WASHINGTON (AP) — They had been two males in Manhattan who craved the identical factor: validation. One was a brash, younger actual property developer trying to put his stamp on New York, the opposite a disgraced elder statesman bent on repairing his fame.

That’s how a thirty-something Donald Trump and a seventy-ish Richard Nixon struck up a decade-long, fulsome correspondence within the 1980s that meandered from soccer and actual property to Vietnam and media technique.

The letters between as soon as and future presidents, revealed for the primary time in an exhibit that opens Thursday on the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum, present the 2 males engaged in one thing of an train in mutual affirmation. The museum shared the letters solely with The Related Press forward of the exhibit’s opening.

“I believe that you’re one in every of this nation’s nice males, and it was an honor to spend a night with you,” Trump writes to Nixon in June 1982, lower than eight years after Nixon resigned the presidency throughout the Watergate scandal. The 2 had been noticed collectively on the “21” nightclub and Trump was writing Nixon to thank him for forwarding a photograph.

The following fall, it’s Nixon chiming in.

“Let me be so presumptuous as to supply a bit free recommendation (which is price, by the way, precisely what it prices!”) Nixon writes to Trump. Nixon, who performed soccer in school and by no means misplaced his love for the sport, then unspools detailed ideas on how Trump ought to deal with the New Jersey Generals soccer workforce that he had lately bought and would fold by 1986. (Nixon included loads of shoutouts for the underappreciated linemen, his previous place.)

Trump, for his half, is unabashed about one in every of his goals for the connection: “Certainly one of my nice ambitions is to have the Nixons as residents in Trump Tower,” he writes that October.


However after the Nixons toured Trump’s flagship improvement on Fifth Avenue, the ex-president wrote that his spouse “was impressed as I used to be however feels at the moment she mustn’t undertake the ordeal of a transfer.” She had suffered a light stroke that August.

So it went, the patter of “Pricey Donald” and “Pricey Mr. President.”

Trump, placing his regular self-congratulatory stamp on the exchanges, stated shortly after the 2016 election that he didn’t know Nixon “however he would write me letters. It was very attention-grabbing. He at all times wished me to run for workplace.”

What motivated the correspondence between a younger man looking for a vibrant future and an ex-president with a darkish previous? Nixon skilled Luke Nichter, a professor at Texas A&M-Central Texas, says the 2 males “noticed one thing comparable in one another — that toughness, that guts, even being overwhelmed up and coming again.”

At Trump’s age, says Nichter, “I can’t think about making an attempt to befriend an ex-president. … One way or the other, I believe they each pulled it off and I believe they each served a necessity for one another.”

Their letters didn’t have far to journey as they crisscrossed Manhattan: Trump wrote from his workplace in Trump Tower; Nixon from his at Federal Plaza, about 4 miles away.


The 2 males bonded over themes that resonate immediately: a shared mistrust of the media, a need to maximise TV rankings, the concept of utilizing individuals as “props,” and extra.

Writing concerning the Generals’ broadcast potential, Nixon tells Trump: “The individuals within the stands, other than what they pay for his or her tickets, are indispensable props for the tv broadcast which sooner or later is the place the actual cash lies.”

It was a robust lesson from a previous president for a future one who would shamelessly inflate his fame as a mogul over 14 seasons on “The Apprentice” and later flip his presidency into its personal actuality present.

The 2 males commiserated over their shared distrust of the press. In 1990, Nixon reached out to Trump when the developer’s enterprise offers had been tanking and he couldn’t pay his payments, writing: “Pricey Donald — I do know nothing concerning the intricacies of your enterprise enterprises however the huge media assault on you places me in your nook!”

Trump, even now, isn’t one to let a grievance in opposition to the press go unaired, his strained relations with the media unsurpassed by Nixon or different presidents.

No matter certain the 2 males as buddies, their letters function a kind of ink-blot check for readers.


John Dean, effectively versed in Nixon’s character after serving as his White Home counsel throughout the Watergate years, sees his previous boss and Trump choosing up “the waves of one another’s personalities” of their letters.

“These are two authoritarian personalities who would have a pure affinity for one another,” stated Dean, who helped expose the Watergate scandal and is a harsh critic of Trump.

Republican Newt Gingrich, acquainted with each males, says Trump could have discovered a little bit of international coverage from listening to Nixon, however he suspects the younger developer additionally simply favored the concept of figuring out a historic determine.

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“It was extra a private validation for Trump that he was turning into someone, {that a} Nixon would take note of him,” Gingrich stated.

Jim Byron, govt vp of the Richard Nixon Basis, stated the letters had been situated throughout two years of analysis in library archives that embody 46 million pages of fabric, 300,000 images and a pair of million toes of movie. They’re the centerpiece of an exhibit — The Presidents Membership: From Adams and Jefferson to Nixon and Trump — that additionally contains correspondence between 5 different units of presidents.

Solely one of many Trump-Nixon letters was extensively identified about beforehand — a two-sentence December 1987 word that Nixon writes after his spouse noticed Trump on Phil Donahue’s speak present. Pat Nixon thought Trump did “nice,” Nixon writes.

“As you may think about, she is an skilled on politics and she or he predicts that everytime you determine to run for workplace you can be a winner!” Nixon provides.

Trump, at all times an open door for flattery, had the letter framed and on show in his workplace in Trump Tower. The White Home didn’t reply to questions on whether or not Trump had the letter on show someplace now.

The final letter within the Trump-Nixon collection is dated Jan. 26, 1993. Trump writes to Nixon not lengthy after his 80th birthday to thank him for a birthday photograph and says, “You’re a nice man, and I’ve had and at all times could have the utmost respect and admiration for you. I’m proud to know you.” Nixon died in April 1994; Trump didn’t attend the funeral.

As for Trump’s public ideas on Nixon, through the years he’s blown cold and hot.

He echoed a few of Nixon’s darkish themes throughout his 2016 marketing campaign, and he’s at the moment adapting Nixon’s “silent majority” technique for his personal reelection marketing campaign. Earlier than the GOP conference in 2016, Trump spoke glowingly of Nixon’s harsh rhetoric and techniques.

Nevertheless, throughout his personal impeachment saga final yr, Trump drew a distinction between himself and Nixon, who resigned relatively than be impeached.


“He left. I don’t depart. An enormous distinction,” Trump stated.

The White Home declined to supply Trump touch upon the newly launched letters.

Nichter, the historian, says the letters reveal a surprisingly wealthy private dimension to the Trump-Nixon relationship and add “yet one more piece to the puzzle” in figuring them each out.

Byron calls them “a useful contribution to the ever-evolving group that we all know because the presidents membership.” And with Trump’s disinterest in taking recommendation from his predecessors, Byron says, the letters present “maybe the very best documented relationship that our present president has with any of his predecessors.”

As for what the American individuals ought to take away from the backwards and forwards, Byron doesn’t chew: “We’ll depart that as much as the historians, the teachers and the lots on social media — which I’m positive could have a factor or two to say.”


AP researchers Rhonda Shafner and Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.


Comply with Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac


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