Wednesday, May 12, 1971 - 5:41pm - 5:45pm
Richard Nixon, John Connally
White House Telephone

President Nixon: Yeah.

Operator: [Treasury] Secretary [John B.] Connally.

John Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Well, we won it over there.1

Connally: Isn't that great?

President Nixon: Yeah, I thought you'd be pleased.

Connally: [chuckling] I am.

President Nixon: And I've . . . we now, of course, have got to start working the Senate. It's going to be a very long shot there.

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: But I don't know . . . I've been, I've got a call in to [AFL-CIO President George] Meany, but he's out. He's in Georgia, and I don't know whether we can get him. But I just think if we could possibly turn a couple of those guys, that could make it. But beyond that, even if the Senate--”which is probably the likely course of events--”does not go with the House, there is a conference. And in that conference, you're going to get something.

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: You've got to get something. But I think it's just good for our morale, don't you, to win one?

Connally: Oh, no question about it. I think we ought to give it a whale of a run in the Senate.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Connally: And I'm not sure we can do it.

President Nixon: Right.

Connally: But I'll personally go to work on it and see if we can't [unclear].

President Nixon: Well, the basic--”the guys that I think . . . I'm going to try to take a whack at [Senator John Sherman] Cooper [R-Kentucky] to think if we could swing him.

Connally: Let me tell you how you can turn some, I think, and I don't know whether you want to pay the price or not.

President Nixon: Yeah. What's that?

Connally: The thing that has most of these people upset and, God, I've talked to--”

President Nixon: Withheld funds?2

Connally: Yes, sir, on public works.

President Nixon: Right.

Connally: Public works withheld funds.

President Nixon: Right, right, right.

Connally: God, I've talked to [Senator Allen J.] Ellender [D-Louisiana]. I've talked to [Senator Russell B.] Long [D-Louisiana]. And every time I call them, that's all they want to talk about.

President Nixon: Yeah, yeah. [Unclear]--”Provided that the ones that's withheld from [chuckling] are the ones whose votes we need.

Connally: Well, that's right. And I haven't analyzed it, so I don't know.

President Nixon: Right, right.

Connally: That may not--”

President Nixon: All right. Whatever the price is, we'll pay it.

Connally: Well, I think you ought to have someone--”

President Nixon: What the hell. What's a--”

Connally: --”[unclear] somebody to look at it.

President Nixon: That's right.

Connally: I really think, if you can anyway, you ought to release those public funds, because it puts you in an impossible position of trying to defend holding them up when we're looking for jobs and we're asking for, you know, everything in the world.

President Nixon: That's right. That's right. That's right. Right, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well--”

Connally: But you're going to see [Chicago Mayor Richard J.] Daley [D] tomorrow, aren't you?

President Nixon: Yes, sir. Yeah, I am.

Connally: Well, he'd probably [not] help in the Senate much, though.

President Nixon: No, I don't think so. But I'll tell you the ones, really, [Senator David H.] Gambrell, [D-Georgia] I'll tell you, the new senator from Florida. I don't know who's got a handle on him, but he ought to shift because of Lockheed.

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: Gambrell ought to shift because of Lockheed.

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: I'll tell you what: If you can tell the Lockheed people they ought to get to Gambrell immediately and the new senator from Florida. And incidentally it's cold turkey. Frankly, frankly, John, I'll cool off on Lockheed if they don't come along.

Connally: I understand.

President Nixon: You understand?

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: And they ought to know this.

Connally: Well, Grambell's father--”

President Nixon: Yeah.

Connally: --”Mike Gambrell.

President Nixon: Former head of the bar [American Bar Association].

Connally: Former head of the bar [American Bar Association]. And has been general counsel for Eastern Airlines for 30 years.

President Nixon: Yes.

Connally: So Eastern's got a slight interest.

President Nixon: Right. Well, there's another thing you can say, too, on this one: It is a different situation, see, now than it was. And, I mean, in order--”you see, these guys have got to have a basis for changing. Well, the financial situation is different. It isn't as much money. And you can make a commitment that the President's going to take another look at it next year and then we'll . . . it's going to cost any more money. But if Gambrell would shift, and then you get Cooper, you're within the ballpark. You got--”you only, you see, if you shift two, then getting one more . . .

Connally: I can talk to [Senator] Lawton Chiles [D-Florida] from--”

President Nixon: Can you?

Connally: --”from Florida.

President Nixon: Good.

Connally: And I can talk to Gambrell.

President Nixon: Yes.

Connally: And I will do it.

President Nixon: Well, try the two, because the main thing is to talk to them before they--”

Connally: I know [Senator Alan] Cranston [D-California] and [Senator John V.] Tunney [D-California].

President Nixon: --”before they, the thing is, if you could talk to them before they get frozen up.

Connally: I'll talk to them in the morning.

President Nixon: And say, --œDon't make a decision until we have a chance to talk to you,-- that this is terribly important. The other one is . . . I don't know. Can we do anything with [Senator Lloyd] Bentsen [D-Texas]?

Connally: I'm going to talk to him.

President Nixon: I just really think that for the national interest he ought to . . . now in view of the fact that the House has acted, why does he want to obstruct? See, that's the way you, you know--”he's a good citizen.

Connally: He sure is, and I'm going to really talk to him. He's voted that way once now.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yes, he's made his point.

Connally: He's lived up to his commitment.

President Nixon: He's made his point. And he could say --œWell, now, under the circumstances, the House has acted. And we're going to have something. And this looks like--”--

Connally: Well, I'll--”

President Nixon: And I'll work on Cooper. And there's one other one, and that's [Senator] Clint Anderson [D-New Mexico]. But I think Clint, I think the guy that--”I think Jackson's got to handle him. I'll try Cooper and I'll try--”

Connally: Well, I can help on Clint.

President Nixon: Can you?

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: All right, well, those are the names. Those are the only ones I can think of that'll shift. Out of that group, you get three out of those, we'll make it.

Connally: We'll, I'll get Clint--”

President Nixon: See we only need three to change.

Connally: Yeah I know it.

President Nixon: Because we've got the chair [chuckling].3

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: See, three is a tie.

Connally: Right. [Laughs.]

President Nixon: Right, but it--”really I'm--”it looks like a different day.

Connally: It sure does, and I think it's just wonderful. I really do.

President Nixon: Good. It changes a psychology a little, too.

Connally: Oh, of course it does.

President Nixon: Right.

Connally: I just think it's great.

President Nixon: Great.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: OK.

Connally: Thank you.


1 The House had voted 201--“197 to resume financing the supersonic transport. --œRoll-Call Vote in House on Financing of SST Project,-- New York Times, 13 May 1971. (↑)

2 Nixon had announced that he would --œfreeze-- some expenditures on construction projects to fight inflation. --œNixon's $12 Billion Freeze Angers Key Hill Democrats,-- Washington Post, 5 April 1971. (↑)

3 Nixon was referring to the Vice President's power to break a tie vote in the Senate. (↑)

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