Why didn't Jerry Walk?

Watergate was a scandal about cheating in the 1972 election.

Why didn’t Gerald Ford, upon succeeding to the office of President, appoint George McGovern vice-president, then resign?

The cheating didn’t make a difference. Mcgovern was beaten on the merits in the biggest landslide ever.

Because he wanted to be President of the United States?

Also, the 1972 election wasn’t exactly what you’d call close. Arguably, Nixon’s re-election (and McGovern not being elected) was the will of the people, regardless of what all shenanigans CREEP and the White House Plumbers pulled. In a really, really close election (like 2000, say), one can imagine dirty tricks swinging a crucial precinct or two, and hence a crucial state–and in 2000, they were all crucial states. But for a result where the losing candidate gets 18 million fewer votes than the winner to be invalid would require banana-republic dictatorship level election tampering, way beyond anything even Nixon ever pulled. Thus, The People wanted a Republican, not a Democrat (or at least not George McGovern); given that Nixon turned out to be manifestly unsuitable for the office, Gerald Ford was the next Republican in the Constitutional line of succession.

Really, it’s one of the great baffling mysteries about Nixon’s mind that he felt the need to resort to such things when he was clearly a very popular candidate and a shoo-in for re-election.

That was always one of the craziest things about Watergate. Nixon was such total paranoid nut he couldn’t see this was the situation. McGovern was way too far to the left to get elected at that point. It’s possible the election would have been closer with out all the ratfucking and dirty tricks but there is no way McGovern would have won.


At the time, it was never even considered a remote possibility that Ford would appoint McGovern to be VP. Nor should it have been. Ford had been appointed to replace VP Agnew, who had been convicted of tax fraud, but Ford had been a long time, and well-respected, GOP House member.

One of the most aggravating things about the whole Nixon debacle – his paranoid conviction that he “had” to play extra dirty to survive, even when he did not.

As to the OP: The charges against Nixon never included anything actually altering the valid electoral result. The voting and ballot-counting processes themselves were free and fair and were in favor of a GOP ticket. The headliner being “unworthy” of the office is no basis to void the legality of the mandate.

Actually, Nixon did see that McGovern was too far left to be elected. A large part of the “dirty tricks” involved sabotaging the campaigns of the other Democratic candidates (Muskie, Humphrey, Scoop Jackson) so McGovern would be the nominee.

Yeah, I know you have a very valid point. However, the break-in took place a month before the Democratic convention and it was clear at that point McGovern had locked up the nomination. I realize Nixon had his minions doing all kinds of crazy BS to screw over the various Democrats in the running. It’s debatable how much effect it really had on the final results. McGovern would probably have been the nominee regardless, that’s pretty much the point.

Nixon was never very popular, but the Democrats made a big mistake with Mcgovern.

and didn’t McGovern put the final nail in his coffin by saying he would fly to Hanoi and get down on his knees and beg for an end to the war?

No, he did not. All he would have had to do to end the war would be to pull all American combat troops out. That’s what Nixon eventually did and it brought the war to a very quick end.

McGovern said he was going to go to Hanoi and do something, don’t remember if it was prostrate himself or just ask nicely, but McGovern did not only promise a troop withdrawal.

Besides, just withdrawing the troops was unacceptable. Just withdrawing troops means leaving men behind in POW camps. Never happen in a million years.

Yeah, McGovern the peace creep. Thirty five combat missions, piloting a bomber over Germany. Fucking hippy. Not like Nixon, playing poker on a boat. There’s a hero!

Irrelevant. Was McGovern going to leave our men behind or wasn’t he?

Actually, just checked my 1972 Facts on File. He did say he would get on his hands and knees and beg for peace. I’d say that’s the 49 state loss right there.

That wouldn’t exactly be making-it-right. For one thing, it was only because of the Nixon team’s cheating that McGovern had gotten the nomination. CREEP sabotaged all the other Dem contenders’ compaigns, because McGovern was judged easiest to beat. You can read the story in Nixonland, by Rick Perlstein.

I very much doubt it.

And he was also a much closer friend of Nixon’s than was generally known at the time.

I would be interested in knowing when and where he made such a statement. I have had zero success finding a contemporary reference to McGovern making any such statement. Would you be good enough to tell me the exact quote and date he said this? Thanks in advance.

I can’t find any contemporary references on the internet either. I tried looking at Time’s archives, but those are behind a paywall now. When I get home in the morning I’ll get the exact quote from the Facts on File with a date.

Here’s an interesting piece of historical trivia. When a group of Republican leaders met with Nixon to offer suggestions for a new VP after Agnew’s resignation, their first choice was George Bush. But Nixon overruled their choice and went with Ford.