Wednesday, April 14, 1971 - 7:27pm - 7:40pm
Richard Nixon, Charles Colson
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Hello?

Charles W. Colson: Yes, sir, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Well, how are your troops doing?

Colson: Oh, I think we're doing fine, sir. The good economic news, the next couple of days are reasonably good, which I think will—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: —boost spirits a bit.

President Nixon: You notice the – well, they should! Damn right. My God, the, uh . . . interesting, the market went over 932 today, 932 it ended up. Did you notice?

Colson: I didn't see the figure on that.

President Nixon: That's higher than it was when we came in, so we've now reached the breakwater point.

Colson: Now that's marvelous. Nine thirty-two is a pretty —

President Nixon: Nine thirty-two.

Colson: — good figure.

President Nixon: It was 9— when we—, in November, uh, on January 20 [1969] it was 931.

Colson: Well, the $28½ billion dollar GNP increase on Friday is bound to give things a lift too.

President Nixon: Some lift. It is not as big as we had projected, but it's much higher than Eckstein1 projected and higher than any of even the optimists among the so-called experts projected.

Colson: That's exactly right.

President Nixon: See, they were all 27, so this is 28½.

Colson: Well, Eckstein was 22.

President Nixon: [Unclear] yeah.

Colson: I think it was, was it Eckstein who . . ?

President Nixon: Otto Eckstein. Right, right, right.

Colson: I think he was 22.

President Nixon: He was 22, that's right.

Colson: So, it's going to be read well in the business indice today going up—

President Nixon: What'd it show? Just a second.

Nixon puts Colson on hold for 19 seconds.

President Nixon: Sorry, I had somebody at the door.

Colson: Oh, that was up to, up 3/10ths of 1 percent. I'm not sure what that means. From 164.9 to 165.2—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: —but it's an increase.

President Nixon: All the figures are up. It's moving, it's moving, and the retail sales are up, the automobiles are up, housing is up, you know, and this is . . . but the main point is, even though it means nothing except the 27 million that own stocks, and that's not an inconsiderable number, though.

Colson: No.

President Nixon: But the fact this market moves, those guys in New York, those bastards do not buy unless they know what the hell is going on.

Colson: That's right. And they anticipate—

President Nixon: That's right

Colson: —ahead and also—

President Nixon: They're predicting what's going to happen.

Colson: As I understand it, Mr. President, there's a lot of small investors coming in now which is a—

President Nixon: Had to be.

Colson: —healthy sign.

President Nixon: Well, 19 million shares today.

Colson: So, but there's a lot of small lot trading which means that you—

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Colson: You're getting some public confidence back in, which I think is a damn healthy thing. And if we can keep that up plus casualties coming down as they are.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: As you know.

President Nixon: What is the situation with regard to keeping, uh . . . . I was talking to Bob Dole2 today and he said that Case3 and Brooke4 were grumbling, er, mumbling around about a cut-off and a resolution and all that and that he's trying to keep them in line. The main thing, really, is that we've just got to keep our own, I mean, I notice, uh, for example, uh, Cook5 has got some resolution floating around about prisoners, which is—it wouldn't be too bad except it's wrong to do. They just ought to keep their goddamn mouths shut for two or three months.

Colson: Well that's—they should. But we're not going to be able to control [them].

President Nixon: I know that. I know that.

Colson: And as much as we'll try to keep it downplayed, you know—

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Colson: You know the doves are going to, are going to—

President Nixon: Well, they're petrified because they know we're going to end it, you see.

Colson: That's right.

President Nixon: And they want a part in it.

Colson: Well, they want to take credit for it if it comes out right, but they want to be positioned so they can be critical if it doesn't.

President Nixon: That's right.

Colson: I'm afraid, I talked to Kissinger6 and Haig7 today. I'm afraid we're going to need to have—

President Nixon: Have an alternative?

Colson: Well, no, develop just a good defense. I'm not talking about having any alternatives substantively, but just—

President Nixon: Well, we may have a couple of things break. Who knows?

Colson: Well, if we can just—

President Nixon: This China thing, uh, must really disturb the doves, though. Ha.

Colson: You have sure turned—

President Nixon: Those bastards really must have a problem with this.

Colson: You've sure turned our new man Mr. Scali8 on.

President Nixon: Oh, yeah.

Colson: [chuckling] My God, he just thinks this is the greatest thing.

President Nixon: [Of] course, let me say, that doesn't help us with folks. I think what we've got to realize, well, that helps us with intellectuals. We polled all this, you know, and—

Colson: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: — people are against Communist China, period. They're against Communists, period. So, this doesn't help us with folks at all. It's just what these intellectual bastards and—

Colson: Well, it may help us with some of the opinion makers, that they see—

President Nixon: [Oh, sure.]

Colson: —that your foreign policy unit probably will help with the kids. Uh—

President Nixon: Do you think so?

Colson: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Yeah, maybe. Na.

Colson: Oh, I think it's kind of an initiative that—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: —young people will, uh—

President Nixon: Yeah. It might help a little there, I agree. I see your point.

Colson: It doesn't help with Middle America. I'm expecting all kinds of—

President Nixon: Yeah. They don't understand it. They say, ‘What the hell ya doin'? They're killing our boys and you're—

Colson: That's right.

President Nixon: —trading with these people.' See?

Colson: Exactly right.

President Nixon: And if I were a demagogue, I'd go after that, but I doubt if they will.

Colson: You remember the Canadian wheat deal four or five years ago that—

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Colson: —the absolute hell that broke loose all through the country on that one.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. I don't think it will break loose on this.

Colson: No. No, ‘cause—

President Nixon: Of course, the main point about this is that, uh, this is also worrying the Russians, it's worrying Hanoi, heh, so—

Colson: Oh, sure.

President Nixon: It's an enormously important move. We had to make it for other reasons, but let's have no illusions it's gonna help us with the country. It really doesn't.

Colson: I didn't see it tonight, but I understand Howard K. Smith9 had an excellent commentary leading in with your Foreign Affairs article. Uh—

President Nixon: Pointing out that it was not just an accident, that it was [unclear].

Colson: That's right, that it had been a long-planned, uh, long-thought-through process and it, consistent with —

President Nixon: Good. Yeah

Colson: —your long-term views. As I say, I didn't see it, but I heard it was excellent. But, uh, no, I think that—

President Nixon: Course, this will confuse them and, uh, and this will, uh, keep them, uh, [unclear]. What they're really worried about, Chuck, is that they're afraid that on this war thing, I now really see what it is, they really are afraid we're gonna, we're gonna pull it off—

Colson: That's right.

President Nixon: —and they have got to be in a position of criticizing or saying, “Well, we wanted to do it sooner,” or something.

Colson: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Because otherwise, the issue's so clear. They got us into the war and we got us out.

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: See?

Colson: Exactly. Exactly the issue. No, they're trying hard to stir it up, though, uh, they'll, they'll do their best during this demonstration period to, uh—

President Nixon: Good, I hope they all endorse the demonstration.

Colson: Oh, they have. Oh, right down the line.

President Nixon: Has Humphrey10 endorsed it?

Colson: Abso-, well, I shouldn't say that too quickly. McGovern,11 Muskie12

President Nixon: Teddy?13

Colson: Um, I don't know, sir. I, I did look at the list and –

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Colson: — I don't remember Teddy's name on there.

President Nixon: Well, let's be sure that you get after both Teddy and, uh—[aside] bring me some matches, please, [unclear] — yeah – just be sure both Teddy and Humphrey are put on the spot. Have telephone calls made to their office, get them on the record, say, “Now, look, Senator Humphrey has spo-, uh, Muskie has spoken out, Senator McGovern, what's the matter with you?”

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: You know? Now get somebody to call ‘em. Now, let's get that done tomorrow, right?

Colson: Yes, sir. We have some pretty good tricks in our bag that we've been working on this week on the demonstrations. You know, the hard hats are gonna be here at the same time.

President Nixon: I hope they realize how important this is. Do they?

Colson: Well, we, we kinda thought we'd, uh, pass some leaflets around when they're here about, uh, “Join the—”

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Colson: “ — Demonstration and End the War” and have some long-haired kids, uh —

President Nixon: Well now, the other thing you can do is to attack the hard hats.

Colson: That's, uh –

President Nixon: You see what I mean?

Colson: Yeah.

President Nixon: Why not have, why not have something that throws off on them? I mean, “The Hard Hats Are Not,”—with an ugly, ugly picture in pamphlets—“The Hard Hats Are Not America,” and then, “We Are.” You know, or something like, you see, a little of that?

Colson: Mmm. That's the other twist.

President Nixon: You see?

Colson: I hadn't thought of that. That's a good one. That's excellent. I was thinking of trying to get them to join the demonstration. If they come down and watch that guerilla theatre that this group is bringing out next week, uh, God, they'll go in and clean ‘em out.

President Nixon: Where is the guerilla theatre gonna be, in . . . ?

Colson: Lafayette Park. They're gonna have it one day, I think, uh, [sighs] I just went through that this afternoon. I'm kind of gearing our people up for a few activities —

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: — of our own.

President Nixon: Well, now, at the present time, Chuck, try to see, I don't know, I, don't notice MacGregor14 and, and — is BeLieu15 still with us? Is he still here?

Colson: Oh, yes, yes, sir.

President Nixon: Well, MacGregor and BeLieu and the rest, they've got to see that our own people don't get off, going, you know, Brooke shouldn't be in this. He should stay out of it for a couple of months. You know. He'll have plenty of time to squeal when he wants to, but, you know, he's moving at the wrong time.

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: And he's moving against the tide, now, cause the tide is running, you see, it's running our way.

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: We got a lot of things doing. Don't you agree?

Colson: Yes, sir. I definitely do.

President Nixon: And, uh, if, if only that, uh—is there anything you can do to get some of them to, uh, well, I don't know, I—

Colson: Well, I have a, I have a meeting, uh, early in the week, Mr. President, with some of the more liberal, uh —

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: — Republicans to talk to them about, uh, helping us against McCloskey,16 and I can raise the same issue with ‘em and —

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: Clark can do that, uh —

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: Clark's pretty good with that.

President Nixon: But be very aggressive with it. Very aggressive —

Colson: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: — and say, “Look, we've got a plan. It's working. It's gonna win. And you're gonna look awful bad if you're opposing it.” See?

Colson: Mm-hmm. Yes, sir.

President Nixon: That's the line that we should to take.

Colson: Well, I think that we, uh, I think that we can keep a, uh, a lot of these fellas in line. Saxbe,17 for example, uh, hell—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: — he's been speaking out pretty well, uh —

President Nixon: Yeah. You, as you also know, our last poll shows 55, so we're doing pretty well there.

Colson: We're gonna, uh, we'll, we'll get that out as, uh, soon as we find out the ti—

President Nixon: Bob18 gave you the point of it, you know, well—

Colson: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: — we're not gonna have ORC print that, but, put that out, ‘cause it's only one point above what we had before, but it's still significant, because it does show that we have some, I mean, for us to be at 55 after all these damn attacks –

Colson: That's right.

President Nixon: — or say 50 to 55, which is what we're in, is pretty damn effective, don't you think so?

Colson: Well, it sure is if— President Nixon: And I think we've got to get this to these damn senators. I don't know that they don't, see, they hear their radical mail, and they weigh their mail, that's right.

Colson: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: How can you get this to them? Can they, uh, or can you, I don't know.

Colson: Well, they get a feel for it, Mr. President. They, uh, I think when you, when they come back, a lot of them, particularly from the, the Midwest and the Far West are gonna have a little different view. I think that after they've been out talking to people, because I —

President Nixon: Well, we don't know know what they're hearing, though, you see, because they may have not have caught it as we have, you see. We're getting a real feel.

Colson: Well, we're gonna mail the poll at least the, the, the part of the poll that, that relates to approval of your handling of the war, which has dramatically shifted.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.

Colson: We're gonna get that up to all the senators and congressmen so they'll have it in their offices when they come in on Monday.

President Nixon: Yeah. Well.

Colson: And —

President Nixon: Get it to the senators tomorrow, because, you see, they're there now.

Colson: Uh, we, well —

President Nixon: You can't, because –

Colson: — can't break the release date.

President Nixon: That's right. That's right.

Colson: But we'll, uh, we'll have it to ‘em —

President Nixon: Right.

Colson: — during the weekend we'll get it to —

President Nixon: Right. Good.

Colson: And, uh—

President Nixon: But just tell ‘em there's a hell of a lot more going on than they realize and don't get out there and get the limb sawed off. I don't know what's the matter with these people. Now Brooke, for example, maybe you could talk to him and say, “Now, Ed, for God's sakes, why don't you give us a month?”

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: Tell him 30 days.

Colson: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Why not? He might listen to that.

Colson: If I could tell him that and he thought that we—

President Nixon: Tell him 30 days and that, uh, then we'll tell him. All right. I won't ask him for any more than that. But say, ‘Now, if you give us 30 days, maybe we've got something to tell you about, but there's some things going on that we can't tell you about. And it doesn't mean that — no secret. There's nothing, nothing yet, but we've just got to hear from a few people.

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: You see?

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: On everything. Everything is breaking now. The China thing, who the hell thought this was gonna break?

Colson: That's right.

President Nixon: We knew, right?

Colson: That's right. Well, I think if I asked Ed Brooke to give us 30 days, he would do it. I don't think there's –

President Nixon: [All right.]

Colson:—any doubt.

President Nixon: You ask him, tell him May 15th.

Colson: May Fif-

President Nixon: And then May 15th I want him to, you tell him, I'd li-, he can come in, have an appointment with me May 15th.

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: And I'll tell him what the hell the score is. And then — but I think between now and then, if he could just say, “Look, the President is sincerely trying to end this war. He's doing it, and, and we're not gonna flyspeck him.”

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: “We're not gonna pull the rug out from under him.”

Colson: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: But he should say that. He made a speech today, I don't know what it was, but, but, but just say, “Now, Ed, I just want you to know. The President's — all he asks, he just” — and you give him that date, May 15th — “you have an appointment with the President that day, and he'll tell you.” At that time he can go out and he can scream like a dove. I don't care.

Colson: Course you know one thing that'll do, Mr. President, uh, in the case of someone like Ed Brooke, who—

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Colson: —whose colleagues respect him, a lot of them do—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: —uh, if he starts getting quiet and says, “I can't tell you why, but I'm quiet,” uh, [chuckling] that's, that's a very infectious thing.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Colson: Other people say, ”Well, Jesus, he must know something we don't know.”

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Colson: It does have that effect.

President Nixon: Good.

Colson: Well, I'll do that with Ed in the morning. And I think I know him, I've known him long enough so that I think if I said that to him, it would—

President Nixon: Now, don't . . . don't promise anything.

Colson: No.

President Nixon: Don't say there's anything secret that's going to go out. Don't say a thing. Just say, “Ed”—

Colson: Right.

President Nixon: “—they've just finished the Soviet Party Congress. You noticed what's happened in China. We can't promise a thing. We're not gonna try to mislead you, but take 30 days. The president wants you to take, just take 30 days, with no promises, no commitments, nothing. It may—nothing may happen. And you come in and talk to him.”

Colson: Mmm.

President Nixon: “At that time, he'll tell you what the cold facts are and you can do what you want.”

Colson: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: You just say that.

Colson: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: OK.. And tell him he can't tell Fulbright,19 he can't tell Case, he can't tell anybody else.

Colson: Good.

President Nixon: OK..

Colson: Yes, sir, I'll—

President Nixon: Good. Thank you, bye.

Colson: Right.


1 Otto Eckstein, Harvard economist. (↑)

2 Sen. Robert Dole, R-Kansas. (↑)

3 Sen. Clifford P. Case, R-New Jersey. (↑)

4 Sen. Edmund W. Brooke, R-Massachusetts. (↑)

5 Sen. Marlow W. Cook, R-Kentucky. (↑)

6 Henry A. Kissinger, national security adviser. (↑)

7 Alexander M. Haig, Jr., deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. (↑)

8 John A. Scali was communications adviser. (↑)

9 ABC News anchorman. (↑)

10 Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, D-Minnesota. (↑)

11 Sen. George S. McGovern, D-South Dakota. (↑)

12 Sen. Edmund S. Muskie, D-Maine. (↑)

13 Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. (↑)

14 Clark MacGregor, congressional liaison. (↑)

15 Kenneth E. BeLieu, deputy congressional liaison. (↑)

16 Rep. Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, Jr., R-California. (↑)

17 Sen. William B. Saxbe, R-Ohio. (↑)

18 H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, White House chief of staff. (↑)

19 Sen. J. William Fulbright, D-Arkansas, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. (↑)

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