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He resigned rather than drag the country through hell.” His weakness, she thinks, might have been his complete loyalty and dedication to his staff. Richard Nixon once lauded his wife for wearing “a respectable Republican cloth coat,” and that proper image has stuck.Nunn disagrees, adding that most people don’t realize Pat Nixon became an orphan at age 17 and put herself through school.

Julie Nixon Eisenhower, who spent summers with the Nunns in California, is still her friend. In 1952, when Nixon delivered his famous speech defending the integrity of his vice presidential campaign, he admitted to keeping one political donation: a cocker spaniel.That same modest suitcase and some outfits on display at the museum came from storage in the Drown’s cellar. She never stopped believing in him.” ••• From his anti-Communist crusade through Vietnam and Watergate, Nixon was never bland.And when Nixon resigned the presidency over Watergate, Nunn remembers her mother on the phone with Pat as each friend tried to cheer up the other. You either liked the strong flavor of his politics or you didn’t.Understandable, Nunn says: “Checkers was the cutest dog.” She watched the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate on television and thought: “Dick looks terrible.” After Nixon lost his 1962 race for California governor, the two families took a three-month trip to Europe where the former vice president met with heads of state. “We had a blast,” recalls Nunn, 20 at the time, “No matter where he went, he was mobbed with well wishers.” There’s a faux East Room in the Nixon Library, but Nunn has been to the real thing – and to the rose garden for Tricia Nixon’s wedding.The Nixons attended Nunn’s wedding in 1968 – except for the president-elect who was busy choosing a Cabinet.

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