Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
In one earnest, emotional TV appearance, Richard Nixon dramatically changed his political fortunes in the wake of a burgeoning scandal over a private "expense fund." In what became known as the Checkers Speech, Nixon said that "not one cent ... ever went to me for my personal use." He also offered some down-home references to his family's modest means and their pet spaniel Checkers, a gift from a Texas donor that Nixon said they loved and would keep. Sympathetic callers jammed congressional switchboards and President Eisenhower was impressed enough to keep Nixon on the ticket. An excerpt from The Post of September 24, 1952:
Senator Richard M. Nixon pleaded his own defense to the American people over a Nation-wide radio-TV hookup Tuesday night while the GOP high command weighed the final decision whether he should remain or drop out as Republican nominee for the vice presidency.
Dwight D. Eisenhower delayed his own speech at Cleveland to hear Nixon's explanation of a private $18,000 expense fund which had blown up a major political storm.
Eisenhower was expected to decide after the broadcast whether Nixon would remain on the ticket as his running mate.
Sixty-two television stations and 750 radio stations had arranged to carry Nixon's speech.
The Los Angeles law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher worked to complete a last minute audit and legal check of the fund.
"Everybody wanted a complete report before Nixon spoke tonight," said Dana C. Smith, who disbursed the fund as trustee. "Copies are being made available to both Nixon and Gen. Eisenhower."
Elmo Connelly, a member of the law firm, was in charge of the poll, which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said was a questionnaire to the 76 fund contributors asking how much they had given, the purpose of the gift and whether the donor had expected or received any favors in return.
Nixon planned to leave immediately after his broadcast to resume his Western tour in Missoula, Mont. He broke off his trip in Portland, Oreg., Monday to fly to Los Angeles to make his report to the people.
Nixon's outward reaction to demands that he resign as vice presidential nominee has been a determination to fight the charges of unethical or illegal activity.
The fact that the Republican National Committee was paying the $75,000 bill for the radio-television broadcast was taken as support for belief that Nixon will not be cast off ...
The California Senator, elected in 1950 after two terms in the House, told newsmen he proposed the coast-to-coast presentation of his case and Eisenhower, in their single conversation since the $18,000 fund story broke, gave his approval.
Nixon remained in his hotel room throughout the day putting together the material for his speech.