Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 11:12pm
Richard Nixon, Hobart Lewis
White House Telephone


Operator: [Reader's Digest editor] Mr. Hobart Lewis, sir. There you are.

President Nixon: Hello.

Hobart Lewis: Mr. President?

President Nixon: Hobe, how are you?

Lewis: I tried to get through to you a little earlier, but you had too many admirers.

President Nixon: [Laughs.] Oh, well.

Lewis: Say, I'd like to come down and shake your hand.

President Nixon: Well, that's very nice of you.

Lewis: That's very—terrific for you to hold the line that way, I think. Just wonderful.

President Nixon: Had to do it. That's right.

Lewis: Of course the—and the conclusion of that speech was the most moving thing I ever heard in my life.1

President Nixon: Well, it had to be done. I wrote that out myself about two nights ago.

Lewis: Really.

President Nixon: And I didn't tell anybody that it was going to be done. It wasn't in the text.

Lewis: I noticed you put the text aside.

President Nixon: That's right.

Lewis: It was just terrific.

President Nixon: And it was true, too. It's exactly what happened. When this little kid saluted me, I broke up, you know, and there was no press there at the time.

Lewis: I would think so. Well, it was just the right time and place to tell that story, too. I must say that you were leading from strength there, with 265,000 men out and another 100,000 to go and that terrific record. It's the most convincing little story in the world.

President Nixon: Yeah, well, these people that are trying, you don't bug out without regard to the cost—

Lewis: Oh, sure.

President Nixon: What the hell?

Lewis: But when you've got that terrific record behind you, you've got an awful lot of confidence.

President Nixon: Yeah. [Laughs.]. OK, Hobe, keep the faith.

Lewis: Say, Mr. President. We just got back from Caneel Bay, where we were—2

President Nixon: You must have had a wonderful time. Isn't that a marvelous place?

Lewis: It's a great spot.

President Nixon: Hope you didn't get stuck by any of those bugs that are out there.

Lewis: Oh, there were a few of them down there, yeah.

President Nixon: Yeah, I know.

Lewis: When we got back, we found a great big box full of ashtrays and matches and wonderful glasses with your signature on them.

President Nixon: You got the glasses? Oh, yeah, that's right.

Lewis: So we've been drinking to your health all night.

President Nixon: That's only for just our friends.

Lewis: Well, isn't that wonderful.

President Nixon laughs.

Lewis: That's great. Great.

President Nixon: OK, Hobe.

Lewis: Thank you so much.

President Nixon: Don't give up, now.

Lewis: Don't you, sir.

President Nixon: Bye

Lewis: Bye. Good night.


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. (↑)

2 Caneel Bay is a resort on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (↑)

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