Nixon: The Peacemaker?
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The 1968 election saw Richard Nixon narrowly succeed against Hubert Humphrey, an innately decent Minnesota liberal, but indelibly linked to Johnson and the war. Nixon gained 31,785,480 votes to Humphrey’s 31,275,166. But a comment on the times was that the American Independent team of segregationist George Wallace and Curtis Le May, with his idiosyncratic views on nuclear weapons, attracted 9,906,472 votes. Nixon had fought his way back to the centre of political power after his defeat by Kennedy in 1960, followed by a humiliating rebuff at the hands of the California electorate two years later. While it would not be convincing to claim that Nixon was one of the great American presidents, he was certainly amongst the most remarkable. No president had to face such disgrace as he was to suffer over the Watergate cover-up and consequent resignation, but in 1969 this unprecedented train of events lay well in the future. A proud, solitary and suspicious man, capable of colouring his fierce ambition with acts of spontaneous generosity, of all twentieth-century presidents Nixon is the most difficult to place with certainty.
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