Miller Center

Nixon and Donald Rumsfeld discuss comments by Vice President Spiro Agnew

The unscripted remarks by Vice President Spiro Agnew were a recurring problem for President Richard Nixon. Nixon was particularly unimpressed with Agnew's habit of mixing socially with the press corps, complaining: "I know the press like him. They love to say, 'He's a nice fellow, by God, he'll drink with us.' And I know I'm considered to be very stiff with these bastards. And I will continue to be. I don't believe in getting too close to them. Never let them get too close.

When Nixon sat down for this discussion with Donald Rumsfeld, then a counselor to the president, he complained of recently published comments in which Agnew had unfavorably compared African-American leader to authoritarian African leaders--Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, and Joseph Mobutu of Congo.

This clip became the subject of public debate at the time of Rumsfeld's confirmation hearing in January 2001 for the position of Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush.

* Please note that this clip contains offensive language.

Date:  Jul 22, 1971
Time:  11:36
Participants:  Richard Nixon, Donald Rumsfeld

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