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It was 50 Years Ago Today.

On November 5, 1968, Richard Nixon completed his remarkable comeback from political oblivion and was elected President of the United States (okay, his victory wasn’t confirmed until early the following morning, but still…).

When I was writing my book, I deliberately aimed for 2018 as a release date since it would mark the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s victory. Indeed, the 50th anniversary had been the main driving point behind the entire project. This book had started out as a proposed Q&A with former Nixon aide and Mudge Rose managing partner Tom Evans to mark the 50th anniversary of his joining the firm in 1963.

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A Fantastic Review from CHOICE

After losing the California governor’s race in 1962, Nixon announced the end of his political career, and he accepted a partnership in a prestigious New York City law firm. He became a valuable rainmaker for the firm, and he used his position to reconstitute his political base with wealthy contributors, a deep and talented campaign staff, and enhanced international experience. This culminated in his victory in the 1968 presidential campaign. The assistant managing editor of the American Bar Association’s trade journal, Li provides an excellent, straightforward narrative of how this transpired. The author places these transformational years within a quick survey of Nixon’s prior political career and a brief overview of his two administrations. The consistency of Nixon’s talents and flaws is evident in each phase of his career. The final chapter treats former colleagues and legal issues of the firm during Nixon’s presidency. The epilogue touches on recent presidential players’ engagements with prestigious law firms. Although this focused and manageable account relies more on interviews and printed sources than on extensive archival research, it deserves consideration in competition with John Farrell’s or Evan Thomas’s recent, massive Nixon biographies.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. — Choice Reviews

Rudy (BOOK EXCERPT)

[T]here have been plenty of politicians who, at one time, called the venerated halls of Mudge “home.” In addition to [Richard] Nixon, [John] Mitchell, [Pat] Buchanan, [former NJ Governor Jim] Florio, and [former HUD Secretary Carla] Hills, several other prominent national figures have spent time at Mudge, including ex New York mayor John Lindsay, federal judge and DOJ official Harold Russell (“Ace”) Tyler Jr., former New York State Supreme Court justice William Lawless, former Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, and Manhattan federal district judge Jed Rakoff. More recently, in 2016, Democrat Tim Canova, a former Mudge Rose associate, unsuccessfully ran for US House of Representatives in Florida. Perhaps Mudge’s most prominent politico after Nixon, however, was a New Yorker who spent almost no time at the firm.

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Anna Chennault (1925-2018) (BOOK EXCERPT)

Anna Chennault passed away on March 30, 2018 at the age of 94. The Chinese-born journalist and political power broker played a major role in Richard Nixon’s 1968 Presidential campaign. Read an excerpt about her and Nixon from my upcoming book:

On October 31, [President Lyndon] Johnson stunned the country when he announced a bombing halt, as well as upcoming peace talks in Paris between the United States and both North and South Vietnam. The maneuver wasn’t completely out of the blue—Johnson had laid down his terms for a bombing halt in June. The breakthrough had come in early October when the North Vietnamese dropped its objection to South Vietnam’s participation in the proposed peace talks. Johnson now had his chance to end the war on his own terms and salvage his place in history in one fell swoop. There were still some significant hurdles to be cleared before there was any chance of an actual peace treaty, but the news buoyed his spirits considerably.

The news also lifted [Vice President and 1968 Democratic nominee for President] Humphrey’s fortunes. After Johnson’s announcement, Nixon’s lead vanished almost immediately and Humphrey was now in a dead heat with the GOP nominee. Nixon was irate and convinced that Johnson was trying to steal the election at the last minute in favor of his vice president. Nixon still had the bitter taste of 1962 in his mouth when a race he thought he was winning turned against him in the closing stages as a result of a piece of Democratic foreign policy that he had little respect for. Now he had an unwelcome sense of déjà vu. Luckily for him, however, he had prepared for something like this, and this time, he had an ace in the hole.

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Nixon Mudge (BOOK EXCERPT)

Four months after his “last press conference,” Richard Nixon seemed to be making good on his vow to leave politics. A few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 1963, he had a job interview with several partners from the Wall Street law firm Mudge, Stern, Baldwin & Todd. The last time he had interviewed with a white-shoe law firm in New York, he had been a law student and, like many aspiring lawyers before and after him, he had squeezed into an interview suit he hardly ever wore and sat, nervously, in the waiting room of the managing partner’s office hoping to distinguish himself from the hundreds of competitors equally desperate for the job.

This was a different type of interview.

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The Last Press Conference (Part II) (BOOK EXCERPT)

“Now that Mr. Klein has made his statement, and now that all the members of the press are so delighted that I have lost, I’d like to make a statement of my own,” Nixon said, immediately putting the stunned reporters in attendance on notice. After asserting that he had “no complaints about the press coverage,” he then spent the next few minutes reeling off a laundry list of complaints, singling out the dominant Los Angeles newspaper, the LA Times, for treating him unfairly. Nixon angrily laid into all of the reporters present, complaining that they misrepresented him on the campaign trail and refused to accurately report what he had said. He asserted that his few flubs, including the one where he had said he was running for “governor of the United States,” had been blown out of proportion while reporters had given Brown a free ride. He also lectured them about how to do their jobs, maintaining that if they were going to back one candidate over the other, they should do it on the editorial pages rather than as part of their news coverage.

Nixon then launched into his concession speech. Except, rather than fall back on the usual vague platitudes that are standard components of almost all concession speeches, such as moving forward together and being grateful to God and family, Nixon launched into an attack on the man that had just defeated him by nearly 300,000 votes out of nearly 5.8 million cast.

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The Last Press Conference (Part I) (BOOK EXCERPT)

Richard Nixon was in a foul mood when he took to the stage inside the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton on the morning of November 7, 1962. Sometimes, it could be hard to tell how he was feeling. He was an enigma even to his friends and admirers, while his enemies—well, his enemies were so numerous and varied that, one day, he would have his own official “Enemies List” that consisted of hundreds of names yet still seemed incomplete. On this morning, though, his feelings were pretty obvious to anyone with a pulse. He was so furious that one could almost see the proverbial steam coming from his ears as feelings of bitterness and failure permeated from his pores.

Worse, he’d have to face perhaps his greatest enemy: the press. He had once been their darling, harnessing their approval and acclaim to facilitate a rapid rise through the Republican ranks to become one of the most famous politicians in the country. Now he considered the media to be an implacable foe that was largely responsible for his current predicament.

It was the day after the California gubernatorial election, and Nixon had just gotten humiliated at the polls. Only two years earlier, the two-term vice president had nearly fulfilled his lifelong ambition when he came within an eyelash of winning the presidency in one of the closest elections in American history. That race, against John F. Kennedy, had also been one of the most controversial, marred by accusations of voter fraud, ballot box stuffing, and Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago playing the part of Victor Frankenstein by resurrecting thousands of dead men to vote Democratic.

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