Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 10:46pm - 10:48pm
Richard Nixon, Charles Colson
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Yeah.

Operator: Mr. [Charles W. “Chuck”] Colson, sir. Ready.

President Nixon: Hello?

Charles W. Colson: Hello, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Hello, Chuck. How—what is your soundings tonight?

Colson: Well, we got a very, very enthusiastic response from labor people in particular, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Yeah, I understand, labor—

Colson: We—

President Nixon: —good, yeah.

Colson: Well, it's hard to put it in writing. It was just a feeling that you get on the telephone that people genuinely moved. I think the ending of that speech was just tremendous.1 I think you . . .

President Nixon: Well, we'll see.

Colson: All I can say—

President Nixon: You know all these people are, you know, we had very few friends before this began, and now a few of them may come along, but what the hell.

Colson: Well, I think you're going to start getting, Mr. President, some of that same coalition back. I think the . . . [S. Frank] Raferty, who's the rising star among the building trades—

President Nixon: Who?

Colson: Raferty.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: He's the painters union.

President Nixon: Oh, yeah. He's a good man.

Colson: Oh, he's a solid man. And he said, “Only a goddamn fool would tell the enemy when he was getting out.” He said, “What the devil do these people want? We're with the president. And just tell him we'll do anything for him.” So then I'll [unclear]—

President Nixon: Well, let's see if some of them can't say that and see if [AFL-CIO President George] Meany can't make a real strong statement and [construction workers union president Peter J.] Brennan might make a good statement. That would be helpful, you know.

Colson: Yes, sir. Well, they're going to be here in Washington, the building trades, in another ten days, so—

President Nixon: Well, try to get them to say it now. You know? Tomorrow.

Colson: Well, a number of them said they would. [Teamsters President Frank E.] Fitzsimmons of the Teamsters is putting—

President Nixon: Oh, is he all right?

Colson: Oh, he's . . . God, he's just solid.

President Nixon: Good.

Colson: But you did it again, Mr. President. You caught that mood. I know that some of the sophisticates in the media are going to say that it was a corny ending and—

President Nixon: Bullshit.

Colson: [chuckling] That's right. Exactly.

President Nixon: That [unclear] it was not corny.

Colson: Of course not.

President Nixon: It was very, very deliberate and honest and true.

Colson: Well, I—we know what the—

President Nixon: OK.

Colson: —cynics will say, but you hit Middle America right—

President Nixon: OK.

Colson: —where it wanted to be hit.

President Nixon: Thank you.

Colson: Thank you, Mr. President.


1 At the conclusion of his 7 April 1971 television address on Vietnam, Nixon dramatically set aside his written copy of the speech and delivered a rehearsed “ad lib” conclusion. He told how Marine Sgt. Karl G. Taylor died rushing a machine gun nest to save his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. His little boy, Kevin, attended the White House ceremony where Sgt. Taylor was honored posthumously with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Kevin saluted President Nixon. (↑)

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