The conservative Republican Senator from New York, Senator James Buckley, called on President Richard Nixon to resign on Tuesday (19 March) when he held a news conference in the Senate Caucus room.
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BUCKLEY: "I propose an extraordinary act of statesmanship and courage. An act at once noble and heartbreaking; at once serving the greater interest of the nation; the institution of the Presidency and two stated goals for which he so successfully campaigned. That act is Richard Nixon's own voluntary resignation as President of the United States.
(He was asked if he would want the President to resign if he were convinced the President was innocent.)
BUCKLEY: "I would still be calling for his resignation, and this is to the central point of what I have been trying to say. I believe that the dissatisfaction, the lack of credibility, has been so eroded that it is impossible to put the pieces back again, it is impossible to restore that moral authority in the Presidency that I think in these difficult times it is essential to the welfare of the country."
REPORTER (MR. JOHNSON): "Would you comment on the import of this statement coming from a Conservative United States senator, and whether it might cause you to reassess your position?"
NIXON: "Well first it does not cause me to reassess my position. Although I of course ... (Applause) ... I do respect the point of view expressed by the Senator, and by others perhaps some sitting here, who share that view. The point that I wish to make however, is that when we speak of courage, that I would address that from a personal standpoint first of all. It would perhaps be an act of courage to resign. I should also point out however that, while it might be an act of course to run away from a job that you were elected to do, it also takes courage to stand and fight for what you believe is right, and that's what I intend to do."
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TRANSCRIPTION OF REMARKS BY BUCKLEY AND NIXON INCLUDED ON FILM
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Background: The conservative Republican Senator from New York, Senator James Buckley, called on President Richard Nixon to resign on Tuesday (19 March) when he held a news conference in the Senate Caucus room. He said President Nixon should resign to end the "crisis of the regime" that was doing "irrevocable damage to our entire system of government".
Senator Buckley said that resignation would be "an extraordinary act of statesmanship and courage" and it was the only thing that could pull the country out of the "watergate swamp".
There was no immediate White House comment on Mr. Buckley's statement, but a Senate Republican whip, Mr. Robert Griffin of Michigan, said there was bound to be "a profound impact" from this first breach in the Conservative line of defence of the President. Previously, the only Republican senator to call on Mr. Nixon to resign was Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, who is regarded as a liberal.
Later the same day, President Nixon held a question-and-answer session at the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters in Houston, Texas. He was asked about Senator Buckley's statement, and whether it would make him reassess his position. He replied that it would not make him reconsider his decision not to resign.
The President also hinted that he would reject any subpoena issued by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for more White House tapes and documents dealing with his handling of the Watergate bugging scandal. Asked what his response would be to such a subpoena, he merely pointed out that he had already provided the Committee with many tapes and documents.