25 Richard Nixon Quotes from the Former US President

These Richard Nixon quotes help paint a clear picture of the range of events the former president was involved in.

Richard Nixon was the 37th president who served the country for five years from 1969 to 1974.

He is most often remembered for his connection to the Watergate scandal and being the first president to resign from the position.

However, he also accomplished a lot in his time working up the ranks of the government offices.

Before getting the presidential post, Nixon rose from serving as representative and senator from California to being a vice-president.

Throughout his service for the U.S government, Nixon witnessed a number of historical events for the country and the world.

This included the U.S.’s involvement in the Vietnam War, agreement with the Soviet Union and China, and the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Don’t forget to also check out these presidential quotes from past presidents.

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

Our inspirational quotes category page has all of our motivational quotes for all the different areas of life.

Famous Richard Milhous Nixon quotes about government

1. “I played by the rules of politics as I found them.” Richard Nixon

2. “The presidency has many problems, but boredom is the least of them.” Richard Nixon

3. “I wouldn’t want to be a Russian leader. You’d never know when you were being taped.” Richard Nixon

4. “Because our strengths are so great, we can afford to appraise our weaknesses with candor.” Richard Nixon

5. “Federal and state laws (should) be changed to no longer make it a crime to possess marijuana for private use.” Richard Nixon

6. “We are faced this year with the choice between the “work ethic” that built this Nation’s character and the new “welfare ethic” that could cause that American character to weaken.” Richard Nixon

7. “Only if we act greatly in meeting our responsibilities abroad will we remain a great nation, and only if we remain a great nation will we act greatly in meeting our challenges at home.” Richard Nixon

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8. “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word crisis. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.” Richard Nixon

9. “There are some instances where you may be ahead of us, for example, in the development of the thrust of your rockets for the investigation of outer space; there may be some instances in which we are ahead of you–in color television, for instance.” Richard Nixon

10. “The average American is just like the child in the family. You give him some responsibility and he is going to amount to something. He is going to do something. If, on the other hand, you make him completely dependent and pamper him and cater to him too much, you are going to make him soft, spoiled, and eventually a very weak individual.” Richard Nixon

11. “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal. Actions that otherwise would be unconstitutional could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the nation. This nation was torn apart in an ideological way by the war in Vietnam, as much as the Civil War tore apart the nation when Lincoln was president.” Richard Nixon

12. “The independence of Ukraine is indispensable. A Russian-Ukrainian confrontation would make Bosnia look like a Sunday school picnic. Moscow should be made to understand that any attempt to destabilize Ukraine – to say nothing of outright aggression – would have devastating consequences for the Russian-American relationship. Ukrainian stability is in the strategic interest of the United States.” Richard Nixon

13. “In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of words; from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading. We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.” Richard Nixon

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14. “The defining characteristic of today’s intellectual and media elite is that it swims merrily in a sea of fantasy. The world of television is essentially a fantasy world, and television is today’s [1980’s] common denominator of communication, today’s unifying American experience. This has frightening implications for the future. Ideas that fit on bumper stickers are no ideas at all, they simply are attitudes. And attitudinizing is no substitute for analysis. Unfortunately, too often television is to news as bumper stickers are to philosophy, and this has a corrosive effect on public understanding of those issues on which national survival may depend.” ―Richard Nixon

15. “If America loses World War III [the Cold War], it will be because of the failure of its leadership class. In particular, it will be because of the attention, the celebrity, and the legitimacy given to the ‘trendies’–those over-glamorized dilettantes who posture in the latest idea, mount the fashionable protests and are slobbered over by the news media, whose creation they essentially are. The attention given to them and their ‘causes’ romanticizes the trivial and trivializes the serious. It reduces public discussion to the level of a cartoon strip. These trendies are ready with an opinion at the drop of a microphone, and their opinions are treated as news–not because they are authorities, but because they are celebrities.” ―Richard Nixon

Iconic Richard Nixon quotes and sayings

16. “I am not a crook.” Richard Nixon

17. “Afterward, Eisenhower invited Pat and me.” Richard Nixon

18. “I can take it. The tougher it gets, the cooler I get.” Richard Nixon

19. “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Richard Nixon

20. “I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue.” Richard Nixon

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21. “Some of the peoples of Africa have been out of trees for only about 50 years.” Richard Nixon

22. “The man of thought who will not act is ineffective; the man of action who will not think is dangerous.” Richard Nixon

23. “Defeat doesn’t finish a man, quitting does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.” Richard Nixon

24. “Do you want to make a point or do you want to make a change? do you want to get something off your chest, or do you want to get something done?” Richard Nixon

25. “Only a few short weeks ago, we shared the glory of man’s first sight of the world as God sees it, as a single sphere reflecting light in the darkness. … In that moment of surpassing technological triumph, men turned their thoughts toward home and humanity, seeing in that far perspective that man’s destiny on earth is not divisible.” Richard Nixon

What did you learn from these Richard Nixon quotes?

A word that comes to mind when most people think of the Nixon presidency is “controversy”.

While Nixon accomplished some key things for the country while president, his involvement in the Watergate Scandal forever marred his legacy.

There was no denying his involvement in the scandal and with a certain impeachment coming, he resigned as leader of the United States.

However, there was more to him than that.

His previous actions showed his focus on education, peace, and unity among nations.

How you feel about his performance overall will largely depend on your opinion of the political parties.

But regardless, some of the quotes above are things that everyone can agree with.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Richard Nixon quotes and sayings?

Do you have any other favorite quotes to add?

Let us know in the comment section below.

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