Wednesday, April 7, 1971 - 11:33pm - 11:36pm
Richard Nixon, Robert Byrd
White House Telephone


Operator: Senator Robert Byrd, [D-West Virginia] sir.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Operator: There you are.

Robert Byrd: Hello?

President Nixon: Hello, Bob.

Byrd: Hello, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Just wanted to thank you for your good statement on the speech tonight.

Byrd: Well—

President Nixon: That was very thoughtful of you, and I appreciate it.

Byrd: What was this, a wire? A news release?

President Nixon: Yeah, yeah. Apparently, you made some statement that got on the wires that said that you, I don't know, were, you know, were pleased with the fact that we were—indicated that we were going to have a total withdrawal or something like that. Yeah.

Byrd: Well, I hope the AP [Associated Press] and UPI [United Press International] and—

President Nixon: They're all after you, I know. You know, in this—

Byrd: —[unclear] ABC and—

President Nixon: —in this position, Bob, you're going to get a lot of heat, and I know that. I know that you're under a lot. But I do appreciate the fact that you've been such a standup guy and you do whatever your heart tells you is right. But I can only tell you, I know what is right.

Byrd: Well, I'm—

President Nixon: —and I won't do—and I'll be held accountable. But we're going to pull this off, believe me.

Byrd: Well, I hope so. I don't know what was quoted, but I think in the overall, you would have been pleased with my, you know—

President Nixon: I know.

Byrd: —with my statement or reaction.

President Nixon: I know. I appreciate it very much, Bob.

Byrd: I appreciated the invitation to the briefing.

President Nixon: Well, look, we're glad to have you there. We're going to—I'm going to find a way. The problem here is that we always want to have you and, and [Sen.] Bobby Griffin [R-Michigan] there.1 The difficulty is, you know, the damn House. They, you know, they have a different relationship, you know.

Byrd: Yeah.

President Nixon: And if you get the whips there, well, then they say, “Oh, no, you've got to have 18 other guys,” you know. Yeah.

President Nixon: I'll find a way, believe me, because I want you and Bobby there every time I have a briefing. I'm going to—I'll work it out if that's all right with you.

Byrd: Well, surely. They only have two elected whips, don't they, over there? One on each side?

President Nixon: True, but the difficulty, Bob, is that they also have, for example, the . . . in fact, the whip in the House is not as important as the whip in the Senate. You see my point?

Byrd: Yes.

President Nixon: And, therefore, they think that the whip in the House, if you have the whip in the House, that then you're throwing off on guys that are—that all also want to be there, you see?

Byrd: I—

President Nixon: And then I got to go down the line. Well, we'll find ways. We'll, [sometimes] we'll just meet privately, you know, just you and Bobby Griffin [and] two or three others.

Byrd: Very well. Very well.

President Nixon: But we'll do it in confidence. And you—I appreciate the fact you spoke out so directly what you feel.

Byrd: Well—

President Nixon: That's what I want to know.

Byrd: Thank you. I try to be helpful.

President Nixon: You betcha. OK, boy.

Byrd: Thank you, Mr. President.


1 Byrd and Griffin were the Senate Majority and Minority whips. (↑)

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