Governor George Romney and Viet Nam at U of D, 1965
This is one of those occasions of “Do you have….?” I get a call from someone working on a PBS documentary asking if we had a video of Governor George Romney’s 1965 broadcast on his report of his trip to Viet Nam. Sadly, we did not have any video of the event, but here is what I did find:
Governor George Romney gave his report on his trip to Viet Nam on November 16, 1965 at Memorial Stadium (now called Calihan Hall). According to the Varsity News, the decision to address college students came up while he was still in Saigon. Through a number of connections, a quick letter was sent to the Governor’s office inviting him to give a speech to the students at the University of Detroit. When the Governor arrived in Lansing on Saturday, he was informed of the U of D offer and the decision to accept the invitation was made Sunday night. When they looked at his schedule, Tuesday was the only open date. So in two days, the University made all the arrangements, called all the local colleges, got the ushers from ROTC, and set up the radio and television facilities. Even with the short notice, about 2000 people attended the speech.
After the broadcast was over, the Governor answered questions from the students. A small group of 15 students from the University of Michigan, members of the Students for a Democratic Society, walked around in a small circle outside the building. carrying signs denouncing the government policy in Viet Nam.
Fast forward a few years later, George Romney would make his “brainwashing” statement about Viet Nam which some would say ended his run as the Republican candidate for the 1968 Presidential race.