Nixon's loyalists : inside the war for the White House, 1972
The objective of this study is to revisit the American presidential election of 1972 via the interpretive lens of Richard Nixonï¿½s loyal inner circle. It argues that the Watergate scandal that forced Nixon to resign the presidency two years later has minimized the meaning of that watershed event. The massive landslide victory by the Nixon administration at the polls has been lost in the details of the break-in at the Watergate complex. The result is that the connection between Nixon, his loyal White House aides, and the millions of faithful supporters is minimized and even forgotten in the scholarship on the 37th president. Nixon is too often seen as an isolated and disconnected leader, and consequently, the second greatest margin of victory in American presidential history has been largely neglected as a significant event in the literature. Supported and informed by archival documents, staff memoirs, newspaper accounts, and secondary sources, this study revisits the election through the eyes and actions of the president's men, concluding that his team developed a specific strategy to attract traditional Democratic voters, independents and disaffected voters, forging a post-1960s consensus. This outcome was aided by a strategy to portray Democratic opponent George McGovern as an extremist unpalatable to the American heartland. Nixonï¿½s image as a lonely and isolated figure inside the Oval Office has been misunderstood as it was also part of a specific strategy hatched by his inner circle after the midterm elections of 1970 to have the politician act "presidential" and remain in the White House, above the nasty fight for votes on the campaign trail. Nixon and his loyal aides used these strategies to reach the 'silent majority' of Americans, and thereby secured an overwhelming victory.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Copyright DateMarch 2010