Richard Nixon, John Stennis
White House Telephone
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White House Operator: I have Senator [John C.] Stennis [D-Mississippi].
President Nixon: Hello.
Operator: [Unclear] Stennis.
President Nixon: Hello.
John C. Stennis: Hello, Mr. President.
President Nixon: John, I didn't want to bother you, but I--”
Stennis: No . . .
President Nixon: --”don't want this day to go by without telling you I am really proud of the fight you've been putting up down there and--”1
Stennis: Well . . .
President Nixon: And by golly, in the end it's going to come out all right.
President Nixon: Well, I'm afraid--”the only thing I'm afraid is that the vote might be interpreted by--”let me say there are some very sensitive talks going on now.
Stennis: Yes, yes.
President Nixon: Very sensitive, I can assure you.
President Nixon: Now, if they break down, it'll be because of the vote, and we're going to have to put the blame there. But I don't want to do that.
President Nixon: But if it does, we're going to have to do it.
President Nixon: But boy, you and your people have done a marvelous job, and I just appreciate it.
Stennis: Well, I wouldn't blame you for putting the blame where it belongs. I'm mighty sorry about that thing yesterday.
President Nixon: Oh, well.
Stennis: The thing had built up. I think this Pentagon Paper stuff is gradually undermining us a little.
President Nixon: Sure, sure. Well that's too--”
Stennis: And you did a marvelous job all these weeks there, because you did hold the dikes until yesterday, and--”
President Nixon: [Laughs.]
Stennis: That was the mildest thing they had in sight.
President Nixon: Sure, it was pretty mild. That's right.
President Nixon: And we'll just go ahead and do what's right, and in the end, we'll be judged on how it's coming out. And it's coming out all right.
Stennis: Well, I'm doing what I do, because I think you're trying hard--”
President Nixon: Right.
Stennis: --”and going to battle for us, and we've always be free to talk to each other [unclear] anybody.
President Nixon: You bet your life. Now on these [Pentagon] papers, you know I agreed with the leadership, and I told--”for your information, probably you've already heard--”I told Mike that I thought that the chairman of the committee should be you if--”because I think frankly you can preside over the thing if they have a Select Committee.2
Stennis: Yeah. Yeah.
President Nixon: You know, it's like [the late Senator Richard] Russell [D-Georgia] did the other one. You need a guy who's a judge and not some damn advocate like [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William] Fulbright∇ [D-Arkansas].
President Nixon: OK? [Laughs.]
Stennis: Well, I hope that works out, and I just don't know what'll be done.
President Nixon: Yeah, well.
Stennis: I just don't know.
President Nixon: Just pick a good man if you don't do it. OK?
Stennis: Well, thank you.
President Nixon: All right.
Stennis: You're mighty nice, and I appreciate your call, too.
President Nixon: Fine.