Nixon Did Not Consider Passover Observance when He Presented Vietnam Statement

President Nixon did not take into consideration the Passover observance when he scheduled his Vietnam troop withdrawal speech for Monday night, the White House said today. John Andrews, Assistant Press Secretary, said Nixon’s decision to make his announcement on the additional troop withdrawal was based solely on getting the information to the public as soon after the Apollo 13 splashdown as possible. Monday was the night of the first seder. “The speech was originally scheduled for Thursday, April 16,” Mr. Andrews said. When the flight of Apollo 13 was aborted because of an explosion Wednesday night, Nixon postponed his speech “as a courtesy to the American people and from a practical standpoint.” Mr. Andrews added that Nixon chose the “first weeknight following the Apollo drama. On any given night it would have inconvenienced some people.” Mr. Andrews had been asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency why Nixon had chosen the first seder night, when many Jews could not watch television, to make a major policy statement. Before Mr. Andrews issued the official White House statement, he told the JTA: “I have had this question from other quarters and I have been put off and unable to get an answer.” He did not say who had put him off.

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