Richard Nixon photo

Conversation With Bob Hope During the Red Cross Telethon in Mississippi.

August 24, 1969

MR. HOPE. Mr. President, I wish you could be here to see this crowd.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, it sounds great. But I must say that I have had the reports, of course, of this terrible disaster. General Lincoln [Director, Office of Emergency Preparedness] and Vice President Agnew have both been down there. They told me that it is probably the worst natural disaster we have had in this century.

But just from hearing that crowd, I can see that the spirit of the people down there is great, is that right?

MR. HOPE. Oh, it is fantastic. We are really having a ball. I know you can feel it. You can't see this crowd, but this coliseum is just jammed to capacity and they are just ready. The whole State is coming forth.

THE PRESIDENT. Bob, you can't say this, but as one of your old friends and fellow Californians we are mighty proud that you are down there, too. I think you are doing a great job for the country and for the people there.

MR. HOPE. We have a lot of people here, Mr. President. We have the Golddiggers.1 There are an awful lot of people here. The Governor [John Bell Williams] is standing right here. I think everybody in the State is jammed into this coliseum tonight.

THE PRESIDENT. That is wonderful. MR. HOPE. The people who are not here are watching and so far they have raised $1 million.

1A group of television entertainers.

THE PRESIDENT. A million dollars-that is wonderful. As you know, Bob, we are doing everything we can through the Government facilities, but I think what is done through this kind of activity where people from all over the country volunteer not only their money, but also their help, and through organizations like the Red Cross they come to the help of others who are in difficulty--this is really the true American spirit because this comes from the heart. This is something that money can't buy.

MR. HOPE. Well, it sure is, and everybody is leaning towards this effort, and I am sure they are going to take care of all the people.

Naturally everybody is very grateful for your fast action and the action of the Government. You heard that applause when you were announced, and it was just tremendous. That is the kind of crowd we have here.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can just say this one thing, that I speak to the people down there and to all of those who are sending in their contributions, not just as President of the United States in a governmental capacity, but as one of their fellow Americans, I am very proud to be an American when Americans come through in a crisis like this. With this kind of a heart, America is going to do all right in the years ahead. There is no question about that. It is coming through in a crisis that proves that a country has what it takes.

Bob, you must have a great audience there.

MR. HOPE. Thank you, Mr. President. You heard them.

THE PRESIDENT. You have a great audience. We will see you when you get back. I hope you get back before I leave California. Goodby.

MR. HOPE. Wonderful, thank you very much.

Note: President Nixon spoke by telephone at 6:45 p.m., from San Clemente, Calif., with comedian Bob Hope who was conducting a telethon in Jackson, Miss., to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Camille.

Richard Nixon, Conversation With Bob Hope During the Red Cross Telethon in Mississippi. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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