Tricia Nixon Cox denies President Nixon struck her mother

WASHINGTON - Patricia Nixon Cox, daughter of the late President Richard M. Nixon, flatly denied a published allegation that her father struck her mother.

She also cast doubt Monday on the suggestion that Nixon took a mood-altering drug without a prescription while in the White House.

''Because I lived at home with them and my sister, I can state unconditionally that at no time during 1962 or ever did my father ever strike my mother or did my mother ever have physical signs or bruises of the type claimed in this book,'' she told The Associated Press.

''My mother was not a fragile flower. She was very strong. She would have left forever if anything like that had happened,'' said Mrs. Cox, who is better known by her childhood nickname, Tricia.

Her late mother, Patricia Nixon, ''was my father's strongest supporter and really believed in what he was trying to accomplish,'' Mrs. Cox said in the interview.

Mrs. Cox, who lives in New York with her husband, Edward Cox, a lawyer, speaks in public very rarely, far less than her younger sister, Julie. She sought out the interview to rebut allegations in ''The Arrogance of Power,'' a book by BBC journalist Anthony Summers that was published Monday.

''This needs to be said, because it's the truth,'' Mrs. Cox said. ''I was there.''

''My parents ... are not able to speak for themselves now,'' she said. ''The allegations published in this most recent book describe things that never took place.''

Summers' allegations in the book that Nixon struck his wife were based on secondhand or thirdhand sources. The most specific of the allegations was that Nixon struck his wife either just before or just after losing his 1962 bid to become governor of California, when he angrily told reporters, ''You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.''

Summers writes that a now-deceased Los Angeles reporter, Bill Van Petten, told an unidentified friend Nixon beat his wife ''so badly she could not go out the next day.''

Summers also writes that retired Washington lawyer John Sears, who worked in Nixon's successful 1968 campaign for president, told him that he had been told ''that Nixon had hit her (Pat Nixon) in 1962 and that she had threatened to leave him over it. ... I'm not talking about a smack. He blackened her eye.'' Sears told Summers he learned this from two lawyers, both now dead, Waller Taylor and Pat Hillings.

Mrs. Cox noted that ''these claims are based on statements attributed to two persons no longer alive by a man (Sears) who did not meet either of my parents until years after 1962.''

The book also said that in 1968 Jack Dreyfus, founder of an investment firm, gave Nixon 1,000 capsules of the mood-altering drug Dilantin, an anti-convulsant used to counter epileptic seizures. Dreyfus later supplied another 1,000, it said.

Dreyfus told The New York Times he gave Nixon the drug ''when his mood wasn't too good.'' Dreyfus claimed the drug deals effectively with fear, worry, guilty, anger, rage, depression and other conditions.

''While I have no direct knowledge of what, if any, medications my father may or may not have taken throughout his life, I did have personal and daily contact with him,'' Mrs. Cox said. ''What I do know is that his personality and his mood did not change. He was consistent.''

She doubted he took medication for mood swings, because ''my father believed unless something was very serious, you just avoided medication. He wanted to always be sharp and concentrated.''

She said her father declined Novocain at the dentist's office and ''didn't take hay fever medication because it made him drowsy.''

''He was part of a generation that believed you should be stoical,'' she said.

In addition, she said that, despite annual physical examinations, whose results were made public, ''there has never been any suggestion of the type contained in this book'' that Nixon consulted New York psychotherapist Arnold A. Hutschnecker by telephone while in the White House.

Whether or not her father consulted Hutschnecker, such a report ''belongs to a darker age,'' Mrs. Cox said. ''It is unworthy of anyone to suggest that there is something disgraceful about anyone, including prominent public figures, seeking the advice of a trained medical professional for any reason.''


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