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Nixon: His Politics and the Presidency


Utilizing film clips and photographs of the era, this informative program traces Richard Nixon's political career from his 1952 election as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's vice president, to his own presidency and finally his resignation of office in 1974. Viewers learn that as vice president, Nixon worked with members of Congress, presided over Cabinet meetings during the President's illness, and traveled extensively abroad as spokesman for the government. Viewers follow Nixon through his unsuccessful 1960 bid for the presidency against Senator John F. Kennedy. Clips included of the first televised presidential debates in U.S. history and Nixon's concession speech on November 8, 1960. In 1968, Nixon finally succeeded in winning the presidency. His first term in office is chronicled, including his policies on the Vietnam War, civil rights and desegregation. The program covers the Kent State demonstration in May, 1970 and its negative effect upon the Administration. The President's popularity received a boost, however, as a result of his visits to China and the Soviet Union in 1972. Nixon's second term was marred early on by the Watergate scandal, which reached the Administration in 1973. The presentation relates the events as they unfolded, from the revelation that President Nixon had secretly taped-recorded official

conversations in the White House, to his eventual resignation of the presidency on August 9, 1974.

Questions to ask before viewing

1. 2. 3. 4. What were the highlights of Richard Nixon's political career in the 1950s? How did Nixon remain politically active in the early 1960s before running for president in 1968? For which positive achievements as president will Nixon be remembered? Explain what you know about the Watergate scandal.

Questions to ask after viewing

1. How did President Eisenhower utilize Richard Nixon as vice president during their first term in office? (He sent the Nixons on an extensive trip through Asia to bring back a first-hand report of the crisis brewing in Indochina.) How did some South Americans respond to Nixon's visit in 1958? (Angered by Nixon's antiCommunist stance, mobs threw stones and attacked his car.) As a result of which event did Nixon appear on the cover of Time Magazine in 1959? (It was after his visit to the Soviet Union, where Nixon had a spontaneous debate with Premier Nikita Khrushchev that was later called the "kitchen debate.") List some of the major differences between Nixon and his presidential opponent, John F. Kennedy. (Kennedy came from wealth, Nixon from a modest background; Kennedy was a liberal while Nixon was a conservative; Kennedy seemed outgoing and comfortable in social situations, while Nixon had political experience but seemed stiff in public.) According to people polled who saw the televised debate between Nixon and Kennedy, who won?





How did the people who heard it on the radio react? (Television viewers generally thought Kennedy won the debate, while those who only heard the debate on the radio felt Nixon won.) 6. Why were the debate results perceived so differently by different audiences? (On camera, Kennedy looked tan and healthy, as well as confident and comfortable. Nixon, on the other hand, had been recovering from illness and extensive campaigning. He declined to use makeup, and so looked haggard. His manner on television also seemed awkward and selfconscious. However, radio listeners only heard the debate; they could not judge the candidates by appearance or manner.) 7. After his defeat, what did Nixon do professionally? (He returned to California and resumed his legal career. Then he ran for California governor. When this bid failed, he moved his family to New York and again practiced law.) 8. What were the major political and social issues of President Nixon's first term of office? (The civil rights movement and desegregation, the war in Vietnam and the anti-war demonstrations.) 9. What was the effect of the secret bombing raids on Cambodia and Laos that Nixon authorized? (The raids enlarged the gap between the war's supporters and opponents.) 10. What were the Pentagon Papers? (A Pentagon study obtained by the Press from Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department worker, that dealt with growing U.S. involvement in Vietnam.) 11. How did the "leak" of these papers affect Nixon? (He felt threatened due to this and a drop in his popularity. The war continued; unemployment was up by 6%. Nixon worried about re-election.) 12. Who were "The Plumbers" and what was their first break-in? (David Young, G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt were recruited to stop the leaks, hence the nick-name they were given. They broke





into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist to get Ellsberg's medical files.) What was the purpose of the Watergate break-in? (To collect any negative Democratic Party information that might be kept at the Democratic Committee at the Watergate Hotel.) What foreign diplomatic accomplishments helped Nixon win a second term? (In February, 1972, he visited China and the Soviet Union.) What were some of the major events that lead to Nixon's resignation in August, 1974? (The Committee learned from top Nixon aides that Nixon knew about the cover-up and kept a secret list of his enemies; Nixon used wire taps in the Oval Office and had tapes of conversations concerning Watergate; Nixon had Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox fired; Nixon refused to give up the tapes to the House Judiciary Committee.) How did Nixon spend the rest of his life? (He wrote books and eventually earned the title of elder statesman. Subsequent presidents looked to him for advice on foreign policy.)

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28 Minutes

Nixon: His Politics and the Presidency


· · · To describe Nixon's role as vice president from 1953 to 1961 To discuss Nixon's 1960 bid for president and the effect on the election of the televised debates To describe Nixon's successful campaign for the presidency in 1968, and his re-election in 1972 To trace the investigation into the President's involvement in the Watergate break-in and coverup, and his subsequent resignation of office in 1974

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AIMS Multimedia (818) 773-4300 (800) 367-2467




2 pages

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