- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2000

Family and colleagues of Richard M. Nixon gathered "one more time, just for drill," Tuesday in accordance with the late president's traditional call to action.

Part of a two-day get-together in Mr. Nixon's memory, the reunion honored both his legacy and the continuing work of the 10-year-old Nixon Foundation.

Guests included daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower and her husband, David Eisenhower; Alexander Haig, Mr. Nixon's chief of staff; longtime White House Chief Usher Rex Scouten; John Taylor, director of the Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif.; and Leonard Garment, Mr. Nixon's attorney during the Watergate crisis.

The event, held in the Chinese Room of the Mayflower Hotel — one of his favorite haunts — also touched on Mr. Nixon's intelligence and personal kindness.

"He was the only man other than [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] who was on the national ticket five times," Mrs. Eisenhower said. "It couldn't have been sustained without the rapport he had with the people in this room. He really inspired a lot of loyalty."

Mrs. Eisenhower also recalled the tension in her family during the 1960 presidential election, which her father conceded to John F. Kennedy following the Democrat's slim victory.

"It's difficult to lose a close election. I can tell you," she said.

She wasn't the only one talking about elections.

Reform Party presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan, who served as a White House speechwriter under Mr. Nixon, observed that Vice President Al Gore was running the risk of threatening his legacy if he continued to draw out his legal fight.

"The longer he holds out, the more diminished a figure he becomes," Mr. Buchanan said.

His take on Mr. Nixon, his former boss, however, was based on admiration for the man's towering intellect.

"He was the most interesting conversationalist I ever met," Mr. Buchanan recalled. "He was intellectually alive and had a voracious appetite for knowledge."

Ed Nixon, the president's youngest and only surviving brother, bristled when asked his opinion of Mr. Gore's contesting the election.

"Times have changed somewhat," Mr. Nixon said, "but respect for the office and the country must be foremost in a leader."

Mr. Haig said Mr. Nixon's quick withdrawal in 1960 showed he was "a man of character and loyalty," although "that loyalty got him in trouble in Watergate."

On it went for a couple of hours or so, with lots of political chatter, reminiscing and catching up with old friends. It was a night Mr. Nixon would have relished.

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