Conversation between H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and Charles Colson.
May 8, 1972

H.R. Haldeman: Colson, please.

Operator: They're putting him on, sir.

HRH: Thank you.

Charles Colson: Hello

HRH: Bob, Chuck

CC: Hi, Bob.

HRH: How're you doing?

CC: Well, I'm, I'm overwhelmed by the reaction. Which is--

HRH: Overwhelmed? Why?

CC: Well, because I think it's a hell of a lot more positive than I expected.

HRH: More positive than you thought?

CC: Yeh. I thought we'd get a lot of weak knees who would say "Oh, My God, what are we getting ourselves into."

HRH: You mean that the people you are pushing for support, you're not having any trouble pushing?

CC: Not at all! Jesus, we're getting a very, very enthusiastic reaction.

HRH: Is that more than just the right wing types?

CC: Yeah, yeah. Well, heck yes! I am reading college presidents. I can't believe my eyes, and-

HRH: Yeh, I saw some of these college presidents, and they are willing to line up?

CC: They're sending telegrams, several of them qualifying that they are sending them as individuals. The labor guys are just having orgasms. Jesse Calhoun called me, and he wants to enlist and that kind of a--

HRH: OK, well, be sure we enlist him now. And get him to start the labor guys, that hardhat march is-

CC: He wants to get back into the military, that's what he says--

HRH: Calcoun wants to enlist in the military, huh?

CC: I think these are the overriding feelings, from what I am getting.

HRH: Good.

CC: One - tremendous support, a little feeling of caution, just a thread in there of a little nervousness, but overwhelming support. And the second thing which is coming through - that's the only option he had, what else could he have done? And third - the sincerity, that this man is really just trying so hard--

HRH: So the sincerity still shows through? They don't think he's …

CC: No. The sincerity is the strong theme.


CC: I think we're going to be fine, we came out of that cabinet meeting just beautifully, with everyone just roaring to go, and Elliot has agreed to go on TV and we got Rush on in the morning--

HRH: Is Rush doing Today tomorrow?

CC: Yes.

HRH: Instead of Buchanan?

CC: Right. Because Buchanan would have just-

HRH: Well, Pat called and volunteered that-

CC: I know, so it was fine. And we got Rush in there instead. We've got the Rogers' briefing tomorrow, which of course, Haig is worried about.

HRH: Yeh, I am too. And we have to work on that. But it's not till three.

CC: No, and I can switch that. I mean I can just let Bill off the hook

HRH: I am not sure you can. If you can't, we'll decide that in the morning, but that's something we have to think about. Maybe we ought to…

CC: Well, did you notice how much stronger he got during the Cabinet meeting, after Eliot spoke and others, he got--

HRH: Yeah, but the problem is that he's really obsessed with having to explain that this is not a blockade and that we aren't really going to hurt anybody, and it doesn't really mean anything, and all that. And that is exactly 180 degrees wrong.

CC: I agree.

HRH: The line here has got to be that this is a blockade; we're going to kick the shit out of them and they've had it!

CC: That's right.

HRH: We can't apologize, we can't back down or back off.

CC: Maybe if Moorer goes with him?

HRH: I'm not sure Moorer is any better.

CC: Really?

HRH: He gets into all the technicalities of how many decibels it takes to detonate the mines and all that crap. Laird is better and Rush would be better. Lets watch Rush tomorrow morning on TV, maybe he is the one we want to use. Because Rush believes in this way down to his core.

CC: Well, we can easily, you know, we've got it set up for three and we can juggle them.

HRH: You got any reading on telegrams at all?

CC: The guy just called me from Vermont and he said Jesus Christ, they can't get into Western Union office.

HRH: Well, now is the time to start hitting Western Union. Let's get the president up out of bed and tell him that we are getting calls from all over the country that those goddamned offices won't take the telegrams and that we are going to make a national scandal out of it. And that they pulled this before, you know, just scare the shit out of him.

CC: It is a shame--

HRH: Tell him they're probably going to have to lose their franchise and we'll have to find a new method of communication.

CC: We are rapidly getting a new method. It's a damn shame, Bob, because a lot of that--

HRH: It's the same old story. Now is the time to start busting them on that.

CC: And we will.

HRH: And get that story out. Tell the people, any people that call and complain that they can't send telegrams, tell them to call their local paper and TV station and say that they can't get through to Western Union.

CC: As a matter of fact I can get that story played out very strongly.

HRH: Good. That's the one to start moving on. And we oughta now get the head of Western Union. We waited long enough now--

CC: I'll call.

HRH: --that we can put the heat on that.

CC: Yeh, because I have that from Vermont, but I also have it from, uh. Jesse Calhoun said that he tried to-

HRH: I just heard from Beebe and he says that a lady that he's never heard of called him and said that she couldn't get through to the Western Union, so she was calling him.

CC: Of course, they can't get through the switchboard either. The only calls I've gotten have been on the direct lines into the office.

HRH: Is our board jammed?

CC: Oh, yes. Totally.

HRH: Good. Be sure everyone knows that.

CC: Yep.

HRH: And we put the full load of operators on, so there is no…

CC: Well, as of 20 minutes ago, the last call I had the guy said that he'd been trying the switchboard for half an hour, and finally found my 4-digit number, so he was able to call direct.

HRH: So what's your own personal view on it?

CC: My personal view? Marvelous. It's so hard when you sit so damn close to it, but he's never been any better in delivery. I loved the delivery. The rhetoric was very, very good, he didn't overstate or oversell, I think he hit it right on the target.

HRH: Right on?

CC: And very firm.

HRH: He suggests you check with Harris and Singlinger and get a reading from them.

CC: All right.

HRH: And what they think.

CC: Singlinger, I've been getting from all day--

HRH: But I mean after tonight.

CC: Right, I'll get both of them

HRH: See what their personal views were.

CC: Yep, OK.

HRH: Then call back over here.

CC: OK, I'll call you back.

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