Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #37 - "You Won't Have Nixon to Kick Around Anymore"

Richard Nixon is one of two individuals that ran 5 times for federal office nationally, the only thing all the States vote on together, a presidential ticket. Just like Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for high office 5 times (once in 1920 for V.P. on the losing ticket of James Cox and Franklin Roosevelt and four times successfully as POTUS), Nixon did too, sort of.

The Democratic ticket in 1920, James Cox of Ohio and Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York. They're for peace, progress and prosperity, almost like the Republicans in 1960.

Here's a picture of Cox and FDR walking at a campaign event in 1920.

Richard Nixon's "For Peace and Prosperity Vote Straight Republican" 1960 campaign button. Something familiar. For War and Failure Vote Gay Republican, an unused button from another time.

On Nixon's first attempt at high office in 1952 he won and that's because the top of the ticket was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the man that saved Europe from the Nazis. The pick of Richard Nixon as vice president is comparable to future picks. Ike represented the internationalists and right of center Republicans. At the age of 39, Nixon's youth countered Ike's grandfatherly image. Nixon was openly anti-communist but not on the level of the disgraceful Joe McCarthy. While Ike didn't really care who became vice president, the party did and balanced the ticket, or Ike, with Nixon. Ike was getting pressure to kick Nixon off the ticket after a political fund run by financial backers to Nixon came to light. Nixon had not done anything illegal, but to clear his name and reputation Nixon went on television and revealed how modestly he and his wife Pat and their two daughters lived in 1952. Nixon also revealed that a gift from Texas, "a little cocker spaniel dog" that Tricia, the 6-year old, named Checkers. The speech, the most viewed thing on television up to that point, the birth of Ricky Ricardo Junior on I Love Lucy a few months later will become the most watched thing on television up to that point. Everyone loved Dick Nixon after that. (His mother preferred Richard to Dick). Especially Eisenhower, who kept him on the ticket and the two went on to easy victory against Adlai Stevenson (that's right, the grandson to the 23rd VPOTUS, Adlai Stevenson, to the 24th POTUS Grover Cleveland's third vice presidential running mate, but second vice president, from 1893-1897) of Illinois and John Sparkman of Alabama.

A candid shot of the GOP Republican nominee for vice president, Senator Richard Nixon of California and his dog Checkers, in 1952.

Vice President Nixon had an office in the Old Executive Office Building, which would later be renamed the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Nixon would be part of cabinet meetings and because of the 1947 National Security Act, like his predecessor Alben Barkley he too would be part of the National Security Council and maintain Secret Service protection. President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in September 1955, a year before the next Presidential Election, as well as two months before Marty McFly's arrival from the year 1985. This put Nixon a heartbeat away from the presidency like never before. Ike survived and was encouraged by his doctors that a second term would help the president's health. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Ike however wasn't encouraging Nixon off the ticket, but that's what he really wanted. President Eisenhower left the decision up to Vice President Nixon whether he should remain on the ticket or not. In private Ike never told Nixon to get off the ticket or that he wants him replaced, he just hoped Nixon would get the hint so Ike's decision in 1952 to accept him as the party's vice presidential nominee wasn't a wrong decision. If Nixon stepped down as VPOTUS, it would be the first vice presidential switch since Vice President Henry A. Wallace was dumped for the less-liberal Harry Truman in 1944. In that similar situation, the party wouldn't renominate the left leaning liberal Wallace for fear he'll be president if or when FDR dies before 1949, the end year of the 4th term. Except it wasn't the party's decision or Ike's since he left it up to Nixon to decide. Nixon knew if he was replaced that vice president might be president before the Republican's convention in 1960 or would be the frontrunner for the nomination if Ike makes it to 1961. Nixon chose to remain on the ticket and Ike accepted his (both Ike and Nixon) decision.

TIME magazine featured the winning ticket for the 1956 Presidential Election, the reelection of Dwight D. Eisenhower as the 34th POTUS and Richard Nixon as the 36th VPOTUS.

Like his first time on the national ticket, Nixon's second time was winner with President Eisenhower at the top of the ticket in 1956. Eisenhower ran against the Democrat's 1952 nominee Adlai Stevenson again but instead of Alabama's Sparkman the Democrat's chose Estes Kefauver of Tennessee for the second spot. Nixon's reelection as vice president was the first since John Nance Garner and Franklin Roosevelt won reelection in 1936, the difference here is Vice President Nixon was the incumbent and natural front-runner since for the first time since the passage of the 22nd Amendment, which limited the president to two terms. Ike was limited, unlike living former president Harry S. Truman, who was in office when the Amendment was written so thus he was not effected. He chose not to run in 1952 for a second term of his own which would also be a third term since he finished off FDR's fourth term. So for a third time Nixon was on a national ticket, but this time he was at the top of the ticket in 1960. This time without Ike and just like reelection in 1956 no real words of support from the POTUS.

The last time an incumbent vice president won the presidency was in 1836, when one term vice president Martin Van Buren followed two term president Andrew Jackson. Nixon will be the first two-term incumbent to try since John Adams in 1796 after two-terms as VPOTUS under George Washington. Vice President Nixon's one hundred year-ago counter-part, 14th Vice President of the United States John C. Breckinridge, was the Southern Democrat's choice for president against the Republican's Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. Breckinridge came in third in the popular votes but second in the Electoral College which in the post-12th Amendment U.S. that means nothing. Although Nixon and Breckinridge had to announce their opponent's victory as presiding officer of a Joint-Session of Congress. Nixon faced a close race and some would say stolen election against Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The 2000 election was closer, but this was up there in very very very very (multiple verys means it's very important) very close terms. Vice President Nixon chose not to contest the outcome, something no candidate had done until Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election.

The two presidential candidates from the two major political parties in the United States, Democrat John F. Kennedy, senator from Massachusetts and Republican Richard Nixon, vice president of the United States and from the great State of California.

Nixon's reaction to the news that he lost the 1960 Presidential Election, but not really.

So Nixon lost in 1960. What was a young former vice president supposed to do with his future? His one hundred year-ago counterpart, Breckinridge is the youngest to be elected VPOTUS at 36. What did former vice president Breckinridge do? Well he served in the U.S. Senate in 1861 and resigned in support of the Confederate States of America. So he was labeled a traitor. Former Vice President Nixon went on to run for governor of his home State of California and lost to the incumbent governor Pat Brown. Governor Brown would be defeated in 1966 by future POTUS, number 40, Ronald Reagan. The press labeled Nixon's loss the end of his political career, while the former vice president told the press they "won't have Nixon to kick around anymore".

The next national election wouldn't be until 1964 and before the assassination of JFK Nixon knew nobody was going to defeat him in his reelection bid. Just as he was sure of Kennedy's success in 1964 had he had the chance, the same was true about President Lyndon Johnson as an opponent in '64. Johnson would win a landslide election, which would be repeated 8 years later and slightly better by Nixon. So the former vice president chose not run in 1964 and let Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Nelson Rockefeller of New York vie for the nomination, two different wings conservative and moderates. The conservatives won in 1964 and lost as well in the General Election.

A photo from July of 1968 before the Republicans nominate the former vice president, Richard Nixon talks with President Lyndon B. Johnson, in I guess, the Cabinet Room. 7 years prior in 1961, Nixon was the outgoing VPOTUS (#36) and LBJ was the incoming VPOTUS (#37), six months after this photo LBJ will be the outgoing POTUS (#36) and Nixon will be the incoming POTUS (#37).

By 1968, Nixon was ready to get back in the game of politics. The Democratic Party was torn over the Vietnam War. President Johnson chose not to seek reelection after facing challenges from the left, like Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. With LBJ out of the running, this let Vice President Hubert Humphrey run for the nomination. In the end the Democrats went with Humphrey, after Senator Kennedy's assassination during the primaries. The Republicans went with the former vice president, so the 1968 election was the first time there was an incumbent vice president running against a former vice president and the former vice president won, also a first. Nixon won his 4th national election and his second national election as the Republican Nominee. The 1968 election was just as close as Nixon's 1960 run.

"Nixon's the One" was his 1968 campaign slogan.

Nixon's 5th an last run for national office would be his reelection as president in 1972. He would run simply as "the President". Nixon was again, like Ike, limited to two terms. Nixon and Spiro Agnew would easily win reelection against Democrat George McGovern. While Nixon's reelection would be one of the nation's largest, the events that would bring Nixon's presidency to an end long before January 20, 1977. The cover-up of the Watergate break-in was taking place and Nixon's order of cover-up his downfall. Once evidence surfaced, or the smoking gun, Nixon faced impeachment by the House of Representatives. The Articles of Impeachment, two of them, were written and voted on by the House Judiciary Committee. Republican National Committee Chair George H.W. Bush, the future POTUS, wrote to Nixon telling him to resign. Republicans in the Senate led by Senator Goldwater, warned the President that if the impeachment made it to trial in the Senate, that he would not survive. Nixon chose to resign the office in August 1974, the first and only president to resign. The presidential ticket elected in 1972 would resign before 1977, as Vice President Agnew resigned in 1973 for reasons not associated with Watergate but from his time as Governor of Maryland. The 25th Amendment was passed in 1967 and did not allow for there to be a vacancy in the vice presidency, so for the first time Nixon appointed a vice president in 1973. Gerald Ford was the Republican Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, known as a guy loved by everyone on Capitol Hill. Ford was also someone with no connection to Watergate. With Nixon's resignation, Ford became the 38th POTUS and the first never to have run for either the vice presidency or presidency.

TIME magazine's post-1972 Presidential Election issue with a mention of the landslide.

Nixon would return to his home State of California. President Ford would pardon Nixon a month later, leading some to believe a deal was made between the two. But no such deal has ever been discovered or proven. Ford believed nation needed to move on and that pardoning Nixon would stop the press from constantly asking questions related to the break-in and cover-up. Nixon would rehabilitate his political image until his death in 1994. Nixon could never run again for national office, and since Nixon, Bush 41 has run on a national ticket four times, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992. Bush won 3 of the 4. Just like FDR, Nixon won 4 of the 5, but one big difference outside of term-limits on the presidency, Nixon won his home State of California in all 5 of his national run.

President Nixon, with the First Family, gives a farewell speech to the White House staff in the East Room on August 9, 1974, his last day in office.

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