In September 1952, Richard Nixon, running for vice president on Dwight D. Eisenhower's ticket, delivered the so-called Checkers Speech, defending himself against charges of misappropriated campaign funds to a national television audience. Nixon's confessional tone was something unique to American politics, and the fact that it was delivered to a national television audience in the fledgling days of the new medium made it among the most-watched political speeches in U.S. history.
Historian Kevin Mattson, author of the new book Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon's Checkers Speech and the Rocking, Socking Election of 1952, says the speech marked a turning point in American politics. "As I started to study it," says Mattson, "it became really apparent to me that Richard Nixon had laid a lot of the groundwork for contemporary politics."
Mattson talks to AARP Radio host Mike Cuthbert about his new book and the speech that he says changed American politics forever.