Thursday, June 3, 1971 - 7:43pm - 8:01pm
Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman
White House Telephone

President Nixon: Hello?
White House Operator: [Unclear.]
H.R. "Bob" Haldeman: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: Hi, Bob?
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: You home?
Haldeman: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: Yeah. I was thinking that on . . . after our talk with [Senator Robert J.] Dole [R-Kansas] and [Attorney General John N.] Mitchell that probably we ought to start our one-man responsibility thing here. I mean [unclear] lawyers, we've got--”you know, we've got [Former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Robert H.] Finch, you know, flubbing around, Mitchell and [unclear] talking about it, Dole and the rest. But nobody is really doing anything. Nobody is really responsible. We sort of need to--”I don't know--”the [Deputy Domestic Policy Adviser Edward L.] Morgan operation. Don't you think that maybe it's just something that somebody should take and get quite excited about and do a good job?
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: Or is it--”
Haldeman: No, I really do.
President Nixon: I really think--”I think it's a tremendous possibility. I mean, we've got young people, you know, that want to do the things. We've got junior Chamber guys that would love to do it. We've got women that want to work. What the Christ are they doing? I mean--”you know what I mean?
Haldeman: Mm-hmm.
President Nixon: What more could they do that is more important than this? I really feel that--”I think that really gets down though, Bob, to the whole business of responsibility. I don't think we've really got it now, you know? What do you think?
Haldeman: I think that's right.
President Nixon: The National Committee flubs around, and everybody else talks about it, and Bob never will. Bob Finch, he never will, really. He never gets down the . . . Well, we'll talk about it.
Haldeman: I think you're right--”
President Nixon: I just thought you ought to consider it. That this is a--”I'd kind of like to get some of that where we get a young-goer, put him in charge like we're putting [Egil (Bud)] Krogh [Jr.] in charge of drugs. Boy, I couldn't feel better about drugs, because I know Krogh is a tough son of a bitch. He believes as I believe. He's going to do what I want. Right?
Haldeman: Sure. And he will. He won't give up.
President Nixon: And he won't give up, and he'll needle everybody, and we're going to do something. And Bob, that's what we need in every field. All right. I think that's--”you know, that's . . . that's what that crazy [H. Ross] Perot says, but he's right.
Haldeman: Yep. You know, it's a very good point and it's--”where we don't get things done is where we don't have that.
President Nixon: Right. Yeah.
Haldeman: There isn't any doubt about it.
President Nixon: You know, on another subject, one thing that was really rather pleasing about this thing tonight, I never saw a more appreciative group.1 You know, these people have come from all over the country. A lot of them have been defeated, and this and that, and my God, they were--”just Democrats and Republicans so appreciative and so forth. And also the members of Congress.
Haldeman: I'll tell you--”
President Nixon: I think maybe we ought've done a little more, because you know--”
Haldeman: I'm sure that meant an awful lot to them. It's kind of like your Whittier choir coming in [Unclear.]--”2
President Nixon: Yeah. And another thing, I think we may do a little bit of that with the members of Congress on a social basis, you know. Just bring them down for a cocktail. Come down, shoot--”we'll find a reason. It's an awfully, and a . . . it's a . . . it gives a personal touch to it.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: It gets personal loyalty that you'd never get out of that sort of impersonal visit of bringing them down to the Cabinet room and briefing them on something. But they were really great. These people were just . . . just so moved by it. You know, I was surprised. We forget the power of the White House [unclear].
Haldeman: Well, we tend to. We sure--”you know, we got to play it and play it with people that it does mean something to, and that--”
President Nixon: That's right.
Haldeman: --”kind of group it really would.
President Nixon: Rather than having [former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare] John [W.] Gardner for the 18th time--”
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: --”have people like this. And have others, you know. You know, like--”that's one of the reasons this police chiefs was good.
Haldeman: Right.
President Nixon: They'd never been in the Cabinet room before.
Haldeman: Right. It was a big deal for them.
President Nixon: And they thought it was marvelous. They said, "No president ever did this before," and they're right.
Haldeman: That's what we ought to do. More and more of that kind of thing and less and less of the [Unclear.]--”
President Nixon: Less and less of the people that have always been there, like the Advertising Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, the . . . you know, the usual groups that come to town, that expect always to see me. The [President's] Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board [PFIAB]. I'll see them. It doesn't mean a goddamn thing to them, Bob. Not a thing. Really. They've been there. Don't you agree?

Haldeman: Yeah.

Approximately 5 seconds of indiscernible audio.
President Nixon: I . . . I thought Dole was--”seemed to be a little concerned about the poll business and so forth. We've got to keep his dauber up, you know.
Haldeman: I don't think--”he's always concerned about the POW [Prisoners of War] thing--”
President Nixon: Yeah. I know.
Haldeman: --”and he has about four [POW] wives--”
President Nixon: That, I understand.
Haldeman: --”[Unclear.] that he deals with all the time, and they [unclear]--”
President Nixon: Yeah.
NARA Excision
Category: Personal Returnable
Duration: 2m 16s
President Nixon: No, on approval. It's--”even in Gallup, still 50, isn't it?
Haldeman: Yep.
President Nixon: That isn't too bad, is it? Compared to . . . It isn't good. It isn't good, but the real drag is the war. We've got to face it. That's it. The people--”
Haldeman: That's what [Unclear.] sure feels about it.
President Nixon: Well, I feel it.
Haldeman: [Coughs.] You read it through everything in the polls.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. The other thing that was interesting--”
Haldeman: But that's good. That shows that there is other latent strength that's--”
President Nixon: Mm-hmm.
Haldeman: --”holding up, and if you eliminate that one negative, the latent strength in the other areas should--”
President Nixon: Pop up.
Haldeman: --”should--”
President Nixon: One thing that was very interesting about this group tonight--”two things I mentioned to you briefly. The [coughs]--”both Democrats and Republicans that spoke very very favorably of the press thing, you know. Of course, these are pros; they've seen it. But boy, they were . . . they were--”they think it's the right tone, and all that sort of thing.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: The right--”not to be too rough [Unclear.] just to hit them right back.
Haldeman: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
President Nixon: So that was interesting.
Haldeman: That's interesting, yeah.
President Nixon: The other point is that [Congressman] Charlie Kersten [R-Wisconsin] made a point: He says, you know, I'd like to see you do [unclear] young people--”
Haldeman: Mm-hmm.
President Nixon: --”he said you can do Q&A, he says--”it'd be very interesting he said, just do young people. [Chuckles.] I don't know how we can work it out, but maybe a panel of young people or something, that sort of idea.
Haldeman: We could work it out. We'd have to do a lot of screening to get someone intelligent enough to . . . Of course, you don't have to be too bright to match the Washington press corps.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Haldeman: The problem with a Q&A with a panel of that kind is that--”
President Nixon: They'd say it's a fix.
Haldeman: Well, or--”either they say it's a fix on the one side or the . . . also, you get the kids on it . . . tend to try and get real gussied-up questions. Grandstand themselves. [Unclear.]--”
President Nixon: I think what we might do is sometime go to some young group and just say, "All right, questions, kids," and let them pop up--”
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: --”stand up.
Haldeman: Well, we'll take a look.
President Nixon: At Rochester, I'm considering the possibility, you know, of just making the media thing a Q&A, which might be a different way to handle that.
Haldeman: On this next trip?
President Nixon: That's right, and let the cameras be in, and all that.
Haldeman: [Unclear.] regional media.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm.
Haldeman: Huh. That'd be kind of interesting.
President Nixon: How are they going to handle this unemployment thing tomorrow? I don't want to have our people try to gloss it over, but . . .
Haldeman: They're just going to--”I don't know. They were . . . they were debating whether to try and make a little--”
President Nixon: Explain it or--”
Haldeman: Yeah, an explanation thing to make our point again. I think we've got to do that. I think we should--”
President Nixon: Yes, we've got to do it in order not for the people to get too depressed.
Haldeman: Well, for them not to get depressed and also so that we don't look like we only explain the good news and ignore the bad.
President Nixon: That's right.
Haldeman: And I think if we just take it--”It's good for our people to say, "You know, well"--”
President Nixon: "Quite aware of it. This is what the President has said, that unemployment--”
Haldeman: [Unclear]--”
President Nixon: Point out the President has said that the unemployment is the major factor and we're going to--”we're working on it. That employment is going up. We've got to have it go up more because of the increasing . . . point out the favorable thing: more people employed, but we that we need more to sop up the people that are being let out of the armed forces. Well, we'll talk about it in the morning [unclear] some way to get that across. The . . . I must say, I . . . if it's going to move, I'd just as soon have it--”let it go even to six-two, six-three, six-four, whatever it is.
Haldeman: It can do that--”
President Nixon: And then--”
Haldeman: --”and then come down--”
President Nixon: --”then, then--”
Haldeman: --”and just keep going down.
President Nixon: --”every month it goes down is a hell of a good month, huh?
Haldeman: Darn right. It's got to get up a ways--”or it's got to be up a ways in order to go down. [Unclear.]
President Nixon: Think about those youngsters.
Haldeman: OK.
President Nixon: Maybe find a good forum [unclear]. Let them pop up. [Unclear.] Maybe something in the eastern [unclear] [chuckles]. It might be something [unclear], but not necessarily college kids.
Haldeman: Well, I don't think you want [unclear]. Maybe one. [Unclear] range of types. I don't know. Let's--”this--”let's work--”
President Nixon: We don't want the kids to look bad.
Haldeman: Right.
President Nixon: See, if you had just each of college kids, they'll look bad, and it's antagonistic. On the other hand, you could have a combination.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: Do a little thinking on that subject, because the . . . from this group tonight it's quite apparent the Q&A--”the Q&A technique is extremely effective. They all think that. You know these fellows like Kersten are real pros, and I've watched them for years. And I think that . . . but I do them better than I think I've seen anybody else doing them. You've really got to broker that thing. You know, that's the same thing our friend from Yale said.
Haldeman: Right. Right. [Unclear] most everyone [unclear] understand why many of these have said that, but that's . . . in its various forms, and we ought to work through other forms. We shouldn't just--”you don't have to--”
President Nixon: Feed the press.
Haldeman: --”limit a Q&A to the press.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. I might even go before almost any group. I could have even done that with the Chamber of Commerce.
Haldeman: Sure.
President Nixon: Let them ask questions.
Haldeman: Sure.
President Nixon: Like we did--”like them--”you know, let the Chamber of Commerce have a panel.
Haldeman: Do it like for the editors. Yeah.
President Nixon: Yeah. And they'd ask a lot of good questions.
Haldeman: Well, [Unclear.]--”
President Nixon: Have you checked with--”you didn't have any report on the [Jack J.] Dreyfus thing by any chance yet?
Haldeman: No.
President Nixon: Oh, one other thing I wanted to mention briefly. We do not--”do we have a dinner in the White House next week? We really shouldn't. [Thelma C.] Pat [Nixon] mentioned it. They're going to start decorating in the--”
Haldeman: No, I don't--”I don't think we do, do we?
President Nixon: She said on the 8th she thought we had a dinner, and I said I don't think so.
Haldeman: The 8th?
President Nixon: Do we have--”is that when we have one of those [Commerce Secretary Maurice] Maury [H.] Stans groups or something? My view is that if we do, we've got to put it at the Blair House or something.3 You see what I mean? I don't want to--”
Haldeman: Yeah. I don't have my calendar right here, it's in the other room, but want me to check it?
President Nixon: Would you mind?
Haldeman: Just a second.
[Haldeman puts down the phone. A brief pause occurs.]
Haldeman: No, we don't have anything on the 8th at all.
President Nixon: Do we have anything next week?
Haldeman: No.
President Nixon: No dinners?
Haldeman: Because remember, we checked that. She didn't want anything after the [Unclear.]--”
President Nixon: So next week is clear, is it not, as far as White House dinners? [Unclear.] take a quick look at [Unclear.]
Haldeman: Yeah, the 7th was the date they had proposed for the Advertising Council reception.
President Nixon: That's out.
Haldeman: But we have that scratched anyway. On the 8th is [Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs Peter] Pete [G.] Peterson's bipartisan leaders thing, but that doesn't involve--”no, that's not a social deal. That's . . .
President Nixon: [Unclear.]
Haldeman: That's, you know, the Peterson international presentation--”
President Nixon: [Unclear.]
Haldeman: --”economic presentation.
President Nixon: Briefing and so forth. That one. [Unclear.]
Haldeman: And the 10th is the [Congressman Samuel L.] Devine [R-Ohio] group.
President Nixon: The Devine group, is that the--”
Haldeman: That's not social.
President Nixon: You can push that over to the Blair House.
Haldeman: Yeah. But it isn't a social thing anyway.
President Nixon: Right. That's good. Well, on the Peterson thing, I think we could push that to the Blair House very easily, couldn't we, if we had to?
Haldeman: Sure, well, we can--”we'll work out--”if it's scheduled to be in the residence and that poses any problem, we can sure not have it there. I don't think it is.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. Well, if we want to have something social, we could have the thing at the Blair House.
Haldeman: Sure.
President Nixon: And put the whole deal on over there.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: But let's leave the White House staff, because they've got a hell of a burden.
Haldeman: Actually, the Blair House isn't big enough to do a big group, right?
President Nixon: [Unclear.]
Haldeman: For--”in one room for a briefing room or anything, and that's all it is, I think. But we--”I know we were--”from our side, we're not planning on doing anything in the residence next week--”
President Nixon: Good.
Haldeman: --”because of [Unclear.] but the 8th, you know, was when we were going to be at Midway.
President Nixon: OK. Well, I'll [Unclear.] take a look at that in the morning to see if we can keep that schedule very clear from [unclear].
Haldeman: Yeah, right. You sure will.
President Nixon: Good. OK, Bob, thank you.
Haldeman: OK.

1Nixon had held a reception earlier for the 80th Congress. ↑

2President Nixon had attended Whittier College in Whittier, California, from 1930 to 1934. ↑

3The Blair House is the official state guest house for the President of the United States. ↑

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