"Salute to Gov. Moore Dinner"

Charleston Gazette June 17, 1971

Romney Cheers Viet Disclosures

John E. Morgan
Staff Writer

"I shall always be proud that I was the first to say not only George Romney but the American people were brainwashed on Vietnam."

Romney made that statement here Wednesday night at a "Salute to Gov. Moore Dinner" attended by more than 2,000 persons.

General Manager Hugh Bosely of the Civic Center made the formal attendance estimate. The crowd filled all of the approximately 1,800 seats provided for the $100-a-plate dinner in the main arena of the center.

An additional 200 or more persons including many departments heads were bused from the center to the Rose City Cafeteria where they ate from same menu at the same cost per plate.

In effect Romney saluted the resent disclosure of secret papers involving the American involvement in Vietnam and than saluted the West Virginia Governor.

The secretary of Housing and Urban Development compered Moore to President Nixon who, Romney said, "is more interested in getting the problems solved in the most effective way than in getting great publicity and in sounding rhetorical promise without substance."

Romney said the secret papers , although incomplete, trace the escalation of the early minimum involvement of the U. S. in Vietnam "into an ever-larger commitment and in an ever-larger tragedy throughout the Kennedy and Johnson years."

"I am one who has had occasion to study, to think, and to form some deep conviction about Vietnam over the years." he declared.

"I faced the fact and came to the conclusion years ago, before it was fashionable, that I had been deceived, and the American people had been deceived, on Vietnam."

Romney said that when he went to Vietnam in November 1965 the U. S. leaders told him this was a South Vietnamese war and that the conflict would not be Americanized.

Then the escalation came, he said, and the Americanization of the war. He added that he spoke out at that time. He said he warned repeatedly that the U. S. had made a tragic mistake to get involved in the Asian land war.

He said he warned that "We were becoming mired deeper and deeper in Vietnam and that we were not being told the truth."

"I tried to tell the people every way I could, he declared. I said we had been deceived. I said we had been misled. I said we had had a snow job from our leaders. And, finally I used the most dramatic word I could think of-brainwash-to convey the depth of the deception to which all of us had been subjected."

Romney said that the firm future course of the U.S. in meeting such problems should be to "commit direct U.S. involvement in foreign combat only through constitutional procedures including the sense of the Congress."

The federal official said Nixon is "winding down the war in a way that will preserve the dignity of the people in South Vietnam, permit them to defend themselves and secure the future _________.

The crowd saluted the Governor with cheers and applause as he came in under a spotlight to take his seat at the head table with other notables. They gave him another ovation late in the program after he gave a brief speech reflecting deep humility about the tribute paid to him.

The entire setting was designed to salute the Governor. On a backdrop of blue and gold bunting, immediately behind the head table were two-foot high white letters, under a giant state seal saying: "West Virginia Salutes Gov. Arch Moore."

Numerous Democrats were said to be in the crowd, labeled by promoters of the event as a bipartisan gathering. Among Democrats scheduled to be present included John B. Long of Oak Hill and R. W. Wilkinson of Bluefield.

Sam Huff, the ex-Washington Redskin and New York Giant professional football player who was defeated by Robert Mollohan in the 1970 Democratic campaign for Congress, was present. No other prominent Democrat was known to be there.

Conspicuously missing from the audience was Cecil H. Underwood, the state's only living ex-Republican Governor who was defeated by Moore in the 1968 GOP gubernatorial primary. An Underwood friend said the former Governor was "out of town" and was unable to attend.

Jimmy Stewart, star of 75 films and present as an honorary toastmaster, may have caught the spirit of the occasion best when he said:

"I understand that this is a bipartisan gathering, but, as a lifelong Republican, it's a nice feeling to be in a room with so many Republicans."

He said he would never forget the hospitality of West Virginia in filming the picture "Fool's Parade," at Moundsville. A world premiere of the film will be held at Wheeling tonight.

Stewart called the picture "old fashioned" in that "nobody in it takes their clothes off," it is "not an indictment of society and the government" and it tells how "good can triumph over evil."

The film star stole the show temporarily when a cake with 75 candles, representing the films in which he was leading man, was presented to him.

"I-I-I just want to say," he told the audience, "I want you to understand that I made more than one picture a year."

Stewart introduced the Governor as the "author, producer, director and leading star of 'Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.'"

Moore praised his department heads and others, for their part in advancing West Virginia, and told the audience:

"You have made it possible to turn this freight train around on a single set of tracks."

Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb of Indiana and Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie of Illinois made head table appearances at the gathering and praised Moore highly in brief speeches.

The event was sponsored by a committee headed by Richard Guter, Charleston department store executive, who presided during the dinner program.

Guter said funds collected through ticket sales for the dinner will be used, after expenses are paid, to meet ongoing obligations and past debts of the Republican State Executive Committee.

If there is any money left after that, he said, it will go to the committee for holding until the next campaign is waged in 1972. He said Gov. Moore, if he is a candidate, will have no more claim on the funds than any other statewide GOP nominee.

Committee Treasurer John Thomas and Republican State Executive Committee Chairman Thomas Potter said they don't think total collections, will exceed that which could normally be expected from a crowd of more than 2,000.

They explained that some collections were made from persons who didn't actually attend. But this will "balance out" with persons who attended Wednesday night's event with tickets that were presented to them.

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