A firm anti-communist and leader of the internationalist wing of the Republican Party who believed implicitly in the prevailing Cold War orthodoxy, Rockefeller originally supported the U.S. commitment to Vietnam and the 1965–1967 military escalation. During the 1968 presidential campaign, he announced that he would attack neither Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson's prosecution of the war nor his turn toward peace negotiations. During that year's Republican convention, both Rockefeller and his rival, Richard M. Nixon, supported and won a platform plank favoring peace negotiations over the opposition of conservative California Governor Ronald Reagan's followers, who urged a more aggressive prosecution of the war.
After Nixon's election, Rockefeller loyally supported the president's Vietnam policies. When the Watergate scandal forced Nixon's resignation in August 1974, his successor, Gerald R. Ford, made Rockefeller his vice president. Conservative opposition to Rockefeller's liberal Republicanism denied him the second place on the presidential ticket in 1976. Rockefeller died in New York City on 27 January 1979.
Dietz, Terry. Republicans and Vietnam, 1961–1968. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1986.; Persico, Joseph. The Imperial Rockefeller. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.; Reich, Cary. The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller: Worlds to Conquer. New York: Doubleday, 1996.; Rivas, Darlene. Missionary Capitalist: Nelson Rockefeller in Venezuela. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.