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Nixon Visits Own Library in O.C. After Reagan Fete

TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

After helping to dedicate the nation’s newest presidential library Monday, Richard M. Nixon traveled across Los Angeles County to visit his own archive for the first time since it opened just over a year ago.

The former President arrived at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace about sunset in a silver Lincoln Town Car with a police escort. He smiled broadly and waved to a crowd of about 50 onlookers before entering the marble and glass foyer to host two separate gatherings, one for special guests and dignitaries and the other for the library’s staff and volunteers.

Nixon’s wife, Pat, who joined her husband at the dedication of Ronald Reagan’s library earlier Monday in Simi Valley, was expected to attend the evening event. But she was reported to have been suffering from fatigue and heat exhaustion.

As he entered the library, Nixon made one brief comment in response to questions about his wife, saying she “is better” and adding, “I’m feeling fine.”

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The VIP gathering held in the library’s basement archives included celebrities Bob Hope, Gene Autry and Buddy Ebsen as well as a few top officials from the Nixon White House, such as former Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman and ex-Treasury Secretary William D. Simon.

Hollywood muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger also made a show-stopping entrance, arriving in a helicopter that landed in the library parking lot. After riding in a car about 100 yards from the helicopter to the library door, Schwarzenegger said he was happy to visit two presidential libraries in one day.

“That’s how I always organize my life,” he said, as security guards held back a screaming crowd. “Three movies in a row, two libraries in a row. That’s the best way to do it.”

Reporters and the public were kept outside the event, but some who attended said Nixon gave a personal analysis of the 1992 presidential race.

Nixon told the audience that he expects President Bush to be reelected, but he warned that the economy is likely to be the major issue and that New York Gov. Mario Cuomo could be a tough Democratic opponent.

The ex-President suggested that Bush’s campaign should shift attention away from Bush and onto Congress with a slogan of “Clean House.”

“He said if Cuomo was the nominee, it would be tough,” said Ken Khachigian, a former speech writer for Nixon and now a Republican political consultant in San Clemente. “He said to run against Congress, and there’s a lot of room to run. It was a very perceptive analysis,” Khachigian added.

Simon said Nixon also recalled a lesson he was taught when he first ran for office in 1945: “Run like you’re a million votes behind and maybe you’ll win by one vote.”

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In the second hourlong gathering, for the library’s staff, Nixon was joined on a stage in the library foyer by Hope and Schwarzenegger.

Library director John Taylor said the former President insisted on shaking hands with all of the library’s staff, including clerical workers, tour guides, security guards and maintenance crews.

“That was his expressed intention,” Taylor said. “He shook more than 300 hands.”


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