003-009

Date: 
Wednesday, May 12, 1971 - 10:25am - 10:35am
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, William Rogers
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


President Nixon: Hello.

Operator: Mr. President.

President Nixon: Yeah, Bill?

William Rogers: Hello, Mr. President.

President Nixon: We have a little, as usual, I haven't got the--”they're going to have an SST [supersonic transport] vote again this afternoon, so I can't go out.

Rogers: That's too bad.

President Nixon: I think we may win it--”

Rogers: Do you?

President Nixon: --”in the House. So--”

Rogers: That's great.

President Nixon: --”if we resus--”[chuckles]. The other thing is that we're doing everything we can to keep [Senate Minority Leader Hugh] Scott [R-Pennsylvania] and [Senate Minority Whip Robert P.] Griffin [R-Michigan] to delay the vote on Mansfield's thing, because I can think of nothing that would be worse at the present time than to have the jackass Senate go off on a --œlet's bring half our troops home.--1 Wouldn't that really tear the Europeans apart?

Rogers: No doubt. Is there anything I can do? I--”

President Nixon: Well, I tell you what. The main point is that I want you to know that I've got--”I talked--”I've got [White House Congressional Liaison Clark] MacGregor working on everybody else. [National Security Adviser] Henry [Kissinger] talked to them about--”in terms of the necessity to delay. You see, they were going to vote today or tomorrow. That'd kill us. But if we can get some delay, then I think we've got to work on them one by one. And the point is, Bill, you know, let's frankly look at our Jewish friends. Good God, if we pull out of Europe, what the hell you going to do in, I mean, what's it going to be for Israel?

Rogers: That's right. That's right.

President Nixon: And also, but it's bigger. The point is, all this has to do with our relations with the Russians. We're ready to deal on these things. What a victory they would have. And you've just come back from there. Let me ask you what the one--”

Rogers: Also, I'm just going to NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. We have a NATO meeting scheduled.

President Nixon: Let me ask you this. And possibly when I get through these calls, maybe we can get together later this afternoon.

Rogers: OK.

President Nixon: And because I was going to say: It may be that you ought to have . . . try to have a meeting where you just get them in, you know, the key people. And say --œNow, look here, we just have to step up to this thing.-- You see, they'll take it from you better than they'll take it from [Defense Secretary Melvin R.] Laird or anybody else.

Rogers: That's right. That's right.

President Nixon: And you've just [come] back from Europe. And you say, --œLook fellows, we're all trying to do the same--”-- See, [Senate Majority Leader] Mike [Mansfield, D-Montana] is selling this. Now, let's understand Mike's position. Mike, Bill, has always been for cutting NATO in half.

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: You know, always. This is not new for him. He believes it, and I understand that. But, no, what is happening is this self-destructive instinct is now permeating so many of the others, and they want to rush around and do it with the draft bill and bring them back. But if we could just point out that, --œLook, look what we're doing,-- you know, with your chart, show that we're cutting down our troops abroad. And we are ready to negotiate on Europe, you know. Give him a little nonsense about European Security Conference and all that.

Rogers: Well, of course . . . Oh, sure, I could do that.

President Nixon: See?

Rogers: But it doesn't make any sense at all. And particularly not even to have hearings. I mean, my God, this is--”would be a major shift in foreign policy.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, the one fellow that if you could call now would be helpful, I'd just call . . . you know, [Senator John C.] Stennis [D-Mississippi] wobbles sometimes.

Rogers: He does?

President Nixon: Well, he wobbles not only--”he doesn't beli--”but he just wobbles when he doesn't think he'll have the votes. But I don't think we need one, but--”if you could give maybe Scott a call.

Rogers: OK.

President Nixon: And tell him, --œNow, look here, stand firm on this thing.-- And then let's set up maybe some seminars.

Rogers: Right. Right.

President Nixon: Where you bring them in. And as a matter of fact, we might even do it at the highest level. We might bring in, say, a bunch of people at the Cabinet Room or the White House. I would sit in for a while, and then I'd turn it over to you, and then you'd crack them. See? Because you're just back. And then you could give them a report on your trip generally and then, but hit this thing so hard. Because these fellows just, like--”the whole sense, you know, that I think you can get out of your trip report is to say, --œLook, we're doing very well on the world, fellows. We've got a lot of friends in Europe. People have confidence in us. You're going to destroy this confidence with this kind of a move.-- Isn't that really what it gets down to?

Rogers: Sure. Sure. We have a NATO meeting coming up, you know, in two weeks, three weeks, something like that, too.

President Nixon: He'd be pulling the rug right out from you before NATO.

Rogers: Sure, sure. Well--”

President Nixon: OK. I wonder, I don't know there's anything you can do with Mike himself, but . . . I don't know.

Rogers: Well, I might. Let's be sure we orchestrate it pretty carefully, though, so we don't--”

President Nixon: Well, nothing is done here except that Scott and Griffin came down and talked to MacGregor, and they got Henry in, and we said we just couldn't buy it from a substantive standpoint and we just urged delay. So what we're trying to do is get a week's delay.

Rogers: Are you going to see [Senator George D.] Aiken [R-Vermont]? Somebody told me you were going to see Aiken and [Senator John Sherman] Cooper [R-Kentucky] and Scott.

President Nixon: [Laughs.] Well, someday. I don't know they're on right now, but I could.

Rogers: No, I didn't mean that. I just want to be sure we're coordinated.

President Nixon: No, I have no plans at the moment. I am going to see [Senator Edward W.] Brooke [R-Massachusetts] on Friday, because I promised to see him a month ago--”that's how we got him to get off of some resolution. But maybe this is the time to see Aiken and Cooper.

Rogers: Well, let me, let me--”

President Nixon: Feel it out, will you?

Rogers: I'll jump right in.

President Nixon: I tell you what you do. You feel out Aiken. You feel out Cooper. But also on the Democratic side if we could . . . let's think of some of the Democratic . . . now for example, [Senator Edmund S.] Muskie [D-Maine] for Christ sakes! He came back from his trip abroad and [former Undersecretary of State] George Ball turned him around, you know, on Europe.

Rogers: Is that right?

President Nixon: Yeah, you remember. Muskie changed. He said he was against it, so after all, I don't see how he can do it. Here's the point about this. This is all going to be different from Vietnam. See, it's always been that way. The Democratic Party has been schizophrenic about Asia and Europe. I mean we're one-worlders, they're two-worlders. They're willing to do anything in Europe and nothing in Asia. Now, that's why Korea was difficult for them [unclear]. But in Europe, this is their baby. I mean, after all, NATO's a Democratic baby, you know. And George Ball and people like that know this. And he incidentally has called down. He called down and talked to Henry today and said he'd go do anything he could. He'd come down and work on people individually. So maybe that'll help a little on the Democratic side. Well, what I would do--”could you call Cooper? And could you call Aiken?

Rogers: Sure, I'll get into it right away.

President Nixon: Aiken? And call Scott. Let me know. I'll be here all morning.

Rogers: Will you have your people let me know, too, sort of what they're doing [unclear].

President Nixon: Yes, well, that's the reason I'm calling you--”

Rogers: OK.

President Nixon: --”to let you know that we're going to--”

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: --”get it--”and what we want to do is to, frankly, I want you to get into it, but I don't want Mel [Laird] to get into it too much. He's not feeling well anyway.

Rogers: Right.

President Nixon: But we'll work out the [unclear].

Rogers: Fine, Mr. President.

 

1 Mansfield perennially proposed a 50 percent reduction in American troops stationed in Europe. (↑)

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