Forty years ago, on August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announced that he was resigning from the presidency -- his political career was in shambles after his involvement in the Watergate scandal came to light. Watergate effectively ended his life in politics, but his career could have been over two decades earlier -- if it weren't for a dog named Checkers.
In 1952, when then-Senator Nixon from California was selected as Dwight Eisenhower's vice-presidential pick, Nixon found himself steeped in another, near-disastrous scandal. Nixon had been accused of accepting $18,000 dollars from backers, allegedly in exchange for political favors. As a result, some members of the Republican Party began to urge that Nixon to be dropped from the ticket.
Nixon, meanwhile, contended that the money was not for his personal enrichment, but was instead part of a fund meant to cover political expenses, like travel between Washington D.C. and his home state. And he was right. There was nothing illegal about those contributions, but just the hint of controversy was enough to diminish his well-honed image as an incorruptible, "everyman" sort of politician.