001-017

Date: 
Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 10:07pm - 10:16pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


 

President Nixon: Yeah.

Operator: Thank you, sir. Mr. [Bob] Haldeman. There you are.

President Nixon: Hello.

Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman: Hi.

President Nixon: Hi, Bob. You know [William] Rogers [was] really ecstatic.1 He called me.

Haldeman: Did he?

President Nixon: He called me. Good God, he really thinks [unclear]. I don't know. He sort of surprised me. He said, “This is as great as the Fund Speech.” It wasn't that, of course.

Haldeman: Well.

President Nixon: But it was a goddamn good speech.

Haldeman: It was—

President Nixon: It touched people.

Haldeman: That thing is coming through, all the way through, in all of these things. The calls, you've talked to him, and did you talk to the vice president?

President Nixon: Yeah, I talked to him and of course—

Haldeman: Billy Graham?

President Nixon: And Graham. I talked to those three because I felt I should.

Haldeman: Henry [Kissinger] was the first one to call you and then the attorney general, Hobe Lewis, [Bob] Dole [unclear]—2

President Nixon: I heard about all those, yes, right, right.

Haldeman: Rockefeller.3

President Nixon: Rockefeller called?

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Well, the hell with him. But nevertheless, that's fine.

Haldeman: We got a report from [Ronald] Reagan, and he made the point that although the factual, he said the factual material was very effective and effectively refuted the scare tactics of the other side, but the most moving portion was where he was obviously speaking from the heart.4 And that he'll, of course, continue to speak out in favor of the policy. Johnny Rhodes says you set the record straight, laid to rest the false rumors. Don't think anyone who saw his speech could have any doubt as to his dedication to making Vietnamization work. [Lowell] Weicker, which is interesting, said, “He made a very, very effective presentation. In my statement to the press I will emphasize the fact that the stepped withdrawal rate will go a long way to reducing American ground combat role by the end of this year.”5 And that's, he's found a way to—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: —go with his thing, you know?

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: [reading from notes] Congressman [Edwin] Forsythe said, “He's really staying with his plan. Wonderful. I had hoped he could have gone further, but I am reaching for something where we're really going to be out sometime soon. I know he has the courage to stay on his course. The chart he showed was excellent.”6 A lot of comment on the chart. Cliff Hansen said, “The president, despite constant criticism from those political enemies who distort the facts, has held a true course in winding down American involvement in Indochina and again reported straightforwardly, keeps his promise, but needs our support. Personal duty of every loyal American to refuse to allow criticism to go unchallenged.” Senator [Hugh] Scott says, “I know he has a timetable and for obvious reasons he cannot tip his hand to the enemy, but the most important fact is we are getting out of the war. We are bringing our people home. We have cut the casualties significantly. President Eisenhower said he would end the Korean War and he did it. President Nixon has said he would end our involvement in South Vietnam and he is doing it. I urge all Americans to lend their support to his goal to end the war.”7

President Nixon: Hear from any cabinet officers?

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Which? Besides [William] Rogers?

Haldeman: Ss I told you, attorney general—

President Nixon: Yeah, but I would expect that. That's right.

Haldeman: —is, is waiting to call and [George] Romney we took a message on—8

President Nixon: That's right. I don't need to call him.

Haldeman: —said, “It was very clear and understandable. The people are fed up with the war and those, and they'll be disappointed the rate wasn't faster, but I personally agree with his policy and he will be down by next spring.” [James] Hodgson: “A real emotional charge, conveyed feeling of steadiness. Eastern press will blast him, but it'll die out. He gave the impression that he was elected to bring steadiness, and he'll not react to moods.”9 And that, see, that's what's coming through. Rog [Rogers] Morton says, “Super. He will get a lot of flack, but he explained it so well that he'll shoot a hole in the congressional resolution for a '72 pull-out. He was unusually relaxed and confident. He really got through to the people. His leadership came through.”10 [Winton] Blount says, “Very clear and strong. You couldn't miss the point. The only ones who won't understand are the ones who don't want to understand.”11 [John] Volpe says, “More calm, rational and cool-minded than he's ever done on Vietnam. He was so sincere. The Kevin Taylor ending was just the right touch. He nailed down very well why we won't give a pull-out date.”12 And—

President Nixon: That's fine. OK.

Haldeman: Got a lot of . . . damn good, the union stuff is sensationally good.

President Nixon: Like what?

Haldeman: The—

President Nixon: Like George Meany? No?

Haldeman: I don't have Meany.

President Nixon: [Peter J.] Brennan?

Haldeman: We don't check [unclear] —

President Nixon: Anybody?

Haldeman: Let me—wait a minute—let me—

President Nixon: But who? What union people?

Haldeman: Well, just a second. Let me find them. Got 'em. OK. Peter Fosco, president of Laborers—I don't know which one it is—International: “The whole country should stand behind the president. He's the best position to know what to do.” Michael May, New York Firefighters: “The president is doing the best anyone could possibly do. I don't think the president should get out too fast. We must not have sacrificed our people for nothing.” And John Griner, the government employees: tell the president he's with him all the way. Frank Raferty, Painters International: doesn't think the withdrawal should be any faster, supports the president, will issue a statement in the morning. Support down the line. Jesse Calhoun, president of the marine engineers: president is doing exactly the right thing. He'll support him and get the word to everyone he can.”

President Nixon: Well, tell —

Haldeman: [George] Baldanzi the president of the textile workers says, “Excellent. Outstanding. Couldn't agree more.”

President Nixon: Well, [Charles] tell Colson to follow up on these things.

Haldeman: Oh, yeah.

President Nixon: Damn it.

Haldeman: Hell, yes.

President Nixon: He's got to follow up.

Haldeman: C.L. Dennis, railway brotherhood: backs the president completely, will issue a statement and get to his members and ask for support. [Frank] Fitzsimmons of the Teamsters: solidly with the president, will issue a statement of support.

President Nixon: Good.

Haldeman: Tom Boyle, chemical workers: wants to wait until he reads the papers tomorrow. [laughs]

President Nixon: That's right. Fine. OK. What about any other cabinet officers? That's all we got?

Haldeman: That's all we got so—

President Nixon: The rest of those sons of bitches are sitting around waiting. You haven't heard—what about [John] Connally?13 He would've called, I would think.

Haldeman: Nope. Don't have.

President Nixon: That's all right. Probably [unclear].

Haldeman: Don't have his yet. They may have. The board is completely jammed, so they—

President Nixon: Yeah, they may have called Rose [Mary Woods too.

Haldeman: Some get through and some don't, and they may have gotten Rose.

President Nixon: Yeah. That's right. I don't mind. I don't mind. I just wanted to know.

Haldeman: I got a bunch of the businessmen, if you want any of those.

President Nixon: No. None of them are worth a shit. I don't know.

Haldeman: OK.

President Nixon: Unless you think there's one that is. If you want to, tell me one.

Haldeman: Well, you really got to [John A. Mulcahy. He says, “I watched with a group of 20 people. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. The greatest speech by a president of the United States. Absolutely superb. Never has a president spoken so beautifully and sincerely. Fantastic reaction from our entire group, ranged from 17 to 70 in age.”

President Nixon: That's good. That's good.

Haldeman: “Tell the president he has my life and my fortune.”

President Nixon: That's graet. That's the best thing. The hell with the other businessmen. They won't do a goddamn thing either with their lives or their fortunes except, you know, screw somebody else.

Haldeman: President of Tuskegee thought it was very good. Mayor of Paterson, New Jersey, says it was extremely well done. “Use of charts most effective. Most impressive aspect of all was president's sincerity. He has never seen a president come across better on a person-to-person basis.”

President Nixon: Hmm. Well, it'll give the television people something to worry about.

Haldeman: Robert Turrell, professor at Indiana: “President obviously sincere. Gave a moving presentation that was artfully worded and convincing. Listened with a group of friends who are not at all friendly to the administration, but they, too, were moved by the president's remarks, especially the last few minutes when he spoke extemporaneously.”

President Nixon: OK. Well, that does it. I think that's pretty good.

Haldeman: It's—

President Nixon: In any event, we shook them up a little. I don't know what we did with the people. Who knows? But, you know, the most important thing is, don't ever tell anybody about what Calley did to the people.14 Let everybody think that this did it. If anything happens . . .

Haldeman: I know.

President Nixon: It may not.

Haldeman: I know. We'll see.

President Nixon: It probably will level off. I think it will level off at 52 to 53, and that's it.

Haldeman: You got the conservatives. The YAFs [Young Americans for Freedom] thought it was great.

President Nixon: The YAFs? Yeah. Well, they should. For Christ-sakes, I was for everything they were for.

Haldeman: [Unclear] the most impressive he's ever heard. And the chairman of the American Conservative Union, Stanton Evans—

President Nixon: Oh, he's good.

Haldeman: This will get the active support of most American conservatives and he would have liked to see some discussion of the strategic atmosphere.

President Nixon: Oh, shit. I know that's what [Patrick] Buchanan wants to write.15

Haldeman: He's going to give you strong editorial support. Buchanan thought it was magnificent. He was—

President Nixon: Was he pleased?

Haldeman: —very, yeah. Ray Price said, “It was overall excellent. Extremely powerful ending. Delivery very persuasive. Chart highly effective. Tone right. Presentation lucid. Delivery superb. Mark Goode thought the off-the-cuff remarks at the end were sensational.”16

President Nixon: Goode doesn't know but—

Haldeman: Garment: “Absolutely first-rate on all counts. Substance and delivery, particularly the last few minutes, outstanding.”17

President Nixon: Yeah, and that was Rogers, you see, who suggested all that. Well, good.

Haldeman: [Harry S.] Dent made the same point. Buchanan said, “Magnificent and very moving.” Yeah, that's it. They all loved the last.

President Nixon: Did they?

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Incidentally, the last took me about eight hours to write.

Haldeman: Well, it was worth it.

President Nixon: OK. Fine, Bob, thank you.

Haldeman: All right.

 

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

2 Senator Robert J. Dole, R-Kansas. (↑)

3 Nelson A. Rockefeller was the Governor of New York. (↑)

4 Ronald W. Reagan was Governor of California. (↑)

5 Sen. Lowell P. Weicker, R-Connecticut. (↑)

6 Representative Edwin B. Forsythe, R-New Jersey. (↑)

7 Senator Hugh Scott, R-Pennsylvania, was senate minority leader. (↑)

8 George P. Romney, secretary of housing and urban development. (↑)

9 James D. Hodgson was secretary of labor. (↑)

10 Rogers C. B. Morton, secretary of interior. (↑)

11 Winton M. “Red” Blount was postmaster general. (↑)

12 John A. Volpe, secretary of transportation. (↑)

13 John B. Connally was secretary of treasury. (↑)

14 Nixon is referring to the impact of the court martial of Lt. William L. Calley for murder in the My Lai massacre on his approval ratings (↑)

15 Patrick J. Buchanan was a White House speech writer. (↑)

16 Mark I. Goode was a media consultant. (↑)

17 Leonard Garment, White House counsel. (↑)

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