Tuesday, June 1, 1971 - 10:10pm - 10:16pm
Richard Nixon, John Connally
White House Telephone
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President Nixon: Hello?
John B. Connally∇ Jr.:
President Nixon: How are you feeling?
Connally: Well, I'm--”
President Nixon: You're sounding--”
Connally: --”not sure I feel a whole lot better, but I feel better after watching you tonight. I thought you did exceptionally well.
President Nixon: Well, you know, I was just saying to Bob Haldeman∇--”he just told me about your call--”
President Nixon: --”but isn't it interesting that in that whole goddamn press conference, not one question on revenue sharing. Not one on the environment. Not one on parks. Not one on government reorganization.
Connally: Not one on the economy, really.
President Nixon: On the economy. No, no, they didn't really ask about that.
Connally: That's right.
President Nixon: But these guys . . . I'm glad they badgered me on the Washington police because, boy, that's our issue. [Chuckles.]
Connally: It really is, and I thought you handled it exceptionally well. I think there was one particular thing I noticed tonight, and that was I thought you were more relaxed. I noticed you're using the podium, which might account for some of it, but you were much more . . . or appeared to be much more relaxed, at least, in your facial expressions, which I thought was extremely good. There was a time or two when you--”or at least I read into your facial expressions--”disgust almost at some of the questions. But most of the time--”
President Nixon: Well, [chuckles]--”
Connally: --”you were smiling, you were relaxed, and I don't think the disgust that I read into it was bad. I think it was good.
President Nixon: Sometimes you've got to be a little disgusted.
Connally: Oh, no question about it. And I think the . . . one of the principal advantages of these press conferences like this, the average person has to see how antagonistic this press is.
President Nixon: Isn't it something, though?
Connally: It really is unbelievable. I think the only question that I would rate as not being antagonistic was the fellow who asked you--”and I don't know whether it was Bill Theiss or not, but--”who asked you about China--”
President Nixon: Yeah.
Connally: --”and our trade policies with respect to China [unclear].
President Nixon: That's right. That was just a straight question, which was legitimate.
Connally: Which was a legitimate, fair, decent question.
President Nixon: Also, I think the question that [Chicago Daily News correspondent Peter] Lisagor asked with regard to whether or not we were going to have a treaty or not--”
Connally: Yes . . . yes.
President Nixon: --”that was a legitimate question.
Connally: There were several legitimate questions.
President Nixon: And it enabled me to give him a legitimate answer.
President Nixon: But for the most part, these guys really aren't interested in the facts; they're only interested in badgering.
Connally: That's right.
President Nixon: That's not too bad either.
Connally: But I thought you came out exceptionally well, and I must say that I think the more often you do it, the more biased you show them to be to the American people, because the American people, I'm convinced, have an antenna for this sort of thing. They're not fools. They, they--”
President Nixon: I hope they're not.
Connally: They're not. They see through this sort of thing. I thought, again, the . . . the fact that they didn't ask you anything about this whole economic picture--”
President Nixon: Mmm.
Connally: Was the most incredible part of the--”all of it.
President Nixon: Yeah, I was prepared--”my God, I spent . . . I was prepared to answer a dozen questions on that, you know, about the . . . everything from balance of payments to--”
President Nixon: I was going to say, incidentally, that we . . . my . . . that the Secretary of the Treasury had stated our position articulately and that I completely supported it. That we were of course concerned about maintaining the international monetary situation, but we would not make decisions with regard to the international monetary situation that would be detrimental to our domestic economy, which is basically our view.
President Nixon: We damn well are not going to do it.
You know, it's all the more incredible when you realize that today through [White House Press Secretary]Ron Ziegler∇
you put out a long statement on the aluminum company labor settlement. Not a question on that.
President Nixon: No. Nothing on steel.
Connally: Or steel.
President Nixon: That's right. I was prepared to answer those.
Connally: And I was sure you were. You would have anticipated that they would [Unclear.] among those asked.
President Nixon: Yeah . . . yeah.
Connally: But I thought you came off exceedingly well, and--”
President Nixon: Well, we'll . . . tomorrow you're going up before Wilbur [Mills, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee].
Connally: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: The battle of the giants. Let me tell you what I was going to answer on that. I was going to do it with a very low-key and deft way, I thought. I was going to say, "Well, it's quite clear that Chairman Mills has a majority of the committee and that Secretary Connally has a majority of the country. And I believe that in the final analysis that the chairman will not deny to the Congress the opportunity to vote on this question of whether we should have revenue sharing. That's really what's involved." I don't know.
Connally: Well, I think it would've been a good answer.
President Nixon: [laughing] If we'd ever got the question.
President Nixon: But--”
He just got more and more belligerent. I assume that the negotiations with [Office of Management and Budget Director]George [Shultz∇
] broke down completely.
President Nixon: I assume that, but I wouldn't be too sure. When you go up I--”
Connally: Oh, I'll--”
President Nixon: --”I feel you can say, "Look, we believe this very strongly, and we just believe the Congress ought to have a chance to vote on it."
President Nixon: I think that line is very effective, and that, look, if he has a better plan, we'd like to know what it is, you know.
President Nixon: He doesn't have, you know.
Connally: No, I know it. And I'm amazed that he's gone this far out on a limb without having a better plan. Because nearly everywhere--”or without having a plan. Nearly everywhere he's been, you know, he's promised that he's going to come up with something.
President Nixon: Yeah . . . yeah. Did you go to Camp David or not?
Connally: No, sir, I didn't.
President Nixon: Well, I wanted you and your wife to go up--”
Connally: Well, you were very kind.
President Nixon: --”there because it was lovely up there, and you could've had a time to yourself, but yeah, I suppose you had a schedule today, huh?
Connally: Yes, sir. I was at the office--”
President Nixon: That's too bad.
Connally: --”all morning until the middle of the afternoon and then I came home and worked out here on the hearings.
President Nixon: Well . . .well.
Connally: I just thought it would be more trouble than it's worth to go up there [unclear].
President Nixon: Good. I know, well. . .
Connally: But I appreciate your thoughtfulness very much, Mr. President.
President Nixon: You get down and get a little rest now, and you and Wilbur--”you know, you and Wilbur, you're going to be on TV tomorrow night, I can assure you. This is--”
Connally: I'm sure that's right. We'll have--”
President Nixon: As I said, this is the battle of the giants.
Connally: We'll have--”
President Nixon: And I'd be--”and I think you ought to be very understanding. We appreciate honest men disagreeing on this thing, but we have strong convictions that this matter ought to be submitted to the Congress.
President Nixon: Don't you really think that's true?
Connally: Yes, sir. Yes. sir. I think that's the only way to play it.
President Nixon: Yeah. That's all. And that if he--”we--”we're . . . if he has . . . we're not frozen in cement as to what it ought to be . . . but what do you want to do, Mr. Chairman? You know? [Laughs.]
President Nixon: OK.
Connally: All right, sir.
President Nixon: Well, get a little rest.
Connally: Thank you, sir.
President Nixon: Bye.