Published On: Mon, Jun 27th, 2022

CLOSE CALLS WITH PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES

Who really won?

Citing irregularities in certain swing states, many still questioned who really won the Presidency.  Sound familiar?  Only this was the 1960 general election. 

Was the winner really John F. Kennedy?  Or would Richard Nixon pull it out? 

Irregularities had surfaced in Illinois and Texas. Nixon had lost by fewer than 120,000 popular votes.  Imagine a margin that small? Today, it would have triggered an insurrection, a revolution!  But here’s how Nixon responded?

Gracefully.

I could think of no worse example for nations abroad, who for the first time were trying to put free electoral procedures into effect, than that of the United States wrangling over the results of our presidential election, and even suggesting that the presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the ballot box,” said an unusually magnanimous, good sport Nixon. 

Saluting Kennedy as the winner, Nixon was praised for how he handled the defeat and suspicion that fraud had cost him the Presidency.

Years later, Nixon won a second term as President, this time after the biggest landslide victory in our country’s history. 

Then in midst of the biter aftermath of a screwy event called Watergate came widespread public censure, a likely impeachment, and despite his having said “I’m not a crook,” Nixon became the only President to resign our Nation’s highest office . . .  in disgrace. Still, he literally took off smiling broadly one day with both arms stretched out wide and his hands each giving victory signs.

This happened while I was still a young reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer. And before he had caved in under the mounting pressure, I was lucky to interview him.  It was a close call.  I almost didn’t get to the train station in time for his triumphant arrival in the City of Brotherly Love.

My editor would’ve brotherly hated me had I failed to meet Nixon when he stepped off the new high-speed rail line between Washington, DC and Philadelphia. He wanted me to ask the President how was the ride?

I did and Nixon said he loved it, then sped off to a busy schedule of appointments. My assignment was to follow him wherever he went!  And I mean WHEREVER he went!

“You stay on his tail,” my city editor commanded.  And this I obediently did, following him everywhere that day even to the Academy of Music that night to attend a concert.

He entered the stately concert hall in center city with me right on his tail.  I was so gung-ho those days, I would have followed the President through North Vietnam.

Upon entering the Academy of Music, Secret Service personnel escorted Nixon to the presidential booth where he would overlook the concert stage, alas, with no reporters like me allowed anywhere near him.

So, I decided I’d wait until the concert concluded before trying to interview him.

Then something incredible happened. 

Suddenly, loud shots rang out. What?  Pop Pop POP!  What?  What?  They seemed to be coming from where the President was sitting.

OMG, here I was the only news reporter within 50 yards of the President and I’m hearing loud bangs, blasts coming from the direction where the President of the United States was sitting at a concert.

Thoughts blazed through my mind of Ford’s Theater . . . Abraham Lincoln . . . John Wilkes Booth, holy sh_t!  Instinctively I made a mad dash toward the Presidential booth . . . to the story of the century. 

Here I was . . . me . . . covering the President . . . UNDER  ATTACK? 

Then I felt big burly arms wrapped around my legs. I went sprawling on the carpeted floor.

“Get off me, let me go,” I screamed at two men who had tackled me.

“I’m a reporter.  Must get to the President. SHOTS FIRED!

“You schmuck,” one of my tacklers shouted. 

“That’s the 1812 overture. Begins with f___ing cannon fire . . .  you nut!

TRUE STORY!

When he’s not making a fool of himself, Tom Madden is writing countless articles, a weekly blog (MaddenMischief.com) and many books, his latest WORDSHINE MAN, available on Amazon. He also creates TV series, one is Xtra Terresla, whose main character is modeled after Tesla founder Leon Musk, soon to own Twitter. Madden is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm.

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