2. Memorandum of Conversation1


President-elect Nixon said that Lodge could assure the South Vietnamese of his strong support but that they should understand that American public opinion was in a highly critical condition.

They discussed the question of a cease-fire and the difficulty of explaining the dangers of a cease-fire to the public. Lodge suggested that it might be expedient for the US to preempt the field with a proposal whereby a cease-fire would be tied in with a withdrawal. Kissinger seemed to think this idea had merit.

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Mr. Nixon said for Lodge not to be concerned about adverse press in the immediate future. He said he was willing to tolerate an adverse press rather than give up a matter of importance in the negotiations.

Mr. Nixon believed that some of the outgoing administration’s statements with regard to the Vietnamese were unduly harsh, and in view of the high regard with which the South Vietnamese hold him, he wanted Lodge to make it clear to them on a personal basis that Mr. Nixon has great sympathy with them and will not let them down. Mr. Lodge should explain to them that public opinion in the United States with respect to the South Vietnamese was at a low point and that they should not be concerned.

  1. Source: Massachusetts Historical Society, Henry Cabot Lodge II Papers, Reel 9. No classification marking. Drafted by Lodge.