Explaining History


Richard Nixon and the beginning of the Watergate Scandal 1972-3

When Richard Nixon won his second presidential term in 1972 defeating George McGovern in 1972, he was at the height of his popularity. The previous year he had captured the public mood when he addressed the nation's fears about the growing economic stagnation that America had begun to experience at the end ofthe 1960s. He had successfully negotiated with both Mao and Brezhnev earlier that year and offered many Americans the prospect of a withdrawal from Vietnam without humiliation. The break in at the Watergate hotel had not attracted many headlines by the time of the January 1973 inauguration, but within seventeen months, Nixon's presidency was over and he left the White House in disgrace.

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