President Richard M. Nixon: Reelection and CREEP

About the reelection and CREEP tactics of the 1972 campaign for President Richard M. Nixon.

Reelection: The full story behind Nixon's victory in 1972 may never be known. The former leaders of the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP) have proved somewhat reluctant to reveal the full extent of their criminal activities. This much is already clear: Nixon raised and spent more money than any candidate in history--including millions of dollars of illegal corporate contributions; every arm of Government was politicized to an unprecedented degree in order to insure his reelection; a massive campaign of sabotage and espionage helped to divide and discredit the President's opponents. Though the Watergate transcripts later showed that Nixon was passionately concerned with every trivial detail of his own campaign, he pretended at the time that he was too busy attending to "great issues" to bother himself with politics. On October 26, the President's envoy Henry Kissinger announced that "peace was at hand" in the Vietnam negotiations. It was, of course, "purest coincidence" that this announcement came less than 2 weeks before the elections. Unfortunately, Kissinger's optimism proved "premature." Only a month after the votes were counted, the Administration leveled wide areas in Vietnam and slaughtered thousands of civilians in one of the most intensive bombings in human history.

Meanwhile, the Democrats' intraparty difficulties played directly into Nixon's hands. After an unusually bitter preconvention fight, the party nominated Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota--an outspoken antiwar liberal who had alienated many party regulars and labor leaders. McGovern selected as his running mate young Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, but shortly after the convention adjourned it was learned that Eagleton had a history of psychiatric problems. After telling the press and public that he stood behind Eagleton "1,000%" McGovern proceeded to force his running mate from the ticket. He thereby convinced many voters that he was just as slippery as Tricky Dick, and he added the appearance of political duplicity to an image already badly tarnished by charges of radicalism. As the campaign neared its climax, McGovern concentrated his fire on the mounting evidence of corruption in the Nixon Administration. His charges were, however, generally dismissed as political propaganda.

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