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Charles W. Colson and the Presidential Election of 1972  

Nixon Tapes Show Colson at Peak Influence

The following is a sampling of Nixon tape conversations in which Counsel to the President Charles W. "Chuck" Colson was perhaps at his peak influence in the Nixon administration. These tapes were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 11, 2007. The conversations are from November 1972, including the period immediately before, during, and following the 1972 election, when Colson spends more time with the president than perhaps any other top aide, invaluable as a source for the latest report from virtually any and every campaign--Congressional or statewide--in the country, in addition to a mastery of the latest polling data. There is much overlap between the tapes and the opening pages of Colson’s memoir Born Again, especially with respect to the late election night conversation Colson took part in, in the Executive Office Building. [1]

The Presidential Election of 1972 was a triumph for the Nixon administration. It resulted in not only a landslide victory, but the tapes also reveal numerous other initiatives of the president and his top advisers which occurred in parallel with the election. These included a final winding down of American involvement in Vietnam, the president’s departure for Florida and then Camp David to begin plans for a government reorganization, continued negotiations with the Soviet Union, and planning for a heightened foreign policy focus on Europe beginning in 1973, known as the “Year of Europe.”

Taking this sample of conversations below, one can, in a sense, travel back in time, arriving at the White House the weekend before the election. There is much excitement as the final polls that weekend and the Monday before Election Day show the President strongly ahead in all regions of the country. There are also several unique aspects of this election in which Colson took a direct role: his analysis on relatively new electoral trends such as ticket-splitting, success in the traditionally Democratic south, efforts with Catholics and ethnic groups, and shoring up blue-collar and labor union support.

The participants are as follows:

P = President Richard Nixon
APB = Assistant to the President Alexander P. Butterfield
AMH = Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Alexander M. Haig
CWC = Counsel to the President Charles W. "Chuck" Colson
HAK = Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry A. Kissinger
HRH = Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman
JDE = Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs John D. Ehrlichman
LMH = Larry M. Higby (assistant to Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman)
MS = Valet to the President Manolo Sanchez
RHF = Counselor to the President Robert H. Finch
RLZ = Press Secretary Ronald L. Ziegler
SBB = Assistant to the President Stephen B. Bull
TNC = Tricia Nixon Cox
WPR = Secretary of State William P. Rogers
WHO = White House Operator
Unk = Unknown participant



Time Participants Audio


WHT 033-002 11/03/1972 9:48 - 10:12 pm P, CWC mp3 (10.8m) pdf (55k)
WHT 033-047
11/07/1972 8:06 - 8:20 pm P, CWC
mp3 (6.1m)

pdf (48k)

WHT 033-052 11/07/1972 9:29 - 9:40 pm P, CWC, TNC mp3 (5.1m) doc (34k)
EOB 388-004A 11/08/1972 1:00 - 3:00 am P, HRH, Unk, WHO, CWC, MS mp3 (18.6m) doc (75k)
EOB 388-004B (continued from EOB 388-004A) 11/08/1972 1:00 - 3:00 am P, HRH, Unk, WHO, CWC, MS mp3 (16.3m) (continued from EOB 388-4A)
OVAL 813-028 11/08/1972 12:03 - 12:12 pm P, CWC, RLZ, LMH

mp3 (6.5m)

doc (33k)
EOB 388-008A 11/08/1972 2:05 pm - Unk before 3:28 pm P, CWC, Unk, APB, WHO, SBB, RHF, MS mp3 (116k) doc (71k)
EOB 388-008B (continued from EOB 388-008A) 11/08/1972 2:05 pm - Unk before 3:28 pm P, CWC, Unk, APB, WHO, SBB, RHF, MS

mp3 (33.3m)

pdf (101k)
EOB 388-008C (continued from EOB 388-008B) 11/08/1972 2:05 pm - Unk before 3:28 pm P, CWC, Unk, APB, WHO, SBB, RHF, MS

mp3 (2.0m)

pdf (13k)
WHT 033-075 11/08/1972 3:28 - 3:30 pm P, CWC mp3 (742k) doc (27k)
EOB 388-017 11/08/1972 3:30 - 3:37 pm P, HAK, AMH, CWC, WHO, APB
mp3 (2.6m)
pdf (28k)
WHT 033-108 11/19/1972 9:35 am (to Unk) P, WHO, CWC
mp3 (30.3m)
pdf (87k)

[1] The opening chapter of Born Again paired with these tape conversations provide a fascinating and vivid glimpse into the White House before, during, and immediately after the election. In Born Again, see pages 3-9.



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