The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, we are having trouble with the audio in the room. I hope that all of you, when you ask your questions, will ask them quite loudly. I understand, however, that our television audience has no problem because a shotgun mike will pick them up. For the benefit of your colleagues, ask your questions a little more loudly.
This press conference is one that is being held for the first time, while I have been President, outside of Washington. We want to welcome all of the members of the California press who are here. We will follow the usual format of the White House press conference, with the first two questions going to the wire services, and then we will try to cover as many others as we can.
[1.] Mr. Cormier [Frank Cormier, Associated Press].
Q. Mr. President, could you give us an update on the very fast moving developments in the Middle East; particularly, have we heard from Israel in response to your peace initiatives?
THE PRESIDENT. We have not yet heard from Israel on our peace initiatives. As you know, we have heard from the Jordanians and the U.A.R., and the Israelis have been considering the matter in Cabinet sessions. We are hopeful that Israel will join the U.A.R. and Jordan on the peace initiative.
Some concern has been expressed by Israeli Government officials that if they agree to a cease-fire, that they run the risk of having a military buildup occur during the cease-fire. We and others have attempted to assure them that that would not be the case. If there's a cease-fire, a natural proposition connected with that, a condition with that, is that there will be a military standstill during that period.
As far as Israel's position is concerned, I indicated on July I in a television broadcast with network commentators from Los Angeles, the position of this Government insofar as Israel's security is concerned, and our commitment to maintaining the balance of power in the Mideast. Seventy-one Senators have endorsed that proposition in a letter to me which I received today.
In view of that position, which was stated then and which I will not go into now, I believe that Israel can agree to the cease-fire and can agree to negotiations without fear that by her negotiations her position may be compromised or jeopardized in that period.
[2.] Q. Mr. President, the wholesale price index registered in July its greatest gain in 6 months.1 Can you tell us when you expect prices to go down?
THE PRESIDENT. What I am more interested in is, of course, not just what happens in 1 month, but what happens over the 6-month period. And what we are encouraged by is the fact that the trend in the 6-month period for wholesale prices was downward. The rise in the rate of increase is downward rather than upward. This three-tenths of a percent increase to which you refer has to be balanced against a zero increase in the month of May.
1On July 29, 1970, the White House released the transcript of a news briefing on the wholesale price index by George P. Shultz, Director, Office of Management and Budget.
The zero increase in the month of May did not mean that the rise in wholesale prices had stopped, just as this does not mean that a rise in wholesale prices will escalate.
We believe, based on not only wholesale prices but other economic indicators, that the inflation is being cooled, that it will continue to be cooled if we can continue to have responsibility in the conduct of our budget problems in Washington, D.C., and that we are on the way, insofar as the other side of the coin is concerned, toward an economy moving upward in the last half of 1970.
PARIS PEACE TALKS
[3.] Q. Mr. President, Ambassador Bruce takes over on Saturday in Paris. Do you feel that conditions for a negotiated peace have improved or worsened since we invaded Cambodia?
THE PRESIDENT. I believe that the prospects for a negotiated peace should be better now than they were before the Cambodian operation. I do not say this because of any intelligence with regard to enemy activities or enemy attitudes. But I say it because, as a result of our Cambodian operation, the enemy position is weaker than it was before we went into Cambodia.
Their timetable has been set back. Time is no longer on their side. Now, whether they will be convinced by this that their best interest would be served by negotiations rather than by attempting to win a military victory on the battlefield, that remains to be seen.
But we have sent a senior negotiator, Mr. Bruce, to Paris with wide latitude in negotiation, and we hope that they will reciprocate by negotiating in good faith and try to bring the war to an early conclusion, as it could be by negotiation rather than letting it draw to a conclusion through the longer path of Vietnamization which we are prepared to do also.
Q. Does President Thieu of South Vietnam hold any positions that would take away some of Ambassador Bruce's flexibility?
THE PRESIDENT. No, he does not. President Thieu's position with regard to negotiation is on all fours with ours. We have consulted with him and he with us before any negotiating positions have been presented. And also, you will note that Ambassador Bruce went to South Vietnam and met with President Thieu and with Ambassador Bunker to be sure that there was no disagreement on our negotiating position.
[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you concur with Attorney General Mitchell's recent prediction that by the fall school term most of the schools in the South will be desegregated; and also do you have an approximation of how many Federal representatives would have to be sent to achieve such a goal?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the Attorney General has primary responsibility in this field and I think a prediction made by him must be given great weight. Whether that prediction turns out, of course, depends in great part on whether there is cooperation in the key Southern districts where the desegregation program is still behind schedule.
Now as far as the number of Federal officials that should be sent to the South, let me emphasize that that will be based on whether those Southern districts or States that have this problem of desegregation ask for the help of either Justice Department or HEW experts. We are not going to have a forced policy in this area. Our policy is one of cooperation, rather than coercion. And we believe that is the best way to handle this very difficult problem in the Southern States.
[5.] Q. Mr. President, last Sunday the Russian naval commander engaged in a bit of saber rattling directed at us. And I recall that Admiral Hyman Rickover and General Thomas Power of SAC [Strategic Air Command] in the last year warned that we are falling behind in the armaments race and they warned of nuclear blackmail if the Russians get ahead. Now with that in mind, do you think we can afford to disarm at this point or what is your feeling in that regard?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have certainly no intention of disarming. What we are talking about in the SALT negotiations is not disarmament but a limitation of arms where we limit what we do and they limit what they do. And the very thing that you refer to makes it very important for us to pursue those negotiation, because the Soviet Union, since 1967, for example, when we stopped any deployment of land-based missiles, since that time, has deployed 724 ICBM's, either SS-9's or SS-13's.
Since that time when we launched our last nuclear submarine with missile-carrying capabilities, the Soviet Union has deployed 13 more. And by 1975, assuming they continue their present building pace, they will catch up with us in nuclear submarines.
We can either continue this race in which they continue their offensive missiles and we go forward with our defensive missiles, or we can reach an agreement. That is why at this point we have hopes of attempting to find, either on a comprehensive basis, and lacking a comprehensive basis, a selective basis, the first steps toward which the superpowers will limit the development of, and particularly the deployment of more instruments of destruction when both have enough to destroy each other many times over.
GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH VIETNAM
[6.] Miss Thomas [Helen Thomas, United Press International].
Q. Mr. President, you said that we are in accord with President Thieu on peace initiatives. Does that mean that we agree with him that no candidate who would support a coalition government and no Communist could run in elections that would try to settle the war?
THE PRESIDENT. Miss Thomas, the position of President Thieu there with regard to a Communist not being on the ballot is purely a matter of semantics. Under the South Vietnamese Constitution, a Communist cannot run for office.
On the other hand, President Thieu has specifically agreed that those who are members of the NLF [National Liberation Front], who, of course, represent the Communists in South Vietnam, could run as members of the NLF on the ballot.
Now, as far as President Thieu's attitude on coalition government is concerned, it is the same as ours. A coalition government should not be imposed upon the people of South Vietnam without their consent. If the people of South Vietnam, by election, elect people who then choose to form a coalition government, that is a matter, of course, that we will accept.
[7.] Q. To pursue the question of our military preparedness a bit further, twice within the past week statements have been made by high ranking naval officers, Admiral Rickover and Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp, to the effect that our military preparedness is suspect. And they went further. Each gentleman said that in his opinion it is doubtful that we could win a war with the Soviet Union. Given the eminence of these gentlemen, as Commander in Chief, how do you regard the validity of those statements?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would first react by saying that if there is a war between the Soviet Union and the United States, there will be no winners, there will be only losers. The Soviet Union knows this and we know that.
That is the reason why it is vitally important that in areas like the Mideast that we attempt to avoid to the greatest extent possible being dragged into a confrontation by smaller powers, even though our interests in the area are very, very great. That is why it is very much in our interests in the SALT talks to work out an arrangement if we can, one which will provide for the interests of both and yet not be in derogation of the necessity of our having sufficiency and their having sufficiency.
One other point I would make briefly is this: What the Soviet Union needs in terms of military preparedness is different from what we need. They are a land power primarily, with a great potential enemy on the east. We are primarily, of course, a sea power and our needs, therefore, are different. But what is important now is to find a way to stop this escalation of arms on both sides, and that is why we have hopes in the SALT talks which, I emphasize again, do not involve disarmament for the United States or the Soviet Union, but do involve a limitation and then eventually a mutual reduction.
[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any magical powers that you may invoke to help the people on the east coast breathe a little easier, or do you consider that Mayor Lindsay's problem?
THE PRESIDENT. I think Mayor Lindsay has enough problems without wishing that one on him. The problem on the east coast, of course, reminds all of us who are southern Californians that with all of the kidding we have been taking about our smog, it isn't limited to us.
I also would remind the people on the east coast and in California that it isn't limited to the United States. It's a problem in Tokyo, it's a problem in Rome, it's a problem in all of the great industrial areas of the world now.
There isn't any short-range answer. We can't get the kind of automobile engine which will be pollution-free in a year or 2 years or 3 years. But there are certain things that can be done now.
The Congress can pass the legislation which I submitted 6 months ago in the environmental message, which will provide for some action in this area. And, second, that we are going to pursue the problem of seeing that the automobile industries follow very strict standards that we have laid down with regard to automobile emissions. Third, of course, we are going to do everything we can with regard to Federal facilities to see that they adopt pollution-free policies. And we, of course, are urging all kinds of industrial activities to use the kind of fuels that would reduce the problem.
I would only say this, that it was perhaps fortunate in a way that the east coast saw this problem in such a massive manner. Now we realize that we don't have much time left and it is time for the Congress to get the environmental message and all of the recommendations that I have made in February--a very strong message and very strong measures--to get them on the front burner and act on them now, because this is an area where we cannot wait.
[9.] Q. Mr. President, with relation to your anti-inflation policy and unemployment, especially among blacks, some statistics last June: The unemployment rate was 4.7, and among blacks it was 8.7. Locally here in the Los Angeles area, there are no specifics since no agency will speak out, but a limited concentrated survey by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics last year in south, central, and east Los Angeles brought in 16.2 for blacks. Representative Augustus Hawkins just viewed the area and said that conditions there are worse than in 1965 prior to the Watts riots and that a rebellion was possible but it would be economic and not racial.
My question now: Paul McCracken, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, about 2 weeks ago said the economy was bottoming out and there was an upturn coming, but that unemployment would continue with an anti-inflationary policy. The question is, will you continue your present anti-inflationary policy despite such warnings of rising unemployment rebellion?
THE PRESIDENT. Our present anti-inflationary policies, of course, have resulted in some cooling of the inflationary forces. And of course, one of the costs is that the economy slows down. There is another reason, however, for the slowdown in the economy which particularly affects this area, and that is the transition from a wartime to a peacetime economy as a result of our bringing down the war in Vietnam, the activities there, and also of our change of priorities where for the first time in 20 years that we are spending more for domestic purposes, 41 percent of our national budget, than for military purposes which are now only 31 percent of our budget.
As a result of that, 800,000 people over the past year have left either Defense plants or the armed services and, of course, have added to the unemployment problem. That, however, we believe is a price worth paying because we believe that we should work toward prosperity without war, and we believe that we can have it.
Now, there is a difficult transition. The problem that you mentioned of blacks, the problem of all unemployed, does concern us. That is one of the reasons why we have urged the Congress to act more swiftly on our extension of unemployment insurance and the other measures which will cushion this transition period. Long-term, however, this economy is going to move up and the unemployment slack will be taken up.
PROBLEMS OF THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY
[10.] Mr. Kaplow [Herbert Kaplow, NBC News].
Q. Mr. President, what is your reaction to the Heard report's2 contention that you had not been paying enough attention to the problems of minorities and students?
THE PRESIDENT. Dr. Heard made a number of recommendations, of course, and also gave some conclusions in his report. I have read them and, of course, will consider them.
2Dr. Heard's report as Special Adviser on the Academic Community and the Young and a report by the Federal Interagency Committee on Education entitled "Federal Agencies and Black Colleges," June 1970 (Government Printing Office, 45 pp.) were discussed in a news briefing on July 23, 1970, by Robert H. Finch, Counsellor to the President, and Robert J. Brown, Special Assistant to the President. A transcript of the news briefing is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 978).
The problem of communicating with students and other groups is a perennial one. It existed in previous administrations; it exists in this one.
However, I would only say that in order to maintain balance we have to recognize that for university presidents and professors and other leaders to put the blame for the problems of the universities on the Government, primarily, I think is very shortsighted.
We are ending the war. We will bring it to an end. We will bring the draft to an end and have a volunteer armed service. We are going to deal with the problems of the environment, we are going to clean up the air and the water. All of these things can be and will be done by Government.
We are reforming Government to make it more responsive to the people, more power to the people rather than more power in Washington, D.C.
But once all those things are done, still the emptiness and the shallowness, the superficiality that many college students find in college curriculums will still be there. And still when that is done, the problem that we have of dissent on campus not remaining a peaceful challenge, which is perfectly appropriate and defensible, but dissent becoming sometimes violent, sometimes illegal, sometimes shouting obscenities when visiting speakers come to campus, this is a problem that is not a problem for Government-we cannot solve it--it is a problem which college administrators and college faculties must face up to.
We share our part of the blame. I assume that responsibility. We'll try to do better, but they have to do better, also.
I would urge in that respect, incidentally, that a very interesting commentary on this by a young man who will probably be sitting in one of your chairs in a few years ahead, Mr. Douglas Hallett, who is the editorial chairman of the Yale Daily News, had a piece in one of the papers yesterday in which he said that the problem of conduct on the campus could not be brushed aside and simply blamed on what the Government was or was not doing, that faculty administrators and faculty presidents and faculty members had also to assume some responsibility. I think it is necessary to keep balance.
AMERICAN PRISONERS OF WAR
[11.] Q. Mr. President, the open ties in Korea ended 17 years ago week. And a week ago Senator Murphy said that he believed there are still American prisoners of war held from that conflict. Lt. Everett Alvarez will have been a prisoner 6 years next Wednesday. Did Ambassador Bruce get any special briefing about the hundreds of men held in North Vietnam?
THE PRESIDENT. The problem of those who are held prisoner in North Vietnam is one of enormous concern to us. It was discussed not only when Ambassador Bruce was in Vietnam, but also when he met with us in Washington, with Secretary Rogers, Dr. Kissinger, and others, and got his new instructions.
I can assure you that it will be very high on his agenda when he goes to Paris. I cannot promise and I would not want to hold out any false hope to those who are the dependents and those who are the wives and children of those who are prisoners, but we certainly are going to keep this very much high on the agenda and work toward a solution of it in any peace settlement, if we can get one.
FEARS OF REPRESSION
[12.] Q. Mr. President, your commission on campus unrest, colleague Mr. Kaplow referred to earlier also spoke about the reality of fears of repression among students, but especially among minority groups. Now, taking into consideration your signing into law this week a new law which allows under some circumstances entrance into homes without knocking and so-called preventive detention, considering some of the things your Vice President has said, and considering some of the things that allegedly have happened to Black Panthers, what argument can you give to those, specifically now minority groups, that they should not fear Government repression?
THE PRESIDENT. They shouldn't fear Government repression because we intend no repression. We do not believe in repression. It is not a Government policy. You mentioned, for example, the D.C. crime bill. The people that are really repressed in Washington are the black citizens of Washington, D.C., who suffer from the highest crime rate year after year usually of any city in America or in the world. Those citizens need some protection.
The provisions of that crime bill, it is true, were unprecedented, but we were dealing with an unprecedented matter.
I want to take the necessary strong methods, and I agree that they are strong, to deal with those who are criminal elements so that the hundreds of thousands of people who are not violating the law can have freedom from fear.
As far as repression generally is concerned, I, of course, do not accept the proposition that the Vice President represses people. It seems to me that people are very free in speaking up about the Vice President. Many of them do to me.
[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you see any improvement in the objectivity and fairness of the Nation's press in light of the statement by the Vice President about the press?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, my reaction is that I recall once having comments about the press in California when I was here and that didn't seem to get me very far. All I can say now is I just wish I had as good a press as my wife has, and I would be satisfied.
[14.] Q. A few days ago some organizations, Mexican-American organizations, called on you for 55,000 jobs in the Federal Government. Have you anything to comment on that?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we have provided more opportunities for Mexican-Americans than any administration in history. It is of high priority for this administration. As you know, Mr. [Martin] Castillo from Los Angeles has been working with us in the White House on this proposition.
Second, we would welcome Mexican-Americans who are qualified, who are interested in Government positions.3 We could welcome them in Government positions. We are looking for them. We are just trying to see that they are qualified and we hope they will have the qualifications.
3A White House release dated November 5, 1970, initiating a program of assistance to Spanish-speaking people who wish Federal employment, is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 1544).
[15.] Q. In your efforts to get Congress to hold down on spending, will you veto the education appropriations bill?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will be faced next week, I understand, with perhaps two or three hard decisions--the education bill and the HUD bill which was $600 million over my recommendation. The two total $I billion over the recommendations that I have made.
I am not going to announce now the decision that I will make because I want to consult with the congressional leaders once again before making the decision and announcing it.
But I will say this: that it is necessary for the President to represent all of the people and to stand up against those very well intentioned Congressmen and Senators who vote for this appropriation or that one, appropriations and spending that would benefit some of the people but that would cost all of the people in higher taxes and higher prices.
I have to represent all of the people and that is why I am going to make some hard decisions, vetoing some popular measures if I believe that those measures would result in increasing prices or require an increase in taxes.
On that last front, we can avoid an increase in taxes and we can avoid an inflationary budget in 1972, but only if we get the cooperation of the Congress in these next 2 or 3 months. This is the critical time. If the Congress does not cooperate in holding down spending, it will be necessary then to look hard about where we are going to find the money and that means more taxes. But if the Congress cooperates we can avoid it.
[16.] Q. How do you reconcile the position of the United States that we are not bent on a military victory in Indochina with the statement that was made yesterday by President Nguyen Van Thieu that he is looking for a military victory within the next 3 years, and also he says that he is against a coalition government in Vietnam whether that is imposed or negotiated. In other words, to what extent are we the independent authors of American foreign policy and to what extent are we subservient to President Thieu?
THE PRESIDENT. We are opposed to a coalition government negotiated or imposed. We are for a government which is consented to by the people of South Vietnam. And if that government happens to be one that has Communists in it, and it is their choice, we do not have objection and neither does President Thieu, as I understand it.
Now, as far as President Thieu is concerned, when he speaks of victory for government and the people of South Vietnam, he is referring, of course, to what will happen in Vietnam over the long haul, assuming there is not a negotiated settlement.
As far as we are concerned, we have a program of Vietnamization. We are withdrawing our forces. Just as soon as the South Vietnamese are able to defend the country without our assistance, we will be ' gone.
But then if at that time the South Vietnamese still have not worked out a negotiated settlement with their enemy, then it is certainly up to the South Vietnamese to determine whether they are going to negotiate with the enemy or seek a victory, that would be President Thieu's decision.
BRINGING THE GOVERNMENT TO THE
[17.] Mr. Horner [Garnett D. Horner, Washington Evening Star].
Q. Mr. President, this press conference in Los Angeles is sort of a climax to a series of activities that you have described as bringing the Government to the people, such as your recent meetings in Louisville, Fargo, Salt Lake City, and your work at the Western White House at San Clemente.
What benefits do you see to you and to the country from such activities?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope there is benefit to the country. I believe there is benefit in bringing the White House to San Clemente or to Fargo or to Louisville.
I note, for example, some comments to the effect that I leave the White House too often. I think that all of my predecessors would agree with this statement: A President never leaves the White House. The White House always goes with him wherever he is. It must go with him, and it is with him wherever he is.
I think it is very important for the people of California, for example, to know the White House, to participate, for example, like this in a Presidential press conference.
I think that also the other side of the coin is vitally important to those of us in Government. Every one of the members of the Cabinet who have participated in one of these regional meetings come away making this very significant statement, and it is that when they meet with people in the country, those individuals, whether they are Governors or mayors or representatives of citizens' groups, talk much more freely than they do when they are in .the Cabinet Room or in the President's office in Washington, D.C., or even in their offices in the various departments.
I think this whole program of bringing Government to the people can be served by having the White House go to the country from time to time and, of course, we can handle Federal business from here with rapid communications just as effectively as we do in Washington.
Earl Charles (Squire) Behrens, political editor, San Francisco Chronicle: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Nixon's eleventh news conference was held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, 1970, in the Santa Monica Room of the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif. It was broadcast live on television and radio.
The privilege of closing the news conference with "Thank you, Mr. President," traditionally accorded to the senior wire service reporter, was given at the President's request to Earl Charles (Squire) Behrens, the senior California correspondent present. Squire Behrens was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon on April 22, 1970.
Richard Nixon, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240208