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Transcript of Nixon
Despite hating communism, Nixon realized that being constantly hostile to the Soviets was bad for everyone.
He visited Romania in 1969, the first US president to "go behind the Iron Curtain."
He followed a policy called detente, which means trying to relax international tensions and keep any one country from growing too powerful.
China was weird- they were communist, but also not super great friends with the Soviets.
In 1970, Nixon told reporters he wanted to go to China. A week later, the Chinese invited the American ping pong team to visit. A week later, America announced they would open trade with China.
Nixon himself went to China in 1972, visiting their government. It was the first formal contact with China in 25 years.
After China, Nixon visited Moscow in 1972- he was invited because the Soviets were worried about a Chinese-American alliance.
In Moscow, Nixon signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I). This limited the number of nuclear weapons each side would have.
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev said: "There must be room in the world for two great nations with different systems to live and work together."
Nixon wanted law and order- he nominated strict judges who would give heavy penalties to criminals. He instituted the "war on drugs" in which drug users would be heavily penalized.
Nixon was conservative on civil rights- for example he opposed school busing which brought low-income students into better schools. However, he did promote affirmative action, which gave preference to racial minorities in college applications or jobs.
In the 1972 election, Nixon was worried the Vietnam War (still going on) would hurt his chances.
Nixon created an "enemies list" of people unfriendly to the administration. He then had the IRS investigate these people.
But the worst was yet to come.
In 1972, Nixon's campaign had five men break into Democratic party HQ at the Watergate apartment complex.
They were sent to steal information and place bugs in the campaign office.
A security guard caught them and they were arrested. The White House denied any involvement.
One of the Watergate burglars confessed that the White House had told him to plead guilty and remain silent- suspicious.
In July investigators learned that there was a taping system in the Oval Office. A special prosecutor tried to get the tapes and Nixon wanted him fired- the Attorney General refused to fire him, so Nixon fired him instead as well as anyone working on the investigation.
The Supreme Court rules that Nixon must turn over the tapes. The tapes showed that Nixon was orchestrating a cover-up of Watergate in the White House.
With impeachment inevitable, Nixon resigned in 1974. His VP Gerald Ford took over.
One of Ford's first acts was to pardon Richard Nixon, angering the left.
He then offered amnesty to Vietnam draft-dodgers, angering the right.
To make matters worse, the economy was struggling. The Democrats see an opportunity to take the White House back in 1976.