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Nixon gives 'Checkers' speech

Nixon gives ‘Checkers’ speech

Sept. 23, 1952: Republican vice presidential nominee Sen. Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, at a television studio where he delivered his famous “Checkers” speech.

Nixon, the junior U.S. senator from California, ran a campaign of attacking government corruption. In September 1952, journalists became aware of a special fund raised by Nixon supporters to reimburse him for travel, postage and political expenses. While such funds were not illegal in 1952, opponents quickly charged Nixon with giving special favors to contributors.

To avoid being dropped from the GOP ticket, Nixon stopped campaigning and flew to Los Angeles. During a 30-minute speech, Nixon attacked his opponents, pointed out that he was a man of limited means and asked the audience to contact the Republican National Committee to keep him on the ticket.

Regardless of what happened, Nixon stated that he intended to keep one gift — a black and white dog his daughters had named Checkers.

About 60 million Americans saw or heard the speech. The next morning the Los Angeles Times reported the response:

Sen. Richard M. Nixon rested his case with the American people last night and put the decision on whether he remains GOP Vice-Presidential nominee squarely up to the Republican National Committee.

He ended a dramatic half-hour television-radio address to the nation with a firm pledge to continue fighting…

Hardly had his words rung off the air before the communications facilities of the nation were taxed by people striving to express themselves by telegraph and telephone.

The overwhelming positive response kept Nixon on the ticket and the “Checkers” speech part of American political history.

This image, by staff photographer Paul Calvert, was lead Page One art the next morning in The Times. This photo recently appeared in The Times’ “130 Years of Iconic Images” section published Dec. 6, 2011, and its companion online photo gallery.


  1. February 10, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Thats why they called him "Tricky Dick"!!!

  2. February 12, 2012, 1:29 pm

    They were truely a couple in love. I remember a clip at her funeral where he could not hold back his grief and was crying, Not a Richard Nixon I had watch throught the years.__

    By: vinccent

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