President Nixon: Hello?
White House Operator: Senator [Mike] Mansfield∇ [D-Montana], sir. Ready.
President Nixon: Hello?
Mike Mansfield: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: Hi, Mike?
Mansfield: Yes, Mr. President.
President Nixon: I don’t want to put you out in terms of your own schedule, and that’s why I’m calling you before I give the others a ring. I would like to meet with the Big Five, you know, to . . . at, about, say, 7:00 tomorrow night if you’re not already left.1
But if you’re gone, why . . . the only check we have found is that I think [House Minority Leader Gerald R.] Ford∇’s [R-Michigan] going to be here and I haven’t checked [House Speaker Carl B.] Albert [D-Oklahoma] or anybody like that. Could you make a meeting at seven?
Mansfield: Well, I was planning on leaving about 1:00 today, Mr. President.
President Nixon: 1:00 today?
President Nixon: Mm-hmm.
Mansfield: Because we haven’t—
President Nixon: All right.
Mansfield: —got anything to do tomorrow.
President Nixon: Oh, I see. All right. I’ll tell you what I’ll do . . . with you . . . if you like . . . let me, let me suggest this . . . No, that’s too bad then. If with you . . . wait a minute. The only ones we have are you and . . . let’s see . . . majority leader, we have you, and [unidentified background voice says “Boggs.”] . . . from the . . . we don’t have anybody else from the Senate, anyway, do we, except you, on the Big Five, do we? Yeah, that’s right. We’ve got the Speaker. We’ve got [House Majority Leader Hale] Boggs [D-Louisiana]. We’ve got Ford. We’ve have you . . . Oh, [Senate Minority Leader Hugh] Scott [R-Pennsylvania]. Scott, of course. Right, right, right.
Let me ask you this, because you and I can speak in confidence.
President Nixon: I would like for—I’d like to tell you before I make the announcement what it’s going to be.
President Nixon: It has to be closely held, Mike.
Mansfield: It will.
President Nixon: Well, for—I’ll tell you the reason. It isn’t political, but I’m not informing [South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van] Thieu until tomorrow, see. And I don’t want him to read it—I mean any leak or anything like that. There have been all sorts of leaks as to how many and all that sort of thing. So I’d just like for you to know, and I’ll just tell you, and let’s just say that it’s one of those meetings that was never held.
Mansfield: OK. That’s fine, Mr. President.
President Nixon: Is that all right with you?
Mansfield: Yes sir. [Unclear.]
President Nixon: Fine. Now if you would like as a—just as a—understand . . . also, Scott would get his nose out of joint if we told you the day in advance. But you understand. Could you come down anytime today? I’m over in the . . . I mean, I’m free anytime. I’m working on the talk, as a matter of fact, today.
Mansfield: Well, I have—
President Nixon: What’s your schedule?
Mansfield: —to testify at 10:00, and I could be down there at 10:30.
President Nixon: 10:30 is fine.
Mansfield: I’d suggest.
President Nixon: 10:30? 11:00, better? What time do you want? Anytime. Suit your time. Ten—the only time I’m tied up, I’m tied up at 11:30; between 11:30 and 12:30 I’m doing a revenue-sharing message. But I could—
Mansfield: Yeah. Could I make it flexible, say between 10:30 and 10:45?
President Nixon: Sure.
Mansfield: And come in the southwest gate or the northwest gate?
President Nixon: Well, let me just see which. I don’t know which gate is which.
[aside] Which gate? The southwest or north—
Unidentified: [Unclear] southwest.
Mansfield: Well, the northwest gate is—
President Nixon: Come in the southwest gate and come to the EOB [Executive Office Building], and one of our guys will be downstairs to bring you up. You know, it’s the little office where you and I met before.
Mansfield: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: Fine, fine.
Mansfield: I’ll be there, sir.
President Nixon: All right, Mike. And, are you going home?
Mansfield: No, I’m going to walk the beach and do [unclear]—
President Nixon: Oh, that’s right. You’re going to Florida.
President Nixon: At east shore—as I recall, where you go . . .
Mansfield: It’s Boca Grande.
President Nixon: Yeah, Boca Grande.
President Nixon: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I’ll tell you that . . . I hope it’s nice. Gee whiz, it’s going to snow here today. Yeah.
Mansfield: Well, I want to get away from it.
President Nixon: [laughing] OK, Mike.
Mansfield: OK, Mr. President.
President Nixon: Fine. I’ll see you then. And as I say, can we say that you and I just talked about our visit to Montana, right now?
Mansfield: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: Because I’ve got a little sensitivity with my Republican leaders. [laughing]
Mansfield: Good enough.
President Nixon: All right Mike.
Mansfield: Mr. President.
President Nixon: Fine.
1 The Big Five was the group consisting of Speaker Carl Albert, House Majority Leader (Thomas) Hale Boggs, House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, and Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott. (↑)