Ford Says Nixon Gaining Respect
HARRISBURG, Ill. (AP) _ Former President Richard Nixon never will escape the cloud of Watergate, but his contributions to international diplomacy will be remembered, says his successor.
Former President Gerald Ford, who visited this Southern Illinois community to campaign for Republican congressional candidate Randy Patchett, said Nixon is regaining America’s respect 12 years after he resigned to avoid impeachment.
″He was one of our outstanding statesmen in the area of foreign affairs,″ Ford said of Nixon.
Ford acknowledged Nixon made some mistakes during the Watergate scandal, but said he believes the former president ″has come to be viewed in a more favorable light as an individual.″
Ford criticized Patchett’s Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Ken Gray, as a liberal, pork-barrel politician who, Ford said, has done little to improve the economy of Southern Illinois. Ford was appointed vice president in 1973 after the resignation-under-fire of Spiro Agnew. Ford later stepped into the presidency after Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.
Nixon resigned after the House Judiciary Committee recommended he be impeached for allegedly obstructing an investigation into the bungled break-in of the Democratic Party’s national headquarters in Washington’s Watergate hotel.
Nixon’s foreign-relations accomplishments included the reopening of trade between the United States and China in 1968, and the SALT I agreement with the Soviet Union to limit production of nuclear arms. He is visiting the Soviet Union this week.
Ford, who granted Nixon a pardon for any crimes he may have committed in office, was defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election.