Richard Nixon on Principles & Values

President of the U.S., 1968-1974


Nixon abused powers to improperly influence election

Nixon abused presidential powers to improperly influence the election, he covered up his actions using the FBI and the CIA, and, thereafter, he rightfully resigned the presidency. In the case of Trump, not only has he similarly abused his power to improperly put his thumb on the scale of the election, he used a foreign power to do it. George Washington would likely be astonished by that behavior, since he forewarned us "against the insidious wiles of foreign influence."
Source: Newsweek magazine on impeaching Trump , Dec 13, 2019

Taped 3,700 hours in Oval Office, more than all others

Despite the fact that other presidents also recorded, today it is Nixon who is known for bugging the White House. He recorded more than all the rest combined, approximately 3,700 hours.

What Kennedy did--taping moments of crisis--struck him as window- dressing history "I thought that recording only selected conversations would completely undercut the purpose of having the taping system," Nixon said. "If our tapes were going to be an objective record of my presidency, they could not have such an obviously self-serving bias. I did not want to have to calculate whom or what or when I would tape."

Tapes of his meetings, he believed, would help set his administration record straight and allow him to maintain the upper hand on history.

Soon after the system's initiation, Nixon liked it enough that he expanded its reach. The fact that everything he said was being saved appealed to his narcissistic sense of grandeur. He believed himself a world leader of great geopolitical insight.

Source: The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, by Douglas Brinkley, p. x , Jul 29, 2014

OpEd: Makes reasonable assertions as if controversial

[For a 1954 speech], Nixon spent a full day and night in his hideaway office, working with his usual thoroughness, writing and discarding drafts on legal-sized yellow paper, about McCarthy. Nixon applied a tested formula--asserting something that was utterly reasonable as if it were in doubt: "Here I want to make a statement that some of you are going to agree with and some of you are not, but should be made," he said, and the "statement" it turned out, was to endorse the idea that "procedures for dealing with the threat of Communism in the United States must be fair and they must be proper."

Having said that, Nixon employed a weirdly vivid metaphor: "I've heard people say, 'They're a bunch of rats. What we ought to do is go out and shoot 'em.' Well, I'll agree they're a bunch of rats, but just remember this: when you go out to shoot rats, you have to shoot straight," making the point that if one is out to get rid of Communists, it is important to get rid of them in proper, legal fashion.

Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p. 84 , Nov 5, 2013

1960: Candidacy supported by Eisenhower, but not on hustings

When it came to the 1960 election, Eisenhower could even sound as if he didn't care much who won. When he was asked if he planned to campaign for the Nixon-Lodge ticket, he said "Whatever I can do to promote it, and its success, I shall do," but then added, "Now this doesn't mean that I possibly should be out on hustings and making partisan speeches." Sounding almost as if he was too busy to be bothered, he said, "I've got a lot of other responsibilities and I've got a lot of other commitments around the country." Nixon would have loved to win without having to rely on the president's almost mystical popularity.

Eisenhower said a week later, [when asked for] an example of a major idea of Nixon's that had been adopted, "If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember." That remark at the end of a desultory press conference and accompanied by laughter from reporters was a particularly unfortunate moment for Nixon.

Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p.204-205 , Nov 5, 2013

1965: Encouraged young graduates to run for Congress

In 1965, Nixon went on a recruiting trip to Harvard; he spoke to the Graduate Students' Young Republican Club. One person stayed behind--a business student named Donald W. Riegle, who told Nixon that he'd been approached about running for Congress in Michigan. His wife, though, didn't want him to run. It was a dilemma that Nixon addressed by saying, "if you don't run, you'll regret it for the rest of your life. And your wife will regret it. You'll wonder what might have happened if you'd run." Nixon talked to Riegle about politics in personal terms.

At about midnight, Nixon said, "Get your wife on the phone," and Riegle did as he was told, waking her with the words, "Honey, Richard Nixon would like to talk to you." Nixon's encouragement of Riegle was probably not part of a political master plan, but by early 1966, his attention was ever more focused on the dozens of upcoming contests--races that let him look over the next hill, toward 1968, and to once more view the presidency [Riegle ran & won].

Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p.272-273 , Nov 5, 2013

1962: "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore"

The man who once had seemed likely to be the front-runner, Richard Nixon, had suffered an embarrassing defeat in his race for governor of California two years earlier. By all accounts, including his own, he was through with politics. After losing his bruising gubernatorial bid, Nixon bitterly told the assembled press corps, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore. He seemed to reiterate the sentiment in the congratulatory note he sent to me (and, I assume, to other victorious Republican candidates) that year. "As I leave political arena," Nixon wrote, "I am greatly heartened by the fact that you will be in there fighting for our cause."
Source: Known and Unknown, by Donald Rumsfeld, p. 87 , Feb 8, 2011

Eisenhower could not think of a major idea by V.P. Nixon

"If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember." At Eisenhower's next news conference, nobody bothered to ask him whether he had.

8 years later, when Nixon himself reached the Oval Office, he kept his vice president, Spiro Agnew, V.P. Nixon remained essentially an outsider in the Eisenhower administration. When a reporter asked Eisenhower at a news conference for an example of "a major idea of his you had adopted" during Nixon's years as his vice president, the president replied, some quarters as a sort of insurance policy for Nixon's presidency, with Nixon himself facing impeachment in the Watergate scandal and cover-up. The thinking was that Congress would not impeach the president & put the tainted Agnew in the Oval Office. similarly in the dark, never informing him in advance of Nixon's heralded "opening to China" secret trip to what was then called Peking. Eventually, with Agnew facing the loss of the vice presidency in an investigation of bribe-taking, he was seen in

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.400-401 , Oct 5, 2010

1971: "Enemies list" tallied 47,000 people

My opposition to the Nixon administration's policies was not personal, but Nixon took things quite personally indeed. I quickly drew his distaste, as well as his need for control and vengeance. By 1971, although I didn't know it at the time, I was a member of his famous "enemies list." Since the tally of those "enemies" eventually reached 47,000, I was never really able to savor a sense of prestige at being included, even after I found out about it. My opposition to the Nixon administration's policies was not personal, but Nixon took things quite personally indeed. I quickly drew his distaste, as well as his need for control and vengeance. By 1971, although I didn't know it at the time, I was a member of his famous "enemies list." Since the tally of those "enemies" eventually reached 47,000, I was never really able to savor a sense of prestige at being included, even after I found out about it.
Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.314 , Sep 14, 2009

OpEd:1971 Pentagon Papers drove Nixon to secrecy & Watergate

In 1971, the New York Times and Washington Post began publishing the Pentagon Papers and nearly a year before the storied break-ins at the Watergate complex. This was not entirely a coincidence. Daniel Ellsberg's bold procurement of those papers--the Defense Department's top-secret history of the war that revealed a pattern of official lying about its prosecution--had driven the secrecy-obsessed Nixon to his catastrophic spree of surveillance and revenge. In September 1971, summoning the same "plumbers" unit that a year later would try to bug the Democratic offices at the Watergate complex, Nixon authorized a burglary raid on the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist. Their mission was to scavenge for files that would call into question the former defense analyst's sanity.
Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.324 , Sep 14, 2009

Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in financial scandal

Nixon's vice president Spiro Agnew was charged with accepting $100,000 in cash bribes. Agnew had taken the payoffs when he was a Maryland state official and later when he was vice president. Agnew pleaded nolo contendere and agreed to resign, leaving office on Oct. 10, 1973. What never came out was that the married Agnew, a champion of family values who made no secret of his disdain for the liberal press, was having affairs while in office [according to Secret Service agents].
Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ronald Kessler, p. 35 , Jun 29, 2009

Silent with family; limited relationship with wife

Nixon did not sleep in the same bedroom with his wife. Nixon seemed to have no relationship with his wife, Pat. A former agent remembers accompanying Nixon, Pat, and their two daughters during a golf game in California. During the hour and a half, "He never said a word," the agent says. "Nixon could not make conversation unless it was to discuss an issue. Nixon was always calculating, seeing what effect it would have." Another former agent says, "Nixon would hardly talk. The only time he enjoyed himself was when he was with his friends Bebe Rebozo and Bob Abplanalp, when they would drink together."

Nixon often spent time with Abplanalp on his friend's island in the Bahamas. A former agent says, "He'd fish from the back of Abplanalp's 55-foot yacht. But Abplanalp's staff would hook Nixon's hook and throw the hook out. If he'd catch something, the staff would reel it in for him, take the fish off, put it in the bucket. Nixon wouldn't do anything but watch."

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ron Kessler, p. 30-31 , Jun 29, 2009

Didn't know whom to trust during Watergate; became paranoid

During Watergate, "Nixon was very depressed," says a former agent. "He wasn't functioning as president any longer. Bob Haldeman [Nixon's chief of staff] ran the country."

One afternoon, Nixon walked into the barbershop [where the TV news was showing]; "He pushed the button, and the TV went off," the barber says. "He said, 'Well, what are they saying about us today?' I said, 'Mr. President, I haven't heard much news today, sir.' "

As the Watergate scandal progressed, "Nixon got very paranoid," a Secret Service agent says. "He didn't know what to believe or whom to trust. He did think people were lying to him. He thought at the end everyone was lying." While Nixon rarely drank before the Watergate scandal, he began drinking more heavily as the pressure took its toll. He would down a Martini or a Manhattan. In contrast to the blustering in his taped conversations, Nixon in private seemed passive and often out of it, although he did have a sense of humor.

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ron Kessler, p. 31-32 , Jun 29, 2009

First President to keep permanent political operation

The infiltration of politics into governance has been a feature of democracy from the beginning. But the administration of Richard Nixon--the first president to begin institutionalizing a permanent political operation inside the White House--exemplified many of the pitfalls of the permanent campaign, with its enemies list, its abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department for political ends, and the dirty tricks associated with the Watergate affair, which ultimately destroyed the administration.

Too muc of the permanent campaign mentality can cripple an administration. It brought down the Nixon presidency and nearly ended Clinton's. It severely damaged the Bush White House, which arguably embraced and institutionalized the permanent campaign even more deeply than its predecessors.

A second force shaping today's political environment is the perpetual scandal culture, which was born as the permanent campaign was growing deep roots in Washington. This is a lasting legacy of the Nixon presidency.

Source: What Happened, by Scott McClellan, p. 64-65 , May 28, 2008

1968: Endorsed by only one college president, from OSU

The president of Ohio State University Novice Fawcett mentioned that he was flying to Washington the next afternoon for a meeting with the President of the United States. It was Oct. 1970, and Dr. Fawcett had been the only president of a major college or university to have endorsed Richard Nixon during the 1968 presidential campaign, and he was finally begin invited to the White House for a brief meeting as a kind of public thank-you for his support. It was a big deal to the entire Ohio State community.
Source: Stand For Something, by John Kasich, p. 54-55 , May 10, 2006

OpEd: Problem of Watergate wasn't cover-up, but lying

When the famous smoking-gun tape surfaced that showed Nixon had led the illegal cover-up, Pat Buchanan, who had been one of his most vehement supporters, showed his pragmatism, and made the case for the president's resignation to Nixon's daughters, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, and the rest of Nixon's family. "Hell, I understand why he wants to stay on. But he'd be blackened, Julie. It's a straight road downhill--for him, for the conservative cause and for the country. There comes a time when you have to say, 'It's finished, it's over.'"

"The problem is not Watergate or the cover-up," Buchanan continued. "It's that he hasn't been telling the truth to the American people." 5 days later Nixon resigned.

Source: The Choice, by Bob Woodward, p.147 , Nov 1, 2005

1952 Checkers speech: a "respectable Republican cloth coat"

The unreported money collected by politicians became an issue in 1952 when Nixon's secret fund of $18,000 was exposed. Although the fund was technically legal at the time, the Democrats jumped on the issue and made it look unethical. The public outcry threatened Nixon's place on the GOP ticket, especially when Eisenhower did not fly to his defense. The RNC purchased a half hour of television time for $75,000 so that Nixon could refute the charges.

He said the money was used solely for campaign expenses. In laying out his meager financial status, Nixon said that his wife could not afford a mink coat, only "a respectable Republican cloth coat." He denied accepting gifts of any kind, except for a black-and-white puppy from a campaign supporter in Texas. His daughter Tricia had named the puppy Checkers, and Nixon said he would not send it back. He asked viewers to support him by sending telegrams to the Republican National Committee. The RNC was soon flooded with over 1 million calls.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.161-162 , Sep 14, 2004

1974: Watergate tapes had deliberate 18-minute gap

By Jan. 1974 the President [showed] growing agitation over the impeachment inquiry. He considered stepping forward to say, "Impeach me or get off my back," [but dropped the idea due to lack of GOP support].

Experts determined one of the tapes in Nixon's possession had been deliberately erased 5 times, showing an 18 minute gap. On July 24, the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that the President [must] turn over the tapes. Among the shocking revelations on the transcripts was the "smoking gun" tape--a conversation recorded on June 23, 1972, in which Nixon told Haldeman to block the FBI's investigation of the Watergate break-in, which had occurred 6 days earlier.

At that point Senator Barry Goldwater reported that the President did not have the votes in the Senate to survive an impeachment. By then almost everyone had accepted the inevitable. On August 8 the President went on television to announce his resignation.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.320-322 , Sep 14, 2004

Offered deal to Ford on resignation, but Ford declined

Nixon's chief of staff, Gen. Haig, informed Ford that Nixon had decided to resign. Ford was stunned. Haig, according to Ford's testimony, then laid out six options--half of which included a pardon for Nixon. But Ford insisted there was no pre-arrangement with Nixon or Haig. "There was no deal, period, under no circumstances," Ford testified.

Why had so much time been spent in the discussion on options dealing with Nixon's future and not the momentous transition problems facing Ford? Ford recalled later, "When Al Haig comes with those six terms, I just didn't visualize him as one making a proposition to make a deal. It never went through my mind." Ford stated, "I did not agree to consummate [Haig's deal]. Yes, on paper, it was a deal, but it never became a deal because I never accepted."

And so there it was. He had finally acknowledged, on the record, that he had been offered a deal. It was something many had suspected all along, but it had been a long, roundabout road to finally getting there.

Source: Profiles in Courage by Caroline Kennedy, p.297&305-306 , Oct 1, 2001

Words can't describe my regret at my mistakes over Watergate

In his 80's, Ford brought up his pardon decision, noting that no president had "caught as much hell as I did." His recollections were clear. I suspected he had replayed them many times in his mind. "I was overwhelmed with the public reaction," he said. " guess I anticipated a lot but not to the extend that happened. But at no time, despite that public outcry, did I in any way ever feel I'd made the wrong decision. It didn't faze me one bit. If anything, it made me feel more stubborn that I was right."

Why didn't you make sure that Nixon's statement accepting the pardon went further? Nixon's statement said, "No words can describe the depth of my regret and pain at the anguish my mistakes over Watergate had caused."

Why didn't he press Nixon harder for an admission of guilt? A forthright acknowledgement by Nixon could have ended the historical debate on that question. [Ford cited the] 1915 Burdick Supreme Court decision: "a pardon 'carries an imputation of guilt, acceptance, a confession of it.'"

Source: Profiles in Courage by Caroline Kennedy, p.308-309 , Oct 1, 2001

Sought possession of White House tapes after resignation

At the time of the pardon, [one argument] was that in halting the judicial process Ford had stopped the flow of information about Nixon's actions. The absence of a trial would leave a void, no clear resolution, allowing Nixon to wage war with history. But the tapes have provided more incontrovertible, conclusive proof of guilt than any possible indictment or trial of Nixon.

Significantly, it was Ford who decided that the Nixon tapes had to be preserved. After resigning, Nixon wanted all his papers and tapes shipped to his home in California. Traditionally, a former president owned all his papers. But returning all the tapes and papers to Nixon would make Ford a co-conspirator in concealing the truth of what had gone on in the Nixon White House. A complicated arrangement [resulted], in which Nixon and the government had joint custody of the tapes for 10 years. Congress and the courts eventually saw that the tapes were preserved. A plan for gradual public release is still being carried out today.

Source: Profiles in Courage by Caroline Kennedy, p.310-311 , Oct 1, 2001

Accepting pardon carries an imputation of guilt & confession

In a 1915 Supreme Court case, "Burdick v. United States," the Court's ruling stated that a pardon "carries an imputation of guilt, acceptance, a confession of it." If they could get Nixon to accept the pardon, they would have a confession, an acknowledgment that Nixon was guilty of criminal conduct.

"You make sure that Richard Nixon understand that case too," Ford told his attorney. "That he understands that our position, the White House position, will be his acceptance is an acknowledgment of guilt."

Ford decided to send his attorney to meet with Nixon to see what could be worked out on a possible statement from Nixon if Ford granted a pardon. "I can tell you right now," [Nixon's advisor responded], "that Nixon will make NO statement of admission or complicity in return for a pardon from Jerry Ford."

Nixon accepted the pardon and said, "I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate."

Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p. 17-19 , Jun 15, 1999

Conserve concessions; get something in exchange for each one

    When Nixon was practicing law in the 1960s, he gave me this practical counsel concerning some negotiations in which O was involved:
  1. Get something for every concession. Don’t think you have to give tit for tat. Don’t feel you have to split 50-50. If he gives 60, give him 40.
  2. Make concessions that give nothing away.
  3. Conserve your concessions.
Source: Ten Commandments of Statecraft, by James Humes, p. 91 , Jul 2, 1997

Doggedly pursued Alger Hiss; made his name in House

Congressman Nixon’s capacity for drudge work--poring over hearings’ transcripts, checking out inconsistencies and re-interviewing witnesses privately--that led him to believe that Alger Hiss was lying. The Republican foreign policy adviser, John Foster Dulles, told Nixon to drop the investigation ,as did his fellow Republican on the committee. Nixon, however, doggedly pressed on. As he told me once, “The replies of Hiss seemed too crafted and too cute.”

The fame Nixon garnered for his role in Hiss’ conviction for perjury led first to his Senate victory in 1950, and then to his selection as Eisenhower’s running mate in 1952. Eisenhower saw Nixon as an internationalist with the anti-Communist credentials to appeal to the Taft wing of the Republican Party.

Source: Ten Commandments of Statecraft, by James Humes, p. 30 , Jul 2, 1997

Presidents should avoid "never" and "always"

Having laid down these rules, I would also suggest that the President keep in his desk drawer, in mind but not out of sight, an 11th Commandment: When saying "always" and "never," always keep a mental reservation; never foreclose the unique exception; always leave room for maneuver. A President always has yet to be prepared for what he thought he would never do.

This "11th Commandment" is more of an addendum than an axiom. Nixon wrote it not so much as a rule but as an exception to the 10 rules.

Source: Ten Commandments of Statecraft, by James Humes, p.173 , Jul 2, 1997

Earned nickname "Tricky Dicky" in 1950 Senate race

[In his 1950 Senate race, then-Congressman Nixon dubbed his opponent, Congresswoman Helen Douglas], the "Pink Lady." Mrs. Douglas called Nixon and the other Republicans in the class of 1946 a "backwash of young men in dark suits," a reference to Mussolini's Fascists.

Nixon called his opponent worse than a bad risk for the task of fighting communism: Far from being the solution, she was part of the problem. "In Congress, she consistently supported appeasing Communists in Asia, which finally resulted in the Korean War." Then his attacks took an intimate turn: "She's pink right down to her underwear." Responding in kind, Mrs. Douglas threw one nickname after another at her rival--"Pipsqueak," "Peewee"--finally finding one that stuck: "Tricky Dicky!"

Nixon won by 600,000 votes but in the process incurred a brutal reputation and a legion of enduring enemies.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 70-74 , Jun 3, 1996

Founded "The Orthogonians" to fight college elitism

The entire life of the Whittier campus revolved around a social elite known as the Franklins. Nixon, just 17, rejected the yoke. He organized a rival social club of precisely those rejected by the Franklins: the poor students who had to work their way through school, and others judged too awkward or unattractive for the elite fraternity.

The Franklins wore black ties for their yearbook photo; the contrarians wore shirts with open collars. The Franklins held formal dinners; the new crowd got together over beans and hot dogs.

Even Nixon's name for the new club, the Orthogonians, poked fun at the social caste system the Franklins had imposed. Denied admission to the Franklins for lacking requisite sophistication, his band took defiant pride in being the "straight shooters." Within weeks, its ranks outnumbered those of the established club, and Dick Nixon went on to defeat a Franklin to become Whittier's student-body president.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 24-25 , Jun 3, 1996

Radio debate listeners say Nixon won; TV viewers say JFK

[At the first 1960 presidential debate], Nixon looked like an ill-at-ease, unshaven, middle-aged fellow recovering from a serious illness. Kennedy, by contrast, was elegant in a dark, well-tailored suit that set off his healthy tan.

Incredibly, Nixon was agreeing with his challenger. His only concern was that Kennedy's statistics made the situation appear bleaker than it was. "Our disagreement is not about the goals for America but only about the means to reach those goals." Only? The race for the presidency is "only" about "means"?

He committed a 2nd tactical error. Nixon seemed intent on getting Kennedy himself to agree that when it came to goals, there really wasn't much difference between them.

Yet at least one important listener thought the Nixon approach was working. Lyndon Johnson, following the proceedings on his car radio, gave most of the points to the Republican; so did the millions of others who followed the sound not the picture.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, 150-153 , Jun 3, 1996

Ran for CA governor in 1962 instead of President in 1964

Nixon was intent on challenging Gov. Pat Brown in 1962. Kennedy thought a Nixon run made no sense. What Kennedy couldn't imagine was Nixon's fear of being trapped into a futile rerun against an incumbent Kennedy in 1964. That would be hopeless. "The important thing, in terms of Nixon's career, is that he chose to run for governor of CA so that he WOULDN'T have to run against Kennedy in '64," an aide recalls. "The irony of the whole thing is that he was attacked successfully as using the statehouse as a stepping-stone for the presidency. He actually wanted to use it as a bomb shelter."

Nixon would explain his decision years later: "My own political judgment at that point told me that Kennedy would be almost unbeatable in 1964. If I ran for governor, that would leave someone else to square off in 1964 against Kennedy."

Nixon made his announcement: He would not seek the presidency in 1964 but would run instead for governor, committing himself to serve a full 4 year term.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.204-205 , Jun 3, 1996

At 17, offered scholarship to Harvard, but could not afford

Arriving at CA's Whittier College, the Quaker school not far from his Southern CA home, Dick Nixon didn't like what he found. Unable to accept a scholarship to Harvard because his family lacked the necessary money for travel and board, he now found himself a victim of class distinction in his own backyard. The entire life of the Whittier campus revolved around a social elite known as the Franklins. The rest of the student body seemed resigned to its exclusion, its nerd-dom. Nixon rejected the yoke.
Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 24 , Jun 3, 1996

Inspired formation of Conservative Opportunity Society

Following the 1982 congressional elections, the New York Times began an editorial by saying, "The stench of failure hangs over the Reagan presidency." A recession was underway. The Republican minority in the House was hit hard, losing 26 seats and moving in reverse, even as Reagan was rebounding.

Some trace the idea for the Conservative Opportunity Society to a meeting Gingrich had in 1982 with former President Nixon about the need for a more idea-oriented party.

"Marianne and I went to see Dick Nixon late in 1982," Gingrich told me. "He said, 'You can't change the House yourself. You have to go back and form a group.' You could say that the idea for the COS came from Nixon. He was responsible for a great deal of political change in this country."

The idea had been germinating well before Nixon offered his advice. Gingrich had spent four years seeing his fellow Republicans in the House react instead of act. The group met weekly and planned.

Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 98-100 , Jun 1, 1995

America represents freedom, opportunity, and individuality

America preeminently represents three values: freedom, opportunity, and respect for the individual human being. These values transcend borders. They also give powerful moral sanction to our voice in the councils of nations abroad.
Source: Seize the Moment, by Richard Nixon, p.288 , Jan 15, 1992

Watergate was wrong; I should have set moral tone

Watergate, at the core of the scandal, was the fact that individuals associated with my reelection campaign were caught breaking into and installing telephone wiretaps at the headquarters of the DNC in the Watergate Hotel. After their arrest, others in my campaign and in my administration attempted to cover up this connection in order to minimize the political damage. I failed to take matters firmly into my own hands and discover the facts and to fire any and all people involved or implicated in the break-in. I was also accused of taking part in the cover-up by trying to obstruct the FBI's criminal investigation.

What happened in Watergate--the facts, not the myths--was wrong. In retrospect, while I was not involved in the decision to conduct the break-in, I should have set a higher standard for the conduct of the people who participated in my campaign and administration. I should have established a moral tone that would have made such actions unthinkable. I did not.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 30&39 , Apr 1, 1991

I did not deliberately lie at Watergate press conferences

The most personally disturbing myth was that I deliberately lied throughout the Watergate period in my press conferences and in my speeches. While I did some stupid things during the Watergate period, I was not that stupid. Given the multiple investigations of the scandal, both by the government and the media, I knew the facts ultimately would come out. It would therefore have been suicidal to lie. The problem was that as the events were unfolding I was never able to get the whole truth. I would hear one set of facts from one staff member and another set of facts from others. I made no statements that I did not think were true at the time I made them.

As far as the June 23 conversation [the "smoking gun"] was concerned, it was an error of recollection, not a deliberate falsehood. I recalled on July 12 [giving the] go ahead with an investigation. My fatal mistake was that I simply did not recall the details of the earlier conversation on June 23.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 33 , Apr 1, 1991

The myths of Watergate brought me down, not the facts

[The facts of Watergate] would probably not have been enough to bring down my administration. Accusations represented the myths of Watergate, the smoke screen of false charges that ultimately undercut my administration's ability to govern effectively.What happened in Watergate--the facts, not the myths--was wrong. Apart from its illegality, Watergate was a tragedy of errors.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 31-34 , Apr 1, 1991

Watergate was a crime as well as a political blunder

Apart from its illegality, Watergate, was a tragedy of errors. Whoever ordered the break-in evidently knew little about politics. If the purpose was to gather political intelligence, the DNC was a pathetic target. Strategy and tactics are set by the candidate and his staff, not the party bureaucracy. Moreover, in view of the 30% lead I had in the polls, it made no sense to take such a risk because the likely Democratic nominee, Senator George McGovern, stood virtually no chance of winning. I also contributed to the errors. As a student of history, I should have known that leaders who do big things well must be on guard against stumbling on the little things. To paraphrase Talleyrand, Watergate was worse than a crime--it was a blunder.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 39 , Apr 1, 1991

No one in the Nixon administration profited from Watergate

What, then, was Watergate? When the break-in first hit the news, my press secretary, Ron Ziegler, aptly called it a third-rate robbery. To compare Watergate with Teapot Dome, the Truman 5-percenter scandals, and the Grant whiskey scandals misses the point totally. No one in the Nixon administration profited from Watergate. No one ripped off the government, as was the case in previous scandals. Wrongdoing took place but not for personal gain. All administrations have sought to protect themselves from the political fallout of scandals. I detailed my mistakes in this respect at length in my memoirs, 1/3 of which dwelled on Watergate. In retrospect, I would say that Watergate was one part wrongdoing, one part blundering, and one part political vendetta.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 38-39 , Apr 1, 1991

Intensely religious, but also intensely private about faith

Before the 1960 campaign, Pres. Eisenhower suggested that it would be very effective if I were to refer to God more in my speeches. After all, he pointed out America is a Christian nation.

It should have been easy for me to follow his advice. No one could have had a more intensely religious upbringing. My mother was a devout Quaker. My father was a devout Methodist. After they married, they compromised, and he became a Quaker, too. We regularly went to church on Sunday. We never had a meal without grace. Usually it was silent. On a few special occasions my mother or father might say a prayer. I read the Bible regularly and still do. I still believe that God is the creator, the first cause of all that exists.

With this background, why has it been so difficult for me to follow Eisenhower's advice? Because mine is a different kind of religious faith, intensely personal & intensely private. My mother prayed regularly but always privately. I followed her example.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 95-96 , Apr 1, 1991

Ministers should change people, not change government

I was the target of considerable criticism when I initiated the custom of Sunday worship services in the White House. [But] I have strong feelings about mixing religion and government.

I treasure the friendship and wise counsel Billy Graham has extended to me over the years. In 1960, 1968 and 1972 I advised him not to endorse me. I also urged him not to join the Moral Majority, because I believe a minister cannot carry out his major mission in life as effectively if he dabbles in politics.

A minister's mission is to change the lives of men and women, not change governments. The great need to the US and throughout the world is not just to change governments but to change the people who run and who live under those governments.

Government cannot reach into people's hearts and change them for the better. Only religion can. As I told Billy Graham, he would weaken his ability to change people if he moved over the line and engaged in activities designed to change government.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 97-98 , Apr 1, 1991

United States is not just one nation among equals

At a time when it is so fashionable to talk about the terrible mess man has made of the world, why do so many intellectuals assume that man alone, without the guidance of God, is capable of fixing it? The miracle of America is that it is "one nation under God." Without God as part of the equation, what makes us special? Many of our opinion leaders are satisfied to think of the US as just "one nation" among 160 moral, if not necessarily military or economic, equals. I am not. Perhaps I am being old-fashioned, but I still want America to be something more.

If the choice is godless capitalism, which rewards greed, or godless communism, which insists on rigorous egalitarianism, we are in deep trouble. In the end, it all comes down to whether the individual believes in something greater than himself.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p.101-102 , Apr 1, 1991

Focus on goals outside of yourself

Those first years after resigning the presidency were profoundly difficult and painful. As I look back over those years in the wilderness, I would say that I was sustained by always bearing in mind 3 principles:
  1. Put the past behind you. Analyze & understand the reasons for your defeat, but do not become obsessed with what was lost. Think instead about what is left to do.
  2. Don't let your critics get to you. Remember that they win only if they divert you into fighting them rather than driving toward your goals.
  3. Devote your time to a goal larger than yourself. Avoid the temptation of living simply for pleasure or striving only to leave a larger estate.
While few people will experience a loss as devastating as resigning from the Presidency, these principles remain valid for the defeats we all suffer, whether in business, in sports, or in personal life. The key is to live for something more important than your life. As Einstein said, "Only a life lived for others is worth living.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 42-43 , Jan 9, 1978

Nixon's opponents wanted revenge; Ford sought healing

I had failed to anticipate the vehemence of the hostile reaction to my decision to pardon Nixon. Some of Nixon's critics apparently wanted to see him drawn and quartered publicly. I thought there would be greater forgiveness. It was one of the greatest disappointments of my Presidency that everyone focused on the individual instead of the on the problems the nation faced.

What I had intended to convince my fellow citizens was necessary surgery--essential if we were to heal our wounded nation--was being attacked as a "secret deal" that I had worked out with Nixon before he had resigned. And the timing of the announcement--11:00 on Sunday morning--was being touted as "proof" of the conspiracy.

"Jail Ford, jail Ford," some demonstrators shouted, and a workman standing by the airport fence told reporters, "Oh, it was all fixed. He said to Nixon, 'You give me the job, I'll give you the pardon.'" I began to wonder whether, instead of healing the wounds, my decision had only rubbed salt in them.

Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.178-179 , Sep 8, 1974

I was wrong: accepted Ford's pardon on Watergate

On September 4, I was informed of President Ford's decision to stop the hemorrhaging by issuing a Presidential pardon. Now I had to decide whether or not to accept it. Next to the resignation, accepting the pardon was the most painful decision of my political career. The statement I issued at the time accurately describes my feelings then and now:

"I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate, particularly when it reached the stage of judicial proceedings and grew from a political scandal into a national tragedy. No words can describe the depths of my regret and pain at the anguish my mistakes over Watergate have caused the nation and the Presidency--a nation I so deeply love and an institution I so greatly respect."

The pardon was granted on September 8. The predictable occurred. Ford went down in the polls, and I was subjected to a whole new round of attacks in the media.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 15-16 , Sep 8, 1974

Resignation from NY Bar not accepted, so they could disbar

The following day [after my resignation], the blows began to fall again. Far from being satisfied by the resignation, their appetites for finishing the injured victim were whetted.

I resigned from the Supreme Court, California, and NY bars. The Supreme Court and California accepted my resignation. The NY Bar Association refused to do so and instituted disbarment proceedings.

Scores of lawsuits were filed against individuals who were seeking damages for assorted government actions. Few involved Presidential decisions. Most were dismissed, but all had to be defended. The cost for attorneys' fees was staggering. In the 15 years since I resigned the Presidency, I have spent over $1.8 million in attorneys' fees.

The pounding in the newspapers and on television continued unrelentingly. I was the favorite butt of jokes on the talk shows. Hundreds of columns attacked me. A number of Anti-Nixon books were published. Those by critics I understood. Those by friends I found a bit hard to take.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 13-14 , Aug 10, 1974

Those that hate you don't win unless you hate them

[I remarked upon resigning], "Always give your best. Never get discouraged, never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you, but those that hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."

The critics panned my remarks, not surprisingly, as being too emotional. They overlooked the fact that it was an emotional moment. Finally, it was all over. We said goodbye to the Fords and went home to California, where we thought, mistakenly, we would at long last find peace and quiet.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 10-12 , Aug 9, 1974

Only from deepest valley can you know the highest mountain

Al Haig came in holding a single page in hand. It was a one-sentence letter to Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State: "I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States."

After Haig left, I had only an hour left to get my thoughts together for my farewell to the staff.

I knew that the decision I had made was best for the country. Two years of Watergate was enough. The nation could not stand the trauma of a President on trial before the Senate for months.

We think sometimes when things don't go the right way, when we suffer a defeat, that all has ended. Not true. It is only a beginning, always. Greatness comes not when things always go good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 9-11 , Aug 9, 1974

Resigned on grounds that his Congressional base disappeared

Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me. In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort.

As long as there was a such a base, I felt strongly that is was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion; that to do otherwise would be a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency, effective at noon tomorrow.

Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p. 36-37 , Aug 8, 1974

1974: Claimed that tapes showed no Nixon involvement in plot

The Nixon Watergate papers are massive in content. 1,254 pages of the secretly recorded conversations of crucial Watergate-related meetings from September, 1972, through April, 1973. The first segment, made public in the morning after the President's nationally televised address, was in the form of a White House summary of the conversations--in effect, an official "white paper" on the Watergate affair.

Its tone was that of a lawyer's brief, strongly arguing that the public disclosure will establish, once and for all, the President's innocence. "In all of the thousands of words spoken," the White House summary said, "even though they often are unclear and ambiguous, not once does it appear that the President of the US was engaged in a criminal plot to obstruct justice."

Source: The Presidential Transcripts, by Haynes Johnson, p. xvii , May 1, 1974

Nixon knew of Watergate in 1972, but lied and said 1973

Dean has testified that Nixon was aware of the Watergate cover-up as early as Sept 15, 1972 when he had his 1st conversation with Nixon about Watergate. Nixon has claimed that he wanted the full story of Watergate told, that he struggled to have it made public and that he knew nothing of the cover-up until Dean told him about it in detail on March 21, 1973. In addition, Nixon raised the issue of clemency Feb. 28, 1973. Nixon also was told by Dean on March 13, 1973, that former Attorney General John Mitchell and special presidential counsel Charles Colson also could be involved in the Watergate affair.

On Sept. 15, 1972, the transcript shows Dean telling Nixon: "3 months ago I would have had trouble predicting there would be a day when this would be forgotten, but I think I can say that 54 days from now [election day] nothing is going to come crashing down to our surprise."

Source: The Presidential Transcripts, by Lawrence Meyer, p. xx-xxi , May 1, 1974

Tapes: Nixon lied about ordering a full investigation

Nixon's assertion that he began "intensive new inquiries" into the Watergate affair on March 21, 1973, personally ordering "to get all the facts" is not supported by the edited transcripts of recorded White House conversations.

What the transcripts show instead is that the President & senior White House officials tried to gather information primarily for internal strategy purposes, rather than to turn over new information to the prosecutors, and to put together the semblance of a record, for later Nixon's assertion that he began "intensive new inquiries" into the Watergate affair on March 21, 1973, personally ordering "to get all the facts" is not supported by the edited transcripts of recorded White House conversations.

What the transcripts use, if necessary, to show that they had attempted to learn what happened.

In his televised speech of April 30, 1973, Nixon said, "On March 21, I personally assumed the responsibility for coordinating intensive new inquiries into the matter, and I

Source: The Presidential Transcripts, by L. Meyer, p. xxvii-xxviii , May 1, 1974

1973: Agreed to pay blackmail to "keep cap on Watergate"

Nixon, during a lengthy meeting in the Oval Office on Mar. 21, 1973, said "you have no choice but to come up with the $120,000" demanded as blackmail payment by one of the Watergate burglars. The taped transcript reveals that Nixon, on his own initiative discussed accommodating blackmail demands on at least a half-dozen occasions during the meeting without once suggesting that paying the men for their silence would be wrong. Instead, Nixon repeatedly discussed different methods by which as much as $1 million could be paid to the burglars without the payments being traced to the White House. The purpose of such payments, in the President's own words, would be "to keep the cap on the bottle," to "buy time."

Nixon repeatedly has said that he believed payment of hush money would be wrong. But at no point in the 103-minute meeting did Nixon suggest that his aides simply testify fully before the then-existing Federal Watergate grand jury, tell the whole truth and accept the consequences.

Source: Presidential Transcripts, by Woodward & Bernstein, p.xi-xiii , May 1, 1974

Tapes: never considered telling whole truth on Watergate

The President and the White House have characterized Mr. Nixon's actions, before March 21, 1973, as being designed to quiet a political problem and not to obstruct justice. Unless there is uncontradicted evidence that the President did obstruct or otherwise broke the law, Nixon and his advisers have contended, he cannot be impeached.

The President's response to Dean's information about Strachan on March 13 is consistent with other instances recorded in the transcripts in which Nixon received or discussed the possible criminal involvement of his aides.

At no time in the conversations before March 21--and rarely in those after that critical date--did the President or his advisers even discuss telling the whole truth to either the public or law enforcement authorities.

Instead, the tapes reveal discussions of alternatives ranging from public relations offensives to total silence to the possibility of extending executive clemency to the Watergate burglars.

Source: Presidential Transcripts, by Woodward&Bernstein, p.xxiv-xxv , May 1, 1974

A book called "1972" would be a helluva good book

Nixon, who had been re-elected the month before, discussed what his first-term legacy might look like, bouncing ideas off his chief of staff:

Haldeman: There are a lot of good stories from the first term.

Nixon: A book should be written, called 1972.

Haldeman: Yeah.

Nixon: That would be a helluva good book. And somebody should have thought of it. You get in China, you get in Russia, you get in May 8 [his dramatic decision to bomb Hanoi and mine Haiphong just before his summit in Moscow], and you get in the election. That's what I would write as a book: 1972, period.

It is often forgotten that prior to the eruption of the Watergate scandal in 1973, Nixon was on a stunning political roll. The war in Vietnam was winding down. The public approved. In November, Nixon won re-election with 61% of the popular vote, carrying 49 states. Only after the election, in 1973, would the Watergate scandal change everything for Nixon. In 1972, he was on top of the world.

Source: The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, by Douglas Brinkley, p.ix&jacket , Dec 14, 1972

Attempted to portray mythology of "courage and guts"

Nixon was preoccupied with the aura surrounding John F. Kennedy, who had defeated him in the 1960 presidential election. From time to time, he spoke about JFK with both admiration and disgust--as in this exchange with Kissinger.

Nixon: Kennedy was cold, impersonal, he treated his staff like dogs. His staff created the impression of warm, sweet, a philosopher--that was a pure creation of mythology. We have created no mythology. For Christ's sakes, can't we get across the courage more? Courage, boldness, guts? Goddamn it! That is the thing. What is the most important single factor that should come across out of the first two years? Guts! Absolutely. Guts! Don't you agree, Henry?

Kissinger: Totally. Complexity and guts.

Nixon: Well, complexity. But a president is expected to be intelligent, so wash that out. I mean, I may have a little more than most, but not as much as some. But on the other hand, just sheer unadulterated guts and boldness stand alone. And coolness under fire.

Source: The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 70 , Apr 15, 1971

Understand your weaknesses to be strong during adversity

In 1960, I had suffered a shattering defeat in the Presidential campaign. Two years later, I suffered another defeat that was even more shattering because the election was for lesser office, governor of California. After the results came in, I had told the press off. And not surprisingly, the press proceeded to tell me off. Not even my closest friends thought I had a political future. I agreed. I thought I was finished as a practicing politician. I learned a great deal in those years in the wilderness between 1963 and 1968. Three lessons stood out:
  1. Defeat is never fatal unless you give up.
  2. When you go through defeat, you are able to put your weaknesses in perspective and to develop an immune system to deal with them in the future.
  3. You never know how strong you are when things go smoothly. You tap strength you didn't know you had when you have to cope with adversity.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 23-26 , Nov 7, 1968

Richard Nixon on Congressional Career

1950 Senate election: bright young star of Republican party

His first political campaign, in 1946, set the tone for many that would follow. Nixon suggested that the Democratic incumbent, Jerry Voorhis, had dangerous left-wing tendencies. Nixon won easily and thereafter made anti-Communism one of his main political themes.

As a new congressman he was assigned to the then relatively unimportant House Committee on Un-American Activities. He quickly attained national prominence by playing a central role in the committee's investigation of Alger Hiss, a State Department official accused of espionage.

In 1950 he ran for the Senate, defeating Democratic Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, against whom he leveled charges like those he had used to unseat Voorhis four years earlier. When he entered the Senate, he was regarded as one of the brightest young stars of the Republican party. His youth, his oratorical skills, and his indefatigable speechmaking at Republican fund-raising dinners around the country won him favor among local party organizers.

Source: Grolier Encyclopedia article on Nixon presidency , Nov 8, 2016

1946: Permanent campaign & anti-Communism won 1st House seat

Nixon campaigned all over the district and lured the incumbent, Jerry Voorhis, into a series of debates for which Nixon, the strategic litigator, had prepared himself, as if for a chess match. People who had known him as a polite and deferential young man, a lawyer embarrassed by the intimacies of marital lawsuits, were surprised by his ferocity, in particular the Red Scare rhetoric that he added to the mix: a claim that Voorhis had been endorsed by a political action committee that was infiltrated by communists.

Nixon was tutored by Murray Chotiner, a chubby, cigar smoking, Jewish and a veteran of California politics. Chotiner had helped to elect Earl Warren as governor in 1942 and would one day get credit for the idea that a successful politician needed to run a " permanent campaign" and for some nasty modern campaign practices, including the dictum that to be successful you need to deflate the opposition candidate before your own campaign gets started." Nixon won 56% of the vote.

Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p. 9 , Nov 5, 2013

1945: Answered "want ad" to run for Congress

A story that sometimes got exaggerated [was that] "Somebody related a second hand story about Dick Nixon answering a want ad for a Congressional candidate."

The "want ad" was actually a hand-out mailed in the late summer of 1945 to newspapers in California's 12th Congressional district; it invited prospective candidates to apply to a Republican fact-finding committee ,whose goal was to defeat the five term Democratic incumbent.

Source: Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank, p. 8 , Nov 5, 2013

By age 43, elected to House, Senate, and Vice-Presidency

When Americans think of John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon, they recall their close, bitter 1960 fight for the presidency. They picture them in their "Great Debate," the debonair Kennedy outshining an awkward Nixon. Behind this snapshot lurks a darker, more enduring saga that began with their election to Congress in the months just after WWII, then crept for 14 years.

During the early years, Nixon was the man to beat. He was the best politician of his time, articulating more ably than anyone else the nervous mood of post-WWII America. By the age of 43, he had been elected to the House, the Senate, and twice to the vice presidency of the US. Even the respected liberal columnist Murray Kempton called the 1950s the "Nixon decade." Kennedy was the late bloomer.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 15-16 , Jun 3, 1996

Richard Nixon on Vice Presidency

1950s: As VP, frontrunner for 1960 presidential nomination

Kennedy was sworn in as a US senator on Jan. 3, 1953. He was assigned room 362 of the Senate Office Building. Nixon was sworn in as vice president, the 2nd youngest in history, on Jan. 20, 1953, and assigned room 361, directly across the hall. "It was a busy corridor between those 2 offices," Kennedy's secretary would recall.

Just as 2 freshman congressmen were thrown together in the same committee back in 1947, they now faced each other across the same hallway. For the next 8 years, the 2 men would work and plot their ambitions within a few feet of each other.

One reason for the across-the-hall cordiality was that the vice president had little reason to suspect Kennedy as a rival. Just turned 40, Nixon was now the dynamic national figure of his generation. Thanks to the Hiss case and the Checkers melodrama, he was one of the few public figures known by every voter in the country. Kennedy, on the other hand, was a bachelor navy hero enjoying what seemed to be an indefinite shore leave.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 90-91 , Jun 3, 1996

1955: Outflanked Ike to keep V.P. post instead of Cabinet

Eisenhower suggested to Nixon that he think about another line of work. Ike even asked his vice president if he would like a cabinet post, couching the proposal as a useful career move, a chance to bolster his management credentials.

In April, asked in a press conference if his vice president had charted his course, Ike decreed, "I will never answer another question on this subject until after August." With that command decision, he ordered any further scuttlebutt about Nixon's fate off-limits until the Republican convention that August in San Francisco.

Or so he hoped. Nixon entered the Oval Office with the upbeat news that he had carried out the assigned orders. The Supreme Commander had told him to "chart his course." He had charted it: The right thing for him was to run for reelection as vice president. It was a bold move, and it worked. Eisenhower, realizing that he'd been outflanked, sent aides out to announce how DELIGHTED the boss was with his young vice president's decision.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.104-105 , Jun 3, 1996

JFK created a mythology; we should too

Nixon was preoccupied with the aura surrounding John F. Kennedy, who had defeated him in the 1960 presidential election. From time to time, he spoke about JFK with both admiration and disgust--as in this exchange:

Nixon: Kennedy was cold, impersonal; he treated his staff like dogs, particularly his secretaries and the others. His staff created the impression of warm, sweet, and nice to people, reads a lot of books, a philosopher. That was a pure creation of mythology. We have created no mythology. Can't we get across the courage more? Courage, boldness, guts? What is the most important single factor that should come across out of the first 2 years? Guts! Absolutely. Guts! Don't you agree, Henry?

Kissinger: Totally. Complexity and guts.

Nixon: Well, complexity. But a president is expected to be intelligent, so wash that out. I mean, I may have a little more than most, but not as much as some. But on the other hand, just sheer unadulterated guts and boldness stand alone. And coolness under fire

Source: The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 70 , Apr 15, 1971

Richard Nixon on Watergate

1973: Resignation would be hammer-blow to future presidents

On a tape of a conversation recorded in 1972, Nixon had ordered that the FBI stop investigating the Watergate break-in. Vice President Gerald Ford had just come from a White House cabinet meeting, where the president had vowed never to resign from office, even though the whole world now knew he was a crook after all. Nixon believed resignation would deliver a "hammer blow" to the office of the presidency. It would be a desertion of "the principles which give our government legitimacy." He was certain his refusal to resign was in the "best interests of the nation."

The Republican senators were in shock. Obstruction of justice and abuse of power were impeachable offenses, and in light of the smoking-gun tape proving Nixon's guilt, there was no doubt that he would be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate. Was he really going to drag the country through the months it would take for the process to reach its inevitable conclusion?

Source: A Time for Truth, by Ted Cruz, p.135-7 , Jun 30, 2015

1972: Bugged offices of Democratic Party in Watergate hotel

G. Gordon Liddy received the go-ahead to bug the offices of Democratic National Chairman Lawrence O'Brien. Liddy shot out the streetlight in back of George McGovern's Washington headquarters, which was #2 on the burglar team's list of targets. Three days later, 5 men entered target #1: the office of the DNC at the Watergate complex, overlooking the Potomac River, alongside the new Kennedy Center.

The group took two full 36-exposure rolls of film and numerous Polaroid shots. The attempt to bug the Democratic headquarters was not as successful. When the device placed on Larry O'Brien's phone somehow failed to work, the decision was made for the burglars to go back and repeat the job.

But it was Richard Nixon who converted a "3rd-rate burglary" into a personal and partisan catastrophe. Fearful that a disclosure of campaign tricks would cost him a 2nd term, he moved to conceal his people's involvement in the Watergate matter. Nixon now gave orders that would fatally mar his career.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.314-315 , Jun 3, 1996

1973: Existence of tapes was fatal blow to presidency

In July, Nixon received the blow that would prove fatal to his presidency. Under questioning by the Senate Watergate Committee, aide Alexander Butterfield divulged the existence of the audiotaping system that had been installed 2 years earlier. Nixon would spend the rest of his days trying to keep the tapes from enemy ears.

Ted Kennedy warned that if President Nixon dared to defy a Supreme Court order to turn over the tapes, "a responsible Congress would be left with no recourse but to exercise its power of impeachment." The N.Y. Times called Kennedy's words "about as strong a statement on the substantive question of impeachment as any leading Democrat has been willing to make." The problem lay in Kennedy's own past. "The real crunch would come if Nixon, in fact, did defy a clear ruling of the Supreme Court, and the question implicit in Kennedy's statement is how the country would react to the man of Chappaquiddick leading an impeachment battle against the man of Watergate."

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.329 , Jun 3, 1996

1973 Saturday Night Massacre: Fired special prosecutor

Archibald Cox, on Saturday, Oct. 20, the special prosecutor issued his proclamation of war: He would demand tapes of any and every presidential conversation he decided was important. He would not relent. Asked about his job security, he said that Nixon couldn't fire him; only Elliot Richardson could. Richardson told Nixon that by asking him to dishonor his word, he gave him no choice but to resign.

Thus began the bloodbath. With Richardson's resignation in hand, Nixon told Haig to order Richardson's deputy, William Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. When Ruckelshaus tried to resign, Nixon fired him. Nixon next asked the Justice Department's 3rd ranking official, Solicitor General Robert Bork, to fire Cox. Bork, a strict believer in constitutional authority, did as ordered. An attorney general had resigned. The deputy attorney general and the Watergate prosecutor had been fired. "The Saturday Night Massacre" was complete.

The massacre [resulted in the filing of] 21 resolutions of impeachment.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.332-333 , Jun 3, 1996

Smoking Gun: "national security" to hide Watergate burglary

June 17, 1972: 5 burglars are arrested inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC. The burglars would be tied to Nixon's Committee to Reelect the President.

June 23, 1972: Nixon and Chief of Staff H. R. "Bob" Haldeman discuss the progress of the FBI's investigation, in particular the tracing of the source of the money found on the burglars. They propose having the CIA order the FBI to halt its investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in was a matter of national security. This conversation would become known as the "smoking gun."

August 1, 1972: A $25,000 cashier's check designated for Nixon's Committee to Reelect the President is found in the bank account of a Watergate burglar. However, Watergate is not a major issue of the 1972 presidential campaign.

Source: The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, by Douglas Brinkley, p.737-8 , Jun 23, 1972

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Principles & Values.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Richard Nixon.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Richard Nixon.
Other past presidents on Principles & Values: Richard Nixon on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

Political Parties:
Republican Party
Democratic Party
Libertarian Party
Green Party
Reform Party
Natural Law Party
Tea Party
Constitution Party
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022