About The Film


In 1962, Richard Nixon's once meteoric political career lay in ruins. The former vice-president had suffered two bitter losses; one in the 1960 presidential race against John F. Kennedy, the other in a bid for the governorship of his home state of California. Yet, only six years later, Nixon would be elected President of the United States. How did it happen? Why did it happen?

That is the historical riddle that Nixon's the One: The '68 Election (And How It Changed America) examines. Combining elements of biography with an exploration of the larger cultural, political, and historical landscape of the Sixties, the film argues that Nixon, far from being an improbable president, was the figure who most expertly exploited the tensions of the era, harnessing them for his own ends.

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Time Line

  • Late 1950

    Nixon defeats California Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas for the Senate, running against her as “The Pink Lady.” Gahagan, in turn, bestows a nickname upon Nixon: “Tricky Dick.” Nixon visits Key Biscayne for the first time.

  • Summer 1952

    Republican presidential nominee Dwight Eisenhower selects Nixon as his running mate, but allegations of financial impropriety threaten to derail Nixon’s candidacy. Eisenhower considers dumping him from the ticket. Nixon reverses his fortunes and salvages his political career by making his famous Checkers speech. Historical Footage

  • November 1952

    Eisenhower wins the presidency. At 40, Nixon becomes vice-president.

    November 1956

    Eisenhower and Nixon are re-elected.

  • November 1960

    Nixon loses the presidential election to John F. Kennedy by the slimmest of margins.

  • November 1962

    Nixon loses the California governor’s race to incumbent Pat Brown. Following his defeat, Nixon tells the press that they won’t “have Nixon to kick around anymore.”

    Historical Footage

    Spring 1963

    Nixon joins a Wall Street law firm.

  • 1964

    Nixon supports Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona in the ’64 presidential campaign. Goldwater is drubbed in the November elections; Republicans lose 37 seats in the House of Representatives, two in the senate, and over 500 in state legislatures.

  • 1966

    Nixon campaigns tirelessly on behalf of Republican candidates across the country. In midterm elections, Republicans win a net of 47 House seats, three Senate seats, eight governorships, and 540 seats in state legislatures. Spiro Agnew becomes Governor of Maryland. Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California.

  • January 1967

    Nixon tells his closest advisors that he is interested in a presidential run in 1968.

    July 1967

    Major riots rock Newark (July 12–16) and Detroit (July 23–30).

  • October 1967

    A Gallup poll shows Nixon running ahead of President Lyndon Johnson in a speculative match-up, 49 to 45 percent.

    January 30th 1968

    The North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive against targets in South Vietnam.

  • February 2nd 1968

    Nixon kicks off his campaign in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    March 31st 1968

    In a televised address to the nation, President Johnson announces that he will not seek the Democratic nomination.Historical Footage

  • August 5-9th 1968

    The Republican Party holds its convention in Miami Beach. Nixon, despite a considerable lead in polls, faces challenges from both New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and California Governor Ronald Reagan at the convention. Nixon chooses a Southerner as his running mate : Governor Spiro Agnew of Maryland.

  • August 7-9th 1968

    Riots erupt in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, eight miles from the Republican convention. Three blacks are killed.

  • August 26-29th 1968

    The Democratic National Convention is held in Chicago. Anti-war protests erupt into riots; national television captures the images. Nixon watches the proceedings from Key Biscayne.

  • November 1968

    Running against both Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey and independent candidate George Wallace, Nixon manages a narrow victory. Nixon is the 37th President of the U.S.

    Historical Footage
  • February 1969

    President Nixon authorizes Operation Menu, the bombing of North Vietnamese bases within Cambodia. Over the following four years, U.S. forces will drop more than a half million tons of bombs on Cambodia.

  • November 3rd 1969

    Nixon delivers his “silent majority” speech, asking for support as he continues to execute the war in Vietnam in hopes of a negotiated peace. He dismisses the idea of an immediate and total American withdrawal.

    Historical Footage
  • April 29th 1970

    South Vietnamese troops invade Cambodia, pushing toward Vietcong bases. Two days later, U.S. forces mount a second attack. Operations in Cambodia last for 60 days, and uncover vast North Vietnamese jungle supply depots.

  • May 4th 1970

    Students at Kent State protest the American-supported invasion of Cambodia. Four are killed when National Guard troops open fire on the crowd.

  • May 8th 1970

    Anti-war protesters hold a rally in Lower Manhattan. Pro-Nixon construction workers stage a counter-rally. The two sides clash as the construction workers storm the anti-war demonstration.

    February 21-28th 1972

    Nixon makes a historic visit to the People’s Republic of China.

  • June 17th 1972

    Bernard Barker, Rolando Martínez, Virgilio González, Frank Sturgis, and James McCord are arrested for breaking in to Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate in Washington, D.C. E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy will also later be indicted as conspirators.

  • August 21-23 1972

    The Republican National Convention returns to Miami Beach.

    October 10th 1972

    FBI agents establish that the Watergate break-in stems from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon re-election effort, The Washington Post reports.

  • November 1972

    In the presidential election, Nixon defeats Democratic nominee George McGovern in one of the largest landslides in American history.

    January 27th 1973

    All warring parties in the Vietnam War sign a ceasefire.

  • May 18th 1973

    The Senate Watergate Committee begins its nationally televised hearings.

    Historical Footage

    July 24th 1974

    The Supreme Court rules unanimously that Nixon must turn over the tape recordings of 64 White House conversations, rejecting the president's claims of executive privilege.

  • July 27th 1974

    The House Judiciary Committee passes the first of three articles of impeachment, charging obstruction of justice.

    August 8th 1974

    Nixon resigns.

    Historical Footage