002-028

Date: 
Thursday, April 22, 1971 - 6:47pm - 6:56pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, H.R. (Bob) Haldeman
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


 

Music plays in background.
President Nixon: Hello.
Operator: [White House Chief of Staff] Mr. [H.R. “Bob”] Haldeman.
Bob Haldeman: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: I wonder if you've been in touch with that youth conference out there.1
Haldeman: Not—
President Nixon: I talked to a congressman who'd been out there, and, I think it was [unclear name] and I think our faith in [White House Committee on Children and Youth Chairman] Steve Hess and [Presidential Counselors Robert] Finch and [Donald H. ] Rumsfeld may have been somewhat misplaced. He said it was about 90 percent socialist, left-wing, Eastern, liberal, and that, he said there were a few of our people there, but there weren't-–
Haldeman: No, his percentages are wrong, but his [unclear]-–
President Nixon: Yeah, but he said that they—and they adopted—he said they adopted a resolution to abolish the capitalist system, et cetera, you know, among other things. But-–
Haldeman: I don't think that's right.
President Nixon: Yeah. No, he is right on that, because I saw it. Showed it to me.
Haldeman: No, they had one on the war-–
President Nixon: Yeah.
Haldeman: —but-–
President Nixon: No, no. On the war, but also abolishing the capitalist system in the United States. They had that one, too.
Haldeman: Hmm.
President Nixon: But the point is that . . . Do we have anybody out there that's trying to-–
Haldeman: Oh, yeah.
President Nixon: I mean, did we have anybody to organize our people? Did we have people from Texas A&M there, for example? And-–
Haldeman: No.
President Nixon: Huh?
Haldeman: Oh, I'm sure there, you know, there was somebody, but we—the people that are there were put to—-
President Nixon: Mainly Harvard, Yale, Stanford and all that?
Haldeman: No, no, from all over. A little bit of everything, but they're, you know, inevitably activist types.
President Nixon: I see. Well, I guess there wasn't much we could do about it. So, one of those other things we-–
Haldeman: I think we did the best thing we could do, which was have it in Estes Park.
President Nixon: That was a very good decision, right. But have no illusions-–
Haldeman: If it were in Washington, it would have been-–
President Nixon: —a total disaster.
Haldeman: —it would have topped the veterans story.
President Nixon: [laughs] Yeah. Well, anyway, they're out there and meandering around. They're not getting much publicity, are they?
Haldeman: The moral is: Don't have White House conferences on youth or anything else.
President Nixon: That's right. Couldn't agree more.
Haldeman: Presidential commissions and White House conferences are [unclear]-–
President Nixon: Yeah, like the Mexicans, let's not have a White House conference, let's just set up a commission on it. You know? Because you get a conference, and then you get the radicals. The Chicanos and the rest take it over.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: All the rest.
Haldeman: Just got to be, on all those things, ways that we—they're set up so they're under control. I don't think Steve was—that was a good idea as a way to get Steve out of the White House. It wasn't a very good idea in terms of control of the conference, because Steve just isn't the kind to-–
President Nixon: No, no, no, I know. He-–
Haldeman: But [Assistant Labor Secretary] Jerry Rosow moved in on it and has been-–
President Nixon: Oh, has he? Well, that's good.
Haldeman: —riding herd on it and has done a pretty—and so has Ken Cole.
President Nixon: Right. Good.
Haldeman: Pretty good job of trying to-–
President Nixon: Well, they do the best they can. I understand.
Haldeman: —make the best of a bad thing.
President Nixon: But this is enough of Hess, now. Just don't promise him anything more. Have we promised him anything more?
Haldeman: I certainly hope not. Not to my knowledge.
President Nixon: Well, I'm not promising anything more. You know what I mean?
Haldeman: No.
President Nixon: I don't want him in HEW [Health, Education and Welfare], any place else.
Haldeman: Right.
President Nixon: He's done now. He's had his say and let him go out and yak.
Haldeman: Go write a book or something.
President Nixon: Huh? Write his book, right. Because he's done his job and I don't—it's just not—not that he's at fault for it, but Steve leans in that direction, Bob, and-–
Haldeman: Yeah. He's tried hard. He really has. Trying to, you know, draw—work between—
President Nixon: Yeah.
Haldeman: —drawing a fine line, but his–-
President Nixon: Maybe he doesn't—-
Haldeman: —direction is always going to be in the wrong direction.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. Well, as you say, goddamn, that was a marvelous decision, to have it in Estes Park. [Laughs.]
Haldeman: I don't know whose idea that was, but-–
President Nixon: That was brilliant.
Haldeman: That was a good one. And—-
President Nixon: That was brilliant.
Haldeman: Really, it's made a lot of difference [unclear].
President Nixon: Let's look ahead to the rest of the White House conferences to be sure that we aren't—we're slugged with—like the old folks conference.
Haldeman: The old folks is the only one we've got left.
President Nixon: Well, put it the hell out in Chicago. Let's have it in Chicago or something, you know.
Haldeman: Miami. St. Petersburg.
President Nixon: Miami. Right. Good. I really mean it. Why not?
Haldeman: No, it's not a bad idea.
President Nixon: Yeah, why-–
Haldeman: Probably should.
President Nixon: Why put it here, you know, where the Washington press corps, you know, runs around.
Haldeman: [Pause.] I think we should. I think it's been, you know, it's been a tough thing, our—the people that have had to go out and sit through that youth stuff.
President Nixon: Terribly hard for them, I know, this guy said, “Gee, it was really murderous.” [Laughs.]
Haldeman: Well, [Senator] Bill Brock [R-Tennessee] was out there and-–
President Nixon: Yeah?
Haldeman: —took it for a while and then got mad at them.
President Nixon: They all say the same thing that Eddie Cox reported, that they were very violent, the group that are there. So I guess the-–
Haldeman: Well, the activists are.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Haldeman: They've got this escalated rhetoric and they're trying to outdo themselves. That's one of the problems with-–
President Nixon: Well, we'll see.
Haldeman: —making wild statements is that next time you've got to make wilder ones.
President Nixon: They may overplay their hands. Who knows?
Haldeman: I think they may.
President Nixon: And . . . What's the latest on the the weekend thing? Is that escalating particularly? Or—
Haldeman: Doesn't seem to be, no. It—
President Nixon: —number of buses is about the same, huh?
Haldeman: [White House Counsel John W.] Dean says it's just based on the best that they can get now, that there's a fair chance that this may be a basic fizzle. May not pull together even as much as they thought they would.
President Nixon: Who says this?
Haldeman: John Dean, who's pulling the intelligence together on it, what little there is.
President Nixon: And yet it could escalate and—
Haldeman: Yes it can. There's, there's—
President Nixon: —be a quarter of a million for all we know.
Haldeman: As [Attorney General] John [N. Mitchell] said yesterday, there's—Mitchell said yesterday—there's, no way to tell, really, until things start moving.
President Nixon: Well, we're all ready to pounce on it if it is a fizzle, aren't we?
Haldeman: Oh, yeah.
President Nixon: This time. We've got it at a half million, haven't we? Has that—
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: Has the press bought that?
Haldeman: Some have played it, and some of the organizers, of course, are playing at all different figures. So they—it's at least confused. And I think, we—any—
President Nixon: All of our people should put out a half a million, though.
Haldeman: Right.
President Nixon: Just to sell it.
Haldeman: And they talked about it being the biggest one. That's—
President Nixon: Right.
Haldeman: That's the one we'll get them best hung on, because they won't make that.
President Nixon: Good.
Haldeman: At least it doesn't appear they will. And it's—
President Nixon: Well—
Haldeman: You'd never know it from the media, but the veterans' thing is basically going to fizzle in terms of numbers.
President Nixon: Is it really?
Haldeman: But it succeeded in what they were after, which is getting coverage.
President Nixon: They really got coverage, didn't they? Yeah.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: Well, they wanted to cover it. The press wanted to cover it. But, you know, an interesting thing though, after covering this one, I don't know whether the interest in covering the rest may be as great.
Haldeman: You know that's a good point. I hadn't thought about that. But it may dull down substantially. Especially with nothing happening, you know, nothing happened really at—
President Nixon: Are we—I presume we are, but I hope that—in this one, it might do a little good to—the [Deputy Communications Director Jeb S.] Magruder group really should bombard those damn networks, you know, for, you know, distorting the news and to give such terrific coverage to these terrible people.
Haldeman: They are, and the congressmen have been doing it too. They're—
President Nixon: Good, good.
Haldeman: They've been hitting some.
President Nixon: Yeah, some of the congressmen are full of fight, I find. They're really pissed off.
Haldeman: Well, some of this helps to crank them up too. They're not [unclear]—
President Nixon: They really are full of fight, you know. They're mad at these people and what they're doing and—
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: —they're ready to go. But Jesus, that [Senator Charles “Mac”] Mathias, [R-Maryland] that's the one I love.2 You just buy the ad in the Washington Post. Try to hit it for . . . if they'll sell it. They may not sell it. If not, put it in the Star.
Haldeman: That's right. They may not.
President Nixon: Buy it—well, just put an ad in. We are disgusted, you know?
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: OK.
Haldeman: All right.
 
1 The White House Conference on Youth was held in Estes Park, Colorado. (↑)
2 Mathias had reportedly told the protesting veterans that the White House feared them. See Conversation 002-030. (↑)

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