Richard Nixon, Raymond Price
White House Telephone
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Having delivered from the Oval Office a nationally televised speech announcing a peace agreement with the North Vietnamese, President Nixon passed on some feedback from his daughter to his speechwriter, Ray Price∇.
President Nixon: Hello?
Operator: Mr. Ray Price, sir. Here you are.
Raymond Price: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: I thought you'd be interested to know that my daughter Julie was--gave me an indication that we must have been successful. She said she had never seen the CBS crew, said Dan Rather∇, Eric Sevareid∇, Marvin Kalb∇, were just dying. They thought--I mean, they said they--no, thought it was a horrible thing that peace had come, and they were so sick about it and so--You know what I mean? And she was really--it pleased her because she realized that with the line they had taken that we'd really stuck 'em in the groin. [Price laughs] But the press--Ron [Ziegler∇] says he's never seen the press room so depressed. Never. The worst he's ever seen them. You remember, just what I told you they'd be. The photographers, no, but the writing press because they can't stand--as I tell you, Ray, the intellectual can't stand to be proved wrong.
Price: I watched, as you know, but I caught part of the CBS commentary afterward, and they were sort of just floundering, really.
Nixon: [laughing] I know. But they--as Julie said, they looked green. And that's a [unclear] reaction. But on the other side that, she liked--she thought the speech was beautifully written and concise and so forth, and she got all the points, so that's good.
Price: Well, I thought it came off superbly. I really did.
Nixon: Well, anyway, the point that I wanted to say is that you--
Price: [Unclear] that it was done from the Oval Office.
Nixon: Oh, listen. Listen. Let me tell you. We did exactly the right thing. I could sense when I briefed the [Congressional] leaders. They were so bamboozled. You know, [Mike] Mansfield∇ sat there with his mouth open and Tip O'Neil, of course, [unclear]. And they would have been, they would have been a hell of a time. And it's the wrong thing with [Lyndon] Johnson. But here we could talk--you could talk about the POWs. You see, talking to them, talking to the North Vietnamese. You couldn't have done that from the Congress. You see? And I--we made exactly the right decision. But let me say that the language of everything, getting this in these simple terms--as a matter of fact it's the same, I feel, I felt it had sort of the same simplicity and leanness that the inaugural [address] had.You know? Didn't you think so?
Price: Yes. Well, in many ways, I liked this, in many ways, even better. I think just because it--I thought the inaugural was very good, and it came off. This, I thought, was superbly fitted to the occasion. I really did.
Nixon: Well, take a little rest. OK. Thank you.
Price: [Unclear.] Thank you, Mr. President.