287. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Pres: Isn’t that Reagan something. He said the truth though.2 All of this miserable mouthing about listening and communicating…

HAK: You did a superb job.3

Pres: We have just got to go to TV to get anything across. That is the only way.

HAK: I am convinced that we are facing something deeper than a public relations issue. There is a deliberate attempt to load the dice and I talked to Packard and Moorer about the Saigon problem and they showed me the stuff they have handed out. They are doing essentially what we wanted them to do, comparing the figures. All of this stuff which one never sees in the papers. If it was Kennedy, they would have it all over.

Pres: The press, including news magazines, are trying desperately to make it appear that this thing… they are talking about the elusive enemy. I don’t think we should be defensive about it. They are failing to play this up. I am going to do the same thing as before. On the 15th of June I will go on TV.

HAK: If the enemy stood and fought then they would really be screaming. We are not after the men.

Pres: What are the men going to do if we get all their guns. Of course we are not after the men.

HAK: I had a cable from Reeves saying there is a definite sign of slackening of pressure in many places in the last 36 hours.

Pres: Also, they must have a fear that we are moving around there and that we may move in on them. We are in their rear.

HAK: There are two more operations that would wind it up that are planned for the South that are within the 30 kilometer limit. They are not all on bases but they are in the limit. They would start Saturday if you approve them.

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Pres: Hell, yes. Are they ARVN?

HAK: All ARVN. No advisers.

Pres: Good, I approve.

HAK: We are starting one tomorrow night, 701. Two in the South which would relieve Takeo and that would be the end of it.

Pres: I don’t think that this whole university thing has reached as many people as they think. We see the hysterical people. It was refreshing to hear Reagan.

HAK: I talked to some student radicals over the weekend and they were very disappointed because they thought the turnout wasn’t much. There is no doubt that the economic community is deeply disturbed.

Pres: Let them take responsibility for keeping their campuses in order. Reagan of course sees everything in conspiratorial terms. But he may be right.

HAK: Yes, there are some things which I don’t want to discuss with you over the phone which are pretty interesting.

Pres: Here in the government or outside?

HAK: Could I come up to see you?

Pres: Come on up to the Lincoln Room.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 363, Telephone Conversations, 1969–1976, Chronological File, May 10–20, 1970. No classification marking.
  2. Apparent reference to remarks by Governor Ronald Reagan of California in support of the operation in Cambodia and against student demonstrations in opposition to it.
  3. Kissinger is apparently referring to the President’s news conference of May 8 broadcast live on television. The text is in Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 413–423.