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We Are Keeping the Dog, Okay?!
Nixon gave a speech that mentioned his dog. It would turn his political career around. We have 30 highlights for this 30-minute speech.
We are back with our presidential speech series. This time, we take a look at ole Tricky Dicky, where on this date, September 23, 1952, he admitted to 60 million Americans that he, too, was a dog lover.
Surprisingly, you will not find this particular speech in our 100 Speeches that Changed the World Book. Trust us, we looked. It's not in there. It's done in chronological order, so it's not that difficult to navigate.
But this speech will go down as a pivotal turning point in Nixon's political career. From coast to coast, people tuned in to see Nixon tell them he was not a crook. Only this time, he was right, which is hilarious.
And that's why my friends, why we are going to break it down for you.
Nixon was a Senator of California at the time, waaay back when Californians elected Republicans, Democrats from Alabama ran on national tickets, and people took vaccines like they were supposed to (take that polio).
Nixon was seen as a real up and comer with strong support – he was a lawyer, a military man, a former congressman, and possessed impressive jawline. The main thing, of course, was he was a white dude who could deliver the electoral votes of the Golden State, which had gone to the Democrats four years earlier when Truman defeated Dewey.
Lots of things we consider illegal now, like not wearing seat belts, smoking in bars, and wearing white after Labor Day, were perfectly legit in 1952. For people who ran for office, like Richard Nixon, it meant raising money from supporters to cover costs of campaigning, which was expensive. Supporters gave Nixon $18,000 to cover expenses related to his campaigns. In 1952, it’s all good.
Was it morally right? Well back then, taking money from supporters to pay for campaign expenses was a moral failure that was beyond repair. Unless you delivered a speech about how you got a dog as a gift, and dang it, you ain't giving it back. Then it's all good.
It turned out to be a brilliant political move. When people learned of The Fund, as it was literally called, everyone freaked out. People called on General Eisenhower, the Republican nominee, to dump Nixon from the ticket. In turn, Nixon ran off to LA to deliver a speech that is called Checkers speech.
Babbling On for 30 Minutes
Nixon blathered on for 30 minutes, and as we said, 60 MILLION AMERICANS WATCHED. The population in America in 1952 was 156 Million. The math is like, almost half the country. Nearly half the country watched Nixon give a speech about taking contributions.
Was there nothing else going on that night? Holy moly.
The speech itself was over 4,700 words long. In comparison, the Gettysburg Address was 272.
We are not going to annotate this one. We want to add readers, not lose them. We read the speech, so you don't have to.
In honor of the 30-minute speech, here are 30 highlights.
1. Nixon thinks Truman is corrupt.
2. Nixon doesn't think taking contributions to pay for campaign expenses is illegal.
3. However, he does agree that taking $18,000 is morally wrong, but really super-duper wrong if it was done in secret, which in this case, he was open about it.
4. Nixon continues to ask questions and answer them.
5. Nixon gives a civics lesson on how Senators make and receive money.
6. Nixon talks about how important it is to pay someone to take notes, like his wife.
7. Nixon then brags about his wife's note-taking abilities.
8. Nixon reminds people Communism is a thing, and it is bad.
9. Nixon points out California is so far away from other places to meet people.
10. Nixon states he doesn't think taxpayers should pay for him to go places and give speeches.
11. Nixon declares how proud he is that contributors never asked him for a favor.
12. Nixon presents an audit, something he suggested.
13. Audit says Nixon is the man!
14. Nixon says this isn't Nixon saying Nixon is the man, but an auditor, whom Nixon suggested.
15. Nixon begins his life story. Born poor, went to college, law school, then married Pat.
16. Nixon reveals he and Pat had a rough beginning to their marriage.
17. Nixon tells us he owns two houses, but they really suck.
18. Nixon discloses he owes his parents money.
19. Nixon then implies he is done.
20. Nixon mentions the Nixons received a cocker spaniel as a gift, and they ain't giving back.
21. The dog's name is Checkers.
22. Nixon blasts the DNC, Adlai Stevenson, and pouring chocolate over coconut (I'm seeing if you are still reading)
23. Nixon quotes Lincoln.
24. Nixon praises Eisenhower and refers back to Communism.
25. Nixon reads a letter of a 19-year-old woman who sent him $10.
26. Nixon announces he won't quit.
27. Nixon states Pat's birthday is St. Patrick's Day.
28. Nixon says the RNC and Eisenhower will have to choose his fate.
29. Nixon suggests people write the RNC.
30. Nixon praises Eisenhower, and the speech is over.
People wrote to the RNC to keep Nixon. Eisenhower and Nixon win, then win again. Then Nixon would lose to Bobby Kennedy's brother, declared he won't be kicked around anymore, then returned, then won, then won again. Then left in disgrace because he was a crook.
By that time, Checkers had been dead almost a decade.
Leave a message if you read this entire thing. And know you have my gratitude.