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Richard Nixon's 'Secret Fund' – 1952

Vice presidential nominee Richard Nixon during his "Checkers" speech, Sept. 23, 1952 (AP)
Richard M. Nixon, then a U.S. senator from California and the Republican vice presidential nominee, was accused of maintaining a hidden political fund of about $18,000 collected from home-state supporters. The Democratic-leaning New York Post carried the first reports of the fund – somewhat sensationalized accounts that, in Nixon's words, "let me have it with both barrels." An avalanche of coverage followed, and soon the "secret fund" was the central issue of the presidential campaign.

Though legal, the previously undisclosed nest egg caused such a stir that Nixon was nearly forced from GOP presidential nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower's ticket. Some of Eisenhower's staff and key party elders wanted Nixon to step down; former GOP presidential nominee and New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey personally urged Nixon to resign.

Nixon saved himself with a dramatic if maudlin television appeal that became known as the "Checkers speech", so named because of a cocker spaniel dog given by a supporter to his young daughters which Nixon swore never to give up, come what may in the political wars.

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© Copyright 1998 Larry J. Sabato

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