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1967

Kennedy proposes plan to end the war

Senator Robert Kennedy (D-New York) proposes a three-point plan to help end the war. The plan included suspension of the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam and the gradual withdrawal of U.S. and North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam with replacement by an international force. Secretary of State Dean Rusk rejected Kennedy’s proposal because he believed that the North Vietnamese would never agree to withdraw their troops.

Kennedy had been Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy. When the elder Kennedy was assassinated, Robert stayed on to serve his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, but resigned his post in 1964 to run for the Senate. In the Senate, Kennedy initially continued to support U.S. efforts in Vietnam despite his growing apprehension about the war, especially the massive bombing of North Vietnam, because he was reluctant to disagree with the Johnson administration and its handling of the war. As racial strife and urban violence intensified along with mounting antiwar sentiment, however, Kennedy found it increasingly difficult to remain silent. 

The presidential campaign of 1968 opened the door for him to act on his concern. Kennedy announced his intentions to run on March 16. When President Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election, Kennedy quickly emerged as a serious contender for the presidency. On June 4, 1968, he won the all-important California primary, thereby becoming his party’s front-runner. That night, after addressing his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. He died the following day at the age of 42.

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