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updated 3/15/2004 5:57:08 PM ET 2004-03-15T22:57:08

April 23, 1971: Oval Office meeting with Haldeman, Kissinger
President: Apparently, this fellow, uh, that they put in the front row, is that what you say, the front [unintelligible] the real stars?  Kerry.
Haldeman: Kerry.  He is, he did a hell of a great job on the, uh --
President: He was extremely effective.
Haldeman: [Unintelligible] he did a superb job on it at Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.  A Kennedy-type guy - he looks like a Kennedy and he, and he talks exactly like a Kennedy.
Kissinger : [Unintelligible].
President: Where did he serve?
Haldeman: He was a Navy lieutenant, jg., on a gunboat.


Haldeman: He was only over there for, I thinks it's four months or five months.
President: Bob,  the Navy didn’t have any casualties in Vietnam except in the air.
Haldeman: Well, this guy got a Purple Heart with two clusters and the Navy Star.  He's got a hell of a bundle of lettuce up here.


Kissinger:  Well, it, it's an outrage --
Haldeman: No, but he's said some good things.
Kissinger:  -- that eight hundred veterans --
President: Yeah.
Kissinger:  -- of whom I’m sure a significant percentage are phonies --
President: Yeah.
Kissinger:  -- get five minutes on national television every --
President: [Unintelligible].
Kissinger:  -- night.
Haldeman: Well, they've got about six paraplegics up there with the whole bunch and that's, God, everything ya read would make ya think all those guys out there had no legs.


Haldeman: I think you’ll find Kerry running for political office. I think you’re exactly right, he’s building himself –
Nixon:  Is he from Massachusetts?
Haldeman: I don’t know.

April 28, 1971: EOB phone conversation with Charles Colson
Colson:  This fellow Kerry that they had on last week --
President: Yeah.
Colson:  -- hell, he turns out to be, uh, really quite a phony.  You know, we --.
President: Yeah, I know.
Colson:  That story we're getting out, that, uh, --
President: Are ya?
Colson:  --[Newspaper columnist Jerald] TerHorst is writing that for --
President: Good.
Colson:  -- North American Newspaper Alliance.
President: Well, he is sort of a phony, isn't he? 
Colson:  Well, he stayed, when he was here --
President: Stayed out in Georgetown, yeah.
Colson: -- he stayed in Georgetown with, uh, one of the old-line Washington socialites, Elsie Leiter*, and, uh, was out at the best restaurants every night and, uh --  
President: Sure.
Colson:  -- you know, he's just, the complete opportunist.
President: A racket, sure.
Colson: He was in Vietnam a total of four months.  Uh, he's, he's politically ambitious and just, uh, looking for an issue.
President: Yeah.
Colson:  He came back a hawk and became a dove when he saw the political opportunities.
President: Sure, well, anyway, keep the faith.
Colson:   We’ll keep hitting him, Mr. President.
Presdent:  Bye.
Colson:  Yes, sir.

*Note: Kerry says that while he visited the home of TK, he spent every night on the Mall with the other veterans

June 2, 1971: Oval Office meeting with Bob Haldeman
Haldeman: We got these guys now forming this Veterans for a – Peace with Justice, or uh – the veterans –  
Nixon: They came in to see me? Are they here?
Haldeman: No we don’t want them to be able to see you yet. We don’t want to –
Nixon: Who are they?
Haldeman: Well, it’s this guy, uh, he’s got a beard, one of ‘em, and there’s this Navy officer [John O'Neill], just got out yesterday –
President: Yeah.
Haldeman: -- crew cut, real sharp looking guy who is more articulate than Kerry. He’s not as eloquent; he isn’t the ham that Kerry is. But he’s more believable.


Haldeman:  Colson put this together.


Haldeman: This guy now [O’Neill], is gonna, he’s gonna move on Kerry. He’s gonna move around the country.

June 16, 1971:  Oval Office meeting with John O’Neill
Nixon: I really feel that what you’re doing, you’ll take brickbats, you go on some of these TV shows like the Cavett thing, you’re gonna get banged, but – you’ll get terribly discouraged and say the whole country’s – and so forth. But I think ya gotta remember, uh, you have to remember, that uh, that uh, now {unintelligible] in Vietnam should be enough, that now you would have the [unint] to get back and reassure people that those few that come back – like Kerry and the rest – don’t speak for all.


Nixon: That’s great. Give it to him, give it to him. And you can do it, because you have a pleasant manner, too, because you’ve got – and I think it’s a great service to the country.


Nixon: You fellows have been out there. You’ve got to know, seeing the barbarians that we’re up against, you’ve got to know  what we’re doing in that horrible swamp that North Vietnam is.  33:40 You’ve got to know from all our faults of what we have in this country that, that what we’re doing is right. You’ve got to know too, people are critics. Critics of the war, critics of [unint], run America down. Those that are, uh – well in every respect, either get out of Vietnam, get out of [unint], get out of the world, etcetera etcetera. You’ve gotta know that you’re on the winning s—that, that you’re on the right side.

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