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Nixon delivers `Checkers' speech

TIMES PAST

September 23, 2006

Sept. 23, 1952: Sen. Richard M. Nixon delivered what came to be known as his "Checkers" speech from the stage of the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard "with only his wife for an audience," The Times reported.

His half-hour address was televised nationally.

Nixon, who was Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential running mate, was under fire after reports that he misused a secret $18,000 campaign fund.

In the speech, which is credited with saving Nixon's candidacy, he said the money wasn't secret and that it simply covered "political expenses that I do not think should be charged to the taxpayers of the United States."

He went on to describe his finances in detail -- even saying his wife, Pat, had no mink coat, "but she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat."

He said the only gift he had received was from "a man down in Texas" who sent the Nixon children a little black-and-white-spotted cocker spaniel, which 6-year-old Tricia named Checkers.

"And I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it," he said.

The Times reported the speech as a triumph. "Nixon's obvious sincerity loosed a rising flood of response from all America," the newspaper said.

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