Thursday, April 8, 1971 - 9:59pm - 10:03pm
Richard Nixon, H.R. (Bob) Haldeman
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Yeah?

Operator: Mr. [H.R. “Bob”] Haldeman.

Bob Haldeman: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Well, we got through with Clem Stone all right.1 [laughs] 9:30, that wasn't bad.

Haldeman: Did you get out at 9:30?

President Nixon: I left at 9:30, yeah.

Haldeman: Good.

President Nixon: And I talked about 25, 30 minutes. You know, I think they—I had to do that much so they felt that they came and got their money's worth, and then he'll put the bite on them, because they didn't have anything else. But, you know, I did something, I—[Richard B.] Ogilvie was there and Bill [William J.] Scott and [Senator Charles H.] Percy [R-Illinois]. So I urged them all, you know, to support them. But then I proceeded to talk a little about the future and I mentioned the SST.2 I just thought I should with Percy being there.

Haldeman: Good.

President Nixon: And I didn't do it in a mean way. I said I understood that there were many honest men [who] felt that it was bad for the ecology, but I said we must not retreat. We must not allow this to be a pattern, where America recoils from exploring the unknown, from looking outward and then we turn inward and become small. I really hit it hard. Do you think it was a good idea?

Haldeman: I think that's great.

President Nixon: He won't like it, but—

Haldeman: Did you look at Percy at all when you were doing it?

President Nixon: Oh, hell, no. But, boy, they all stood up and cheered like hell at the end.

Haldeman: Did they?

President Nixon: Oh, sure.

Haldeman: Did they cheer that particular thing?

President Nixon: No, no. I didn't let them. I didn't let them. I didn't—see, I didn't quit on that.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: But that was the general theme. But I just thought that, you know, there's no reason to be so goddamn hypocritical there, to let that crowd of my supporters, a lot of my supporters who are going to support Percy, know that I completely disapproved of his running off the reservation there.

Haldeman: You're darn right. And they don't—

President Nixon: And I also took national defense and I said America has got to maintain its defense unless we get an agreement with the Russians. Max Fisher was sitting there, and I said, the Mideast, all trust for America's involved for the Mideast and all the rest. I hit that hard.

Haldeman: Good.

President Nixon: So, Percy voted against ABM and might as well see that he shapes up a little.3

Haldeman: I think that's damn good.

President Nixon: The interesting was—a couple of other things—the—I would say about almost all of them had heard that broadcast and were really quite surprised. They were really moved by it, these businessmen.

Haldeman: Good.

President Nixon: They apparently, they thought it was, you know the . . . it was the last part of it, too, that did it, I must say, you know . . .

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: It put the cream—the frosting on the cake. So it shows you that even the hardened business guy is—the business guy liked that more than the press guy is [unclear].

Haldeman: Yeah. Much more.

President Nixon: We may have struck more of a chord than we realized. Or at least struck a pretty good chord. I mean as your little poll indicated, that 44 percent very favorable is probably quite true.

Haldeman: Yeah. Yeah.

President Nixon: Julie called and told me an interesting thing, that Mrs. [Mamie D.] Eisenhower had called her to say how much she liked it, just tonight, and said that on the news tonight one of the networks had Mrs. Taylor and Kevin.

Haldeman: I'm not surprised.

President Nixon: Now, isn't that nice and that they were—that's really a terrific follow-up, isn't it?

Haldeman: Yep.

President Nixon: I mean, it gives an extra shot to the thing, to the people who . . .

Haldeman: Sure, and that adds, that replays the whole emotional thing again.

President Nixon: And refers back to that. So . . .

Haldeman: That's great.

President Nixon: We at least got that moving in the right direction. When are you taking off? Tonight or tomorrow?

Haldeman: No, no. No, no. I'll be in tomorrow. I'm going to go tomorrow afternoon.

President Nixon: Well go as soon as you can. I mean there's no reason—I'm just doing odds and ends tomorrow, you know, anyways.

Haldeman: No, I'll be around all morning and leave around 4:00 [P.M.] when you have your [Grayton/Birch] meeting.

President Nixon: Good, good. O.K.

Haldeman: Very good.


1 W. Clement Stone (↑)

2 The acronym SST stands for supersonic transport. Boeing was developing a new passenger aircraft which, like the Anglo-French Concorde being developed at the same time, could travel faster than the speed of sound. Congress had struck the project's budget the previous month. Environmentalists had raised concerns about the environmental impact of the sonic boom such an aircraft would make when it broke through the sound barrier. (↑)

3 The acronym ABM stands for antiballistic missile. The United States and the Soviet Union were in the midst of discussions on limiting deployment of ABM treaties as part of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). (↑)

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