced that he would not run for his party's nomination, Kennedy became the front-runner. On the day of his death, he had just defeated McCarthy in the California primary.

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