001-016

Date: 
Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 10:00pm - 10:07pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, William Rogers
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


 

President Nixon: Yeah?

Operator: Secretary [William P.] Rogers, Mr. President.1

President Nixon: Yeah.

Operator: There you are.

President Nixon: Hello, Bill. I understand you're having a gay evening at the Luxembourg embassy.

William Rogers: The young foreign minister [Gaston Thorn] is a hell of a nice fellow, and he's here in this country. Say, I just thought that was tremendous.

President Nixon: Uh-uh.

Rogers: That's got to be—it's got to have a great influence.

President Nixon: It probably won't, Bill. You know, don't get your hopes up because—

Rogers: No, I don't—

President Nixon: —the country—you know, when I saw Mel [Laird], you know, sitting there and whining and—2

Rogers: I couldn't care less about—

President Nixon: —[unclear] Jesus Christ.

Rogers: That had to be a speech with tremendous impact.

President Nixon: Well, you know, I put a lot of effort and, frankly, as you know, a lot of emotion into it, because I felt it very deeply.

Rogers: God, it was so—

President Nixon: When that damn kid, Kevin, you know—really, it's funny, I only tell you, when he saluted me, I couldn't make the next presentation. You know, a little kid, four years old, saluting.

Rogers: Yeah. Well, I tell you, it was . . . I don't know how you could have done it any better. I thought the substance was great, and I thought your delivery was absolute perfection. I don't know how the hell you could've done it better. Where I was, we watched it, we had the whole crowd—

President Nixon: At the Luxembourg embassy? Are you still there?

Rogers: Yeah. We have some congressmen here.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Rogers: I made this date a long time. I wouldn't have done it, but I asked him—

President Nixon: Oh, I know. I know.

Rogers: But the whole thing was, you know, everybody in the room was, was touched, including the people from Luxembourg, the foreigners, and, you know, they have—

President Nixon: Were they touched by it?

Rogers: Yeah. Very much so.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: It was interesting that afterwards, everybody . . . there was no—you know, everybody sort of sat and, and you could tell that everybody was—it was [unclear]—

President Nixon: Touched, yeah.

Rogers: I, look it, I wouldn't say if I didn't—you know, I couldn't care less what the editorial writers, the columnist—

President Nixon: Screw them.

Rogers: The hell with that.

President Nixon: That's right.

Rogers: The American people that watched that have got to be tremendously impressed and the impact, I think, is exactly what was needed. Just exactly what was needed.

President Nixon: Well, you know, let me say this. If it doesn't work, what the hell. Let me . . . If the American people don't want to go this route, then screw it.

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: Let me say, if they don't, though, look—I'm prepared, nobody knows, we'll turn right awful fast and forget it all.

Rogers: Yeah. But you can't, you can't do that. You're—this was just great. I had 450 top business leaders over at the [State] Department today, and I spoke to them from 5:30 to 6:00, and—

President Nixon: Oh, God. You had the copy by then, did you? Good.

Rogers: And—

President Nixon: Good.

Rogers: Well, I didn't tell them what—

President Nixon: But you knew what it was.

Rogers: But—

President Nixon: Actually, it was pretty well written copy. You know, it took me two weeks to write that damn thing.

Rogers: It was brilliant.

President Nixon: But it was tight, and—

Rogers: The delivery was excellent. And the last part, you know, was so—

President Nixon: Well, it was your suggestion. I told Bob Haldeman, that you suggested it and then, but then I had to find out something to say that was different. And that's where the little thing about Kevin came in. I remembered that little boy.

Rogers: Good.

President Nixon: He really shook me. He really shook me, that kid did.

Rogers: Yeah, I'm sure that some of these sophisticates will say it was corny and so—

President Nixon: Oh, bullshit. Just like they said that the Fund Speech was a bull.

Rogers: That speech, Mr. President, has got to have a hell of an impact. And as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't care less about Congress, what the goddamn resolutions are—

President Nixon: Screw them.

Rogers: I—no, I'm serious now. I don't agree with Mel. I don't think it's going to be that kind of a problem.

President Nixon: But Mel is so—I was so surprised—of course, he's been taking a hell of a beating, Bill. He's down there all the time. But if he's right, let's fold our tents and go creeping away and slinking away like a bunch of goddamn cowards. But I'm not ready to do it.

Rogers: Yeah. Well, you can't do that. I'll tell you, I'll bet you that that speech will just turn the tables. I have no—

President Nixon: This speech? You really think so?

Rogers: Absolutely. I really have no doubt about it. In my opinion, we will not have any serious problem. Now, we'll have demonstrations and we'll—

President Nixon: Yes.

Rogers: —have speeches but I'll be perfectly happy to—

President Nixon: Well, the main thing, Bill, is the prisoner thing. They say prisoners versus withdrawal. That's going to be the next big issue. So we've got to find a damn angle on that.

Rogers: Well, I just want—

President Nixon: Well, what I said about Kevin, I mean, his father, good God, he would never trade, you know, prisoners versus withdrawal, because what the hell? What does that do? That gives victory for the Communists.

Rogers: I don't know how you could've said it better. The whole thing was—and the delivery was perfect. I've never seen you deliver one better.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. [Unclear.] You know, I spent an hour with those goddamn leaders, you know, I—

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: They're nice, but—because [Hale] Boggs wasn't there.3 But nevertheless we had—I had Albert and [Hugh] Scott, who's—and all the rest.4 And I spent an hour with them and, you know, I met with them, Bill, from seven to eight o'clock and then had to rush over, take a shower, get ready, go over and go on. I don't know how the hell I did it.

Rogers: I hear you. Well, you can go to sleep—have a few drinks, go to sleep knowing that that was a tremendous, tremendous speech.

President Nixon: Right. Right. How did Adele [Rogers] think? 5 Is she there?

Rogers: Well, she felt the same way. As I say, everybody in the room . . . Dave Abshire and, and his wife . . .

President Nixon: How'd he feel?

Rogers: The same way. He said it was tremendous.

President Nixon: Good. Well, that's good. I'm glad to hear—

Rogers: I'm not saying it, you know—

President Nixon: I know that. You wouldn't bullshit me. I know that.

Rogers: No, this is—

President Nixon: And because—and understand, Bill, if it isn't, Christ, if this doesn't make it, the hell with it.

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: Then we'll do something else.

Rogers: If this doesn't make it, the country doesn't deserve you.

President Nixon: That's right.

President Nixon: Well, that isn't, not me, but they don't deserve what they've got for themselves.

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: OK, get back and enjoy the caviar. [Rogers laughs.] OK.

Rogers: OK, thanks.

President Nixon: Give my best to the ambassador.

Rogers: I sure will. Thank you. Bye.

 

1 William P. Rogers was secretary of state. (↑)

2 Melvin R. Laird was secretary of defense. (↑)

3 Representative Thomas Hale Boggs, D-Louisiana, was House majority leader. (↑)

4 Representative Carl B. Albert, D-Oklahoma, was speaker of the House. Representative Hugh D. Scott, R-Pennsylvania, was House minority leader. (↑)

5 Adele Rogers was William Rogers' wife. (↑)

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