Former President Ford, who died at his California home Tuesday, led the nation after the Watergate affair and the end of the Vietnam war. The NewsHour presents a report on his life.
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SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:
Gerald Ford holds the unique distinction of being the only U.S. president never elected as president or vice president. He assumed the office on August 9, 1974, following the resignation of Richard Nixon.
One month later, Ford granted Nixon a full, free and absolute pardon for any crimes he may have committed in the Watergate scandal, asserting the nation would be torn apart if Nixon were brought to trial.
My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed. My conscious tells me that only I as president have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book.
Ford's decision caused widespread protest. His popularity plummeted, and he was called before Congress to explain his act.
I want to assure you, the members of this subcommittee, members of the Congress, and the American people, there was no deal, period.