Wednesday, November 10, 1971
Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater
White House Telephone

President Nixon: Yeah.

White House Operator: I have the Senator Barry Goldwater [R-Arizona].

President Nixon: Yes.

White House Operator: Yes, sir. There you are.

President Nixon: Barry?

Barry Goldwater: Yes, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Just had [singer] Pat Boone, his lovely wife, and four beautiful daughters in. And they just raved about your appearance in Atlanta.

Goldwater: Well, thank you.

President Nixon: Told about your flying in the airplane and all that and what you said. But he said, you know, you've got to get Barry Goldwater out across this country more. So I thought you'd like to know that you've got some fans, boy.

Goldwater: Well, thank you Mr. President.

President Nixon: And I appreciate what you said.

Goldwater: I thought you made a hell of a good speech last night. I saw it down there.1

President Nixon: Well, I had to of course speak before one of those New York audiences, and I hate them. Although, we had our friends there. But you know, they're so unspontaneous, you know?

Goldwater: Well, I thought they gave you a good response.

President Nixon: Yeah, for New York.

Goldwater: I think what you said is particularly needed at this time. I'm stressing those points every time I--”

President Nixon: Right. Incidentally, I hit the--”I thought you might be interested to know--”the defense thing very hard.

Goldwater: I know you did.

President Nixon: In Chicago, I thought you'd be interested, I said, "Now look here, there are those who say we should lay down this burden of defense."2 I said, "If we lay it down, no other free nation is going to pick it up and we can't leave this vacuum." And then I went on to say that, I said, "Now I had to make a very difficult decision on this just over the last weekend." I said, "I had to make a test--”this decision on Amchitka. I mean testing a defensive weapon, which the Soviet Union has already of course tested. And I--”of course, I layed it all out by saying if we get arms control we should do this and that and the other thing."

Goldwater: Sure.

President Nixon: But then I went on to say, I said, "Now many people objected to that very strenuously, because they were concerned about risk to the environment." I said, "I'm concerned about the environment, and I'm--”I think we have some very good programs and very good initiatives on the environment." But I said, "if we don't defend this country, we're not going to have any environment to protect."

Goldwater: That's sure right.

President Nixon: And I think we ought to hit that point, Barry.

Goldwater: Well, you should and I asked--”

President Nixon: Some of these people are nuts on that subject.

Goldwater: Well they're nuts on any subject, but I asked [Defense Secretary] Mel Laird at lunch the other day to prepare some fact sheets so that Republicans who are not aware of the defense expenditures and defense problems--”

President Nixon: Yeah.

Goldwater: --”can answer, and he said he's going to do it.

President Nixon: Good. Let me say one other thing on the Amchitka thing. You know, going forward and that was essential, because if we hadn't our ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] and everything was down the tube, you know, for a year.

Goldwater: I know it.

President Nixon: So we did it. And it didn't blow up the Arctic and the seals are still swimming.

Goldwater: Well, you told me last August you were going to go through with that and I'm damn proud of you for--”

President Nixon: I wish you'd tell some of our good--¦because you have stroke with them, you know . . . the conservative friends like [Senator James] Buckley [Conservative Republican-New York] and others that goddamn it, I'm no disarmer. You know, I'm fighting. As you know, it's the Congress that's trying to disarm, Barry. I'm not.

Goldwater: Plus what you inherited: 10 years of no development.

President Nixon: Well, 10 years of [Defense Secretary Robert S.] McNamara for Christ's sakes.

Goldwater: Right.

President Nixon: The Russians have caught us now. Now we're just--”and listen, if we don't get arms control--”[National Security Adviser Henry A.] Kissinger just walked in--”let me tell you, we're going to turn. We're going to start going. I can prove you. I can tell you that.

Goldwater: We're going to have to.

President Nixon: Right.

Goldwater: Well, thank you, Mr. President.

President Nixon: OK, Henry.

Goldwater: Thank you.


1 Nixon had spoken at the "Salute to the President" dinner in New York City. (↑)

2 Nixon appeared on closed circuit television for Chicago's "Salute to the President" dinner. (↑)

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