Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 9:56pm - 10:00pm
Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Hello?

Operator: Mr. President, I have the vice president for you. There you are.

Vice President Spiro Agnew: Hello?

President Nixon: Hello.

Agnew: Hi, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Hi. How are you?

Agnew: Fine. I'm—

President Nixon: In California, huh?

Agnew: Yeah.

President Nixon: Well, that's great.

Agnew: I'm in California. I had a good interview with the Copley [Press] people this afternoon.

President Nixon: Good. Oh, they're great people. My God, they're, if we had only more papers like them, we'd be in clover.

Agnew: That's true. Well, Mr. President, I think you've pulled all the [unclear] in tonight and I thought it was—and I'm trying to be completely objective—I thought it was the most effective of all the Vietnam speeches by far, particularly the part where you put the papers down and just went off the cuff on that very personalized impression—

President Nixon: Well, actually, I was really speaking from the heart, because, you know, that deal where little Kevin, the four-year-old, saluted me, my God! What do you do? You almost come apart.

Agnew: Well, it came through extremely well. Not just that part, but the whole speech. I thought it was extremely well organized and effective. It should do a great amount of good as far as defusing all of this incipient—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Agnew: —demonstration and whatnot because—

President Nixon: Basically, the problem is that the country is sort of in a neurotic state and—

Agnew: Oh, I know.

President Nixon: —and so—but we've got to fight it, because we've got to do the right thing. That's all.

Agnew: Well—

President Nixon: Because—so history will look back and say, did we crumble, or did we measure up? That's why I said at the last, that generations in the future will look back and say we had the courage to do the right thing. I'm not sure we have, but by God, you and I are going to do, be damn sure we do everything we can, right?

Agnew: That came through strong and clear tonight. And I think you'll find even the analysis on CBS was fairly—

President Nixon: [laughing] I hope you didn't look at it. Oh, you did. I bet you did. Don't do it! Don't look at those goddamn television programs.

Agnew: I just want to see whether they're getting any religion, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Ah, they won't get any religion. [Agnew laughs] But, anyway, I appreciate the fact that you'd kick those bastards in the butt.

Agnew: But honestly, I think this will be of tremendous assistance and—

President Nixon: It wasn't too bad on CBS, then, huh?

Agnew: No, it was an excellent. You know what they did? They said “we're not going to use the president's charts, but we'll make our own.” And they went all the way back to the first thing you said about 25,000 [troops] withdrawn and—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Agnew: —and they said that you'd met or exceeded every one of your commitments.

President Nixon: That's true.

Agnew: Of course, for CBS—well, it's true, but I mean, for them to emphasize it—

President Nixon: That's right.

Agnew: That was a new departure for CBS. And it came across as a very positive analysis. The first one I've ever seen. At least they were—

President Nixon: [laughing] Don't get your hopes up. The next one will be negative.

Agnew: I'm [as] cynical as you are about that.

President Nixon: That's right.

Agnew: Maybe more so, but—

President Nixon: Well, no, no, no, not more so. I've been through it more than you have.

Agnew: You came across extremely well, and I think what you succeeded in doing tonight will prove itself in the coming weeks to be probably one of the most—

President Nixon: Well, you know, the real problem, Ted, is the fact that these goddamn senators and congressmen, they're all crawling and screaming and, you know, whining around. Damn it, they oughta stand up and be men. The real question is, they want us to get out on—for a certain date, why the hell won't they say so? All right?

Agnew: Well, they haven't—

President Nixon: Then by God, all right, we'll get out on a certain date and let them be responsible for Vietnam going Communist. All right. But they won't do that.

Agnew: Well, you see, they have a different perspective than you, Mr. President. They're not looking at the short term of service and doing the job. They're looking at a lifetime in the Senate and that's what's [unclear]—

President Nixon: I know, well, well, we're going do the right thing and we're doing the right thing. We're gonna stick to it but I want you to tell old Bob Hope that I hope he noticed what I said about the Vietnam serviceman, because I did that for him. Tell him I, after my call with him on the telephone, that I wrote that whole section. You remember, I said, “By God, somebody's got to stand up and speak up for the men that served in Vietnam.”

Agnew: That came out very good.

President Nixon: Wasn't that good?

Agnew: Yes, it did. Well, the whole speech was outstanding—

President Nixon: Well, but tell Bob that that section was the result of my conversation with him. Will you do that?

Agnew: He'll love that. Yes, sir.

President Nixon: OK. Fine, Ted.

Agnew: Good night.

President Nixon: Thank you for calling.

Agnew: Right.

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.