Wednesday, November 8, 1972 - 1:16am - 1:28am
Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger
White House Telephone

Editorial Note: On November 7, 1972, Richard M. Nixon won reelection in the biggest Republican presidential landslide of the Cold War, getting 60.7 percent of the vote compared to Democrat George McGovern’s 37.5 percent. He won the electoral votes of every state except Massachusetts.

White House Operator: Mr. President?

President Nixon: Hello, yeah.

White House Operator: Dr. [Henry] Kissinger, and also from Senator [Hubert] Humphrey, he is speaking, and it’ll be a few moments before we can get him.

President Nixon: Yeah.

White House Operator: I have Dr. Kissinger.

President Nixon: Hello.

White House Operator: Dr. Kissinger, go ahead, please.

President Nixon: Hello.

Henry Kissinger: Mr. President?

President Nixon: Well, Henry, how are you?

Kissinger: I just wanted to extend my really warmest congratulations—

President Nixon: Well—

Kissinger: This is—

President Nixon: We all knew it was going to happen and . . . but we got our 60 percent.

Kissinger: Well, but [unclear]. Well, we didn’t . . . one couldn’t really be sure until one had seen it.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And every state except Massachusetts and maybe Minnesota, although I think we’ll get that, too.

Kissinger: It’s an extraordinary tribute.

President Nixon: You know, this fellow [Senator George S. McGovern, D-South Dakota, the Democratic presidential candidate] to the last was a prick. Did you see his concession statement?

Kissinger: Oh, he started out—

President Nixon: He was very gracious in the beginning.

Kissinger: And then he went right back to saying that—

President Nixon: And [White House Speechwriter] Ray Price just sent me in a [draft] wire [from Nixon to McGovern] saying that “I look forward to working with you and your supporters for peace in the years ahead.” And I just said, “Hell, no, I’m not going to send him that sort of a wire.”

Kissinger: Absolutely.

President Nixon: Don’t you agree?

Kissinger: Absolutely, Mr. President.

President Nixon: I mean, I used to argue with Bob [Haldeman] about it, but I said, “Ray just doesn’t have the right sense of this sort of thing.”

Kissinger: No, he was ungenerous.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: He was petulant.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: Unworthy.

President Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: It was—he—

President Nixon: As you probably know, I responded in a very decent way to him, but that’s—

Kissinger: Well, I thought that was a great statement.

President Nixon: That’s as far as I could go, though. But I’m not going to say much to him. Well, anyway, it was a good day. We had a terrible time in the damn Senate. We’re going to end up with, probably, 44, but it isn’t worth a damn anyway. And frankly—

Kissinger: It was a pity, because we lost some people we [unclear].

President Nixon: Well, we lost Margaret Smith, [R-Maine], but she’s 74 years old. We lost Jack Miller, [R-Iowa] because he’s a jackass.

Kissinger: That’s right.

President Nixon: And we lost Caleb Boggs, [R-Delaware] because he’s too old. He’s 68.

Kissinger: Yeah.

President Nixon: Isn’t he? There’s your problem.

Kissinger: With those three, we would’ve come much closer.

President Nixon: Yeah, well, it’s all right. It’s all right. We’ve worked with the—

Kissinger: But at any rate it’s a tremendous personal triumph, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Well, you know something, it’s hard for even the—all these left-wing columnists can do now is to piss on the not winning the Senate and the House and building the party, but they couldn’t care less about that. The main thing is, they know that we came up to bat against their candidate and beat the hell out of him.

Kissinger: And came up against their issue and turned it into an asset.

President Nixon: That’s right. Don’t you think so? Don’t you feel that?

Kissinger: You made Vietnam your issue.

President Nixon: And thank God it does—

Kissinger: [Unclear] weakness, the whole approach.

President Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: Year after year the media were harassing you. All the intellectuals were against you, and you’ve come around—

President Nixon: That’s right. That’s right.

Kissinger: —and had the greatest victory, I’m sure in terms of margin, that anyone has had.

President Nixon: Right.

Kissinger: Well, it’s a tremendous triumph.

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. Well, anyway, Henry, have a good night’s sleep.

Kissinger: You have my warmest my good wishes.

President Nixon: Give ’em hell tomorrow.

Kissinger: [chuckling] Right, Mr. President.

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