Monday, April 9, 2012

The Snow Job Of New Hampshire

From Mike Wallace's New York Times obit:

Running for president, Nixon offered Mr. Wallace a job as his press secretary shortly before the 1968 primaries began. “I thought very, very seriously about it,” Mr. Wallace told The Times. “I regarded him with great respect. He was savvy, smart, hard working.”

But Mr. Wallace turned Nixon down, saying that putting a happy face on bad news was not his cup of tea.

As Nixon's chief of staff in the 1980s, I fielded constant interview requests from journalists and rarely got to say yes. He loved pouring over weekly lists of the "TDs" (turn-downs). I bequeathed to my successor, Kathy O'Connor, a plaque reading "Tact is the ability to tell a man to go to hell and make him feel happy to be on his way."

Wallace called one day and told me to give Nixon a personal message invoking their early-1968 interactions: "Tell him I mentioned the snows of New Hampshire." Though 37 smiled, Wallace didn't get the interview.

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