In 1952, when Nixon was nominated to be Dwight Eisenhower's running mate, he was only thirty-nine years old. It was soon exposed that Nixon had accepted $18,000 for political expenses and Eisenhower's advisors wanted Nixon to resign. He responded with a brilliant speech that (because of a sentimental reference to his dog) became known as the "Checkers Speech." It saved his political career.
Eisenhower and Nixon won the election defeating the Democrat Adlai Stevenson by over 6,000,000 votes. Although during the Eisenhower years, the relationship between the President and Vice President was somewhat strained, years later Nixon's youngest daughter, Julie, married Eisenhower's grandson, David, for whom the Presidential retreat, Camp David, is named.
Eisenhower and Nixon won easily in the 1956 election. As Vice President, Nixon became a vigorous Republican spokesman. In non-election years, he traveled the country trying to raise money for the party. He also achieved foreign affairs credentials by visiting numerous other countries, including the Soviet Union, where In 1959, Nixon, the anti-Communist, opened the American Exhibit in Russia. While escorting the Soviet leader through a model of an American house, an impromptu "kitchen debate" with Nikita Khrushchev made world-wide headlines. In an effort to make a strong point, Krushchev took off his shoe and banged it on the table.
As undisputed party leader, Nixon easily won the Presidential nomination in 1960. That was the year of the first televised Presidential debates, and some say Nixon's appearance put him at a disadvantage next to the young, charismatic Jack Kennedy, who won the presidency, but just barely. Out of the 70 million votes cast, JFK received a mere 113,000 more than Nixon did.
In 1962 Nixon went up against the popular Pat Brown for Governor of California. He lost that election and afterward bitterly attacked the press, saying "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more." Many felt it...