• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment

Conversation between President Nixon and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ken Rush.
May 8, 1972


President Nixon: Hello

Ken Rush: Mr. President

RMN: Yeh, Ken, how are you?

KR: Fine, thank you, sir. Your speech was wonderful!

RMN: Well, you're very kind to say that. Let me say, you're going on in the morning-

KR: Yes, sir

RMN: --and if I could give you just a couple of thoughts.

KR: Thank you.

RMN: Bill Rogers -in talking to the Cabinet-- was sort of saying that this is not a blockade. Don't take that line.

KR: All right.

RMN: Take the line that, 'Well, the words are actually not that important here. What it is that the President is going to do whatever is necessary to stop all sea-borne deliveries to South Vietnam, to North Vietnam.'

KR: Yes, sir

RMN: 'And it will be done, and we will do whatever is necessary.'

KR: Yes, sir.

RMN: Don't you agree?

KR: I agree 100 %, Mr. President, and that is exactly what I think you should do.

RMN: Don't worry, now that we crossed the Rubicon, we are going to kick those bastards and we're going to do even more, you know--

KR: Yes, I know.

RMN: So take a very strong line: 'We are going to do what's necessary.' And you can say, 'The president's crossed the Rubicon and now is going' --but also emphasize that we've made a forthcoming peace offer--

KR: Yes, sir.

RMN: --which is unequivocal and is as far as we can go: it is a ceasefire, return of our POWS, and then we'll withdraw all Americans in 4 months. OK?

KR: Yes, sir. I think I have it, Mr. President, and I'll do my best. I am in complete accord, as you know, with what you're doing.

RMN: Well, I really appreciate that, Ken.

KR: Really, it was a great speech.

RMN: I know it was great, but anyway, the main thing is that you're the strong man over there, and-- By God, I called Laird and I got him lined up. And he's all right now.

KR: Well, I am very pleased.

RMN: He said he was going-- but I said, 'Mel, you're got to be more hawkish than I am', and he said that he would be.

KR: Mel will do it now.

RMN: Mel's is kind of a guy who waits, and then does what's right.

KR: Once you tell him what to do, Mr. President, he will do it.

RMN: When you talk to him in the morning, tell him that the President is counting on you. He is very pleased with the conversation with you, Mel. By God, let's be more-- right now we got to be ferocious all the way, OK?

KR: Yes, sir Mr President

RMN: In the morning, kick 'em in the ass!

KR: I'll do my best.

RMN: Oh, you will. Are you coming tomorrow night or not?

KR: Yes, I am looking forward to it very much.

RMN: It'll be a nice little party. We are inviting all the lawyers in the administration to sort of be there with these little kids. Well, I remember them as little kids, but, you'll remember most of them - they were your students.

KR: Yes, I remember that very well, and I --

RMN: I'll call on you for a couple of minutes to say a few words, will you?

KR: I'll be very pleased to, and I am very happy you invited me.

RMN: OK, then.

KR: It'll be great to be there. Congratulations, Mr. President!

 ©2017 American Public Media