Senator George McGovern (D.-S.D.) said yesterday in a press conference that he would recommend a complete "normalization" of relations with Vietnam to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The 1972 Democratic Presidential candidate spoke at New England Life Hall in Boston, after just having returned from a three-week fact-finding mission to India, Pakistan and Indochina.
"I would advocate having full diplomatic, economic and cultural relations with Vietnam, as soon as possible," McGovern said. He admitted, however, that the "normalization" he envisioned probably would not come for "at least another year or two."
The first member of Congress to visit Vietnam since the U.S. withdrawal there last spring, McGovern said Saigon was "completely normal." He said he could find no evidence of a bloodbath.
McGovern said he hoped the U.S. would become part of an international effort to help rebuild Vietnam, similar to the effort begun in Europe and Japan after World War II. "Let the war ease into history," he said.
The South Dakota Senator fimly counted himself out of the 1976 Presidential race. He declined to endorse any of the Democratic candidates, saying "I will be at the convention as head of the South Dakota delegation, and I'll endorse somebody then."
When asked if he would support the Democratic nominee no matter who he was, McGovern quipped, "I'd support anyone over Reagan or Ford." But when asked if he would support a George Wallace ticket, McGovern hedged.
"I'd give him the same support he gave me," McGovern said.
Introduction by White
After the press conference, McGovern spoke to a crowd of about 500 as part of the Bicentennial Forum Program. Following an introduction by Boston Mayor Kevin White as "a man who has a lot of friends in Massachusetts," McGovern's 35-minute speech centered on the continuing need to ask questions as part of the democratic process.
"We should certainly not punish those whose consciences drove them into exile rather than to Vietnam," McGovern said in a plea for total amnesty.