Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Nixon-Ford Years

The Nixon-Ford Years


In 1968, Richard Nixon reappeared to win the party's nomination and selected Maryland governor Spiro T. Agnew as his running mate. Nixon went on to win the election over Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey, who was unable to bring his party together after divisions brought on by U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

President Nixon's first term was marked by many successes, including improved relations with China, a more cooperative relationship with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, an improved economy, and what appeared to be significant steps toward peace in Vietnam. In 1972 the Democrats nominated a prominent antiwar senator, George S. McGovern of South Dakota. Nixon was reelected by an enormous popular-vote margin, carrying every state except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Even so, the Democrats continued to control both houses of the Congress. The campaign, however, carried the seeds of the political destruction of Richard Nixon. A burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex during the campaign led to revelations of widespread civil and criminal misconduct within the campaign organization, administration, and White House; impeachment hearings were held, and eventually Nixon resigned in 1974. An earlier scandal involved Vice-President Agnew, who was forced to resign in 1973 after being convicted of income-tax evasion.

Nixon was succeeded by Vice-President Gerald R. Ford, who had been appointed to the office after the resignation of Agnew. Ford faced a serious economic situation-high unemployment, rising inflation, high interest rates, and huge budget deficits. He was criticized by moderates for doing too little to allay the nation's economic ills and by conservatives for offering amnesty to Vietnam-era draft evaders and for appointing Nelson Rockefeller to the vice-presidency. After a difficult primary contest against conservative Ronald Reagan of California, Ford lost the election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

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