Redirected from Gerald R. Ford
He was the only President to serve without having been elected President or Vice President. He was a member of the House of Representatives for 24 years from 1949 - 1973, where he served on the Warren Commission, and became Minority Leader of the House. When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned during Richard Nixon's presidency, Nixon appointed Ford (with the approval of the Senate) to take his place. When Nixon then resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Ford assumed the presidency, proclaiming that "our long national nightmare is over". Ford gave Nixon a blanket pardon for any crimes he might have committed while President.
The economy was a great concern during the Ford administration. In response to rising inflation, Ford went before the American public on television in October, 1974 and asked them to "whip inflation now" (WIN); as part of this program, he urged people to wear "WIN" buttons. However, many perceived this as simply a gimmick without offering any effective means of solving the problem
In the aftermath of Watergate, the Democrats scored major gains in both the House and the Senate in the 1974 elections. Ford and Congress battled over legislation, with Ford vetoing scores of Democrat-supported bills.
Ford also faced a foreign policy crisis with the Mayaguez Incident. In 1975, shortly after the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia, Cambodians seized an American merchant ship, the Mayaguez, in international waters. Ford dispatched Marines to rescue the crew, but the marines landed on the wrong island and met unexpectedly stiff resistance just as, unknown to the US, the Mayaguez sailors were being released. Several American soldiers were killed in the fighting.
It is believed that Ford's pardoning of Nixon, along with the continuing economic problems, may have cost him the election in 1976. His campaign may also have been hampered by a strong challenge that year for the nomination in his party by Ronald Reagan.
Ford was from Michigan and played football for the University of Michigan. Despite his athleticism, Ford had a reputation for being extremly clumsy. Television footage often showed him stumbling down the stairs, bumping his head on the doorway of Air Force One, or walking into other people. This stereotype was greatly popularized by a series of skits on Saturday Night Live featuring Chevy Chase who portrayed Ford as a man who was literally incapable of taking a single step without falling over or destroying something. Many of Ford's supporters have since denounced this stereotype as unfair, saying the President was no more clumsy than any normal person- except his blunders were just far more popularized.
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