Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 10:51pm - 10:52pm
Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller
White House Telephone


Operator: [Unclear.]

President Richard Nixon: Yeah.

Operator: Mr. President, I have Governor [Nelson A.] Rockefeller [R-New York]. [Pause.] Here you are.

President Nixon: Hello?

Nelson Rockefeller: Mr. President.

President Nixon: Hi, Nelson, how are you?

Rockefeller: Well, listen, aren't you nice to call back. I just wanted to call and say I thought you handled a difficult situation with tremendous straightforwardness and skill.

President Nixon: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

Rockefeller: I think you stuck with the thing, and I think it's going to work.

President Nixon: Well, the main thing, Nelson, is how it all comes out, isn't it?

Rockefeller: That's right.

President Nixon: And in the end, you know, it's going to come out all right if we can stick the course, because in the next two or three months, you know, between you and me, we're prob—we might have a negotiation. Who knows?

Rockefeller: Marvelous. Marvelous.

President Nixon: If we don't, then we'll do something else.

Rockefeller: Well, I think that the use of that chart with those figures was tremendous.

President Nixon: Did that come across? [Unclear.]

Rockefeller: Yes, and interestingly enough, afterwards, the commentary—I've forgotten what station we were listening at—but they took your figures and went by the periods—

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Rockefeller: —that you cut 50,000 and then you cut 100,000, whatever it was, and they accentuated it, and I think it was extremely powerful.

President Nixon: Yeah. I thought it was—

Rockefeller: [Unclear.]

President Nixon: I thought it was important, too, Nelson, to put it in very personal terms, [as] I did the last about the little boy, the four-year-old, you know.1

Rockefeller Yes. Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: By God, we got to get across, you know, that's what it's all about, you know. Not our generation, but their generation and how the—are we going to let them down? That's really what it really is involved, you know. Well, and—

Rockefeller: The tragedy is that so much of what's said has now sort of become an Alice-in-Wonderland thing—

President Nixon: I know.

Rockefeller: We're talking about something that has nothing to do with the realities in which we live.

President Nixon: That's right. Well, let me say, I've appreciated your—I know you're under horrible heat up there, you know, your friends—

Rockefeller Well, I've got my budget. I'm finished. [Laughs.]

President Nixon: No, no no, no. I meant that in terms of this whole business, you know, your friend [John V.] Lindsay and all the rest.2 But I've appreciated the fact that you've stood firm. And by God, I won't forget it.

Rockefeller: Well, listen, you're the man who stood firm.

President Nixon: Well, I had to, but you didn't have to. You've—and you did, and I appreciate it.

Rockefeller: And you're nice to say it.

President Nixon: You give my best to Happy [Rockefeller] and all of our good friends up there, will you?3

Rockefeller: I certainly will—

President Nixon: Fine.

Rockefeller: —and we're just with you.

President Nixon: Fine. All right. Thank you, Nelson.

Rockefeller: OK. Thanks a lot. Bye.


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 Sergeant 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 Sergeant Taylor was honored posthumously with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Kevin saluted President Nixon. (↑)

2 John Lindsay was mayor of New York City and a liberal Republican. (↑)

3 Nelson Rockefeller's second wife, Margaretta Large Fitler Murphy Rockefeller, went by the name “Happy.” (↑)

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