During the mid-1960s, the Paulings developed a new focus for their peace work: Vietnam.
After the 1964 election -- in which Pauling received more than twenty-five-hundred
write-in votes for governor of California -- President Lyndon Johnson’s policy of
increasing involvement in the war-torn Asian nation generated an antiwar reaction
that the Paulings joined with enthusiasm. Pauling deplored the war both as unconstitutional
-- Johnson was waging war, he said, without the necessary declaration from Congress
-- and unnecessary. The aging activist made speeches, signed protest letters, and
even tried to play peacemaker by communicating personally with North Vietnamese leader
Ho Chi Minh, and passing on the lengthy written response he received to Johnson. His
efforts were ignored by the White House. By the time Pauling celebrated his sixty-fifth
birthday in February 1966, he was without a research group, without a big scientific
problem to work on, and, increasingly, without a platform for his peace ideas. Other
activists, younger, more radical, would lead the fight against the Vietnam War. A
new generation would march, petition, and make attention-grabbing statements to the
press -- employing many of the techniques Pauling had used to critique the government.