Ford, Nixon Sustained Friendship for Decades





Months before Richard M. Nixon set a relatively unknown Michigan congressman named Gerald R. Ford on the path to the White House, Nixon turned to Ford, who called himself the embattled president's "only real friend," to get him out of trouble.

During one of the darkest days of the Watergate scandal, Nixon secretly confided in Ford, at the time the House minority leader. He begged for help. He complained about fair-weather friends and swore at perceived rivals in his own party. "Tell the guys, goddamn it, to get off their ass and start fighting back," Nixon pleaded with Ford in one call recorded by the president's secret taping system....

... the tapes, documents and two lengthy recent interviews with Ford before his death this week, conducted for a future book and embargoed until after his death, show that the close political alliance between the two men seriously influenced Ford's eventual decision to pardon Nixon, the most momentous decision of his short presidency and almost certainly the one that cost him any chance of winning the White House in his own right two years later. Ford became president on Aug. 9, 1974; he pardoned Nixon just a month later."I think that Nixon felt I was about the only person he could really trust on the Hill," Ford said during the 2005 interview.


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