Key Players
Richard M. Nixon

Born and raised in California, Nixon attended Whittier College and Duke Law School. He entered politics in 1946, winning a seat in Congress as a Republican. He made a name for himself as a member of House Un-American Activities Committee.

In 1950 he was elected senator after a campaign in which he labelled his opponent, Helen Gahagan, a communist sympathizer. She responded by dubbing him "Tricky Dick," a nickname that would last. Two years later, Republican presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower selected Nixon as his running mate. He served two terms as vice president, then ran for president himself in 1960, narrowly losing to Democrat John F. Kennedy.

After an unsuccessful bid to become governor of California in 1962, Nixon's political career appeared to be over, but when conservative Barry Goldwater was decisively defeated in the 1964 race, Nixon began positioning himself as a more moderate Republican who could win a general election. He narrowly defeated Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968 with a pledge that he had a secret plan to end the Vietnam War. In office, Nixon continued the war in the face of a growing anti-war movement.

Long known for his anti-communist views, Nixon rearranged U.S. foreign policy by established diplomatic relations with previously shunned China and eased the U.S. rivalry with the Soviet Union via the policy known as "détente." As he prepared to run for reelection in 1972, his aides organized the secret campaign organization to sabotage and harass his opponents that was exposed by the arrest of the Watergate burglars. He won a landslide victory in the 1972 election and resigned in disgrace 21 months later.

In retirement, he wrote eight books and attempted to rehabilitate his reputation as a statesman. He died on April 22, 1994. At his funeral President Bill Clinton said, "He suffered defeats that would have ended most political careers, yet he won stunning victories that many of the world's most popular leaders have failed to attain."
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