Nixon Quotes


Richard Nixon

 "The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker." - Richard M. Nixon, 1969

Richard Milhous Nixon -  January 9, 1913 April 22, 1994





  • This administration has proved that it is utterly incapable of cleaning out the corruption which has completely eroded it and reestablishing the confidence and faith of the American people in the morality and honesty of their government employees.
    • Nixon as Senator, speaking of the Truman administration in 1951, as quoted in Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts (1992), p. 338
  • Isn't it better to talk about the relative merits of washing machines than the relative strength of rockets? Isn't this the kind of competition you want?
    • Remarks to Soviet premier Nikita Krushchev during the Kitchen Debate (24 July 1959)
  • Now, some may ask why we don't get rid of the bases, since the Soviet Government declares today that it has only peaceful intentions. The answer is that whenever the fear and suspicions that caused us and our Allies to take measures for collective self-defense are removed, the reason for our maintaining bases will be removed. In other words, the only possible solution of this problem lies in mutual, rather than unilateral action leading toward disarmament.
    • Quoted in "1959 Year In Review: Death of John Foster Dulles," (1959)
    • Spoken during a radio address in Moscow
  • I leave you gentleman now and you will write it. You will interpret it. That's your right. But as I leave you I want you to know just think how much you're going to be missing. You won't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference and it will be one in which I have welcomed the opportunity to test wits with you.
    • Press conference after losing the election for Governor of California, (7 November 1962); "Transcript of Nixon's News Conference on His Defeat by Brown in Race for Governor of California", New York Times (8 November 1962), p. 18.
  • Sock it to me?
    • Cameo appearance on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (16 September 1968)
  • The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.
    • Inaugural address (20 January 1969); later used as Nixon's epitaph.
  • This certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. For every American this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world I am sure they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what a feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. As you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one.
    • Telephone message from the Oval office to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. (20 July 1969)
  • North Vietnam cannot humiliate and defeat America only Americans can do that.
    • Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam (3 November 1969)
  • 1 in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile! worth spending; not concerned; no involvement of embassy; $10,000,00 available, more if necessary; full-time job best men we have; game plan; make the economy scream; 48 hours for plan of action.
  • There is an international disease which feeds on the notion that if you have a cause to defend, you can use any means to further your cause, since the end justifies the means. As an international community, we must oppose this notion, whether it be in Canada, in the United States, or anywhere else. No cause justifies violence as long as the system provides for change by peaceful means.
    • Speech on the October Crisis (October 1970), quoted in Louis, Fournier, F.L.Q: The Anatomy of an Underground movement (Toronto: NC Press Limited, 1984), p. 256
  • You know, it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana are Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them? I suppose it is because most of them are psychiatrists.
  • Many Jews in the Communist conspiracy. ... Chambers and Hiss were the only non-Jews. ... Many thought that Hiss was. He could have been a half. ... Every other one was a Jew and it raised hell for us. But in this case, I hope to God he's not a Jew.
    • Nixon, Haldeman, and Ronald Ziegler, 2:42-3:33 P.M. Oval Office Conversation #524-7; cassette #775 (17 June 1971)
  • So few of those who engage in espionage are Negroes. ... In fact, very few of them become Communists. If they do, they like, they get into Angela Davis they're more the capitalist type. And they throw bombs and this and that. But the Negroes. have you ever noticed? ... Any Negro spies?
    • Nixon, Haldeman, and Ziegler, 4:03 P.M., Oval Office Conversation #537-4; cassette #876 (5 July 1971)
  • When you get in these people when you...get these people in, say: 'Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that' ah, without going into the details... don't, don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, 'the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.' And, ah because these people are plugging for, for keeps and that they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into this case, period!
    • The 'smoking gun tape' on (23 June 1972)
  • In any organization, the man at the top must bear the responsibility. That responsibility, therefore, belongs here, in this office. I accept it. And I pledge to you tonight, from this office, that I will do everything in my power to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice and that such abuses are purged from our political processes in the years to come, long after I have left this office.
  • I want to say this to the television audience. I made my mistakes, but in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service. I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.
    • Televised press conference with 400 Associated Press Managing Editors at Walt Disney World, Florida. (17 November 1973)
  • I don't give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall it, let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up or anything else, if it'll save it, save this plan. That's the whole point. We're going to protect our people if we can.
  • I recognize that this additional material I am now furnishing may further damage my case.
    • After the court-ordered release of the White House tapes (5 August 1974)
  • To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President I must put the interests of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.
    • Resignation Speech (8 August 1974)
  • I have never been a quitter.
    • Resignation Address to the Union (8 August 1974)
  • The greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes; because only if you've been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain... Always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember: Others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win, unless you hate them. And then, you destroy yourself.
    • Speech to the assembled White House staff before his final departure (9 August 1974)
  • I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry and he has his hand on the nuclear button and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.
    • As quoted in The Ends of Power (1978) by Robert Haldeman
  • Short of changing human nature, therefore, the only way to achieve a practical, livable peace in a world of competing nations is to take the profit out of war.
    • Real Peace (1983)
  • Any nation that decides the only way to achieve peace is through peaceful means is a nation that will soon be a piece of another nation.
    • No More Vietnams (1987)
  • Nowdays, If a news report does not tie up loose ends as neatly as 'The A Team', it is considered a flop.
    • From In The Arena (1990)
  • I don't think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don't. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional.
  • As long as I'm sitting in the chair, there's not going to be any Jew appointed to that court. [No Jew] can be right on the criminal-law issue.
  • Nixon: I still think we ought to take the North Vietnamese dikes out now. Will that drown people?
    Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.
    Nixon: No, no, no, I'd rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?
    Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.
    Nixon: The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?...I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.
    • In conversation with Henry Kissinger regarding Vietnam, as quoted in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. (2002) by Daniel Ellsberg ISBN 0-670-03030-9
  • Nixon: The only place where you and I disagree ... is with regard to the bombing. You're so goddamned concerned about civilians and I don't give a damn. I don't care.
    Kissinger: I'm concerned about the civilians because I don't want the world to be mobilized against you as a butcher.
    • In conversation with Henry Kissinger regarding Vietnam, as quoted in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. (2002) by Daniel Ellsberg
  • I can't ever say that, but I believe it.
    • Responding to Rev. Billy Graham's assertion that the Jews have a "stranglehold" on the media that "has to be broken or the country's going down the drain." Quoted in The New Yorker (15 April 2002)
  • I think most Americans understood that the My Lai massacre was not representative of our people, of the war we were fighting, or of our men who were fighting it; but from the time it first became public the whole tragic episode was used by the media and the antiwar forces to chip away at our efforts to build public support for our Vietnam objectives and policies.
    • As quoted in Convergences (2005) [second edition] by Robert Atwan, [Bedford/St. Martin's. p. 403]

First Inaugural Address (1969)

Full text online
  • Each moment in history is a fleeting time, precious and unique. But some stand out as moments of beginning, in which courses are set that shape decades or centuries.
    This can be such a moment.
    Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time, the hope that many of man's deepest aspirations can at last be realized. The spiraling pace of change allows us to contemplate, within our own lifetime, advances that once would have taken centuries.
    In throwing wide the horizons of space, we have discovered new horizons on earth.
    For the first time, because the people of the world want peace, and the leaders of the world are afraid of war, the times are on the side of peace.
  • The American dream does not come to those who fall asleep.
  • What kind of nation we will be, what kind of world we will live in, whether we shape the future in the image of our hopes, is ours to determine by our actions and our choices.
    The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker. This honor now beckons America the chance to help lead the world at last out of the valley of turmoil, and onto that high ground of peace that man has dreamed of since the dawn of civilization.
    If we succeed, generations to come will say of us now living that we mastered our moment, that we helped make the world safe for mankind.
    This is our summons to greatness.

Tape transcripts (1971)

  • We're going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family let people like Pat Moynihan and [special consultant] Leonard Garment and others believe in all that crap. But I don't believe in it. Work, work throw 'em off the rolls. That's the key.
  • I have the greatest affection for them but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. They aren't. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they're dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.
  • "Archie's Guys." Archie is sitting here with his hippie son-in-law, married to the screwball daughter. The son-in-law apparently goes both ways. This guy. He's obviously queer wears an ascot but not offensively so. Very clever. Uses nice language. Shows pictures of his parents. And so Arch goes down to the bar. Sees his best friend, who used to play professional football. Virile, strong, this and that. Then the fairy comes into the bar.
    I don't mind the homosexuality. I understand it. Nevertheless, goddamn, I don't think you glorify it on public television, homosexuality, even more than you glorify whores. We all know we have weaknesses. But, goddammit, what do you think that does to kids? You know what happened to the Greeks! Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that. So was Socrates.
  • You know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. Neither in a public way. You know what happened to the popes? They were layin' the nuns; that's been goin' on for years, centuries. But the Catholic Church went to hell three or four centuries ago. It was homosexual, and it had to be cleaned out. That's what's happened to Britain. It happened earlier to France.
    Let's look at the strong societies. The Russians. Goddamn, they root 'em out. They don't let 'em around at all. I don't know what they do with them. Look at this country. You think the Russians allow dope? Homosexuality, dope, immorality, are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and left-wingers are clinging to one another. They're trying to destroy us. I know Moynihan will disagree with this, [Attorney General John] Mitchell will, and Garment will. But, goddamn, we have to stand up to this.
  • But it's not just the ratty part of town. The upper class in San Francisco is that way. The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can't shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.
    Decorators. They got to do something. But we don't have to glorify it. You know one of the reasons fashions have made women look so terrible is because the goddamned designers hate women. Designers taking it out on the women. Now they're trying to get some more sexy things coming on again.
Tapes from 1971 as presented in "All the Philosopher King's Men" by James Warren in Harper's Magazine (February 2000)

Tape transcripts (1972)

Tape transcripts (1973)

Second Inaugural Address (1973)

Full text online
  • The peace we seek in the world is not the flimsy peace which is merely an interlude between wars, but a peace which can endure for generations to come.
    It is important that we understand both the necessity and the limitations of America's role in maintaining that peace.
    Unless we in America work to preserve the peace, there will be no peace.
    Unless we in America work to preserve freedom, there will be no freedom.
  • We shall support vigorously the principle that no country has the right to impose its will or rule on another by force.
    We shall continue, in this era of negotiation, to work for the limitation of nuclear arms, and to reduce the danger of confrontation between the great powers.
    We shall do our share in defending peace and freedom in the world. But we shall expect others to do their share.
    The time has passed when America will make every other nation's conflict our own, or make every other nation's future our responsibility, or presume to tell the people of other nations how to manage their own affairs.
  • Just as we respect the right of each nation to determine its own future, we also recognize the responsibility of each nation to secure its own future.
    Just as America's role is indispensable in preserving the world's peace, so is each nation's role indispensable in preserving its own peace.
    Together with the rest of the world, let us resolve to move forward from the beginnings we have made. Let us continue to bring down the walls of hostility which have divided the world for too long, and to build in their place bridges of understanding so that despite profound differences between systems of government, the people of the world can be friends.
  • Let us build a structure of peace in the world in which the weak are as safe as the strong in which each respects the right of the other to live by a different system in which those who would influence others will do so by the strength of their ideas, and not by the force of their arms.
    Let us accept that high responsibility not as a burden, but gladly gladly because the chance to build such a peace is the noblest endeavor in which a nation can engage; gladly, also, because only if we act greatly in meeting our responsibilities abroad will we remain a great Nation, and only if we remain a great Nation will we act greatly in meeting our challenges at home.

Quotes about Nixon

  • He was the most dishonest individual I ever met in my life. President Nixon lied to his wife, his family, his friends, longtime colleagues in the US Congress, lifetime members of his own political party, lifetime members of his own political party, the American people and the world.
    • Barry Goldwater in his memoirs, Goldwater (1988)
  • In his memoirs Nixon declared that to achieve his ends the "institutions" of government had to be "reformed, replaced or circumvented. In my second term I was prepared to adopt whichever of these three methods or whichever combination of them was necessary."
  • I may not know much, but I do know the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.
    • Lyndon B. Johnson, when asked why he had not replied to a speech by then-Vice President Nixon. Quoted in Merle Miller, Lyndon, An Oral Biography (1980), p. 542
  • Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House.
    • John F. Kennedy, during the 1960 presidential campaign.[citation needed]
  • Nixon's comments about Jews were sort of there was a huge disparity between the comments he made about Jews and the large number of Jews he had in his administration. And it is hard to believe in one sense. I don't really think Nixon was anti-Semitic. He had sort of standard phrases.
    • Henry Kissinger as quoted at MSNBC (9 June 2005)
  • He was captured by TV, that was how he tried to connect with the American people. One of the few times I've met him was at Pompidou's funeral, right before the end. There was a TV in the church. He [Nixon] had a half-centimetre-thick layer of pancake, or make-up, because there could be TV-cameras around. It looked completely macabre, you could barely see the face. I was conversing with him, and it was like speaking to a mask.
    • Former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.[citation needed]
  • The President wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment.
    • James D. St. Clair, Richard Nixon's counsel, arguing before the Supreme Court[1]
  • Nixon has the audacity to tell me to do nothing in the interest of my country until he dictactes where that interest lies. At the same time he threatens me that failure to follow his so-called advice will be to jeopardize the special relations between our two countries. I say to hell with such special relations.
    • Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, as quoted in Alam, Asadollah (1991), The Shah and I, I. B. Tauris, page 278
  • If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.
    • Hunter S Thompson.[citation needed]
  • The kind of guy that could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time.
    • Hunter S Thompson.[citation needed]
  • I've been called worse things by better people.
    • Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1971, on hearing that he had been called "that asshole" by Nixon.
    • Widely reported by the Canadian press, the incident is also recounted in Pierre Trudeau, Memoirs (1993)
  • Richard Nixon is a no good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd lie just to keep his hand in.
    • Harry S. Truman Plain Speaking : An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman (1974) by Merle Miller, p. 179
  • Nixon is a shifty-eyed goddamn liar. He's one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides.
    • Harry S. Truman Plain Speaking : An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman (1974) by Merle Miller, p. 179
  • "Doesn't {Leon Panetta} understand Nixon promised the Southern delegates he would stop enforcing the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts?" [2]
  • It struck me from time to time that Nixon, as a character, would have been so easy to fix, in the sense of removing these rather petty flaws. And yet, I think it's also true that if you did this, you would probably have removed that very inner core of insecurity that led to his drive. A secure Nixon almost surely, in my view, would never have been president of the United States at all.
    • ELLIOT RICHARDSON, Nixon Cabinet Member[citation needed]


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