- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2000

The closeness of the presidential vote in Florida, where Democrats are pushing hand recounts, is reminiscent of events in Chicago in the 1960 election in which John F. Kennedy beat Richard M. Nixon.

Mr. Kennedy, the Democrat, won Illinois by an 8,858-vote margin out of the 4.8 million votes cast. Nixon supporters strongly believed that vote fraud in Illinois and Texas gave Mr. Kennedy his 330-219 electoral vote victory.

The suspected fraud in Illinois was believed to have been orchestrated by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. The late mayor is the father of William Daley, campaign chairman for Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore.

Mr. Nixon held a narrow lead in Illinois on the night of Nov. 8, 1960, until shortly after midnight. He lost it as a result of a late vote count in Cook County, which put Mr. Kennedy over the top. Republicans suspected Mr. Daley of delaying the count or committing outright fraud.

"There's no question that [with] Daley and Cook County, there was some ballot box tampering or stuffing or voting in the graveyard, however you want to put it, because before the final result was known, Daley sent word to the Kennedy folks that Illinois was in the bag, was in his camp," presidential historian Robert Dallek said in an interview last week on National Public Radio.

Nixon supporters wanted their candidate to contest the election results and seek a recount. But he later wrote that he immediately recognized this would mean a protracted legal battle, which he believed would cripple a Kennedy presidency and U.S. foreign policy.

"I could not subject the country to such a situation," he wrote in his memoirs. The morning after the election, he sent a telegram conceding to Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Nixon, who was elected president in 1968 and 1972, also acknowledged he was fearful voters might view him as a "sore loser" if he requested a recount, which "would remove any possibility of a further political career."

In his book "Six Crises," Mr. Nixon wrote that it would take at least a year and a half to get a recount in Cook County and Texas had no procedure for a recount. Texas was the home state of Kennedy's running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson.

When Mr. Nixon learned that the New York Herald Tribune was planning a series on the suspected vote fraud, he reportedly insisted there was no story. "No one steals the presidency of the United States," he said.

But David Greenberg, a Columbia University fellow who is writing a book on Mr. Nixon, said it was President Eisenhower, not Mr. Nixon, who opposed contesting the election. "Early on, the president did endorse the idea, but he soon changed his mind, provoking bitterness among Nixon's aides," the author wrote in a commentary piece that ran Friday in the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Greenberg added: "According to Nixon's friend, Ralph de Toledano, a conservative journalist, Nixon knew Ike's position, yet claimed anyway that he, not the president, was the one advocating restraint. 'This was the first time I ever caught Nixon in a lie,' " Mr. Toledano recalled.

Mr. Greenberg said he checked newspapers from 1960 and discovered that Republicans did seek vote recounts in many states, including Illinois and Texas. In Texas, their request was denied. In Illinois, a recount was granted, but it "did not change the final vote," Mr. Greenberg said.

The 27 Illinois votes alone were not enough to give Mr. Kennedy the presidency. Had Mr. Nixon won them, Mr. Kennedy still would have been elected president, 276-246, Theo Lippman Jr., a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, wrote in 1995.

But the combination of suspect "graveyard" votes in Illinois and Texas was enough to deny Mr. Nixon the election. Had those states been in the Republican column, Mr. Nixon would have won 270-252, Mr. Lippman noted.

He pointed out that in one Texas county with a voter registration of just less than 4,900, turnout in the 1960 general election was 6,138 and "overwhelmingly Democratic."

On NPR, Mr. Dallek said Illinois Democrats also made accusations of voter fraud in 1960.

"Democrats believed there was also vote-tampering in downstate Illinois, and that, of course, if Nixon had challenged the Democratic vote in Cook County, the Democrats would have challenged the Republican vote in downstate. And it would have really become … a donnybrook," Mr. Dallek said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, interviewed Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields," said Mr. Nixon emerged as a role model in the Illinois situation.

The Republican Party chairman said the fact that 19,000 votes were discarded in Palm Beach County, Fla., in Tuesday's election is "not so extraordinary."

"In Cook County, the home county of Bill Daley, Gore's campaign [chairman], 120,000 votes got kicked out. In Duval County, Jacksonville, Florida, 26,000 votes got kicked out. And there, Governor Bush won 60 percent of the vote," Mr. Nicholson said.

Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, questioned when all the recounting will stop. "Why don't they do all 50 states then? Why don't they go to Chicago, where they invented irregularities? You know, Bill Daley's an expert on irregularities. Even the dead vote in Chicago," the former Senate majority leader said on ABC's "This Week."

Noting that Mr. Gore "carried Chicago by 9-1," Mr. Dole remarked, "Maybe there are irregularities there."

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