clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Key Republicans told Nixon in '71 to get out of Vietnam

As a presidential election drew near, 10 loyal Republican senators sat down in 1971 in the privacy of the White House, where two of them implored President Nixon to get out of Vietnam and do it quickly.

"Otherwise we're all going to perish," said Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee.Nixon said he agreed with Baker's political assessment. "I am keenly aware of the problem," the president said.

If any of the other senators disagreed, they did not say so. Among those in the room were such leading party figures as Sens. Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, who was the Republicans' hawkish 1964 presidential candidate, and John Tower of Texas, as well as Nixon's chief national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.

The conversation on April 20, 1971, came to light Thursday with the release by the National Archives of 154 hours of tapes secretly recorded in the Cabinet Room.

"Mr. President, I am not being disloyal to you," Baker said. "Everybody in this room can perish politically."

An impassioned Baker told Nixon he was more concerned with America's standing in future decades than with victory or defeat in the Vietnam War.