Friday, May 19, 1972 - 3:49pm - 3:59pm
Richard Nixon, John Connally
White House Telephone

Before heading to Moscow for his summit with Leonid Breshnev, President Nixon spoke with John Connally about undertaking an official world tour as Nixon's special representative on international economic matters. The trip included 15 nations on 4 continents, beginning on June 7. On May 16, Connally had resigned his Cabinet position as Secretary of the Treasury. The trip would take Connally away during much of the manoeuvring preceding the Democratic National Convention, but Connally, a Democrat, was rumored to be a possibility for Nixon's Vice Presidential running mate.1

President Nixon: Hello?

White House Operator: Secretary [John B.] Connally.

President Nixon: Hello?

John Connally: How do you do, sir?

President Nixon: I've had a chance to think about your trip, John, and if you could sort of make some mental notes.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: I think you should leave about the day after I get back.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: Now, I'll tell you why: I'll be back and then it's hot news, you know--

Connally: Oh. Yes, sir.

President Nixon: --that you're going out to report. I think you should go to four countries in Latin America. Now, by the time when we start--incidentally, we're just keeping this between you and me and Henry [Kissinger] at this point because I don't want State [Department] to start adding all those Chicken Little countries down there, you see?

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: But Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, if that meets with your approval.

Connally: Yes, sir, that's fine.

President Nixon: Now, I think, if we can work it out logistically, that it would be useful for you to then to flip on over and do New Zealand and Australia.

Connally: All right.

President Nixon: Now, the only other possibility, and I haven't been able to--Henry--to sit down with Henry today, we've been just like, you know, getting my books together--

Connally: Oh, I know you have. I know you have.

President Nixon: --to see if there was a place that you could stop further on around, so you go around the world, you see, rather than coming around.

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: You wouldn't mind doing that, would you?

Connally: Oh, of course not.

President Nixon: I just don't know, I mean, you might see--see, [Spiro] Agnew's done--I don't want you to do any of those countries--the only ones unfortunately--hold your breath--are India and Pakistan. I don't think you want to go there, do you?

Connally: Oh, I don't mind. Hell, I don't mind going to any of them.

President Nixon: Well--

Connally: Wouldn't bother me. Wouldn't bother me in the least to go to either one of them.

President Nixon: Well, if it would be useful to us--

Connally: Or Saudi Arabia, or Egypt--

President Nixon: Well, Saudi--

Connally: --or any of the Arab countries.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The trouble with Egypt, we don't have diplomatic relations.

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: Saudi Arabia, I think Agnew has done. Uh . . .

Connally: Most of Africa, Mrs. [Pat] Nixon has done.

President Nixon: No, no, she did--she did Black Africa.

Connally: That's right.

President Nixon: Now, on the other hand, it might be that we might want you to do a place like Morocco.

Connally: Morocco would be fine.

President Nixon: Morocco, Tunisia. You might have to do--

Connally: Or Portugal. Or Spain.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Connally: I don't care.

President Nixon: Ethiopia, let me see, Ethiopia might be an idea. Let's see, I'll check that out, too. Well, anyway, I just want you to know to plan that. Now, figuring your plan, I think you've got to spend two days in each country.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: And my view is that I would spend--try to spend a couple days in each country, but I would spend three days in Brazil.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: So you do Brasilia, and then I think you ought to tell them you'd like to fly over, or at least see the new Amazon highway--

Connally: All right.

President Nixon: And then get down around San Paolo, the big city, and--

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: --you know, and look at that project. You know, I'm still counting on you to come up with the deal.

Connally: Yeah, I understand.

President Nixon: [Laughs heartily.]

Connally: I'll tell you, I want to get out. I'm going to. I want to spend at least one day with somebody looking over the country for that very reason.

President Nixon: Yeah. Well, you can do some private checking with your friends as to--

Connally: Yeah, I will.

President Nixon: --a place to go.

Connally: I will.

President Nixon: But what we'll do--incidentally, I'm going to--I'm just talking to Bob [Haldeman] here and he won't be here to work it out--but I will have a--I want you to take one of our presidential planes.

Connally: That'd be wonderful.

President Nixon: Take number--you know, the number-two plane, so-called.

Connally: Sure. All right, sir.

President Nixon: And take Nellie [Connally]. And then I think you ought to take a little staff.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: Although I wouldn't take too many--

Connally: I won't.

President Nixon: --they bother you.

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: But you might want to take somebody from the NSC staff, somebody from State.

Connally: All right.

President Nixon: And, frankly, somebody from Treasury.

Connally: All right.

President Nixon: Now, if [George] Shultz is not confirmed--I talked to George today and I told him I was thinking of sending you on a trip--I don't think it makes any difference, for this reason: I think that what we can say, in effect, is that well, after all, Shultz is now in and he can be acting--

Connally: Oh, I don't think that [unclear]--

President Nixon: Do you agree?

Connally: Yes, yes, I don't think it makes--

President Nixon: Because you really will have finished all you have to do with Shultz in the . . . so you've got ten days now to do that, you see?

Connally: Right. Yes, sir.

President Nixon: OK.

Connally: Yeah, that'll be no problem.

President Nixon: And then that will run from the 2nd, you've got to figure--I think you're looking, figuring travel time, at a two-and-a-half to three week trip.

Connally: Three weeks, looks like about three weeks. Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Right, right. Well, with that plane it'll be damned comfortable.

Connally: That'd be great.

President Nixon: OK.

Connally: I would like going around the world if--

President Nixon: Well--

Connally: --you know, if it makes sense from Australia, heck, I'd like to go--

President Nixon: Well, if you go to Australia, it doesn't really make a hell of a lot of sense to come back here.

Connally: No.

President Nixon: See? Well, it does, it's a little shorter to come back here than it is--because, you see, you've got to come back here to report to me at the end.

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: So you've got to come to Washington.

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: If you were coming to Texas, then it would be just about better to come, I mean by a little, not much, because Australia is just way to hell and gone.

Connally: Yes, I know it.

President Nixon: And so . . . now, you've already done Indonesia, Bangkok, all those countries [unclear].

Connally: Saigon.

President Nixon: Saigon, you've done.

Connally: Philippines. Although we were there only two or three hours.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm. How much did you do in Saigon?

Connally: We were there for a couple of days in Saigon.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Connally: Although, I--heck, if you want to go back to Saigon, it suits me fine.

President Nixon: Well, I just might have that in mind, too. It just might be useful at that point. We'll take a look at that.

Connally: [Speaking over President Nixon] If he hadn't hit, if he didn't hit--if the vice president didn't hit Singapore--

President Nixon: Singapore?

Connally: Yeah. We might hit Singapore. I didn't hit it before.

President Nixon: Yeah, all right.

Connally: And that, you've got great respect for him. And he's one of the bright--

President Nixon: Lee Kuan Yew. Yeah.

Connally: --bright leaders, but it's a little old country, so it doesn't make any difference.

President Nixon: Oh, no, it isn't all that--yeah. All right. Well, there's what I have in mind. I just wanted you to have--

Connally: Well, with whom can I work? Because if I have to leave the next day, we're going to have to do some scheduling [unclear] be here--

President Nixon: Yeah, well, I will--I'll tell you, John, I'll get together--I've got to go over now and brief the [Congressional] leaders, and then I've got to go brief for the damn press, and then tonight--

One minute and 59 seconds excised by the National Archives and Records Administration as personal and returnable information.

President Nixon: But this trip will be a very, very good thing for the country, and I think you and Nellie will enjoy it.

Connally: We'll enjoy it tremendously.

President Nixon: And I want--and I deliberately--I don't want you to schedule yourself too hard. You know what I mean? 

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: I'd do--the South Americans, as you know, they wear you out. Those damn long dinners.

Connally: Oh, I know, I know.

President Nixon: But the Australians are great. The New Zealanders are great. You know, they have the British type of thing, where you don't--you get in at a reasonable time. And God, you're going to love Australia. You know, it has a great feeling of Texas, you know?

Connally: Yes, I know it. And I've never been there.

President Nixon: It's just--you'll go out and look at that country and you'll think, "By God, I ought to have a ranch there, too." [laughs] OK.

Connally: [laughing] Yeah, that's what I want.

President Nixon: Oh, I know! All right, but I'll be in touch with you--

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: --or Bob [Haldeman] will be tonight or tomorrow morning beforehand.

Connally: Fine.

President Nixon: Fair enough?

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: All right.

Sixteen seconds excised by the National Archives and Records Administration as personal and returnable information.

President Nixon: All right, John.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: How are you getting along with Shultz? Are you all right?

Connally: Great. Oh sure, he's--oh, one thing.

President Nixon: I had a good talk with him.

Connally: I hope you will tell him, and tell Henry [Kissinger] before you go, now regardless of what you want to do in your new administration, you ought  to name George on the National Security Council--

President Nixon: I told him that today.

Connally: --for the remaining six months.

President Nixon: I told him that today.

Connally: All right, that's great.

President Nixon: [Laughs.] 

Connally: Because--

President Nixon: I know.

Connally: --well, it really--well, it really makes sense because he's got to know what goes on, see? He's trying to direct, and should try to direct all these international institutions like the IMF [International Monetary Fund], World Bank--

President Nixon: Yeah, I got the word.

Connally: --and so forth.

President Nixon: Well, he raised it, and I said, "Why, of course, you're going to . . ." In effect, John, I told him, I said, "You are going to have all the responsibilities that Connally had."

Connally: Good.

President Nixon: I--we can't have him do anything else.

Connally: No, I--that's right.

President Nixon: Because otherwise it downgrades him--

Connally: That's right.

President Nixon: --and makes it appear that we had a one man in a job . . . Don't you agree?

Connally: I couldn't agree more.

President Nixon: So I said, "You're the head of the Cost of Living Council--"

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: "--you're the chief economic spokesman--"

Connally: Right.

President Nixon: "--you're the care and keeper of Arthur Burns--"2

Connally: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: And just like you've been caring-and-keeping him. OK? [laughs]

Connally: Yes, sir. That's very wise.

President Nixon: [laughing] All right.

Connally: All right, sir.

President Nixon: Thank you.

Connally: Thank you.

  • 1. "Nixon Reported to Plan Official Tour by Connally," New York Times, 4 June 1972, p.4; Tad Szulc, "Connally is Going on 15-Nation Tour for the President," New York Times, 6 June 1972, p.1.
  • 2. Arthur Burns was Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

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