(50.) GERALD RUDOLPH FORD (1913-2006)
Republican Ford/Robert Dole
Defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale, 1976
Ford is the only president elected neither president nor vice president. Two political scandals changed Ford’s life. The first occurred on October 10, 1973, when Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned rather than face trial on charges of bribery and tax evasion and President Nixon submitted Ford’s name as a candidate for the vice presidency to the Congress for approval. Next was the Watergate scandal in which Nixon was charged with misusing his power in order to obstruct justice in the Watergate affair. Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, and Ford became president.
As president, Ford attempted to erase Watergate wounds by pardoning Nixon for any crimes related to the Watergate affair for which he might be convicted. Thereupon, the pardon itself became a highly controversial subject for political discussion.
Ford, a Republican from Michigan, represented his district in Congress for 25 years. He favored equal rights legislation, supported the war in Southeast Asia, military aid to Israel and diplomatic overtures to the Soviet Union and China. He opposed federal aid to education and bussing for racial balance.
Challenged by conservative Ronald Reagan, Ford survived the hotly contested Republican nomination in 1976, but lost the election to Jimmy Carter. Ford received 48% of the vote to Carter’s 51%.