Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, Republican senator from Arizona, charges that President Lyndon Johnson lied to the American people and that he is committing the United States to war “recklessly.” Having previously called the war “McNamara’s War,” he now described it as “Johnson’s War.”
Goldwater said that the United States should do whatever it took to support U.S. troops in the war and that if the administration was not prepared to “take the war to North Vietnam,” it should withdraw. Although Goldwater discussed the possibility of using low-yield nuclear weapons to defoliate infiltration routes in Vietnam, he never actually advocated the use of nuclear weapons against the North Vietnamese. Nevertheless, the Democrats easily painted Goldwater as a warmonger who would drop atomic bombs on Hanoi. The ploy worked extremely well and during the election, incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson inflicted a crushing defeat on Goldwater, winning 61 percent of the vote.