Tuesday, April 20, 1971 - 7:30pm - 7:33pm
Richard Nixon, H.R. (Bob) Haldeman
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Yeah?

Bob Haldeman: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: I didn't want to mention it while Henry was there, but I think the real weakness of the meeting today was that [Congressional Liaison] Clark [MacGregor] probably subconsciously felt that he had to have the fellows like [Senator Howard] Baker [R-Tennessee] and all the others, there were about four or five of them, you know, tell me that we had to end the war. And that so, therefore, he wanted them to . . . because he had told me that, of course, and then he wanted them to tell me. Well, now, goddamn it, he didn't have to do that, you see. I knew that before. And Clark should've finessed that in advance. And you've got a have a candid talk with Clark on this.

Haldeman: Talked to him. He talk—

President Nixon: I knew, I knew what the war—I knew what they all felt about the war.

Haldeman: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: I knew it more deeply than they did. I mean, I've forgotten more about politics than he'll ever learn. But Clark, you know, sat there and he's—with egg on his face—and—but he sort of thought, “Well, this is great. Here, finally, Baker's telling him what he ought to hear and [Senator Edward J.] Gurney's [R-Florida] telling him what he ought to hear and [Senator J. Caleb ] Boggs [R-Delaware] is telling him what he wants to hear.” See my point?

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Now, maybe I'm unfair, but I just really feel that that was Clark's mistake. That he was really trying to get across to me something I already knew, and that somebody, maybe you or somebody else, didn't tell him, for Christ's sake, I knew all that stuff. And that the purpose of this meeting was to gung these guys up to, you know, to stand up for something. Now, if they're going to be just a bunch of old farts, screw them. That's my attitude. [Pause.]

Haldeman: OK. Well, let me, I'll cover that with him, because I don't think that's—I know that's, isn't what he intended, because he—

President Nixon: What'd he intend?

Haldeman: Because he mentioned afterwards that he had, he was concerned that they had—

President Nixon: I don't mind their raising the question.

Haldeman: [Unclear] he had talked—

President Nixon: —the point is that I—that he should not have instigated them to raise it.

Haldeman: Well.

President Nixon: And I think he did. Because he felt that I hadn't heard it. Goddamn it, Bob, I read all of his memoranda, and I read [UN Ambassador] George Bush's memoranda, and I read the press. I know more about this than Clark ever will learn. You know that.

Haldeman: Sure.

President Nixon: Now why does he have to have them come and tell me this?

Haldeman: Well, I honestly don't think he did. But then maybe he did.

President Nixon: OK. Well, then have a talk with him.

Haldeman: Right.

President Nixon: Fine. In the meantime, for god's sake, get out the polls. I mean, why do we take them unless we get them out?

Haldeman: Yeah. Yep.

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