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I know some of you have been through defeats, as I have, and had your hearts broken. It has been said that a great philosophy is not won without defeat. But a great philosophy is always won without fear.

SO said Richard Nixon to his party workers during the campaign. So he said again when he appeared before his followers to accept and savor his victory. Now he could forget the defeats, both the hairbreadth miss of 1960 and the humiliating rebuff of 1962. Now he could put behind him the fear that maybe he was, after all, a born loser. Now he could relish the fruits of unremitting labor for his party, of countless fund-raising dinners and victory banquets and formula speeches in remote towns. Now he could demonstrate to the nation—and perhaps to himself— just what his “great philosophy” is. Now, at last, he had achieved a goal that, six and eight years ago, seemed to have eluded him forever.

But Richard Milhous Nixon became President-elect of the U.S. by the narrowest of margins—so narrow that it may even impede his conduct of the office. At the beginning of his campaign, Nixon held a seemingly unassailable lead. By the time Illinois’ 26 electoral votes put him over the 270 mark, it was clear that his lead had been whittled almost to the vanishing point, and that he had come close to the most bitter defeat of his career.

What had kept him from the major, decisive victory that had been so widely (and perhaps too optimistically) expected by many of his followers? In addition to his choice of Maryland’s inept Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate, it was probably his closed, negative campaign. That, and a personality that has simply never come close to captivating the U.S. voter. Nixon was so far in front that his overriding concern was to avoid a serious error—hardly the sort of strategy designed to fire imaginations. But it can also be argued that the Democrats—the majority party—were bound to recover from their low point, and that Nixon had to play it safe. His aides certainly take this view. They insisted even after Nixon’s narrow electoral escape that if they had to do it again, they would change nothing—including the surely damaging decision not to debate Democratic Candidate Hubert Humphrey.

Once the campaign got under way, Nixon’s standing in the polls froze at the mid-40% mark, despite the Democrats’ Job-like troubles. All the while, Humphrey was gaining on him, chipping away at the Wallace vote among the blue-collar workers of the big industrial states, rallying the once indifferent blacks, bringing antiwar dissidents back into the fold after they had sulked for a suitable time. When the vote tallying began, it swiftly became apparent that the Vice President had scored enough of a comeback to make the election as breathtakingly close as the 1960 cliffhanger. With more than 92% of the total popular vote counted, in fact, Nixon’s plurality was fewer than 250,000 votes out of 68 million (v. Kennedy’s 119,000 out of 69 million).

As the first returns began trickling in, Nixon supporters crowded the balconied ballroom of the WaldorfAstoria to celebrate what they were certain would be a swift, almost surgical victory. The great salon was bedecked with red, white and blue bunting and eleven huge Nixon portraits. Lionel Hampton’s band belted out dance tunes. Huge posters proclaimed: THIS TIME. The candidate himself monitored the returns in a 35th-floor suite, accompanied by several aides. Wife Pat, Daughters Tricia and Julie and Julie’s fiance, David Eisenhower, watched in a separate suite down the hall. Night-Long Scare

The first returns gave Nixon an early lead—but by no means a commanding one. The third-party threat posed by Alabama’s George Wallace simply failed to materialize in the Border States, and Nixon’s strategy of the “periphery”—to nail down those states while retaining the ones he had won in 1960—seemed to be paying off. He quickly captured Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma, amassed big leads in Indiana and Kansas. Wallace, as expected, took Alabama and Mississippi in the Deepest South, later added Louisiana, Georgia and Arkansas for a total of 45 electoral votes. And that was it for the feisty little demagogue—except, of course, for the damage he did to both candidates in the industrial states. Humphrey’s early victories were expected: the District of Columbia, where two-thirds of the voters are Negroes; Connecticut; West Virginia, the state that had doomed his presidential hopes in 1960 by going for John F. Kennedy in the primary; Massachusetts; Rhode Island.

Then came the surprises. New York was expected to go for Humphrey by a narrow margin; it gave him an edge of nearly 480,000 votes. Pennsylvania was supposed to be a squeaker; the Negro and Jewish wards in Philadelphia went so overwhelmingly for Humphrey—by more than 90% in several cases—that the whole state was his. New Jersey was supposed to be safely Nixon’s; it finally went narrowly to the Republican, after proving all night that nobody was going to make a Cakewalk out of the 1968 presidential race. An ebullient Humphrey left a friend’s home in the fashionable Minneapolis suburb of Lake Minnetonka at about 10:30 to watch the late returns from a 14th floor suite of the Leamington Hotel. Exclaimed the Vice President: “We’re scaring the hell out of them!”

They were indeed. “It is closer than we originally expected,” Nixon’s Communications Manager Herb Klein told newsmen. “I wouldn’t advise any of you to go to bed early.” Nixon, for one, stayed up, checking by telephone with operatives all over the country, occasionally wandering down the corridor, but refusing to make any public appearance until the following day. By 3:45 a.m., his survey convinced him that he was in. He phoned Agnew in Annapolis, Md., and told him not to worry −”we’ve got it.”

The key states proved to be New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Texas and California. By dawn, it became clear that Humphrey could not win a clear victory, but could deadlock the election if he could win two or three of those states; California was absolutely crucial. New Jersey only went to Nixon with a big assist from Wallace, who drew 250,000 votes in the Garden State. Ohio, originally regarded as safely in Nixon’s vault, teetered all night, finally fell into the Republican column. So did California, which fell to Nixon by a margin of perhaps 1%, at least in part thanks to a Wallace vote of roughly 7% that cut into normally Democratic precincts. On form, Nixon should have carried his native state by a far wider margin. Texas went narrowly to Humphrey. The state that finally sealed Nixon’s victory was, ironically, Illinois. In 1960, Mayor Richard Daley’s magical machine in Cook County helped nail down John F. Kennedy’s presidential victory by delivering enough votes to give him a 9,000-vote statewide margin. This time, despite another late flood of Democratic votes from Daleyland, Nixon clung to a slender advantage.

Victory assured, Nixon finally appeared at midday before hardy workers who had stayed through the night at the Waldorf and informed them that he had just been on the phone with Humphrey. One of the things he told the Vice President, he said, was that “I know how it is to lose a close one.” With a pledge to Americans that he would seek to “bring us together,” he departed for Key Biscayne, Fla., and three days of recuperation from the campaign’s rigors.

Portents for the Pessimists

In the final week, the enameled confidence that had marked Nixon’s staff from the first began to crack. In the final hours, it all but collapsed. From a virtually unassailable lead of 16 points over Hubert Humphrey in the mid-August Gallup poll, Nixon had declined to a scant two-point edge in both the Gallup and Harris surveys on the last week-end of the race. On Election Eve, Harris weighed in with a final poll that took into account the impact of the Viet Nam bombing pause proclaimed by Lyndon Johnson last week. In it—astonishingly—Humphrey led by three points.

Were the Democrats about to pull off an upset that would dwarf even Harry Truman’s defeat of Thomas Dewey exactly 20 years earlier? For the pessimists in Nixon’s camp, there were portents aplenty. The usually reliable New York Daily News straw poll gave Humphrey a 3.3-point lead in New York. California, once thought to be so secure for the G.O.P. that Nixon’s strategists wondered why Humphrey was wasting so much time there, suddenly turned into a neck-and-neck race, with the Los Angeles Times State Poll giving Nixon a bare one-point lead on Election Eve. Michigan and Pennsylvania seemed to be tipping toward Humphrey. Texas’ disputatious Democrats closed ranks, assuring a strong showing for the Vice President. Then, too, there was the complicating factor of Alabama’s George Wallace, who all along seemed to pose a serious threat to Nixon in Southern and Border States that might otherwise have been considered safe for the G.O.P.

Shucking the Old Image

A sure sign of concern was a massive last-minute surge of Republican advertising. Nixon’s managers had planned all along to spend $10 million to boost their man, 70% of it on television. When Humphrey began gaining with alarming rapidity, the budget was increased to $12 million, including an additional $1,700,000 earmarked for TV. Extra 60-second spots were booked on programs in 15 states, including the eight so-called “battleground states” that account for 227 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory—California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas. In a final-week electronic blitz, Humphrey spent $3,000,000 on TV, and the G.O.P. was not far off that figure.

Amidst the mounting unease in the Nixon camp, the candidate was one of the few who appeared confident, if visibly strained in the end. Part of it, perhaps, was the politician’s façade. But part was genuine. This was, after all, his last chance and it would hardly do to lose control at the very end. Pooh-poohing the pollsters, Nixon predicted that he would outdraw Humphrey by 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 votes.

The final margin was embarrassingly short of that estimate. To be sure, the smooth success of his early campaign strategy gave ample reason for optimism. Determined to shuck his loser’s image, he entered six primaries, won them all— frightening off Michigan’s Governor George Romney before the balloting even began in New Hampshire, and forcing New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller into fatal blunders of indecision. California’s Governor Ronald Reagan was never a real threat; besides, after the 1964 Goldwater disaster, the G.O.P.’s centrist and progressive wings wanted nothing more to do with the chimeras of the right. Nixon won almost effortlessly in Miami Beach, and without tearing the party apart.

Looking ahead to the struggle with the Democrats, Nixon shrewdly assayed the contest even before Miami Beach: “If there’s one thing the American people don’t want, it’s what they’ve got.” Ironically, this familiar veteran of 22 years on the U.S. political scene set himself up as the candidate who could best effect change—and successfully persuaded the voters to accept that image. The Democrats, to be sure, made it all the easier by nominating a man who, whatever his personal credentials, was indissolubly linked with the Johnson Administration’s failures in Viet Nam and in the cities.

Marvels of Precision

In charting his campaign, Nixon never lost sight of the fatal flaws that marred his 1960 contest with John F. Kennedy. As he wrote in Six Crises: “I spent too much time in the last campaign on substance and too little time on appearance. I paid too much attention to what I was going to say, and too little to how I would look.” Slightly cynical, perhaps, but by reversing the emphasis, Nixon did, after all, manage to win.

In 1960, he traveled more than 65,000 miles, fulfilling a rash promise to visit all 50 states, speaking in no fewer than 188 cities—and wearing himself out in the process. This year he reduced his travel by a third, flying 44,000 miles, touching down in a mere 35 states, and speaking in 118 cities. His prop hops were marvels of precision and perfect timing, managed by an unfailingly efficient staff. Gone were the fatigue lines and the chalky pallor of 1960; his relaxed appearance was nurtured by regularly scheduled periods of regeneration in Florida. Gone, too, was the rasping voice rubbed raw by too many stump speeches; in its place was a buttery baritone that was rarely called upon to shout much more than the “sock-it-to-’em!” exhortation that Nixon socked to death before he was through. Meanwhile Humphrey was running himself ragged in his effort to catch up—covering more than 98,000 miles, visiting 36 states, speaking in 116 cities.

Holding Action

Nixon insisted that he took positions on 167 issues during the campaign—a fact that may come as a surprise even to those who followed the whole thing faithfully. In one form or another (widely unread White Papers, radio shows with limited audiences), he did. But the fact is that in most elections, two or three issues quickly capture the public imagination. In 1968, it was Viet Nam and above all law and order that dominated the campaign. Nixon fully exploited the latter. In his acceptance speech in Miami Beach, he promised to heed “the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators, that are not racists or sick, that are not guilty of the crime that plagues the land.” Wallace exploited the issue more nakedly (“Y’all know about law and order,” said one of his supporters. “It’s spelled n-i-g-g-e-r-s”), but Nixon used it skillfully enough himself to reduce the Alabamian’s inroads.

Nixon’s campaign became a holding action, designed to preserve his lead by appealing to what former Census Bureau Director Richard Scammon calls “the unpoor, the unblack and the unyoung.” Nixon rarely ventured into the black ghettos, thereby writing off one out of every ten Americans of voting age—though few of their votes would have gone to him in any case.

Nixon profited from a spate of Humphrey blunders. The Vice President deliberately delayed announcing his candidacy until it was too late to enter the primaries, but he thereby projected himself as the machine candidate chosen in the traditional smoke-filled rooms. Humphrey also displayed a “hot,” overemotional personality in an age that demands cool. His disastrous disorganization strangled early campaign efforts in one key state after another; equally important, it alienated countless voters who saw it as the outward manifestation of a personal indiscipline. Worst of all, Humphrey became identified with the tumult of Chicago during the Democratic Convention.

Reviving Old Memories

Nixon’s great concern was that he would stumble into a major blunder that might erase his lead overnight. None of his mistakes proved fatal, but it was close. One was his vice-presidential choice, a selection he had allowed to be influenced by South Carolina’s J. Strom Thurmond, an unregenerate racist. Aside from picking Spiro Agnew as his running mate, Nixon’s other missteps included his refusal to debate Humphrey (allowing Humphrey to refer to him relentlessly as “Richard the Chicken-Hearted”) and his letter to securities dealers promising less stringent federal regulation under a Republican Administration.

In the campaign’s closing days, Nixon also began responding in kind to Humphrey’s acerbic personal attacks. He thereby risked reviving memories of the old gutter fighter from the campaigns of 1950 and 1952. Last week he and Wife Pat cast absentee ballots (just in case they failed to return to Manhattan in time from his West Coast telethon), then set out to get in some last licks at the Democratic ticket. Eldest Daughter Tricia, 22, voting for the first time, gave her father an uneasy moment or two by asking him: “What happens if you want to cross over?”

It was Democratic crossovers that Nixon was after in a final swing through Texas at week’s end. In El Paso, he accused Humphrey of “a personal attitude of indulgence and permissiveness toward the lawless,” and Muskie of “giving aid and comfort to those who are tearing down respect for law across this country.” If that sounded like the old Nixon, he also sought to sound like the old Dwight Eisenhower by trying out a variation of Ike’s “I will go to Korea” pitch in 1952. Nixon volunteered to go to Saigon or Paris to help “get the negotiations off dead center,” insisted that the suggestion was not a “grandstand stunt.” At the same time he promised to adopt a foreign policy that “will avoid future Viet Nams.”

Throughout the campaign, Nixon had actually said little about Viet Nam beyond repeated statements that he supported Johnson’s basic policy. He knew all along that the President might proclaim a bombing pause close to Election Day, and when the announcement came he supported Johnson’s action— with the proviso that the halt might not be allowed to endanger U.S. lives. Though some aides—most notably California Lieutenant Governor Robert Finch—branded Johnson’s move a “political ploy,” Nixon insisted: “President Johnson has been very candid with me throughout these discussions, and I do not make such a charge.” On Election Eve, however, he declared during his Los Angeles telethon that he heard the North Vietnamese were already taking advantage of the pause to funnel thousands of tons of materiel into the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail. Humphrey promptly, and properly, disputed the charge as “bunk,” noting that the U.S. was bombing the trail more heavily than ever. But the exchange did not hurt Nixon—at least not enough to deny him victory. Rough Edges

It had been a desperately long road for the grocer’s son from Whittier, Calif., and perhaps the most fascinating stretch now lay before him. Nixon has often spoken about the importance of timing an election so as not to peak too soon. For a while, his entire career looked like one that had done just that. In 1946, as a newly discharged Navy lieutenant commander, he won his first race for the House—and discovered the issue that was to carry him to national prominence: he accused Democrat Jerry Voorhis of being soft on Communism. His hard-hitting and effective role in the Alger Hiss case helped propel him to the Senate in 1950, and on Inauguration Day in 1953. at the age of 40, he became the second youngest Vice President in U.S. history (the youngest was John C. Breckinridge, elected in 1856 at age 35).

So swift was his ascent that when he burst on the national scene, he retained all the rough edges, the narrow views and the savage partisanship of his early years. Like Humphrey, he was a small-town boy, never financially well off, always plagued by the sort of personal and financial insecurity that never worried a Rockefeller or a Kennedy. Eight years of service under Ike helped mellow him. But what really completed the job was the taste of two bitter defeats —to Kennedy in the 1960 presidential race and to California’s Edmund (“Pat”) Brown in the 1962 gubernatorial race— and eight years of travel, contemplation and finally financial success as a six-figure-a-year lawyer in New York. A man of immense perseverance, he stubbornly began dreaming of a comeback as early as 1964, doggedly labored in the 1966 mid-term election for G.O.P. candidates who were, as a result, indebted to him. By the time he announced for the 1968 race on Feb. 1, the candidate, at age 55, was not necessarily a “new Nixon,” but he was certainly a shrewder, more mature Nixon. Much of it was, perhaps, cosmetic. Physically he still lacked grace and coordination; psychologically, he still seemed often insecure, as if he did not quite trust the extraordinary combination of events that had set him on his way to the White House. But most of the time he now projected an image of calm control.

Rock-Bottom Election

Long before the contest came down to the wire, it was being written off as dull and irrelevant. Millions of voters saw it as only a choice between evils. New York Post Columnist Murray Kempton said that the decision lay between “whether one would rather live in Sodom or in Gomorrah.” The Japanese dubbed it “saitei senkyo”—the rock-bottom election.

In some respects, it was. The candidates never really grasped the issues; they skirted them. Nixon, in particular, may well have stored up future trouble for himself by so assiduously avoiding Negro communities, by making it sound as if he had instant, miracle solutions to the problem of crime, by rejecting nuclear “parity” between the U.S. and Russia and hinting at new arms programs —inevitably expensive.

How much of this was campaign oratory and how much a blueprint for a Nixon Administration remains to be seen. On Viet Nam, Nixon has promised to provide “fresh ideas and new men and new leadership” to end the war. He prides himself on his grasp of foreign policy and is expected to act pretty much as his own Secretary of State— after a thoroughgoing shakedown at Foggy Bottom. According to his staff, he will increase Government spending from the current annual level of $185 billion to $220 billion by the end of his four-year Administration. Defense spending would increase by $10 billion (to $87 billion), notwithstanding an anticipated halving of Viet Nam expenditures from the current $30 billion annual level. The extra funds would be used to finance a volunteer army and costly new weapons systems.

Nondefense spending would rise by $26 billion, with sizable increases projected for social security and Medicare but not for any sweeping new domestic programs. All this could be financed, he has suggested, by growing prosperity and resulting higher tax income. Domestically, Nixon favors greater emphasis on private and local efforts to resuscitate the nation’s blighted cities and ailing rural regions. He has advocated a mixture of “black capitalism,” private investment, tax credits and Government loans to rebuild the ghettos. He emphasizes a similar dispersal of power away from the Federal Government in tackling poverty.

In the law-and-order field, he promised to increase spending for police training and equipment, emphasized that “if the conviction rate were doubled in this country, it would do more to eliminate crime than quadrupling of the funds for any governmental war on poverty.” He also promised to appoint a new Attorney General who would fight crime with the “kind of aggressive leadership that Ulysses S. Grant brought to the flagging Northern cause in the Civil War,” and hinted that his Supreme Court appointees would place less emphasis on the rights of criminal defendants than has the Warren Court. An Activist View

Nixon will bring to the office undeniable gifts as an organizer and as a recruiter of top-notch talent. He has a valuable, no-nonsense appreciation of the presidency as a job that requires the self-discipline of what he calls a spartan life. Though he spent eight years under a man who was wary of the powers of the office, he declared in a speech on the presidency—one of his best—on Sept. 19: “The days of a passive presidency belong to a simpler past. The next President must take an activist view of his office. He must articulate the nation’s values, define its goals and marshal its will.”

The question about Richard M. Nixon − in fact, the question that would be asked of any man about to be tested in the White House—is whether he is capable of coming close to that ideal. He faces the immensely difficult problem of reconciling an alienated left and an uneasy right, of bringing together Negroes and young people, Wallace followers and middle-class Americans who feel an ever more crushing burden of taxes. He has yet to persuade a great number of citizens that he is wholly to be trusted. His narrow victory may complicate the task. “The problem will not be easy,” he acknowledged this week. “We are confronted with the generation gap; we are confronted also with a racial gap. But I am going to try to establish communications with every one of the dissenting groups.”

Communications is indeed the key element—a capacity, as Nixon himself put it in his speech on the presidency, “to rally the people, to define those moral imperatives which are the cement of a civilized society, to point the ways in which the energies of the people can be enlisted to serve the ideals of the people.” Nixon has amply proved that he can improvise, tinker, administer, manage—and think. Now the nation, by its choice, has given him the opportunity to demonstrate whether he can pass the ultimate test of a President in this complex age: Can he lead?

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