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Nixon said no to recount in '60

By JACK TORRY Toledo Blade November 10, 2000

- After the exceedingly close 1960 election, the New York Herald Tribune published the start of a series suggesting voter fraud in Texas and Illinois might have tipped the presidency from Vice President Richard M. Nixon to Democrat Sen. John F. Kennedy.

When the first four stories had been published, Nixon summoned reporter Earl Mazo to his office. "Earl, those are interesting articles you are writing," Nixon said. "But no one steals the presidency of the United States."

The Herald Tribune killed the rest of the series. It was the final act in a presidential election every bit as close as this year's race between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. And just like this year's allegations of voter irregularities in Florida, reports swirled in 1960 that fraud in key states could have cost Nixon a majority in the electoral college.

While legal challenges are expected in Florida this year, Nixon met Kennedy one week after the election and made clear that he would neither demand a recount nor contest the election in court. Although Nixon's admirers consider his decision as one of his finest moments, his detractors dismiss it as self-serving, claiming a recount could have exposed as much Republican fraud as Democratic irregularities.

But no matter what his reason, a divisive constitutional crisis was avoided during the height of the Cold War.

"Whatever Nixon's inner feelings about his just due, whatever his motives for not challenging the election returns, his decision was both personally unselfish and profoundly in the interests of the country and of the president-elect," wrote former New York Times columnist Tom Wicker in his biography of Nixon, One of Us.

In his 1978 memoirs, Nixon claimed that a recount would have taken more than a year and one-half "during which time the legitimacy of Kennedy's election would be in question," which he claimed would be "devastating to America's foreign relations."

"And what if I demanded a recount and it turned out that despite the vote fraud, Kennedy had still won? Charges of 'sore loser' would follow me through history and remove any possibility of a further political career."

The Kennedy-Nixon race featured two young, aggressive candidates in what was the first modern TV campaign. The election was so close that Kennedy used to keep a note in his pocket with the numerals 118,574 - the number of votes by which he won.

Kennedy won 303 electoral votes to Nixon's 219. But Republicans charged that that there was voter fraud in Texas and Cook County, Ill., where the political machine was controlled by Mayor Richard Daley - father of Gore's campaign manager, Bill Daley.

A shift of 4,480 votes in Illinois and 25,000 in Texas would have given Nixon the presidency. Although voter fraud in those states has never been proven and there is every reason to believe Republicans were stealing votes in southern Illinois, Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen, R., Ill., campaign manager Len Hall, Republican National Chairman Thruston Morton, and longtime adviser Bryce Harlow pleaded with Nixon to challenge the result.

But Harlow later told Wicker that Nixon simply replied, "Bryce. It'd tear the country to pieces. You can't do that."

Others were eager to avoid a messy fight. Former Republican President Herbert Hoover telephoned Nixon in Florida after the election and suggested a meeting with Kennedy. "I think we're in enough trouble in the world today," Nixon recalled Hoover telling him. Kennedy, who worried that Nixon would demand a recount, flew from Palm Beach to Key Biscayne. While Kennedy relaxed on the porch of one of the hotels, Nixon went inside and fetched Cokes for both.

"How the hell did you carry Ohio?" Kennedy joked, referring to Nixon's narrow victory in a state Democrats expected to carry.

According to Nixon's account, the two never even discussed a potential recount. Instead, the discussion centered on whether Kennedy should bring Republicans into his administration and whether to recognize Communist China. When they emerged to meet the waiting reporters, a Kennedy quip made it clear there would not be a challenge. "I asked him how he took Ohio, but he did not tell me," Kennedy joked. "He's saving it for 1964."

-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here, November 10, 2000


A Touch of Class: Nixon said no to recount in '60

-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here, November 10, 2000.


Ollll' Joe would have loved you like a son; but posting trash reports [with no historical value] here; ain't goen to make it. See previous posts on the subject.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, November 10, 2000.

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