President Richard M. Nixon: Personal Life Marriage and Family

About the personal life of President of the United States Richard M. Nixon including his marriage to Pat and his family.

One of the ties that held their marriage together over the years was their common attitude toward work. As Pat once told a reporter: "I had to work. I haven't just sat back and thought of myself or what I wanted to do. I've kept working. I don't have time to worry about who I admire or who I identify with. I've never had it easy. I'm not like all you--all those people who had it easy." Pat had mixed feelings about her husband's political career. On the one hand, she provided the strength that allowed him to go on. Just 3 minutes before he went on the air with his "Checkers" speech, Nixon turned to Pat and said: "I can't go through with this." She reassured him, and sat next to him as he delivered the address. On the other hand, Pat was continually urging Nixon to retire from politics. On 2 separate occasions she forced him to make written promises that he would quit. Both times Nixon broke his promises. In 1962, when he surprised her at a small dinner party with an announcement that he would run for governor of California, Pat "chewed him out" with such noisy vehemence that the evening was spoiled for everyone. Nevertheless, she followed her husband in all his political adventures and campaigned tirelessly on his behalf. Once, when she was asked if she weren't bored by the same tedious rally day after day, she answered: "I'm always interested in the rallies, they're so different. Some are outside; some are inside. Some have old people; some have young people."

When Pat was 34, her daughter Tricia was born, and 2 years later came Julie. Needless to say, Nixon had little time to spend with his daughters. Just before Tricia's wedding, he told newsmen: "I was out making a political speech the day she was born. . . . I wasn't around much while she grew up. For the rest of the time, up to the present time, it seems I've always been saying good-bye--good-bye to her at airports."

During Nixon's White House years Pat spent much of her time alone. She and her husband often ate their meals in different parts of the mansion. The First Lady's own staff was frequently indignant at the way the President ignored her during public appearances, and no one could overlook the many weekends he spent at the Bahamas or Camp David with his friend Bebe Rebozo--leaving Pat behind in Washington.

When asked about Nixon's career, Pat once commented: "The only thing I could do was help him, but it was not a life I would have chosen." Later, when a reporter suggested that she had had a good life, Pat raised her eyebrows and shot back, "I just don't tell all."

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