Dear Donald, Dear Mr. President: A Trump-Nixon ’80s taleBreaking News
tags: Richard Nixon, presidential libraries, Nixon Library, Donald Trump
They were two men in Manhattan who craved the same thing: validation. One was a brash, young real estate developer looking to put his stamp on New York, the other a disgraced elder statesman bent on repairing his reputation.
That’s how a thirty-something Donald Trump and a seventy-ish Richard Nixon struck up a decade-long, fulsome correspondence in the 1980s that meandered from football and real estate to Vietnam and media strategy.
The letters between once and future presidents, revealed for the first time in an exhibit that opens Thursday at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum, show the two men engaged in something of an exercise in mutual affirmation. The museum shared the letters exclusively with The Associated Press ahead of the exhibit’s opening.
“I think that you are one of this country’s great men, and it was an honor to spend an evening with you,” Trump writes to Nixon in June 1982, less than eight years after Nixon resigned the presidency during the Watergate scandal. The two had been spotted together at the “21” nightclub and Trump was writing Nixon to thank him for forwarding a photo.
The next fall, it is Nixon chiming in.
“Let me be so presumptuous as to offer a little free advice (which is worth, incidentally, exactly what it costs!”) Nixon writes to Trump. Nixon, who played football in college and never lost his love for the game, then unspools detailed thoughts on how Trump should handle the New Jersey Generals football team that he had recently purchased and would fold by 1986. (Nixon included plenty of shoutouts for the underappreciated linemen, his old position.)
Trump, for his part, is unabashed about one of his aims for the relationship: “One of my great ambitions is to have the Nixons as residents in Trump Tower,” he writes that October.