60 YEARS AGO NIXON GAVE “CHECKERS” SPEECH
Hollywood, California (JFK+50) On September 23, 1952, Senator Richard M. Nixon gave the speech that is said to have saved his political career.
It was during the 1952 Presidential election campaign when Mr. Nixon was on the Republican ticket as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate.
The California senator had been accused of taking $18,000 in campaign funds for his personal use.
Nixon decided to make an appeal directly to the American people via television & radio. He spoke from the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.
During the 30 minute talk, in which Nixon denied the charge, because he referred to his daughters’ black & white cocker spaniel dog named ‘Checkers’, it became known as the “Checkers” speech.
Senator Nixon said:
“The kids, like all kids, love the dog & I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re going to keep it.”
And in regard to the charges, Nixon said:
“Not one cent…went for my personal use. Every penny…was used for political expenses….”
The Senator backed up his claim by reading a letter from an audit report prepared by CPAs. It read:
“It is our conclusion that Senator Nixon did not obtain any financial gain from…these funds…”
Mr. Nixon made reference several times during the speech to his wife, Pat, who was sitting nearby. He said at one point:
“Pat & I have the satisfaction that every dime that we’ve got is honestly ours. I should say this–that Pat doesn’t have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat. And I always tell her that she’d look good in anything.”
At the close of the speech, which was seen or heard by an audience of 60 million, Nixon asked the American people to help the Republican National Committee decide whether or not he should stay on the ticket.
The RNC was flooded with more than 4 million letters & other communications. They favored Nixon by 75 to 1.
It made Ike’s decision an easy one. Eisenhower kept Richard Milhous Nixon as his Vice-Presidential running mate….and the rest is history.