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Conversation between President Nixon and John Mitchell
May 9, 1972

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John Mitchell: Mr. President?

President Nixon: Well as an old navy man I hope you think we finally did something.

JM: Well you did it just right and I thought your presentation last night was just terrific. I think it was probably the best of all of them.

RN: Well I had to do it under a pressure cooker, you know. I wrote the damn thing over the weekend and didn't get the final draft finished until 5:30 and then had to go beat these goddamn senators and then just walk out there almost panting.

JM: Well I tell you, your presentation was the best and I thought the context and content was just absolutely right. You put it right where it should be.

RN: I just talked to Rebozo. He called me. He said he's had the goddamndest reaction in Florida. Of course I suppose he would down there. But he said democrats, republicans-everybody--is saying, "Go to it and by god we finally did something." I don't know what you heard.

JM: Yes that's what we are getting.

RN: And of course the Democrats and politicians are doing just what we expected. They are lying in the bushes instead of supporting the president. But by god they oughta be hit for that.

JM: They will be. As you know we've got this apparatus going over here, but the only problem is that the telegram offices are so jammed up that the people can't get through, and the telephones were so jammed up last night that you just couldn't get the volume through.

RN: What was the reaction you've found last night just talking to folks?

JM: Oh great. Nobody is opposed to it that I have talked to or found. I think everybody has a little concern about the ongoing problems with the summit and so forth.

RN: Yeah, well the summit may be cancelled. We're just going to say, "Well, we expected that and we'll have it at a later time." But we're not going to have an American president go to the summit when Russian tanks are rolling through the streets of Hue.

JM: Well I think you put the ball in their court just right last night. And I think the American public will accept that without any problems what so ever. So I think it's just great all the way around. I have a deep, gut reaction that this is going to have some large psychological effects on the government and the troops.

RN: That's the main affect you know. As you know this kind of operation, it's not technically a blockade but that's what it is. It only has an affect over a period of time. But I can tell you that if it doesn't work psychologically, I will keep the goddamn thing on and lose the election if necessary. But right after the election, we will just level Hanoi. I mean level it.

JM: I don't believe that's going to be necessary. You're tying it in with the prisoners of war and the ceasefire . . .

RN: That really, John, is an offer that - how the hell can anyone say we should do more?

JM: They can't.

RN: With [agreement on] a ceasefire and the POWs, we'll get out in four months.

JM: You heard what Church [?] said?

RN: No, I didn't.

JM: He came out and said it's just great.

RN: Did he agree with it?

JM: He agreed with your terms. Last night he said it and it scares the hell out of me. But it shows that if people are thinking correctly and not acting politically, they would recognize the rationale of it.

RN: One thing I was going to suggest is, wouldn't this be a good time for you and Buckley to frankly get Ashbrook in and say "Look, John, for Christ sake, get behind the president on this."

JM: I've already started that this morning.

RN: He really oughtta get out of the race now. He really ought to.

JM: I started it last week, but it didn't fly, but I think it's got a much greater possibility now.

RN: You might give Reagan a call and ask him to call him. Could you do that?

JM: Sure. I don't think it will fly 'cause this guy has got a little bit in his teeth, but it certainly will pull some of the troops away from this whole thing.

RN: And get Reagan to call some of his troops. Could you do that? Tell him you and I talked.

JM: Yes.

RN: I've approved a trip for Reagan to Europe, incidentally, so he's all set on a nice little junket, so he ought to be happy.

JM: What's the purpose of that?

RN: [Laughing] He just wanted to go to Europe.

JM: How's he going?

RN: I don't know. Just fart around. It's all right.

JM: It's fine. Give him some more traveling time and we'll get more done in California.