WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barry Goldwater says his big regret about his 1964 presidential race is that it paved the way for the election of Richard Nixon -- a man he doesn't want to shake hands with at Ronald Reagan's inauguration.
'He did a real job on America,' Goldwater said of the former president.
For about an hour and a half Monday night, Goldwater discussed his 1964 campaign, his distrust of the New Right and his feelings about equality for women with a small group of reporters over dinner.
He said he never hoped to win in 1964 and saw his campaign as a party-building effort for the 1968 election.
'Our effort was pure and simple so we could get the party together to elect Nixon,' he said. 'We knew we couldn't defeat Johnson. We didn't want to elect Rockefeller -- although I've learned a lot about Rocky since.'
When he thinks back on the role he thus played in electing Nixon, Goldwater said: 'It's upset the hell out of me. I've spent many a sleepless night out of it.'
'I don't know what I'm going to do if he comes up on the platform and wants to shake hands' at Reagan's inauguration, Goldwater said. 'If I turn it (the invitation) down, I'll lose a wife and at my age I don't know what I'd do if that happens.'
Of the 1964 election, Goldwater said: 'People didn't vote for me -- they thought I'd blow up the world.'
Asked why voters in 1980 didn't fear Reagan would do the same thing, he replied: 'I guess the guy who did the television spots for Johnson died.'
Goldwater said Senate Republicans should ignore demands by the New Right and the Moral Majority that they vote a strict conservative line or face opposition the next time they run.
'Who the hell are the New Right?' he asked. 'Who's Paul Weyrich? (head of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress). He's not a leader of the Republican Party.'
'I think you're going to find the so-called far right is not going to run the Republican Party,' Goldwater said. 'I don't believe they had a lot to do with the past election. I'm as far right as you can get and I damn near got beat.'
On other topics Goldwater said:
Constitutional amendments: 'I don't like to see the Constitution amended at all. Every time we've amended it we've screwed it up -- including the income tax.'
Women: 'I'd rather see a woman elected. A woman is closer to life. Eighty-three percent of the money is spent by women. They understand they can't spend more money than the old man brings home.'
Advice to Reagan: 'I've advised him to go very slow on welfare. We might just see a repetition of Miami in Watts and Detroit if we take a meat ax.'
Poland: 'Russia will be foolish to do anything this time in Poland. One thing I never have given them credit for is being stupid. (But if they do go in) the Poles will fight -- the Russians will beat them.'
Opposition to Alexander Haig in Reagan's cabinet: 'I called Reagan. I was madder than hell. I've never known a more intelligent man (than Haig) in my life. I think Bobby Byrd was talking through his fiddle (in opposing Haig). I told Reagan, send that name down and I'll defend him as far as I can. He (Reagan) said, 'I'm glad. You've given me confidence.' I don't know if that's the usual crap he gives or not.'
History will say of President Carter: 'That he was a weak man and probably not as honest as he should have been.'
Civil Rights: 'I voted against the Civil Rights Act and I'd probably vote against it again. No one has the right to tell me who I have the right to rent a room to.'
The Senate: 'I think we have the average number of bums and knotheads that we have in the Episcopal Church or the Red Cross or anywhere else -- about 4 percent.'
On growing old: 'I've seen more senile men at 30 than I've seen at 70. I'm 72 and I might be one of them. But as long as I can get around I'm going to be here.'