Nixon Puts ‘Bums’ Label on Some College Radicals

From the New York Times May 2, 1970

WASHINGTON, May 1 – President Nixon referred today to some campus radicals who violently oppose his Vietnam policies as “bums” and, in contrast, he said American soldiers were “the greatest.”

The President’s remarks on violence at universities and the war were made to a group of civilian employees who greeted him at the Pentagon, where he went for a briefing on the new United States Military operations in Cambodia.

Mr. Nixon was cheered by public response to his television speech on Cambodia last night.  Ronald L. Zeigler, White House press secretary, said telephone calls and telegrams received since Mr. Nixon spoke were “positive” in a ratio of six to one.

One such favorable comment came from a young woman in a group of Pentagon employees who told the President: “I loved your speech, It made me proud to be an American.”

Smiling and obviously pleased, Mr. Nixon stopped and told how he had been thinking, as he wrote the specch, about “those kids out there.”

“I have seen them.  They are the greatest,” he said.  Then he contrasted them with antiwar activists on university campuses.  According to a White House text of his remarks, he said:

“You see those bums, you know, blowing up the campuses.  Listen, the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people in the world, and here they are burning up the books, storming around about this issue.  You name it.  Get rid of the war there will be another one.”

“Then out here we have kids who are just doing their duty.  They stand up tall and are proud.  I am sure they are scared.  I was when I was there.  But when it really comes down to it, they stand up and, boy, you have to talk up to those men.  They are going to do fine and we have to stand in back of them.”

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