Friday, April 9, 1971 - 10:28am - 10:31am
Richard Nixon, Charles Colson
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Hello?

Operator: Mr. [Charles] Colson, Mr. President.1

President Nixon: Hello, Chuck?

Chuck Colson: Yes, sir, Mr. President.

President Nixon: I thought you would have probably enjoyed my little implied crack at Mr. [Senator Charles] Percy tonight.2

Colson: Oh, I thought it was beautiful and—

President Nixon: It had to be done. I mean, I couldn't sit there with all of my friends and urge them to give money to him.

Colson: That's right.

President Nixon: Without—and I didn't criticize him—but without saying, “Look here, on SST and these other things, this is where you and I have stood for.”3 What do you think? I was—I debated in doing it, but I thought these guys deserve that.

Colson: You did it very well. You could have done it in a way that would have been a problem, but you did it in a beautiful way. You said, “I understand there are differences, and that one's passed, and even some men in this room differ.” Percy got up afterwards, by the way, and gave you just one hell of a speech.

President Nixon: Did he?

Colson: Yeah, he really did.

President Nixon: Of course, he was speaking to our crowd.

NARA Excision
Category: Personal Returnable
Duration: 1m 5s

Colson: I thought your point on the SST, though, was one that . . . you made it very gracefully, yet you made your own position very clear.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: And I—and nobody took offense at it.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: It was interesting, Mr. President, in the discussion during the course of the evening with the people around me at the table and also beforehand, that the number of very, very strong comments on the Wednesday night speech.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah, several spoke to me as a matter of fact.

Colson: Oh, just enthusiastic—

President Nixon: Apparently, that heartland really, really get—they react to it, you know? They're not so cynical.

Colson: That's right.

President Nixon: But they felt very strong—they like the—they like a little movement, don't they?

Colson: Yes, they do. Yes, they do.

President Nixon: Well, they're great fellows.

Colson: It was a—it's the old guard. It's the old money guard.

President Nixon: Yeah. And that's why, too, another reason why on the SST and, and a little of that flag-waving I gave I thought was important. That's more important than all this other stuff, you know. They got to feel something about America has a role in the world. Don't you think so?

Colson: Oh, I thought it was, I thought it was perfect.

President Nixon: They believe that. They believe that.

Colson: Then your ending about, “You fellas have the guts for it.”

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: They like that.

President Nixon: [Laughs.] Don't they? Because they don't think the easterners have.

Colson: That's exactly right.

President Nixon: OK. Thank you.

Colson: Yes, sir.


1 Charles W. Colson, White House political operative. (↑)

2 Senator Charles H. Percy, R-Illinois. (↑)

3 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. (↑)

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