Nixon's Presidency

1968-1974

Election of 1968

  • Rep. Nixon -vs- Dem. Humphrey -vs- American Independent Wallace
  • electoral vote: won 301 to 191
  • popular vote: 31.8 million to 31.3 million (quite close)

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Election of 1972

  • Rep. Nixon -vs- Dem. George McGovern
  • nicknamed "The Nixon landslide of 1972"
  • McGovern promised to pull out the remaining troops in 90 days but didn't appeal to minorities
  • McGovern's vie-president was removed from the ballot for previous need for psychiatric care, hurting his party's credibility
  • 12 days before the election Nixon announced that the numbers in Vietnam went down from 540,000 to 30,000
  • electoral vote: 520 to 17
  • popular vote: 47.2 million to 29,2 million

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Vietnam War under Nixon

  • "Vietnamization"- withdraw 540,000 U.S. troops over an extended period of time
  • the U.S. would aid the South Vietnamese with money, weapons, training, etc. and eventually they would be ready to fight independently
  • Nixon Doctrinethe U.S. would honor its current military arrangements; in the future the U.S. would not aid Asian or other countries fighting their own wars with large amounts of ground troops
  • By January 1970, 40,000 Americans were killed and 250,000 wounded
  • 1970, Nixon ordered troops into Cambodia to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh Trail and other supply lines used by North Vietnam, even though Cambodia was neutral. In 1970, he ordered air and ground strikes in Cambodia.
  • War Powers ActNovember 1973; stated that the president must tell Congress within 48 hours after he commits troops of “substantially” enlarges combat units in a foreign conflict of nation; these commitments had to be done in 60 days, or potentially 90 if Congress allowed it
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Policy of “détente”

  • détente – policy of “relaxed tension” with the Soviets and Chinese
  • occurred after Nixon traveled to both China and the USSR to meet with both leaders and likewise increased the competition felt between the two countries
  • great grain deal of 1972: the U.S. sold $750 million worth of wheat, corn, and other cereals to the Soviets over a three year period
  • anti-ballistic missile treaty: each country could have solely two clusters of defensive missiles
  • SALT: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, froze the amount of long-range nuclear missiles for five years
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Watergate, Nixon's impeachment, and his ultimate resignation


  • CREEPRepublican Committee for the Reelection of the President; engaged in espionage and sabotage, placing fake documents targeted at Democrats
  • Watergate break-in5 members of CREEP broke into the Democratic headquarters; June 17,1972; men had possession of electronic “bugging: equipment
  • stole Dr. Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatric files
  • Senator Sam Ervin and former White House lawyer completes a series of televised hearings which they testified about the obstruction of justice which was completed by Nixon and other head politicians in the White House
  • the "bugging" in the White House was proven true; Nixon's conversations in person and over the phone had been recorded
  • vice-president was forced to resign
  • The House Judiciary Committee impeached Nixon in late July 1974; charging him with three instances where Nixon obstructed "the administration of justice"
  • Nixon released tapes that proved he had attempted to cover up the Watergate scandal, removing all credibility
  • Nixon's resignation occurred on August 8, 1974; he still kept his retirement privileges of $150,000 a year