THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Friday, August 9, 1974
Nixon: The road to D.C.
By SAM FOGG
When Richard Milhous Nixon wrote
Six Crises, he coild not have forseen
that his greatest crisis lay ahead, a
scandal of histari proporticna that drag-
ged him from the pinnacle of power
and personal popularity and finally de-
stroyed him politically
Stretching over three decades, Nixon';
political career was an amazing pattern
of crests and troughs, of triumphs and
defeats. Watergate was his nadir -
the nttst precipitis fall fron power of
"Anybody who thinks I
could be a candidate for
anything in any year is
off his rocker."
any modern American politician.
NIXON emerged on the political scene
in 1946 as a scarcely noticed H o u s e
member from California's 12th district
after an election in which Repitalicans
won control of Congress for the first
time since the days of Herbert Hoover.
He had had no previous public serv-
ice except for a brief stint as an acting
He was a World War 11 veteran but his
Navy service as a supply officer i the
Pacific was unglamorous. His selection
by a group of local GOP leaders to run
for Congress was most haphazard. He
was recommended by a former Whittier
College professor who had been offered
first chance at the nomination.
BUT THE yottmg lawyer campaigned
energetically, capitalized on voter dis-
content with wartime controls and short-
ages, and unseated his five-term Demo-
cratic opponent, Jerry Voorhis, by 15,-
In Washington, he was given two rela-
tively unimportant commitee assign-
ments. On the House Labor and Educa-
tion Committee he served with a much-
better known freshman - Rep. J o h n
It was his post on the House Commit-
tee on Un-American Activities that pro-
vided Nixon with his chance t) move in-
to the limelight.
The committee attracted heavy press
attention and liberal criticism for it s
handling of its anti-Communist hear-
ings. In August, 1948, the Alger Hiss -
Whittaker Chambers case surfaced and
Nixon faced the first of his crises.
AT ISSUE was which of 'wo men were
telling the truth: Chambers, a niM
magazine editor, who swore that he had
known Iiss, a former State Departmvent
official, as o Communist trt meober
of an espionage opleration in the early
New DIealDays; or lliss ohs indig-
nantly denied the charge under oath.
At the outset, most committee mem-
bers believed hiss, head of thz prestig-
ions Carnegie Endowment. B-it Nixon,
helped by a top Washington nev swan,
the late Bert Andrews; dug into the
hackground of the two men and became
convinced Hiss was lying.
He staked his fledging reputation on
that belief and a jury ultimately convict-
td Hiss of perjury.
Nixon acknowledged in Six Crises that
the case brought him the national at-
tention that led to his later career.
But lie also wrote that- "it left a residue
of hatred and hostility toward me . . .
among substantial segments of the press
and the intellectual community."
HIS NEXT step up the political lad-
der was a successful 1950 race for
the Senate seat in California against
Helen Gahagan Douglas, a staunch Nyew
Nixon won by 680,947 votes but incur-
red the bitterness of leading Demo-
crats who claimed he had conducted a
smear campaign against Douglas. Nix-
on insisted that his lieutenants had only
asserted that she was "soft" on the
anti-Communist issues of the day.
His Senate servige was brief and Nix-
on's star was still ascending when
Dwight Eisenhower picked him as his.
vice presidential running mate in 1952.
At that point, the "Checkers" crisis
occurred and almost finished off Nix-
In the midst of the campaign, news
stories broke that a group of wealthy
Californians had raised $18,235 for a
special fund to help underwrite Nixon's
expenses as senator. Eisenhower de-
clared his young running-mate would
have to come "as clean os a hound's
tooth." Some influential Reublicans ad-
vocated that he get off the ticket.
NIXON responded with a counter-of-
fensive - a technique to become his
political hallmark. He quickly arranged
a national television appearance and
from a Los Angeles appearance and
from a Los Angeles studio delivered this
He never had been influenced to do
special favors for his fund contributors.
He listed his assets and bank holdings
down to the penny. He emphasized that
his wife, Pat, wore only "a respectable
Republican cloth coat." He told of re-
ceiving a personal gift from an admirer
- a black-and-white cocker spaniel pup-
ON NOVEMBER 7, 1962, Richard Nixon met with the press after he conceded
defeat in the California gubernatorial election. He accused the press of treating
him unfairly and told reporters: "This is my last press conference."
py which his daughter named Checkers
- and which was prominently displayed
for television cameras.
It was corny but effective. Eisenhower
accepted Nixon's explanation and at
Wheeling, W.Va., embraced his vice
presidential candidate with the public
assertion: "That's my boy.,"
The Eisenhower-Nixon ticket was elec-
ted by landslide proportions in 1952 and
again in 1956.
AT 47, Nixon captured the 1960 Repub-
lican presidential nomination without dif-
ficulty and entered the campaign as fav-
arite over his Democratic rival, John
Kennedy. For the first time his political
On Nov. 8, 1960, Nixon lost an election
for the first time. Kennedy won by an
electoral college margin of 303 to 219
but by only 118,550 votes in the actual
In 1962, Nixon's fortunes took a dras-
tic downward turn when he was defeat-
ed for the California governorship by
incumbent Pat Brown. At a past-election
news conference, he told reporters: "You
won't have Nixon to kick around any-
more, because, gentlemen, this is toy
last press conference .
A disheartened Nixon moved to New
York City in 1963 to practice law. He
confided to a friend: "Anybody who
thinks I could be a candidate for any-
thing in any year is off his rocker."
SEEMINGLY, Nixon had gone down
the political drain but events were in
store that would thrust him upward
again. Kennedy was assassinated and his
successor, Lyndon Johnson, scored a
landslide triumph over conservative
GOP Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964 that
left the Republican Party shattered and
By 1965, a less confident but more ma-
ture Nixon tentatively returned to the
public scene. In the mid-term electtons
of 1966, he was in full swing, campaign-
ing on behalf of congressional candidates
in 82 districts.
The Republicans picked up 47 House
seats and Nixon won the gratitude of
GOP leaders in almost every area of the
With no active opposition, Nixon shed
his loser's image in the 1968 presidential
primaries, particularly in Oregon against
California Gov. Ronald Reagan. At the
Miami Beach convention, he thwarted a
Rockefeller - Reagan bid to stop hi
and won the nomination on the first bal-
He campaigned against third party
candidate George Wallace and Demo-
cratic nominee Hubert Humphrey ' in
cool, unflappable fashion - sounding the
themes of "law and order" at home
and "peace with honor" in Vietram.
'On Nov. 5, 1968, Richard M. Nixon was
elected President of the United States
by a heavy electoral college majority
but with only 43.4 per cent of the popular
vote. He was given a Democratic-con-
trolled Congress to work with.
HE PLEDGED in his inaugural ad-
dress to "bring us together" but his first
term was - marked by four years of
Domestic political strife.
Nixon sustained major setbacks when
the Senate rejected his nominations of
See NIXON, Page 5
RICHARD NIXON FONDLED his family's black and white cocker spaniel "Checkers" at his home in Washington in Sep-
tember, 1952. Nixon, who was then the Republican vice presidential nominee, had mentioned "Checkers" in a TV-radio
- report on his finances while his status as a candidate was in doubt.