President Gerald Ford: Vice-President to Nixon

About the political career of President Gerald Ford as he assumes the role of vice-president to Richard Nixon.


December 6, 1973 . . .

At 6:10 P.M., in the chamber of the House of Representatives, Ford raised his right hand and took the oath of office as Vice-President. He fluffed his lines when he came to the words "I will well and faithfully discharge . . ." Chief Justice Warren Burger had to repeat the words, and on his 2nd try, Ford mastered the phrase. After the ceremonies, reporters asked Ford what had been going through his mind during the historic moments while he was taking the oath. "I was trying to remember my lines," answered the new Vice-President. "I guess I blew them once, though."

Ford's 1st pledge as Vice-President was not made to the American people--it was made to Nixon. "Mr. President," he said, "you have my support and my loyalty."

In order to fulfill that pledge, Ford traveled more than 100,000 mi. and made more than 500 appearances over the next 8 months, stubbornly defending the Nixon record on Watergate. In one particularly aggressive speech, he declared that "a coalition of groups like the AFL-CIO, Americans for Democratic Action, and other powerful pressure organizations is waging a massive propaganda campaign against the President of the U.S. And make no mistake about it--it is an all-out attack. Their aim is total victory. . . . If they can crush the President and his philosophy, they are convinced they can then dominate the Congress and, through it, the nation." In the same address, he cited the "mountainous achievements" of the Nixon Administration, and dismissed Watergate as "a tragic but grotesque sideshow."

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