National Security Council meeting minutes, June 9, 1955


Dwight D. Eisenhower and his long suffering Vice President, Richard M. Nixon, were never particularly close. Indeed, in a 1960 press conference the General stated he could not recall a single idea in eight years that Nixon had proposed that had become administration policy. The televised slight quickly made it into a JFK campaign spot.

During a National Security Council meeting on June 9, 1955 Ike took a less publicized (until now) jab at his number 2 during a discussion of continuity of government matters. Eisenhower was adamant on the strategic importance of geographically separating the Vice President from the President at all times during a war. Sensible enough, but did Ike have to go further and facetiously recommend that Nixon be put in "cotton batting" to ensure that he kept his distance?

The June 10, 1955 minutes of the meeting do not mention whether Nixon, who was in attendance, scowled over the remark, but somehow we think he did.

The following is a transcript of the relevant portion of the document:

The President, referring to the wartime problem of assuring the continuity of essential functions, expressed the view that the Vice President should never be allowed to be within ten miles of the President during wartime. He noted that if the President and the Vice President were "knocked off," the "damnable" law of succession, as presently written, would result in the Speaker of the House (or, in the event of his death, the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate) succeeding to the presidency. The President observed that this would result in "the other team" getting into office and, to assure against that happening, the President thought the Vice President should be "put in cotton batting."

To learn more about cotton batting, visit the National Cotton Batting Institute's "What to Know About Cotton Batting" website.
Richard Nixon jumping

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum
Eisenhower Papers, 1953-1961
Ann Whitman File
NSC Series
Box 7
Folder: 251st Meeting of NSC
June 10, 1955


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