Partial Transcript: There were some criticisms that President Reagan had used this incident to push his own defense program, the--the M.X. and the Pershing.
Segment Synopsis: Nixon considers the importance of military strength to deter attacks against the United States but also of attempting to prevent war through communication and foreign relations.
Partial Transcript: Did you know when you knew Congressman Kennedy--and then Senator Kennedy--about the health problems, the serious health problems he had that were later revealed?
Segment Synopsis: Nixon discusses the abilities of presidents, including John F. Kennedy, to lead effectively despite health problems. He gives his opinion on limiting media coverage of presidential health issues.
Partial Transcript: Tom Wicker, the--the liberal columnist, wrote some years ago, "Nobody knows to this day, or ever will, whom the American people really elected president in 1960. "
Segment Synopsis: Nixon discusses his 1960 presidential campaign against John F. Kennedy and the possibility of voter fraud that may have lost him the election.
Partial Transcript: Did you--did you have any idea at the time when you knew him as a senator or a congressman that John Kennedy was the--the ladies' man that he later turned out to be?
Segment Synopsis: Nixon discusses the "ladies' man" reputation that Kennedy and other politicians had and the effect that this reputation may have had on their political careers.
Keywords: Barbara Walters; Bay of Pigs Invasion; Estes Kefauver; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Henry Kissinger; John F. Kennedy; Lucy Mercer; Richard Russell; extramarital relationships; media
Subjects: Kefauver, Estes, 1903-1963; Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Kissinger, Henry, 1923-; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Russell, Richard B. (Richard Brevard), 1897-1971; Rutherfurd, Lucy Mercer; Walters, Barbara, 1929-
Partial Transcript: There--there were widespread stories, and--and people have expressed not only moral shock but--but strategic concern about the widespread stories that President Kennedy smoked marijuana in his bedroom in the White House with one of his mistresses, Mary Meyer, and in Timothy Leary's new autobiography he says that he provided Mary Meyer with amounts of the hallucinogen LSD, and she told him that she was turning on people so highly placed in Washington that she couldn't name them.
Segment Synopsis: Nixon shares his feelings about drugs and alcohol and considers how the responsibilities of the president prevent using these.
Keywords: Dwight D. Eisenhower; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; Margaret Mead; Mary Meyer; Soviet Union; Timothy Leary; alcohol; anti-war protest; marijuana
Subjects: Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969; Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973; Kennedy, John F. "Jack," 1917 - 1963; Leary, Timothy, 1920-1996; Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978; Meyer, Mary, 1920-1964
NIXON: --was done. It was an unconscionable action. But in terms of what hecould do, he had to recognize that whatever we might want to say, even after this incident, things remain the same. I mean, after all, those that murder their way to the tops in the K--to the top in the Kremlin are not going to have any qualms about murder in the sky, and that's all this indicates. The Soviet have been this way before. This is the latest example of it, but they are there, and what we have to do is to find a way to give them incentives to keep the peace and incentives against this kind of activity in a hard-headed way.
GANNON: Do you think this went to the top in the Kremlin, or do you think itwas a local error--callous, brutal, but in--a local error?
NIXON: Local error. No, there is--I dont know Mr. Andropov personally, butfrom everything that I know about him he's a highly intelligent man. He has a 00:01:00good sense of public relations for one who lives in that kind of closed society. He was trying at this particular time to sort of cool things down between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and they were reaching out in terms of trade and other areas. They need us, let's face it. He's trying to disarm the armament movement in Europe, and in the United States, for that matter. He's trying to help the peace groups. And he's--he's not a stupid man. He's not going to shoot himself in the foot. No. I think he--I wouldn't be surprised to see somebody executed for what happened here, just for stupidity.
GANNON: Will we ever know about that?
GANNON: Would they make that public?
GANNON: But that--that would be the s--the strength of their response to amistake like this--
NIXON: That's right.
GANNON: --and the nature of their--
NIXON: That's right.
GANNON: --kind of response?
NIXON: It is possible that it would be that way. On the other hand, there was asimilar incident to this about--in nineteen--five years ago, in 1978. A 00:02:00Korean--another Korean plane got off-course. It was downed. Two people were killed. What happened there--that there was investigation, apparently, in the Soviet Union, and at least two of those responsible for allowing the plane in and the handling of the matter were executed. The point is you're more likely to have an execution of one of those on the ground who allowed an intruder to get into Soviet airspace than one who, even mistakenly, shot it down. I am simply saying he would have no qualms about it. My guess is, however, that he is very, very paranoiac about having any intrusion in the airspace, and he would hesitate to take action that would discourage people--his own people on the ground--from avoiding it. 00:03:00
GANNON: Is Sakhalin Island like Dr. No's island? Is there something going onthere that's so secret that they're--that they're super-sensitive about that particular place?
NIXON: I don't know, but I would hope that investigation is being made in thatdirection. I und--I would think that it is a very, very important base, or otherwise they wouldn't be quite that paranoiac about it.
GANNON: Do you think Andropov is capable, if it had come up to him, of making adecision to take out--to take down a--an unarmed passenger plane if he had been told that it was over this sensitive area?
NIXON: No doubt about it. No, after all, we have to remember, in the SovietUnion, I don't know of any Soviet le--lu--leader who's been the head of the Soviet Union that didn't murder his way to the top. I don't mean by that individually, here and there, but executions, participating in purges, and so forth. That is one of the requirements for going up in the Soviet hierarchy. He 00:04:00was the head of the KGB. They not only execute people, murder them, entrap them, send them to clinics where they use all ko--sorts of psychological pressures on them, and the rest--psychiatric, I should say. But of course they would do it. They--they will do anything that serves the cause. On the other hand, he's not going to engage in activities that he feels are going to be harmful. Let me put it another way. When we talk about--when we try to influence the Soviet by appealing to their morality, it's like two ships going in the night. They have a different view of morality, a different view of the world, than we have--what is right and what is wrong. For example, a pathetic gesture like taking it to the 00:05:00United Nations, figuring that world opinion is going to make them change. Condemning the Soviet Union in the United S--Nations is like making faces at the Sphinx. It isn't going to affect them. Now, what may affect them, from a pragmatic standpoint, is the realization that if world opinion is totally against them--that then--that will lead to a bigger arms buildup in the world and less progress in areas that they want. But theyre not going to be affected by an argument that it's moral or immoral to have somebody killed. After all, Lenin--every Soviet leader that has ever lived has indicated that there are times when lifes [sic] must be sacrificed for the greater good. Any means to an end.
GANNON: There were some criticisms that President Reagan had used this incidentto push his own defense program, the--the MX and the Pershing. Do--do you s--see 00:06:00anything to that criticism?
NIXON: Well, I hope he did use it for that purpose. I don't know what theseidiots are thinking about. When you have this--this--a Soviet leadership exposed for what it is--this incident, which is an indication of the problem that we have--that's a very good argument to develop our strength. And I am--I totally approve of President Reagan asking the American people and our allies abroad to realize the kind of a world we live in. It's very, very dangerous, and we have to recognize that if they're going to engage in this kind of activity, we've got to have the military strength, because that will deter them. They are not going to be deterred by a resolution in the United Nations. They may be deterred by the fact that we would be able to react or might react more strongly than such a revolu--resolution. So when President Reagan addresses the issue in that way, 00:07:00he's right on, in my opinion.
GANNON: But you do distance yourself from the conservatives who--the--if it'snot redundant, the right-wing conservatives--but you do distance yourself from the conservatives who argue that he should cut off all relations and take much stronger actions?
NIXON: They're out of their minds. I mean, they--they just dont understandhow the real worl--world works. So we break relations with the Soviet Union. I remember de Gaulle said to me once--we were talking about what was called "dtente"--hard-headed dtente, as I would call it, not the soft-headed kind that was practiced in the later administration--but de Gaulle said, "What is your choice? If you are not prepared to break down the Berlin Wall, then you have to talk. And the thing to do is to be--talk from in a position of strength." Now what we have to understand is that when the--the--what I call--they--they call themselves "the hard right" or "the far right," et 00:08:00cetera--when they say "break diplomatic relations, cut off all trade, isolate them," what are they going to build? I know what they think. They think, "Well, if we just do that, the rotten system will collapse." I wish it were, but it is not going to collapse. They're just going to squeeze their people more. What we have to realize is that this incident itself demonstrates why you have to have contact. If war comes, it's going to come not, in my opinion, by the Soviet Union launching a massive strike. They don't want a world--even though they want to conquer the world, they don't want a world of destroyed cities and dead bodies. It's going to come through accident, through miscalculation, or through third-party small nations drawing the big powers into war. And as far as accident and miscalculation is concerned, you've got to have more contact rather than less. And this plane incident shows how very close to the edge we are. An incident of that sort--suppose that it involved not a Korean plane but an American transport? t 00:09:00would have been pretty tough.
GANNON: What would--what would you have done in a case like that, if it--if it were--
NIXON: Well, I'm not going to--
GANNON: --would that have made the response difference?
NIXON: I'm not going to comment upon what I would have done about that, becausethat gets me into this, and, as I said, I s--I don't comment upon what the president should do.
GANNON: At this point we take a break.00:10:00
NIXON: I'm not sure it's useful, Frank, to get all this in, because that's--00:11:00
NIXON: Now we've covered Truman's legacy enough.
GANNON: Yes, I think that the decisions and--
GANNON: You--you mentioned Marilyn Monroe. Are you aware of the--the widespreadrumors that Marilyn Monroe was the mistress of either President Kennedy or Robert Kennedy or--or both, and that her last phone call on the--on the afternoon of her death was to Peter Lawford, and her last words were, "Say goodbye to Bobby. Say goodbye to the President. And say goodbye to yourself, 00:12:00because you're a nice guy"? Do you have any knowledge or insight into the relationship between the Kennedys and Marilyn Monroe and why this--why th--why the rumors about their fears about her diary exist and whether they might be justified?
NIXON: No, I've never gotten into that. I--I don't read those movie magazinesand the reports and so forth. Probably should, but I just have never found time for it.
GANNON: One of the--t--one last thing on the--the idea of the imperialpresidency. One of the charges ab--against the Nixon administration was the--the uniforms, the dress uniforms, the comic opera dress uniforms for the White House uniformed guards. Why'd you do that?
NIXON: Well, as a matter of fact, that was done at the staff level. I waspretty surprised when I saw them, and I think just some bright-eyed fellow down below thought that would look great. O--I--all I knew is that I had wanted it upgraded, because, having been to so many foreign countries and then coming back 00:13:00to the United States as vice president, as I had, and to see the--the way that we receive foreign guests in such a very undignified way I know made a terribly bad impression on them, and I said I just wanted it shaped up, because I--I would say at this particular point, the--at the time that I became president, the only more unkempt, if I may use those two words together, security people than the ones at the White House were the ones in the Congress. It's really disgusting to see these overblown, fat people that are basically political hacks running around there to protect the congressmen, and that's the way the White House looked. Th--thank heaven it's shaped up now, and we do a very good job on our protocol. I was only interested in the protocol. As far as the uniforms, I never look at the uniforms. I don't know anything about uniforms.
GANNON: Did you know when you knew Congressman Kennedy--and then Senator00:14:00Kennedy--about the health problems, the serious health problems he had that were later revealed?
NIXON: In fact, not only did I not know, but in the discussions I've had withhim, he never mentioned it, which I think is a compliment to him. I understand that throughout the years he was in Congress and in the Senate that he was--had a great deal of pain from what is called Addison's disease, and also a back problem of some sort. But he never talked about it--never talked about his troubles. Not to me.
GANNON: Do you feel that his health problems were sufficiently serious that heshouldn't have run--shouldn't have put himself in the position of running for president?
NIXON: No. I think the proof of the pudding there is in the eating, and in thisrespect, where health becomes an issue, and where it should be an issue, is when it may have the effect of not allowing the individual to be an effective leader. 00:15:00But let's look at--look at the history of that here. Franklin D. Roosevelt had had polio. He was crippled. He became one of the outstanding presidents. Whether you like him or not, he was an outstanding president, a great leader. You talk about age. Some thought Eisenhower was too age [sic]. Many think Reagan is--no. Some thought Eisenhower was too old, and many, of course, campaigned against Reagan at an earlier time on the ground that he was too old. The question is not his age, but the question is can he do the job. The same was true of Eisenhower after he'd had a heart attack. Many would suggest that--"Well, he's had a heart attack. Maybe he can't do the job." But he went ahead, he ran, and he did the job. Now in the case of Kennedy's health, I would say also in the case of Johnson's health, because the Kennedy people were trying to make an issue of Johnson's heart attack in the 1960 primary campaigns--but in the case of both, the proof is can they go through a campaign. A campaign is more difficult than 00:16:00being president, and anybody that can go through a presidential campaign is healthy enough to be president. And that's what I say about Kennedy. I say it about Roosevelt. I say it about Eisenhower. I say it also about Johnson.
GANNON: Jack Valenti has told a story about being in Texas when PresidentKennedy gave a speech, and in fact being crouched beneath the podium, and seeing President Kennedy's hand when it was down beneath the podium, and that it was--it was shaking that--o--out--out of control. The press must have seen a lot of this by that point, and must have known about the braces he had to wear. Do you think they should not have reported that? Do you think that the public doesn't need to know that kind of thing as long as, ostensibly, the job is being done in an orderly way?
NIXON: You've stated my position very well. I didn't know about FranklinRoosevelt being crippled until after the war. I think that was proper. He was 00:17:00doing the job all right. As far as President Kennedy was concerned--he was then, of course, as a candidate, and then thereafter as president--the fact that he had Addison's disease, or whatever it was, unless it affected his mind I do not believe it is a legitimate issue. Now I must say I think the press, or the media, perhaps were a little less hard on him, if I may use British understatement, than they were on me on some issues. But as far as the health issue was concerned, I think that was proper. And let me say, too, that in respect to what is called the sex issue. Now, apparently it's been disclosed that there was a lot of hanky-panky going on in the White House in the Kennedy years and so forth, and the bedrooms being used for extracurricular purposes. I don't want to see any of that. I don't want to even see it now. I think what 00:18:00matters is what kind of a president he was. I think the important thing, however, is that a president, whether it involves that sort of activity, or whether it involves profanity or what-have-you--the important thing is for him to set an example and not blatantly to destroy the myth that people need to have about whoever's president.
GANNON: Do you think that candidates should be required to make public theirmedical records in a campaign, or before or during a campaign?
NIXON: I dont believe so, but I don't mind it. I never minded it becausemine--naturally, from a personal standpoint, because I--from the standpoint of my opponents I'm disgustingly healthy and will probably outlive them all. But, on the other hand, these days when you've got all these psychiatric experts running around and so forth. I think before we get through we're going to have--to have presidents go through a psychiatric examination, spend two, three days on the couch--I mean with a psychiatrist, not a babe--and then see what 00:19:00happens before you can allow them to be president. It's gone too far, in my opinion. Maybe a routine health examination so that they haven't got terminal syphilis, but beyond that I'm not for it.
GANNON: Do you think that having undergone psychiatric therapy should excludea--a person from running for president or should influence people's decision whether or not to vote for that person?
NIXON: Well, you had that problem with the Eagleton case, and I would say itwould not excude him unless the--the prognosis after the therapy indicated that there--r--a recurrence might occur of a psychiatric problem. And--but otherwise, these days that would probably rule out half the population among those that would be qualified to run for president, because of--the so-called "upper set" or the "better" people and so forth not only go onto the couch themselves but 00:20:00send their kids on the when--couch ins--rather than disciplining them.
GANNON: Do you think discipline would be better and more effective?
NIXON: Far better. Far better. I think, as a matter of fact, if priests andministers and parents and teachers were doing a better job, you'd put th--nine-tenths of the psychiatrists out of business.
GANNON: What--what kind of role did money play in John Kennedy's career?
NIXON: Oh, very effective. He, of course, had all the money he needed forpersonal purposes. He never had to fight his way up. He never had to worry about losing in a campaign for fear that he wouldn't have a job. The second thing is that it provided him the opportunity to--to buy the brightest and the best. Now let me make a differentation [sic] there--not only by buying them, because he was able to pay them, but also, in his case, however, he had the added advantage 00:21:00that once bought, they stayed bought. He was able, to his great credit, to inspire an enthusiasm and a loyalty which, for example, Nelson Rockefeller was unable to do. Nelson Rockefeller bought the brightest and the best, too, but Nelson Rockefeller ended up--when a Rockefeller campaign was over, they went to greener pastures. Not with the Kennedy--once the Kennedy supporter, virtually all were that way in the future. Now, that's on the plus side. You have enough money that you don't have the trials and tribulations of--of life that people who don't have money have, and you're able to buy--a--af--afford a campaign. You're able to buy a good staff. On the minus side, however, sometimes it's very important for a potential leader to go through the fire. I've often said that before you win, you've got to lose--that that's how you learn how to win. And so 00:22:00the trials of life can toughen a person up, make you stronger, so that when you have crises you will have already been through enough that you can take--handle them in an effective way. And as far as staff is concerned, I think I'm a prime example of the fact that money is not that necessary if you have a good cause. For example, after 1966, when I began to ran--run for president for the second time--and this'll be hard for people to believe today, when people spend millions just to get into the House, let alone the Senate or the presidency or what-have-you--at that particular time I had four paid people on my campaign staff--Rose Mary Woods, my secretary, Dwight Chapin, who handled appointments, Pat Buchanan, who worked with the press, and Ray Price, who was a speechwriter. Four--that's all. Rockefeller had several hundred full, paid staff. We beat him. 00:23:00We beat him because mine were totally dedicated, and then we added to that with volunteers. Another reason why a big staff, bought and paid for, is not always an asset is that the bigger the staff, the less thinking the man does himself. And when you get into that top job, they're not hiring your staff. They're hiring you. And the more you have to make those decisions--write your own speeches, or at least if someone else writes them, edit them--the more you have to think the problem through, the better you will be in handling the problem when it comes up.
GANNON: What was it about, do you think--about John Kennedy that--that drew--orkept the people that he drew to him with him?
NIXON: I think there were two factors. One was the fact that he, insofar ascreative people were concerned--was that he had imagination. He wanted new 00:24:00ideas. He was an intellectual, so to speak, and he appealed to intellectuals, just as Woodrow Wilson, who was an intellectual, appealed. I wouldn't put John Kennedy, or any other president, for that matter, in the category of Wilson, who was, of course, the most dominating intellectual figure in our history. But, nevertheless, he had that appearance to people, and he enjoyed their company, and they appreciated that. I think beyond that, though, in terms of the workers in his campaign--I mean, not just the speechwriters and the idea people and the rest, but those that had to do the grinding work of organizing the campaign, working out schedules, advance men and so forth and so on--what appealed to them was not what he stood for but the method, the macho image that he projected, a--a man that was going to go out and risk all to gain all. In other words, his--his Harvard side appealed to his speechwriters, who rendered great service 00:25:00to him. His Irish side appealed to the campaign workers, and the combination became unbeatable.
GANNON: To whom did you appeal? What kind of supporter did--did you attract,and--and what did they--what did they look for and find in you that--that kept them with you in--in that way? Did you have people with the same intensity--
NIXON: Oh, yes.
GANNON: --that the Kennedys did?
NIXON: Oh, yes, and--and I still have them. In other words, the differencebetween what we call the Nixon hard core and the Rockefeller hard core is that his is gone now. Oh, there are a few Rockefeller people around, but--but not really that'll carry the torch. Mine are still there, even despite what I have been through. We still have a very good hard core of people, some in government, some outside of government, some in business, some even in the media, and so forth and so on.
GANNON: Who are they, and--and why are they for you?
NIXON: The--the--the reason that they're for me, I think, is perhaps threefold.First, that I think primarily there are those who were for me because they believed in what I stood for. I always tried to attract people to a cause rather 00:26:00than to the man. I used to, in campaign speech after campaign speech-- I said, "Don't vote for me as the man. Vote for what I stand for. If you believe what I stand for, then vote for me." And I think the cause, the--my--my--what I would call responsible conservatism at home, my internationalism but hard-headed attitude toward the Soviet threat abroad-- this drew people to me. They saw me as one who could stand f--for and present the cause that they deeply believed in. That's probably the main group there. From the personal standpoint, too, I think that I had appeal, curiously enough, to some intellectuals, but they're very rare. It happens that most of the people with brains don't go into politics in the intellectual side. They go into business. They can make more money. But 00:27:00in those rare instances where you have intellectuals in politics on the conservative side, I had an appeal to them, because my--my appeal was primarily cerebral, rather than emotional. And so, consequently, I didn't have very many, but those that I did have in my speechwriting and other staff were very, very good. I'm very proud to have been able to attract them. Those things--and then, of course, there were a certain number who, for what reason or another, had a personal attraction, I assume, but I'm not able to speak to that point.
GANNON: Two of those three reasons are cerebral and intellectual rather thanemotional or charismatic. Are you making a virtue of adversity to--in charismatic terms? If--on a ten-point charismatic--charisma scale, if you were put against--head-to-head with JFK, where do you think you would stand? 00:28:00
NIXON: No, I wouldn't--I wouldn't judge that. I--that--thats somethingthat's--that people have voted on and expressed their judgments, and apparently, I--I think, on that score it would come out about even. That's the way the election came out--thirty-five million to thirty-five million.
GANNON: Would--if you had had money, would that have made a big difference toyour career?
NIXON: I'd probably never gotten so high. I--I am convinced, as I said, thatmoney can be a mixed blessing. I think these days, incidentally, it may be more important. I'm--I noticed when I as in the Senate I don't think there were more than four or five that were s--in the million class. Today, there may be twenty. Of course, the--the million isn't as big then as it now--isn't as big now as it was then, I should say. But, on the other hand, I think what has assisted me in my political career is that I've had to go through adversity. You develop strength through adversity. It's like what Chou En-lai said when we met. He 00:29:00said, "Men who travel a smooth road never become strong." And my road has not been smooth.
GANNON: One of the standard operating interpretations about Richard Nixon isthat you're obsessed by money, by wealth, by the lack of it, or the lack of enough of it, or impressed with it in other people. Do you see that at all in yourself?
NIXON: Well, if I were, I'd have some. My--my income is relatively modest, andI don't have any, except from--for--for what I write, because I don't take honorariums, and I don't--I'm not a member of any board or any of that sort of thing. I'm very comfortable, because my books have been very successful, and my real estate investments, the only thing I've ever invested in, have come out better than most. But I don't have a great deal, but if I--I were interested in money I would hope that I would have been far more successful than I am.
GANNON: It's--it's always struck me as an irony of your career that for someone00:30:00who claims to be--and in fact, the--the records which you have made public at various times bear out your claims--someone who has had a--a very modest, straightforward and open-book financial history. Indeed, when you write about leaving the vice presidency that you left with an Ol--
NIXON: Forty-seven thousand dollars.
GANNON: --forty-seven thousand dollars equity and--
NIXON: And s--and a--
GANNON: An Olds--
NIXON: --secondhand Oldsmobile.
GANNON: That was true, but you were very carefully conscious--maybe because youfelt it was going to be exposed at some time--about keeping records and-and living very frugally and--and--and honestly. And yet you were surrounded by people in the Congress--take Lyndon Johnson as an example of a man who, from the early forties when he went to the Congress, never was on any other than a government payroll, and he left a fortune when he died, estimated between fourteen and twenty million dollars. There were a number, if not a lot, of people in the Congress at the time you were there who were, without necessarily doing anything illegal, were just--were--were making a lot of money. You didn't, and yet a lot of people still suspect that you've got an un--you know, an--an listed Bahamian or Swiss 00:31:00bank account that--wh--why--it's ironic that the least likely person against whom these charges should be made is the person against whom they are made.
NIXON: Well, of course, it goes clear back to the famous fund controversy, whenwe had this sixteen-thousand-dollar-a-year fund back in 1952, and when finally when it all came out it was quite clear the fund was for--solely for political purposes, not for personal purposes, as distinguished from the Stevenson fund, which, because he was a liberal and a Democrat, they didn't go after at all--was used even for personal purposes and--and not just for political purposes. Going back to then, I was--I have always, of course, been examined very closely by the media and by my political opponents in this respect. And so I've had to be like Caesar's wife. But I think that as far as the charge is concerned, it's 00:32:00just routine. I mean, opponents have to go after something, and so they--they can't believe that I could have served all this time in--in the Congress, as vice president, then I was practicing law for eight years at a pretty good amount of money, the--then I served as president for five-and-a-half year [sic]--that I could have, shall we say, as modest amount as I have. And understand, I am very comfortable, but I am not in that multi-multi class that people would expect me to have. But it's--but I--that doesn't mean that the charge isn't going to be made.
GANNON: Are you impressed by people who have money?
NIXON: Not--no, not at all. Not at all. In fact, most of them are very boring,because they--that's all they want to talk about. I mean, they--I mean, to me one of the most boring things to do is to go to Palm Springs or Palm Beach or Newport and see the so-called "beautiful people" who have either inherited 00:33:00money--and some have earned it--showing off their gowns and their furs and their diamonds and their jewelry and talking of nothing but money and food and houses, and sometimes a little sex. But it's a bore.
GANNON: What was it like running against the Kennedy political operation andthe Kennedy money in 1960?
NIXON: It was rough, because they were smart, they were rich, they wereruthless. And by "ruthless," I mean they'd do anything to win. You had the operation, for example, of Dick Tuck that I've referred to. The--the--the media classified it as just "fun and games," because they were for him. In our case, they took poor Don Segretti, who was a--an--was today's version of amateur hour and made it out as political sabotage. All of it, of course, had nothing, no 00:34:00particular effect on the campaign, although it's quite irritating to be heckled and to have your schedule screwed up and so forth. And by having moles in your operation, which, of course, they were very good at. No. They play--they play hardball. I mean, they play--they may play softball out on the White House lawn over there, but it's hardball, or it may be touch football in the--on the playgrounds, but it's tackle football all the way.
GANNON: Did you--could you see the Kennedy money at work against your operation?
NIXON: Well, one rather humorous example. In those days, and thank God thosedays are gone, the--the black vote was greatly influenced by black preachers. And in those days each party used to bid for the support of the black preachers, figuring if you get the preachers they'd go out and tell their congregations, and you'd get the black vote. Well, Len Hall was our campaign chairman. He was 00:35:00from New York State. And, of course, this kind of thing of buying the black preachers, as they say--we didn't do that in California because we weren't up to speed with regard to what was done back here in the East. But Len Hall--apparently they knew--they had been doing that for years in New York. So he made an attempt to--to, you know, s--subsidize some of the black preachers and so forth, with contributions and so forth, in order to get their support. And he had a pretty good fund to do that. And he came to me one time--he says, "My God, I've never seen anything like it." He said, "I've paid these fellows more than they ever got before, and Joe Kennedy's come in there and raised me every time. We didn't get one of 'em." Now that's just one example, but the main example, of course, i--is in terms of the ability to buy time, to buy advertising, to pay precinct workers, et cetera, et cetera. And the difference was we were f--well-financed in 1960, but they outspent us. And it's a miracle 00:36:00that we did as well as we did.
GANNON: Did Hubert Humphrey ever talk to you about his--his running up againstthe Kennedy political operation and finance operation in--in that campaign, and particularly in West Virginia?
NIXON: Very privately. He was--he was not a crybaby, and he'd say it in sorrowmore than anger, but he said, "Boy, it was really something. It was really something." And I know now why he felt it was really something to be up against the Kennedy machine, because in West Virginia, for example, a state that he was predicted to win, because it's 95 percent Protestant, because it's very, very much pro-New Deal, and Hubert Humphrey was much more of a New Dealer than was Jack Kennedy, and so forth, and a very poor state, and Hubert made a great appeal to the people on the poor basis, and yet he lost. And one of the reasons, he said, was that--that--the money that was spent. And I've seen a study which 00:37:00indicated that the Kennedy people spent enough money in West Virginia to pay every voters fifty dollars. Now, whether that's true or not, I don't know. But I know that k--that poor Hubert was outspent. But that wasn't the worst thing. It wasn't just--you can't just buy the voters in-in any state. The worst thing that happened in--in terms of Hubert was--happened to him in Minnesota and in d--Wisconsin. Hubert was from Minnesota, of course. He was campaigning against Kennedy in the Wisconsin primary. It was very important for him to win Misco--Wisconsin, because, after all, Wisconsin's in his back yard. And so it was predicted he would win. So what happened was that just a few days before the election, the Catholic precincts in Milwaukee and other areas of Misco--Wisconsin were flooded with anti-Catholic literature, vicious 00:38:00anti-Catholic literature, postmarked from Minnesota. Everybody thought Hubert did it, and the Kennedy people did nothing to dissuade them. It was only learned after the campaign that an aide to Bobby Kennedy did that mailing. Of course, the press--it was a one-day story to them, because, after all, they have a different standard for a Kennedy than they do even for a Hubert Humphrey. And another thing on Hubert, for example--the--the use of--o--o--of what I call hardball--and, I would say, since it's illegal, a spitball tactic--was that the Kennedy people got Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.--Roosevelt being a legendary name in West Virginia--and they got him to go into the state and make speeches questioning Hubert Humphrey's war record. He wasn't in the service, because he was legitimately not in it. He--he didn't dodge the draft, but they left the 00:39:00implication that he had dodged the draft. And only after the election did they say, "Well, we're sorry." Hubert, as a result, I u--in his memoirs, he--he didn't want to be too much of a sour grape, but he said that "beneath that beautiful exterior was a toughness and a ruthless [sic] which I shall not forget and do not understand."
GANNON: In Ben Bradlee's book, he indicates that President Kennedy had a--aterrific interest in the military records of some of his opponents--Humphrey, and he mentions Rockefeller, and the--the man who ran against his brother for the s--senate race.
NIXON: Yeah. They did the same thing on Rockefeller. As a matter of fact, Ithink President Kennedy, a--ac--according to one of those--I think it was Bradlee himself said to him, "Look. You ought to ream out Rocky a little on his war record." 00:40:00
GANNON: Tom Wicker, the--the liberal columnist, wrote some years ago, "Nobodyknows to this day, or ever will, whom the American people really elected president in 1960. Under the prevailing system, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, but it is not at all clear that this was really the will of the people, or, if so, by what means and margin that will was expressed." Do you think that you were elected president of the United States in 1960?
NIXON: Well, many objective observers believe that I was. I'm not going tos--sit here and say that I believe that I was, because I haven't the evidence to prove that I was not or was. I--I will say this, however. There was no question, and these are facts, that there was immense fraud in Chicago, and it was all on that side, not on our side. And there was only eight thousand votes difference 00:41:00in us in Illinois--between us. So it's only a shift of four thousand votes and I would have won Illinois. Then I'd have needed only one other state--could have been Missouri, could have been South Carolina. A shift of twelve thousand votes out of seventy million would have meant my being elected rather than Kennedy. The other state, however, where the major charges of fraud was made was in Johnson's state of Texas. And there there were many precincts in heavily Johnson areas that twice as many voters voted as were on the rolls. In fact, there was a--there was a famous story that Johnson used to tell on himself. Kennedy kidded Johnson on occasion, and Johnson didn't particularly like it, of being "Landslide Johnson." That was because when Johnson went to the Senate the first time, he won by a very, very small amount, and he won, they thought, by some hanky-panky, because he played hardball, too. And then Johnson told this story about a little boy sitting on a curb in a--down in a south Texas town. The 00:42:00little boy was crying, and somebody came up and said to him, "Manuel, why are you crying?" He said, "I'm crying because my father was here Tuesday and he didn't come to see me." "Oh, but Manuel, your father's been dead for ten years." "I know, but he was here Tuesday and voted for Lyndon Johnson, and he didn't come to see me." So, in other words, the voting of dead people and the rest--it occurred. But people say why didn't--"If it did occur, why didn't you do"--as President Eisenhower and many other [sic] urged me to do--"why didn't you contest it?" Well, there were clear reasons. I really didn't have any doubt about contesting it. Not really. My heart told me to do it. My head said no. It said no for this fundamental reason. One, it would be--the United States would be without a president for almost a year before the challenges in Illinois and Texas could have been taken--could have been run through. And there was a good chance that we could finance it. Eisenhower was willing to raise money from his friends in order to support that challenge, and I turned it down. The second 00:43:00reason was, and this was because of my travels abroad. I'd been to Latin America, and I'd been to Africa, and I'd been to countries in the Far East that were just starting down the democratic path. The United States is an example of the democratic system. In those countries, an election means very little. You have an election, you either fix it or, if it comes out against you, you have a coup and overthrow them, or charge corruption or what-have-you. If in the United States an election were found to be fraudulent, it would mean that every pipsqueak in every one of these countries, if he lost an election, would simply bring a fraud charge and have a coup. So I felt that, under the circumstances, one, the United States couldn't afford to have a vacuum in leadership for that period of time without knowing who was president, and, two, even though we were to win it, the cost in world opinion and the effect on democracy in the broadest sense would be detrimental. 00:44:00
GANNON: So you--you do think it is possible, without reaching a judgment, thatyou were, in fact, elected the thirty-fifth president of the United States in November of 1960?
NIXON: Oh, yes, it was possible. And I think President Kennedy felt it waspossible, too. I remember when he came to see me right after the election, when we were both in Florida at the Key Biscayne Hotel. The first words that he a--he spoke after the press left and so forth, he says, "Well, I guess it's hard to tell who won this election." And I said, "Well, it's pretty clear that it's over now." I think he was rather relieved when I said that. That meant that, ef--that, in effect, I was telling him I was not going to contest it.
GANNON: Do you think he was feeling you out to see what you were going to do?
NIXON: At the time I didn't think so, but I--I know they were very sensitiveabout that particular point. It could be, but I'm not prepared to judge that. 00:45:00
GANNON: Did you feel that then, or in his later contacts with you, that he wasembarrassed or defensive because in fact he might have been a usurper in your chair?
NIXON: No. I dont think he was capable of that. I mean, after all, he playshard, and he--when Mayor Daley--he talked to him on the phone after the election, and Mayor Daley said that--"Mr. President, with a little bit of luck and with the help of some good friends out in the precincts, we're going to carry Illinois for you." Well, Kennedy knew what he meant. And I think that, well, naturally, he's not going to formally approve hanky-panky. On the other hand, he knows that under the system that sometimes happens. No. H--he's never--I dont think he was ever defensive. I think, however, he--he did feel that because the election was so close, it would be useful to ave--at least make an offer for me to be in the administration, which of course he did offer, and I turned it down.
GANNON: What did he offer you?00:46:00
NIXON: I--U--U--the United Nations or something else that I considered to berelatively unimportant. But symbolically it had been important.
GANNON: Do you think he may have done that in order to sort of co-opt you?
NIXON: No. I don't think he thought I would take it, but I think he thoughtthat it was the proper thing to do. Well, as a matter of fact, I did the same thing for Humphrey. The election was close, and I offered Humphrey the chance to go to the United Nations, and he turned it down. I--it's--the--that's part of the--that's part of the process.The winner, if he needs the support of the loser, will offer him something, like, for example, after Johnson beat Goldwater, he couldn't have cared less, because he didnt need--Johnson--he beat him by so much. And I suppose the same would be true after I defeated McGovern. I didn't offer him a job.
GANNON: Did you take the fact that Kennedy came to you at Key Biscayne, ratherthan you going to him at Palm Beach, for this meeting, which he opened by 00:47:00saying, "It looks like we don't know who won," as a sign that he was trying to placate you or appease you in some way?
NIXON: No, I wouldn't say that. I think actually it was just the gracious thingto do. You know, let's understand, he plays hardball, but he has grace. He does the thing that is right in terms of the manners and so forth--he tries to. I try to, too. And in this particular respect, I think what happened here--I offered to come up to see him. We made the appointment by telephone. He says, "No, I've got a car and Secret Service and so forth. Let me come to see you." Which was quite true--I didn't have an automobile and so forth. So, under the circumstances, he felt that it was right to--and then, of course, he could well make the point--I still outranked him. He was still a senator. I was still vice president. He was president-elect. So protocol--he should come, although, of course, I would have gone to see him. 00:48:00
GANNON: It's--it's one of the canons of the Nixon loyalists that you did, infact, win the election in 1960. And now, more than twenty years later, shouldn't you study this? Don't you owe it to history, really, to study this and reach a decision about it, because if you did, in fact, win, as you indicate is possible, the way you acted then and since is arguably the most magnanimous and noble conduct in the history of American politics? If you think you didn't win, allowing your supporters to keep this story going is a fairly cynical manipulation of history. Don't you--shouldn't you reach a decision?
NIXON: No. No. I'm not going to get out and say that I did win and then cast apall on the whole Kennedy record. I'm not going to say that. I will say, however, that I can understand how my supporters would do what they're--they are doing. They believe that, and I would say there is a very good prima facie case, 00:49:00which we didn't have the opportunity to prove because we did not legally contest the election, that we did win it, because as far as the vote frauds were concerned--they were on the Kennedy side. I didn't hear of any cases where the Nixon people were able to--in any state that it mattered, for that matter--where it was the other way around. In Texas and in Illinois--for example in Cook County, in those precincts where more people voted than were on the rolls--they were all Kennedy precincts, never Nixon precincts. That's got to tell you something.
GANNON: Do you--sorry, I lost my train of thought there.
NIXON: Sex or--
GANNON: Well, I'm always thinking about sex. That's probably what did it.
NIXON: Sex, profanity--00:50:00
GANNON: Do you--do you think that the--given the enormous frustration you musthave felt to have been so near and yet so far--a hundred and thirteen thousand votes out of seventy-eight million cast for the presidency--do you, looking back--or at the time, did you feel that you were acting magnanimously or nobly in the way you conducted yourself in terms of not calling a recount?
NIXON: No. I--I wouldn't classify what I did magnanimous or noble.
GANNON: Would you argue with those who did so characterize it?
NIXON: No. No. I can understand how others would say it. I think I was actingresponsibly. "Responsible" is my favorite word. You do what is the right thing, and the right thing in that case was to do exactly what I did.
GANNON: Do you think that the average politician wouldn't have cried for arecount till the cows come home? Do you think most politicians look at it that way and do the right thing?
NIXON: I think they might have. I think that if the shoe had been on the otherfoot--that Kennedy might have contested it. But I don't know.
GANNON: Did you--did you have any idea at the time when you knew him as a00:51:00senator or as a congressman that John Kennedy was the ladies' man that he later turned out to be?
NIXON: No. He--he never confided in me about his, you know, adventures in thatparticular area.
GANNON: Were you shocked by these revelations?
NIXON: Not particularly. No. No.
GANNON: Why not? Didn't they show a disdain of convention and politicalpropriety that's really sort of breathtaking?
NIXON: Well, to a certain extent I suppose that's true, but I have--I havealways separated an individual's personal life from his political life. You take Franklin Roosevelt, for example. I respect Roosevelt for a great wartime leader. Now, all these revelations to the effect of his long-time affair with Lucy Mercer--I don't care about that. Thats between him and his family. What I am concerned about is how he handled the presidency and what kind of an example he 00:52:00set there. Now, as far as Kennedy is concerned, I will look at his record as president. I will be critical of some of the things he did--the Bay of Pigs, for example, and others. But as far as--as far as his extracurricular activities are concerned, unless that affected his--his handling of the presidency, I'm not going to be critical of him.
GANNON: When I say these revelations are breathtaking--maybe theyre not thatbreathtaking. Henry Kissinger said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Is politics a more sexy or a more highly sexed profession than others? Maybe this goes on all the time.
NIXON: Well, I guess quite a few politicians have been swordsmen, and--but thatdoesn't mean that a lot of businessmen haven't been, and even college professors now and then have a little hanky-panky.
GANNON: Didn't you--you once told a story--was it Richard Russell described the00:53:00campaigning conduct of one of his Southern colleagues?
NIXON: Oh, yes--Russell and Kefauver. Estes Kefauver, you know, the greatfellow--he was neighbor out in Spring Valley, and I didn't know that he was particularly a ladies' man, but apparently he was. Big, raw-boned Tennessee fellow who conducted the investigations of the Teamsters and all that sort of thing. Great hero of all the moralists and so forth, but apparently Russell was aware of the fact that he knew that he had a few affairs. And Russell, who beat him in the Florida primary, was saying afterwards, you know, how tough it was. He says, "This fellow, this Kefauver, he'd go all over the state." He said, "He'd have a Bible in the one hand and his thing in the other hand." He said something other than "thing,' but I'll-- 00:54:00
GANNON: Do you--Barbara Walters said that you were one of the sexiest men she'dever met. What do you think led her to that conclusion?
NIXON: Well, maybe she doesn't know many other men.
GANNON: There--there were widespread stories, and people have expressed notonly moral shock but strategic concern about the widespread stories that President Kennedy smoked marijuana in his bedroom in the White House with one of his mistresses, Mary Meyer, and in Timothy Leary's new autobiography he says that he provided Mary Meyer with amounts of the hallucinogen LSD, and she told him that she was turning on people so highly placed in Washington that she couldn't name them. And PresidentKennedy apparently joked with Mary Meyer about what would happen if the Soviets staged a sneak attack while he was stoned. Given--is it simplistic or unrealistic to expect that the president of the 00:55:00United States is going to be stone cold straight or sober for every minute that he's in the White House against the possibility that a sneak attack or some kind of crisis that could happen--that he'd have to respond to right away? Given the laws of human nature and the laws of probability, should Americans worry if the president, for an occasional couple of hours, is high on some substance or other?
NIXON: Well, of course, you can get high on alcohol, and I would say, however,generally, at this time--I felt this way when I was president, and I'm sure that others have as well--Eisenhower used to have his couple of drinks and so forth, but you--you are inhibited. You are inhibited wherever you are in that office, whether on vacation or in the office itself with regard to your personal habits. 00:56:00I would say that drugs--that's way beyond the pale, because they do something to the mind that could be even permanent, in my opinion. Alcohol, which of course is more common, is something that has to be taken having in mind the capacity of an individual to take it. Let me say in one respect, probably the biggest drinker in the White House, at least in the post-war period, was Lyndon Johnson. Of course, he did everything big. He drank big, and he was a big man. And I have seen him go through in one night, one of those midnight sessions that we had at the close of the Senate when I was vice president of the United States---I've seen him go through a couple of bottles of bourbon in eight hours. Never drunk. And people used to complain later, when Johnson was in and the Kennedy people and others had turned against him, who had been for him--and they used to 00:57:00criticize him and say, "Well, Johnson drinks." It didn't bother me, because I knew Johnson could hold his liquor.
GANNON: Have you ever tried marijuana?
NIXON: Nope. Never. I've smelled it once. That was, strangely enough, at the'72 convention. I was in Florida at the time, and apparently what happened there--right outside Convention Hall there was--a huge group of anti-war demonstrators were there. They all smell--marijuana. And I had--it smelled sweet. And I went in, and I asked the makeup person--I said, "What is that stuff?" because I got it in my eyes. That was marijuana. That's the only time I ever smelled it. It was never in the White House when we were there, I can assure you--never.
GANNON: Would you try it?
NIXON: No. No. I don't like--I don't like drugs of any sort--the uppers, thedowners, and so forth and so on. Sleeping pills I have taken, because they have to be taken on occasion. When you're traveling or when you've had a lot to do, you've got to get your sleep. But beyond that, I think--I just--I just don't 00:58:00want to fool with it. My--I think all of us in politics--with any kind of intense activity we're already very tightly strung. And to add to it just may snap it.
GANNON: Margaret Mead said something to the effect that any young person whowent through the later 1960s without having tried marijuana wasn't leading a normal life. Would--unless you know--would you be surprised if you found out that your daughters or sons-in-law who were in college or graduate school then had experimented with marijuana or had used it?
NIXON: Well, I can't speak for my sons-in-law. I haven't known them all thatperiod of time. As far as my daughters--no question, they would never do it. It's the example at home.
GANNON: What about--there have been several alleg--
THE FOLLOWING IS IN THE ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPT BUT NOT ON A TAPE
GANNON: allegations about your drinking habits. Woodward and Bernstein, SeymourHersh, Henry Kissinger, William Safire, John Ehrlichman claim that from time to time--not to put too fine a point on it--you got smashed. Hersh claims that he talked to people who listened in on an extension when you were talking to Henry Kissinger when you slurred your words and made extreme statements or demands. And Ehrlichman has written that as early as 1962 he told you that he--unless you got your act into shape, or cleaned up your act in terms of drinking, that he wouldn't work for you in a presidential campaign. How do you respond to this range of--