June 1, 1968
Johnson's announcement throws the spotlight on Democratic Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey avoids the nation's primaries, leaving them to Sens. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.), a vocal critic of the war who was the first to announce his candidacy, and Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), the former attorney general under brother President John F. Kennedy who entered the campaign after McCarthy's strong showing against Johnson in New Hampshire (42% to 48% for the president).
| Background: On March 31, 1968, his popularity battered by the Vietnam War, the surrender of the Navy spy ship Pueblo to the North Koreans, unrest on college campuses and a poor showing in the March 13 New Hampshire primary, President Lyndon Johnson stuns the nation in a televised address: "I shall not seek and will not accept the nomination of my party for a second term as your president."|
In The Times pages below, three days before the June 4, 1968, California primary, Kennedy campaigns against McCarthy in San Francisco. Kennedy criticizes President Johnson's approach to peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese, which Kennedy says erroneously depends on "a naive faith in our military power" to bring the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong to their knees. Kennedy advocates pulling U.S. forces back to South Vietnam's population centers.