20. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, October 11, 1976, 10:08-10:35 a.m.1 2






  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

DATE AND TIME: Monday, October 11, 1976 10:08 - 10:35 a.m.

PLACE: The Oval Office

The President: Are you going to resign because your President let you down?

Kissinger: Don’t even think of what happened. One little glitch.

The President: I thought I did well except for that one slip.

Kissinger: You have confirmed in that debate the country’s need for you and the disaster that Carter would be.

The one thing you didn’t get a chance to do is conceptualize. Almost all the newsmen feel the same way.

What Carter said makes you really frightened. I really cracked the press group on it Friday night.

The President: Teeter says the first reports after the debate put us 14 percent ahead. It was after two days of press play on Eastern Europe that it turned around.

Kissinger: For the future, I think what you should do is conceptualize.

[Page 2]

The President: I wanted to show up his defense policy and the “morality” argument.

Kissinger: I would say on the last point you’re playing his game. I would hit him hard. Saying he is denigrating America with his talk. It can still be done. I don’t know anyone who likes Carter.

The President: I will get some Eastern European ethnics in to say I made a mistake but they know what I stand for.

Kissinger: I agree, and say they shouldn’t let Carter use it to demagogue and make cheap shots.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Eastern Europe.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 21, October 11, 1976. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Oval Office of the White House. During his second debate with Carter, October 6, Ford stated: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” See “Presidential Campaign Debate of October 6, 1976,” in The Public Papers of the Presidents: Gerald R. Ford, 1976 (Washington, 1979), pp. 2416-2417. Ford clarified his statement at a White House meeting with representatives of Americans of Eastern European ancestry, October 12. (Ibid., pp. 2484-2486)
  2. Ford met with Kissinger to discuss his second televised Presidential Campaign Debate with Governor Carter and the Eastern Europe “gaffe.”