Inside the Senate offices: Richard Nixon

The former president was a senator for a short but eventful period. ABC's Ali Rogin talks to Senate historian Kate Scott in Nixon's former office.
4:37 | 01/13/19

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Transcript for Inside the Senate offices: Richard Nixon
Eight Jeremy feet Alan Rogan on Capitol Hill where Indy historic Russell Senate Office Building. I'm with Kate Scott senate historian this office now belongs to senator might leave you talk. But it used to belong to Richard Nixon right right of California he had relatively short congressional career but it was during that short. Period of time that he served in congress two terms in the house. And he was just. Into his third year during his first senate term when he was selected to be vice presidential candidate with Dwight Eisenhower. Today if you ask most people what they think of when they think of Richard Nixon they're gonna think of him as president or they're going to think of the end of his presidency as a result of Watergate. But he has a congressional career that most people forget about and it was that congressional career which put him on his path to the presidency when he came to this he had that reputation of being a fierce anti Communist it was a very popular position. At the time when he came in in 1949 he was serving went Joseph McCarthy who would later go line. Two becomes sort of the nation's most prominent figure in the Communist crusade. Richard Nixon had had fairly complicated relationship with senator McCarthy. Particularly in the years at when he served as vice president with Eisenhower he. Worked to try to. Bringing in some McCarthy's excesses. And he did that. Fairly quietly behind the scenes but when McCarthy went after them the US army. Which was. Where Dwight die Dwight. Protective of the US army and when senator McCarthy went after the DUS army. Nixon really helps to deal with the administration's effort to two reunion McCarthy. More publicly. He also had a fabulous stump speech was great and stop. And a really good speaker very prominent speaker in the Republican Party so leading up to his selection as vice presidential candidate 1952. He had just become Mary powerful figure in the Republican Party. Of course when he was campaigning he also mean that checkers speech which he talked about the would be expenses that go into and it running at a senate office. Yeah I think a little bit of trouble shortly after he won the election for senate some of his friends greeted the campaign. For that he used to paid for summits expenses it actually against the lock. The problem was that it's sort of undermined his credentials as. Fierce. Anti corruption advocate you know as someone who promoted good government and wanted to reduce waste and government. And so there was a there were there was a real concern that maybe he would have to be dropped from the ticket and that may be even presidential. Nominee Dwight Eisenhower would ask him to drop from the ticket. So Richard Nixon. Decided to give the speech he gives this checkers speech sort of explaining. His roots that he's a very he would never made much money he come from really modest background we live rather modest. After he got out of the navy he had become a public servants he didn't have much money but that he always been very frugal in their approach to household expenses and sort of mocking some of the scandals that had plagued the Truman administration he said you know my wife doesn't help me coat. But he does have a respectable Republican. Rock. And I always thought of it. He looked good in any. He was making the case in this checkers speech to the American public and saying according view. Where young family we don't make a lot of money we try to be frugal and then he mentions. This little thought it was a little cocker spaniel dog. He says you know we've got these gifts we've received some of these deaths one of the gets that we perceived as this cute little dog which one of our daughters has named checkers. And by gosh we're not gonna give checkers back. Regardless of what they say about. Him he. He implored Americans watching and listening to the speech to contact the Republican National Committee and tell them. Whether they thought he should stay on the ticket. And they did tens of thousands of people contact of the Republican National Committee the phones ring enough but in the senate in senate offices. And and the American public responded very favorably and sentenced when yes we understand he got himself into a bit a trouble but he's come clean. We like and Eisenhower was deeply impressed with the speech and it convinced him that he needed this Ametek. Well thanks so much Kate really appreciated this learned. Senator Richard Nixon's office.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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