Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection presented online by the Digital Library of Georgia

Frank Gannon's interview with Richard Nixon, September 7, 1983, part 3.

Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

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0:08 - Winning the Presidency

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Partial Transcript: --about the same as the Eisenhower landslide of '52, if Wallace had not been in.

Segment Synopsis: Nixon recounts the events of election night and the next day's celebrations when he won the presidential election. He also addresses a claim by Roger Ailes that Ailes was instrumental in Nixon's election.

Keywords: ABC; campaign; CBS; Dwight Chapin; Dwight D. Eisenhower; election night; Fina Sanchez; Helene Drown; Hubert Humphrey; Julie Eisenhower; Kevin Phillips; Manolo Sanchez; Murray Chotiner; NBC; Pat Nixon; Roger Ailes; Secret Service; Tricia Cox; Victory at Sea; Walter Cronkite

Subjects: Ailes, Roger; Chapin, Dwight L. (Dwight Lee), 1940-; Cox, Patricia Nixon, 1946-; Cronkite, Walter; Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969; Eisenhower, Julie Nixon; Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978; Nixon, Pat, 1912-1993

10:57 - Henry Kissinger's Negotiations

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Partial Transcript: Henry Kissinger apparently had some difficulties, to put it mildly, dealing with the North Vietnamese--with the North Vietnamese in the negotiations.

Segment Synopsis: Nixon recalls some of the difficulties Kissinger had while negotiating with the Vietnamese and gives his opinion on a statement by Kissinger about the release of the Pentagon Papers.

Keywords: China; foreign relations; Henry Kissinger; media; New York Times; Pentagon Papers; Russia; Soviet Union; Vietnam; Warren E. Burger

Subjects: Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995; Kissinger, Henry, 1923-

12:57 - Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death

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Partial Transcript: How did you hear about Martin Luther King's death?

Segment Synopsis: Nixon describes hearing about the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a discussion about him that Nixon had with his driver John Wardlaw.

Keywords: anti-war protest; assassination; Black Panthers; Bobby Kennedy; Civil Rights Movement; communism; Ghana; Jackie Robinson; John F. Kennedy; John Wardlaw; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Vietnam

Subjects: Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

15:15 - Attack in Caracas

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Partial Transcript: When you were in that car in Caracas and the f--windows finally started breaking in and the rocks coming through, did--did it occur to you--or a--a--at what point did it occur to you that you might not actually get out of that alive?

Segment Synopsis: Nixon relates the attack on his motorcade while visiting Caracas, Venezuela.

Keywords: Alice Longworth; Argentina; attack; Caracas, Venezuela; CIA; Colombia; communism; Jack Sherwood; Latin America; mob; Pat Nixon; Peru; Radio Moscow; Secret Service; State Department; travel; Uruguay; Vernon A. Walters

Subjects: Longworth, Alice Roosevelt, 1884-1980; Nixon, Pat, 1912-1993; Walters, Vernon A.

25:38 - Julie Eisenhower

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Partial Transcript: Many people f--felt, and, I'm sure, still feel that one of the worst crimes of Watergate was a crime of the heart, in that you let your daughter Julie go out and defend you for weeks--months--after it had to be clear to you that your case was indefensible.

Segment Synopsis: Nixon describes his daughter Julie Eisenhower and her decision to defend him after the Watergate scandal.

Keywords: Julie Eisenhower; Watergate

Subjects: Eisenhower, Julie Nixon

27:16 - Japan's Future

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Partial Transcript: Moving on briefly to Japan, what's your opinion, your assessment, of Prime Minister Nakasone?

Segment Synopsis: Nixon discusses the importance of Japan to the United States, Japan's relations with the Soviet Union, and its future.

Keywords: China; communism; Douglas MacArthur; Eisaku Sato; Japan; Japanese peace movement; Nobusuke Kishi; North Korea; nuclear weapons; Shigeru Yoshida; Soviet Union; World War II; Yasuhiro Nakasone

Subjects: Kishi, Nobusuke, 1896-1987; MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964; Nakasone, Yasuhiro, 1918-; Satō, Eisaku, 1901-1975; Yoshida, Shigeru, 1878-1967

35:21 - Meeting General Charles de Gaulle

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Partial Transcript: The first time you met General de Gaulle was when he paid a visit to the United States in 1960.

Segment Synopsis: Nixon recounts meeting Charles de Gaulle for the first time at a luncheon after hearing about him from others. He also recounts a toast in which de Gaulle predicted that Nixon would become president.

Keywords: Avis Bohlen; Élysée Palace; Charle de Gaulle; Charles E. Bohlen; Cross of Lorraine; Dick Walters; Foreign Service; France; Joan of Arc; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; Pat Nixon; Trianon Palace; Versailles; Winston Churchill; Yvonne de Gaulle

Subjects: Bohlen, Avis, 1912-1981; Bohlen, Charles E. (Charles Eustis), 1904-1974; Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970; Gaulle, Yvonne de, 1900-1979; Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973; Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Walters, Vernon A.

44:31 - Visiting General de Gaulle as President

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Partial Transcript: What are your main recollections of your trip to Paris and your visit to--with de Gaulle in 1969, when you were now president, when his prophecy had been fulfilled?

Segment Synopsis: Nixon talks about spending time with General de Gaulle during his visit to Paris while president and discusses de Gaulle's personality.

Keywords: Anne de Gaulle; Berlin Wall; Charles de Gaulle; China; Dick Walters; Douglas MacArthur; Dwight D. Eisenhower; France; John F. Kennedy; King Louis XIV; Lyndon B. Johnson; Paris; Pat Nixon; Philippe de Gaulle; symbolism; Versailles; Vietnam; World War II; Yvonne de Gaulle

Subjects: Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969; Gaulle, Anne de; Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970; Gaulle, Philippe de, 1921-; Gaulle, Yvonne de, 1900-1979; Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973; Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Louis XIV, King of France, 1638-1715; MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964; Nixon, Pat, 1912-1993; Walters, Vernon A.

53:31 - General Charles de Gaulle's Legacy

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Partial Transcript: How--how did you learn about his death?

Segment Synopsis: Nixon recalls learning about Charles de Gaulle's death and attending his funeral. He also discusses de Gaulle's legacy and the important things that he accomplished for France.

Keywords: Charles de Gaulle; Francois Mitterrand; funeral; Georges Pompidou; Germany; Henry Kissinger; Konrad Adenauer; Latin America; Marseillaise; Notre Dame; World War II

Subjects: Adenauer, Konrad, 1876-1967; Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970; Kissinger, Henry, 1923-; Mitterrand, François, 1916-1996; Pompidou, Georges, 1911-1974

0:00

NIXON: --about the same as the Eisenhower landslide of '52, if Wallace had not been in. And he got 12 percent of the national vote, as we know.

GANNON: At what point on election night, or election morning, did you finally feel confident that you were the thirty-seventh president of the United States?

NIXON: I felt confident about three o'clock in the morning, and that was before some others did, because, again, I looked at the state-by-state analysis. And at three o'clock in the morning, when I'd heard that we'd won Missouri, I thought we were going to win. Kevin Phillips was one of the few people who predicted we were going to win Missouri, and that was somewhat of an upset, but we did win it, because I knew that we felt--or felt that we had California for sure, and we did with that by a quarter of a million votes, which was pretty good under the circumstances, with all the tough campaigning that had taken place in California 1:00in those last few days. But I had it figured out that with Missouri and New Jersey, these are the second states, that, in addition to that, we would win California, we would win Ohio, win Illinois. We had to win three of the "big seven," as they were called then. That would mean we could lose Texas, lose New York, lose Pennsylvania, and still win the election. That was my strategy. And as I looked at the results at three in the morning--I went over them with Murray Chotiner, as a matter of fact, the shrewdest observer we had. I said, "Well, we've got it made." I told my staff, "I think it's made." None of them disagreed, although I think some of them were really worried.

GANNON: Did you tell Mrs. Nixon?

NIXON: Not then. No. No. I didn't want to tell her and then have her be disappointed at a later time.

GANNON: When did you tell her?

2:00

NIXON: Not till the next morning. The next morning--it was about six in the morning, or seven in the morning. I was still-we'd stayed up all night. I was hoping to be able to go down and tell her much earlier, but I knew the traumatic effect that 1960 had had on her, and 1962, and I thought, "My God, I don't want to get her hopes up and then have them dashed." That's the worst thing you can do. So she was down in another suite with Helene Drown and Tricia and Julie, and I was in this suite with all the political people, and I kept waiting. "When can I go tell them?" And so, until I felt we've got it a little bit more nailed down, I shouldn't do it. The real question at that point--we knew we had California by seven in the morning. That was clear. We knew we had Ohio by a hundred thousand votes. That was clear. We needed only one more state, and it turned out to be Illinois, of all states. And we were ahead in Illinois by a hundred thousand votes, but Cook County wasn't all in. And so, under the 3:00circumstances, I couldn't be sure. But Dwight Chapin, I remember, burst in with the news. "ABC has just conceded." And I said, "What about CBS and NBC?" "Not yet." "Well, maybe that's it." But I still waited, and finally NBC conceded. And then, finally, CBS. It was the last. I'll never forget Walter Cronkite. You know, I felt a little sorry for him. I don't have any hard-on against him, because we've had some pleasant times together, particularly at the space splashdowns and so forth. But he was obviously, of course, pro-Humphrey, which I understood. And I've never seen a man look so sick. I thought he was going to cry. He did wait an hour after NBC and ABC to make his announcement. But I didn't care. It was done. So I went down, and I saw Mrs. Nixon. And I said, "Well, we've got it." She said, "Are you sure?" I understood that that night she 4:00had been sick to her stomach because she'd heard that Illinois was still in the balance, and the commentators were pointing out that it had been lost in 1960 because of hanky-panky in Cook County. And I said, "Yeah." She said, "What about Illinois?" I said, "Look, we're ahead by a hundred thousand votes. There's no way they can steal a hundred thousand votes in Cook County." "Are you sure?" I said, "Yes," and she started to cry again, and so that was--and threw her arms around me and said, "Oh, thank God. I hope you're right." Well, we were right.

GANNON: How did it feel, after all that time and all those years, to be the president of the United States?

NIXON: Well, you didn't get the lift out of it as if we had won it in '60, I think. But having gone through the trauma of coming so close and losing and then becoming prepared and feeling quite sure that I was going to win--I wasn't overconfident. We campaigned hard throughout that period. I mean, the mythology 5:00to the effect that we just sort of dogged it and didn't campaign hard in '68--that's just nonsense. We went on two three-hour telethons from California the day before the election, just to be sure that we didn't have the thing taken away from us in the last few minutes. But, under the circumstances, it was not, therefore, that big a surprise to me. In other words, I think when you say how does it feel--if something comes almost unexpectedly, then it has a great--a greater lift--gives you a much greater lift than if it comes when you do expect it. I don't mean I was overconfident, but I was inwardly pretty confident and pretty, frankly, fatalistic about it. If we had not won, I would have taken it reasonably well. So, under the circumstances, I would say that I was prepared 6:00for it, because I thought we were going to win. And so we got underway.

GANNON: What did you do? What was your first morning as president-elect like?

NIXON: Well, it's--it should be, I suppose, some mountaintop experience, but it never is that way. It turns out to be something very--something that everybody can relate to. We went back to our apartment on Fifth Avenue, and I said to Pat and the girls--I said, "Look, you know, I think we really ought to go out"--this is the day after the election day--"I think we ought to go out to lunch." And they said no, we really couldn't go out to lunch. I mean, after all, by that time hordes of reporters were around, and the Secret Service was there, and all the rest. We just couldn't do it. Well, unfortunately, in the apartment, we didn’t have any help. I didn't find out later as to why--what became of all the help--were they dogging it or something--because this was the day after the 7:00election. And what had happened was that Manolo and Fina Sanchez were of Spanish background. That was the day they went down to be sworn in as citizens of the United States, and they were down getting sworn in. Later, they came back and very proudly, they said, "Next time we can vote for you for re-election as president." They were proud. But, in any event, we didn't know that at the time that we were trying to find out what to have for dinner. And so Pat and the girls got some eggs, and they scrambled some eggs, and they made some bacon, and so we had bacon and eggs as our victory feast there in our apartment on Fifth Avenue. And so, after that, I was pretty tired, because I'd been up all night before that. Everybody else--everybody went to bed. So I went into my library and built a fire and got out one of my favorite records, Victory at Sea. I don't know why I picked it, but I've always liked the record. And so I put it 8:00on the machine. I turned it up and opened the window so that everybody on Fifth Avenue, five blocks below, could hear it. And it blasted out Victory at Sea. That's the way I celebrated.

GANNON: Roger Ailes, always a legend in his times, and our times, always tells everyone--as a matter of fact, as early as this morning he was telling me that without him you couldn't be president. Do you want to comment on that?

NIXON: Well, if I had to pay everybody that says that, I would be broke at the present time, and I'm not that wealthy, in any event. But, in any event, I suppose what he's talking about are the campaign techniques of the man in the arena and that sort of thing. We developed a lot of very effective campaign techniques in that campaign. And that was one of the best--where people get a chance to participate in it.

GANNON: At that point, we'll break for lunch.

9:00

OFF SCREEN VOICE: unauthorized question, Gannon. [Laugh] Okay, that's all.

10:00

NIXON: Yeah, but you've got plenty of time.

GANNON: Yes.

NIXON: So we can do it. We'll make it. [Clears throat] It'll move fairly fast.

GANNON: We'll get fairly fast through this--Japan and de Gaulle. That's not--

OFF SCREEN VOICE: Stand by.

GANNON: On a ten-point scale, that's of a lesser--

OFF SCREEN VOICE: Frank.

GANNON: Yes.

OFF SCREEN VOICE: [Unintelligible]

GANNON: Sorry?

OFF SCREEN VOICE: Three-thirty?

GANNO: Three-thirty.

OFF SCREEN VOICE: You got it. Okay, here we go.

11:00

GANNON: Henry Kissinger apparently had some difficulties, to put it mildly, dealing with the North Vietnamese--with the North Vietnamese in the negotiations.

NIXON: Oh, did he! I recall when he came back toward the end, just before we finally made the agreement, he said, "You know, the Vietnamese are just"--let's start again. I remember when he--I remember one occasion particularly, when he came back after a very tough negotiation in 1972, and he said, "You know, the North Vietnamese are just shits. They're just filthy, tawdry shits." He said, "They make the Russians look good, just as the Russians make the Chinese look good when it comes to negotiating." That's the other way around.

12:00

GANNON: What did you think of the recent Kissinger interview where he sort of backtracked on his opinion about the Pentagon Papers, where he said at the time he felt it was wrong to publish them but now he feels, although it's wrong to take papers, that the media should not censor itself in terms of the publication of documents like that?

NIXON: I don't agree. I agree with Chief Justice Burger's dissent in that case, when he says that it is the responsibility of cab drivers, or the responsibility of elevator operators, of secretaries, and editors of The New York Times not to engage in such activities of this sort.

GANNON: How did you hear about Martin Luther King's death?

NIXON: I don't recall exactly how I heard about it. I think it was actually on a television. Let's start again on that. Let me see--I don't think I remember that.

GANNON: How did you hear about Martin Luther King's death?

13:00

NIXON: Well, I was in New York at the time. I heard about it on one of the newscasts. I think it was on radio, when I was in the car. And when I heard about it, I just couldn't believe that it had happened, because, well, Martin Luther King has become, and was even earlier, controversial. I knew him quite well. I had met him in Ghana in 1957. I had seen him also in my office. I'd had long talks with him. I knew, of course, that he was a violent opponent of the war in Vietnam, as were many others. But I also respected him for the fact that there was no question of his not being Communist. He was pro-American. And also I considered him in terms of the black movement as being what I would call a moderate. At least he wasn't advocating burning down the buildings and raising all the kind of hell the Black Panthers and others were. So, therefore, I 14:00thought he was a very important voice in that black community.

GANNON: Did you go to his funeral?

NIXON: Yes, I did. As a matter of fact, one of the things I particularly remember about Martin Luther King and the enormous hold he had over the black community was a rather interesting incident I had with our driver, Geor--John Wardlaw, during the vice presidential days. This was right after the election. We'd returned to Washington from California, and John was driving me down to the Capitol, and he was very emotional because he was a strong supporter. He said, "You know, I listened to the TV and heard about all of my people voting for Kennedy." He said, "I want you to know I just can't understand it"--said, "because all that I knew were going to vote for you," because I had had a very strong civil rights record, better than Kennedy's. Jackie Robinson and others in the black community had supported me. But he said, "You know what did it? They 15:00were all for you until Bobby Kennedy called the judge in that Martin Luther King thing, and then they turned to Kennedy." So I realized that Martin Luther King had an almost religious effect on millions of black Americans.

GANNON: When you were in that car in Caracas and the windows started breaking in and the rocks coming through, did it occur--or at what point did it occur to you that you might not actually get out of that alive?

NIXON: Well, we have to understand the background of how we got there in the first place. Revolution was sweeping over Latin America at that time, and we were on a trip that took us to most of the Latin American countries. There were demonstrations in Uruguay. There were demonstrations in Argentina. There were demonstrations also in Peru--a violent one there at the University of San Marcos. There were demonstrators out also in Bogota, Colombia. What had 16:00happened, though, is that the demonstrations up to that point had been ones that I had been able to handle, according to reports at the time, quite effectively. We routed the demonstrators usually by just handling them firmly but yet in a very effective way, and consequently they began to get rougher and rougher. And we got reports as we were flying from Colombia on to Venezuela, through the CIA, that plans were underway to murder the vice-president of the United States when he visits Caracas, Venezuela. They came to me. My staff said, "What should we do about this? Should we change the plans?" And I said, "Well, let's check." So we checked with the State Department. The ambassador said no, he didn't see any significant problem. There were a few demonstrators and so forth, but he urged that we come forward because if we didn't keep coming it would be a very great 17:00blow to the prestige of the United States. So I said, "Okay. The CIA's been wrong before. Maybe they're wrong this time." So we flew on in. We knew almost from the time we landed that we were in trouble. I recall the airport was totally cleared. They were afraid of the demonstrators. I remember that after we finished the welcoming speeches, I walked with the foreign minister, with Pat at my side. We walked into the airport terminal. There was a balcony immediately over it, and we were showered with spit. Frankly, it was tobacco juice spit, too, tobacco juice spit that just covered our clothes. She had on a very bright red dress that I always liked, and it just splotched it beyond repair. My suit was done in pretty good. We got into the cars. The foreign minister was very apologetic. He says, "You know, they're just children--just kids." I said, "Well, they're pretty tough." He handed me his handkerchief--"here"--so that I could wipe the spit off. I said, "No way." I said, "I've got to burn these 18:00clothes when I get into the residence." So we began to drive into the city of Caracas. It was ominously quiet. The streets were all cleared again and so forth. And then we seemed to be hitting some--what I thought were potholes--thud, thud, thud--and what it was were boulders, rocks landing on top of the limousine. Now, of course, the limousine was very heavily armored--weighs about four-and-a-half tons, and it had glass, which, of course, was supposed to be nonshatterable. But as we drove on in, the rocks continued to fall. Several of the windows were broken, and at two points we had roadblocks, which we were able to evade. But finally the whole motorcade came to a screeching stop because they had stopped a truck and put it right across the two lanes of traffic that we were going down. So we were stopped there. And once we were stopped, it was 19:00right in an intersection. My Secret Service man Jack Sherwood said, "Here they come," and just coming out on either side, down the alleys, down streets and so forth, were hundreds of people throwing rocks and stones and carrying clubs and rushing at our car--a pretty ominous sight. They came in, and they started to pound on the car, and a great big guy--several of them were young, student types, but several of them had been out of college or university for a great many years. They were the leaders. And this one fellow had a great big steel pipe, and he began to bash in the window on my side, trying to get at me. Incidentally, he knocked the window in so strong it shattered. Some of it got into the mouth of my interpreter, Leonard--I mean, General Walters. And I said, "There goes my interpreter." But, be that as it may, as he was pounding on this 20:00window, Jack Sherwood, my Secret Service man, was sitting right in front of me in the jump seat, and he started to grab his gun from the holster, and he said, "Let's get some of these sons-of-bitches!" I said--I grabbed his arm quickly. I said, "Don't do it." I said, "If you do, they'll tear us to pieces." And then, as we sat there, all of a sudden the car began to rock--back and forth, back and forth--and then I knew what was happening, because I had seen enough movies and read enough about it to know that that's the tactic of a mob--to turn a car over and burn it. And just when we were tilting almost to the point that we were going to turn over, a miracle occurred. Right in front of us on the motorcade was a flatbed truck with a cameraman on it. The driver of the truck, very intelligently, finally was able to maneuver his truck, turning it to the left out of the two lanes of traffic into the oncoming--oncoming traffic, into the 21:00other lane. And we followed him. He was the blocking back. We were the running back, and Mrs. Nixon's car right back of us, as well. We followed him around and came roaring on down the street on the wrong side of the street. Fortunately, nobody was coming up the other side. What should we do then? I ordered the driver, "Go directly to the embassy." The foreign minister objected and said, "Oh, you can't do that. We'll get off our schedule. We've got to go lay a wreath." I said, "We're not going to lay a wreath right now." It turned out later that that's where we really dodged the danger, the major danger, because there, where we were supposed to lay the wreath, a number of bombs--homemade ones, as a matter of fact, but effective nonetheless, were found. They would have exploded had we gone. So we went on up to the embassy. But that was as close as anybody wants to get. I must say, incidentally, as far as that particular incident is concerned, I was hoping that one of the results would be to get a more consistent US policy toward Latin America. I came back, and I said, "The trouble in the United States press, the only Latin America makes the 22:00front pages in the United States is when there's a revolution or a riot at a soccer game." I said, "We've got to have a consistent policy that they understand, or otherwise the Communists"--and this, of course, was a Communist-inspired mob. Radio Moscow was inciting it all the way along the line. "Otherwise they're going to take it by default." Well, of course, there was some interest immediately after the Caracas incident, and then it went down. But politically it helped, I must say. For that time--from that time forward, whenever I'd meet people who are from Latin America or who had connections with it, they would say, rather admiringly--they would say, "Well, whether we agree with you or not, we like you, because you have cojones." I said, "What's cojones?" They said, "Balls."

GANNON: Did you think--were you scared?

23:00

NIXON: Oh, I was certainly concerned, but what happens in cases like that is you don't get scared. You tend to get cool. I became--in fact, I was pretty cool. I was able to restrain Sherwood. I was able to give the order to move on, and so forth. I think it's just something you almost inherit, or you learn into it. What happens is if you go through enough crises, you're prepared when you face a big one. And I had been through quite a lot before I ever got stoned in Caracas.

GANNON: Did it occur to you that you might not survive--that you might die in that car?

NIXON: Oh, yes. Oh, certainly, particularly when the car was rocking. Then I knew that if something didn't happen, that we may have had it. Oh, yes, that was the danger point. But before I had a chance to think about it, then we were gone.

GANNON: What--was Mrs. Nixon in danger?

NIXON: She was. She was right behind us. I remember Alice Longworth had a marvelous comment about her afterwards. She said, "I saw that picture of Pat"-- 24:00"Dear Pat," as she called her--"and there she sat, talking to the wife of the foreign minister"--she guessed that's who it was--"and she just was--seemed to be talking about what they were going to do at the afternoon tea, absolutely cool." And, of course, that was the way she was. And she was naturally more concerned that I am, sure, because she was behind us, and while they hit her car a couple of times, too, she could see all of these goons around us, smashing the car with their clubs and everything. And naturally she got a little concerned.

GANNON: What did she say to you, or you to her, when you finally met--

NIXON: Well, the way it worked is that we roared out of there on our way to the embassy and finally stopped so that she could catch up. She didn't--she didn't go into any great, you know, flights of hysteria or something like that. She said, "Thank God that fellow had the good sense to move out." She saw it better 25:00than we did, because she saw it in perspective from the car right behind. And afterwards, I must say, I was never more happy to be inside an American embassy than on that occasion. And, incidentally, I finally did burn that damned suit. And I don't--I think she never was able to wear the red suit again, one of my favorites, because it was so messed up. You know, spit is bad enough, but tobacco spit--that's the worst. That's the lowest.

GANNON: I'll accept that and hope I have no experience to confirm it. Many people felt, and, I'm sure, still fell that one of the worst crimes of Watergate was a crime of the heart, in that you let your daughter Julie go out and defend you for weeks--months, after it had to be clear to you that your case was indefensible. Why did you do that?

26:00

NIXON: Well, I actually didn't have much choice. I didn't want her to do that. I didn't want the family at all to do it. But Julie is a very--a very persistent person. Of all the--of all the people that I have known, I would say that she has perhaps the greatest aptitude for political leadership. I'm not surprised when people, after they've seen her on television, say, "There's the first woman president." I don't know that she'll ever go into politics, but she has the capabilities. She's effervescent. She's bubbly. She's intelligent. She has a big heart, a--and yet she has an inner strength which is very, very formidable. And she never gives up. She used to say over and over again after 1960, "When are we going to ask for a recount in Cook County?" She never gave up. And in this instance, I said to her, "You know, I do not think that we're going to survive." I said, "This is just too tough. I don't think you should go out there," because 27:00I didn’t want her to go through what she had to. I said, "Those press people are vicious, and since they can't get at me--I'm not meeting with them at the present time--they're going to take it out on you." I'll never forget the way she answered. She said, "But, Daddy, we have to fight." So she insisted on going out.

GANNON: Moving on briefly to Japan, what's your opinion, your assessment, of Prime Minister Nakasone?

NIXON: He is potentially one of the truly great Japanese leaders. Now, incidentally, Japan has been very, very fortunate to have excellent leadership, better than average leadership, since World War II, beginning with Prime Minister Yoshida, Kishi, Sato, et al. But Nakasone is from a newer generation somewhat. He is a man who takes a higher profile than the others could take at that particular time in Japan's history. I think he's going to take the Japan 28:00today, which is an economic giant, a--and make it not a military giant, but at least see that it is no longer a military pygmy, not even able to defend itself. And also, I think very properly, he's going to have Japan play a higher "posture," as the Japanese would put it--role--on the world stage. And I think they should.

GANNON: Do you--do you think Japan should rearm?

NIXON: No question about it. I said that back in 1953. By rearming--let me be very precise--Japan should not acquire nuclear weapons. They shouldn't, for reasons that everybody can understand, having to undergo as they did the first, and, I hope, the last use of nuclear bombs in warfare. But, on the other hand, Japan should acquire the ability to defend itself. It has armed forces about one-third the size of those in North Korea today. That doesn't make any sense. 29:00The Japanese should be able to protect its sea lanes. They've got to have land forces to protect themselves on land, rather than having the US not only hold the rein against the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union but otherwise.

GANNON: How strong is the Soviet threat to Japan?

NIXON: Oh, it’s very significant. There are far more SS-20s, for example, aimed at Japan and China than there are at some of the countries of Western Europe. And that SS-20--just a few of them could take out the whole island. Also, the Soviet threat is internal. Fortunately, the Japanese have a very strong political system. At the present time, the ruling party is in very successfully, and the socialist opposition party is also anti-Communist. But the Communists are always there. It is relatively small. They are suffering from a number of problems of their own doing--poor policies in the past. But Japan at 30:00the present time, for that reason, has to have a good, strong economy, because if its economy becomes weak, you open the door for more Soviet influence.

GANNON: Do you think the Soviets are behind the Japanese peace movement?

NIXON: No question about it. No question about it. The Japanese peace movement--let me put it this way. There would be some Japanese peace movement even if there were no Soviets, but, on the other hand, I think the Soviets play a greater role in the Japanese peace movement than they do, for example, in the American peace movement, because it's much closer. And in that particular area, the Soviets have enormous influence.

GANNON: What do you see happening in Japan in, say, the next ten years?

NIXON: Well, I think in order to understand what happens in the next ten years, you've got to understand why Japan has recovered as it has from World War II. Look at this country. It's a country with no oil, no significant natural 31:00resources--the coal is virtually gone. It has less arable land than the state of California. And yet today it is the second economic power in the free world. By the end of the century, it may have a per capita income larger than that of the United States. How does it happen? It's happened for several reasons--because of who the Japanese people are, highly intelligent, a passion for education, great abilities not only to copy but to innovate, as they are in technology and many other fields. A second point is the remarkable political leadership that they've had. Here, you took Japan--you talk about the miracle economically. That couldn't have happened without the miracle politically. You took Japan after World War II. They had to change from the government which was a military dictatorship, in effect, a government in which you had the emperor as a religious figure. He had to get down off the throne and become a man rather than 32:00a god. And the Japanese, as a result of an odd couple in political leadership such as the world has never seen before--General MacArthur on the one side and Yoshida, who was about half his height, on the other side--they created the constitution and the system which modern Japan enjoys today. And so, as a result, it's a miracle to see what it's done economically. It's a miracle to see its political stability, and, looking to the future, it's only going to go up. Japan has to be concerned about being too good. That's their problem, because Americans are jealous of the way they've moved ahead. Europeans are jealous of the way they’ve moved ahead. But I would say that it is in our interest to have Japan be strong, because when you look at the Soviet Union and Asia, and China, with all of its people and all of its resources, is still weak economically and relatively weak militarily. Japan is indispensable to peace in 33:00the Pacific, just as China in the future will always be indispensable, too. Therefore, a strong Japan must be maintained if the Soviet attempts to move into China, for example, or other parts of Asia are to be thwarted. And in that connection, therefore, the Japanese-American alliance is absolutely essential.

GANNON: How do you see the development of Sino-Japanese relations in this ten-year period, say?

NIXON: Sino-Japanese relations are just as important as the American-Japanese relations. For example, at the present time the major thrust of American policy toward China should be to help it develop its economy, because without a stronger economy it cannot afford a stronger military. And until it has a stronger military it will not be able to have the strength to deter a possible 34:00Soviet attack. Now, we can help, but the Japanese can help more. One, because they're closer. Two, because they're Asian. For example, our trade last year with Japan, or, I should say, our trade with China last year was five-and-a-half billion dollars. Japan's trade with China last year was over ten billion dollars. That gives you the magnitude of the problem and the way that it can be solved. So we've got to encourage more and more Sino-Japanese cooperation.

GANNON: What--if you had to choose one thing, what's the greatest danger facing Japan today?

NIXON: The greatest danger is the danger of the threat from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is still there, and if the United States is not there to hold the rein against the Soviet Union, Japan is kaput. Another danger, and that's 35:00why Japan has as great an interest as we do in China, is if China, some way or other--because they give up on the West, because the United States fouls up some way its relationship with China, if China felt that it should move back into the Soviet orbit, then the Japanese would be running for the hills.

GANNON: The first time you met General de Gaulle was when he paid a visit to the United States in 1960. We have a film of the departure ceremonies from National Airport in Washington.

36:00

WILDTRACK. De Gaulle film.

GANNON: What were your first impressions of Charles de Gaulle?

NIXON: Well, I had my first impressions of de Gaulle before I ever met him. I was in France in 1947, and all the Foreign Service people that I met spoke of him with absolute dislike and certainly thought that he was finished. I had the impression from reading the press, the media, at the time, that he was virtually a dictatorial type, almost a fascist--rigid, difficult. Also, I had been reading a little of Churchill, and Churchill was really devastating in his commentary on de Gaulle. He said, "Of all the crosses I have to bear, the heaviest is the Cross of 37:00Lorraine." The Cross of Lorraine, of course, was de Gaulle's standard. And he said, "You know, de Gaulle thinks he is Joan of Arc." He said, "The trouble is my bloody bishops won't let me burn him!" So, under the circumstances, when I first met de Gaulle when he came on this trip, I expected to be--see a rather austere, dictatorial, difficult kind of a person. I saw someone quite different. One--dignified, yes--one with enormous self-confidence, one who was very impressive, who gave off an aura of charisma, of command. Some men have it--very, very few. He was one who has it in spades, and, after I got to know him, one who became more and more impressive as you knew him.

GANNON: In 1963, when you were in Paris, he gave you a luncheon at the Élysée 38:00Palace. Why did he received at what had to be the lowest ebb of your political career, do you think?

NIXON: Well, frankly, I don't know. I wondered that at the time. After all, at that time I had been defeated for president of the United States. I had been defeated for governor of California. I had burned my bridges in spades as far as the press were concerned. And here I was in France on a trip with my family. I didn't ask to see him, and we received this invitation to the Élysée. He may have had several motivations. One, the obvious one, is that, well, he thought just possibly I might come back again. I, of course, didn’t feel that, and I don't think he would have felt that either. The other point, however, that should be made in that connection is he didn't--he was one who--sorry. He thought I might come back again. Another point that may have--a fact that may have affected him was that he had a very low opinion of some other American 39:00political figures. He was quoted as saying that--

OFF SCREEN VOICE: [unintelligible] to do a pickup on that. That fly [unintelligible].

GANNON: Yeah.

OFF SCREEN VOICE: [unintelligible] do a pickup on the second part of that question.

NIXON: You ready?

GANNON: Yes.

NIXON: Oh, I thought--the fly--you get it? Oh.

GANNON: No. [Laughs]

NIXON: That's what he's saying? All right.

GANNON: That he had a low opinion--

OFF SCREEN VOICE: After he thought you might come back again.

GANNON: The second reason was he had a low--

NIXON: Yeah.

GANNON: --opinion of the other--

NIXON: The second--the second reason was that he had apparently a very low opinion of some American political leaders. He was supposed to have said at one time that President Kennedy reminded him of an assistant hairdresser trying to comb through problems. Well, whatever the case might be, he did receive me. I think there was a deeper reason--a deeper reasons as to why he received me on this occasion. There was a certain empathy there. He never mentioned it, as far as I was concerned, but he made a very revealing comment to General Vernon 40:00Walters, Dick Walters, when Walters took him a letter that I had written him--a handwritten letter--when he announced that he was resigning from the office of president of France. He said, like myself, he has been an exile in his own country. He had been in the wilderness. He had gone through adversity. I had been in the wilderness and gone through adversity. He appreciated that, and I think he respected it and admired it, and therefore saw things and possibilities in my career due to the fact that such things had happened to him.

GANNON: What was the luncheon--what is luncheon at the Élysée Palace with General de Gaulle like?

NIXON: Well, first of all, coming to the Élysée was a great thrill for me. I am somewhat of a Francophile. I had four years of French in college and read Rousseau and the other French classics, in French, and, also, I had read a lot 41:00of French history. You came to this great building--the only thing, really, that surpasses it in the places I've visited is the Vatican, because on this same trip, incidentally, I was received by--and the family as well--by Pope Paul before--the day before the coronation took place. But, in any event, we drove through the gates and went in to lunch. The lunch was set up outdoors. It was in the summertime--beautifully done, as, of course, any French chef would do it, and of course de Gaulle had the best, but very friendly. The only--only six people present--President and Mrs. de Gaulle--she's a very remarkable person, incidentally--and the Bolins, Mr. and Mrs. Bolin--he was the ambassador--and Mrs. Nixon and myself.

42:00

GANNON: In your memoirs, you wrote about a toast that General de Gaulle made at that luncheon which turned out to be very prophetic.

NIXON: Yes. After the toast--

GANNON: [Begins to speak.]

NIXON: Uh--

GANNON: Can you begin with just "after"?

NIXON: What?

GANNON: With just "after the toast"?

NIXON: You want so s--

GANNON: Without saying "yes."

NIXON: Oh, yes, yes, fine. Don't say "yes," fine. No--"in his toast"--is that--you want me to say--

GANNON: "After the luncheon."

NIXON: After the luncheon, de Gaulle proposed the toast. It was a surprise to me, and, I think, even a greater surprise to Bolin, because he said, in effect--he said, "I realize that you have been checked in the pursuit of your goals. But I have sensed that there is no doubt but that at some time in the future you will serve your country again in an even higher capacity." Well, 43:00that's the first time I'd ever heard anybody, even among my closest friends and supporters in the United States, let alone abroad, indicate that I might have a political future. And it really shocked Bolin. He didn't--wasn't bitter about it or anything like that, but he says, "That was really a remarkable statement." Now, again, you could just say, "Well, de Gaulle's just smart enough to say that to anybody, because, you know, we always say nice things to our visitors, particularly if we're fellow politicians. It doesn't cost anything. It makes them feel good. And someday it may be useful to you." But the interesting thing here was that I have talked to several French leaders, cabinet officers and others, through the years, and over and over they tell me that de Gaulle at various times has told them that same thing, prior to the time I was elected in 1968. In fact, there was a very amusing incident. It occurred at a time that they were having de Gaulle inspect the new quarters, guest quarters, at the 44:00Trianon Palace at Versailles for distinguished guests. And as they were going through it, they went through the area that was for the president, or whoever it might be--the head of state who was coming there. And the bathtub was apparently quite a small one, and the guide said, "You know, this bathtub looks a little small for Johnson." De Gaulle smiled and said, "Yes, but it looks about right for Nixon."

GANNON: What are your main recollections of your trip to Paris and your visit to--with de Gaulle in 1969, when you were now president, when his prophecy had been fulfilled?

NIXON: I would say that, first, just arriving there, which was the first state visit to Paris as president--I had been there, of course, as vice president--and 45:00no one does protocol better than de Gaulle. He believed that that was a very small price to pay. And he did the--he put on the same show, I learned later from General Walters, who was then our aide in the embassy--military aide--whether it was the leader of a small African or Asian country, he did the same for them as he did for the president of the United States. But it was magnificent. But it was a bitter cold day, and the aides had told me that I'd have to wear my overcoat and gloves and all that business and so forth, and so I had had it on, and as the plane pulled up to the apron I saw de Gaulle standing there. Here's this seventy-eight-year-old man, standing erect, no hat, no coat. So I took off my overcoat and walked down to meet him. Symbolism--he dealt in symbolism. He thought that was very important. Just to show respect, he was not going to wear an overcoat. He knew what the pictures would look like, as well. 46:00And then, too, I have memories of many things that happened. We had hours and hours of talk. I was just impressed by the way he was able to--he reminded me of MacArthur. He talked with precision. You could take de Gaulle's conversation, transcribe it, and never have to change a comma or anything, or a word, for that matter. He didn't talk in commas too much. The precision of it--he spoke, for example, then, as he had clear back in 1963, about the importance of the United States talking with China and negotiating with China now, when they needed us, rather than waiting until later when they would be so strong we would have to talk to them because we needed them. He talked about the need to bring the war in Vietnam to a close. He talked, for example, very effectively about what he called--what has been called "détente." He said, "Well, what are you going to do? Are you going to break down the Berlin Wall? If you're not ready to make 47:00war, make peace, but make it on a very strong basis, from strength rather than from weakness." All these conversations impressed me, but I think even more those times when he'd speak philosophically, because he was a philosopher. He was a philosopher-statesman, without question, and without a peer, in my view. He--we were sitting--we were sitting in a beautiful room in Versailles, where the conversation was taking place, and in a break in the conversation he walked over to a window and, speaking to no one in particular, but to everyone, he looked out the window, and he said, "Louis XIV ruled all of Europe from this room." And the other case--he was talking about World War II and the hopelessness of all war, especially modern war. And he said, "In World War II 48:00all the nations of Europe lost. Two were defeated." He had the ability to put everything so precisely, so well. And then a final memory, the great dinners, the toasts that he prepared, a conversation with Mrs. de Gaulle where she, speaking of the closeness of the family, made the point that "the presidency is temporary, the family is permanent." And then, finally, going to the airport, getting ready to leave, making the departure statements, de Gaulle escorting us out of the apron to the ramp--foot of the plane, shaking hands, getting into the plane. Then the custom is for the head of state to go back into the reception room and wait for the plane to take off. And I assumed that's what he would do. 49:00I got onto the plane, and then, as the plane was taxiing down the runway to take off, I looked out. De Gaulle was still standing there, standing on the ramp in a salute. Symbolism again. I think he would--did that because he felt that after very difficult years with both Kennedy and Johnson, that finally there was in the White House a president who understood France, who would restore the French-American relationship, and who understood and respected de Gaulle.

GANNON: De Gaulle's image is formidable, to say the least, and he spent a lot of time and effort creating it and maintaining it. Did you get a chance to--to see the man behind the myth, so to speak?

NIXON: To an extent, yes. I saw certainly--well, let me put it this way. Mrs. Nixon saw it. He was a very thoughtful man. You know--head of state comes to a 50:00dinner. The poor wife--in this case it's Mrs. Nixon--does all the work preparing the flowers and the name cards and the menus and all that sort of thing. And she had a beautiful centerpiece with a fountain in it and flowers all around. It was held in the Carlton Hotel. There was no residence for the vice president then, and we had to rent out a hotel. And de Gaulle spent quite a bit of time talking to Mrs. Nixon about how beautiful the centerpiece was, complimenting her on the dinner generally. He was a very--he was a very fine gentleman. He wasn't that austere type. Also, de Gaulle was a deeply religious man, and many people are not aware--you think of him only as a great soldier, and even potentially a great statesman. Some do. But he was also a very devoted family man. I think one of the most moving stories I've ever heard of a public figure involved de 51:00Gaulle--something you would not expect from him. They had children, other children. One is an admirable--one is an admiral in the French navy today. I met him--his name is Phillip de Gaulle--when I was in Paris. Looks just like his father--younger, of course. And then their last child, Anne, unfortunately was born retarded, because Yvonne de Gaulle, de Gaulle's wife, was in a terrible automobile accident just before she was born, and--brain damage to the child. And that retarded child was one that they insisted on keeping. The doctor said, "Look, there's nothing you can do for her. Let us take her to a home." And de Gaulle answered, "She did not ask to be brought into this world. We will keep her here." There was never a day when he didn't go home and try to entertain her. He was the only one that could make the child laugh. He would play little 52:00games with her. She loved to take his military hat, the decorations on it, and play with them. He would always walk her around, whenever he could, in the garden and so forth. During the war, the press always wanted to take pictures of his family. He would never allow it, except with him and Mrs. de Gaulle, because he didn't want them to have a picture of just the older children without Anne de Gaulle. The thing which really caused him very great pain was the fact that other children sometimes could be so cruel to Anne. Because she was different, they taunted her--because she was different. And then, finally, in--she was eighteen years of age. She caught pneumonia, and she died. There was a very simple ceremony in the little graveyard at Colombey, where they lived--a few 53:00prayers, some tears, de Gaulle, Mrs. de Gaulle standing together silently at the grave. And, finally, he took her by the hand and said, "Come, Yvonne. Now she's like the others." And from that time on, there was never a day till the end of his life that on a Sunday he did not go to the grave to lay fresh flowers. That was de Gaulle.

GANNON: How--how did you learn about his death?

NIXON: I learned about it in Washington. It was from Henry Kissinger. He brought--he usually brought the news of anything--development of that sort. And just as soon as I learned it, I said I was going to go to the funeral. I was--and as a result of my going, everybody else came. It was an enormous, 54:00moving event. It was in Notre Dame. It was not actually a funeral, I should say. This was simply a memorial service, because de Gaulle, typically, had put in his will "no funeral." All he allowed was to have a little private service out into his home village. And a butcher and a tradesman were among those who acted as the pallbearers, just very, very simple people. But, of course, the nation insisted upon having a funeral. President Pompidou said it very eloquently. When he heard about the death, he said, "General de Gaulle is dead. France is a widow." And so all the people were gathered there in Notre Dame, and I remember the moving eulogy that was given by President Pomch--Pompidou, who was to succeed de Gaulle, and--or had succeeded de Gaulle when de Gaulle retired. And I was leaving the cathedral when it was completed. And then the great organ in 55:00Notre Dame--it's a huge organ--began to strike up the Marseillaise, that great, moving song. And I started to turn toward the organ and toward the flag to salute, and unfortunately another one of the guests happened to grab my arm at the time just to pay his respects. The moment was lost, but it occurred to me that there's no more moving tribute that could be paid to de Gaulle than for that whole mass of people from all over the world to turn toward the altar as the Marseillaise was being played and salute.

GANNON: What--how do you think history will assess de Gaulle? What will his legacy turn out to be? How will he have made a difference for France, for Europe, for the world?

NIXON: Well, de Gaulle made a difference in several ways substantively. First, 56:00without de Gaulle, France would never have recovered its spirit after the terrible defeat of World War II. Without de Gaulle, France would not have become a respected, powerful nation in the world today, as it is. And without de Gaulle, and also Adenauer, and the fact that the two came to power at the same time together--without de Gaulle and Adenauer, you would not have had, at the time we've had it, the French-German rapprochement which ended centuries of bloody wars between two very great peoples. So, all of these are tremendous achievements that will go down in history for de Gaulle. I am inclined to think, however, that he will be remembered more for what he was than for what he did. He was a man bigger than life. He once described himself--and this is not an arrogant statement, even though some would think it that. They asked what he was politically. He said, "De Gaulle is not on the right. He is not on the left. He 57:00is above." What he meant there--he was above politics. And, under the circumstances, I think--you look at de Gaulle generally. He was a massive personality on the post-war scene, an intellect of unquestioned superiority, a man of supreme eloquence, a man who understood symbolism and modern communication, a man that was bigger than France, bigger than his own country, one that everybody could recognize as a giant, even though they might have disagreed with him bitterly. His greatest contribution, other than what he was, was what he did, not in terms of any particular thing for France in terms of its foreign policy, but the French constitution. I remember, for example, that when 58:00I was vice president, I had the opportunity, or the responsibility, of going to the airport to visit--to meet visiting prime ministers. And it seemed about one month I'd be going to meet a new Italian prime minister, and the next month it'd be a new French prime minister. And that's still the case with Italy. They changed prime ministers about two or three times a year. But in France, de Gaulle stopped that. He created a strong presidency, and yet democracy underneath. And it's that stability that has made France what it is today. I had a talk with the Socialist president of France, Mitterrand, just recently in Paris. And I told him of my evaluation of de Gaulle and the Constitution, and in a rather sardonic way he answered--he said, "Yes." He said, "When we were out of power, we didn't like that provision of the Constitution. But now that we're in power we like it so much better." Stability is so essential. If the de Gaulle 59:00Constitution could be adopted in all the Latin countries of Latin America, it might be the answer to many of their problems--stability, strong presidency at the top, and yet democracy underneath, affected by elections as they go on from time to time. But don't have a change of government any time any particular head of government happens to have a policy that falls out of favor.

THE FOLLOWING IS IN THE ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPT BUT NOT ON A TAPE

GANNON: Do you think that President Kennedy got away with things that you didn't get away with because the media liked him and didn't like you?

NIXON: Well, I don't want to say that I did the same things he did, or that he did the same things I did. But there was a little bit of a double standard. He, incidentally, was--could be very honest. I am sure he would agree there was a double standard--privately, at least. But I do know that I was rather amused when I read recently--when some of the disclosures come out of what happened during the Kennedy administration--that with all of this talk about racism--