Study Guide

Checkers in Checkers Speech

By Richard Nixon

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Not much to say here, Shmoopers. He's a dog.

Checkers was a gift from a man who'd heard Nixon say that his kids had always wanted a puppy. He shipped the puppy in a crate and Nixon picked him up at Union Station in Baltimore. His little daughter Tricia fell in love on the spot, and Nixon vowed never to give him back even if people criticized the pup as a political gift.

So there.

Nixon eventually reached the White House, but Checkers didn't. Tragically, he died in 1964, five years before Nixon took office, never having the opportunity to romp through the East Wing with King Timahoe, Vicky, and Pasha. Through no fault of his adorable own, Checkers' name is now synonymous with sappiness.

In a controversial move, Checkers auditioned in 1954 for the role of Lassie, but was turned down because he wasn't a collie. He sued CBS on the grounds of breed discrimination, citing precedent in Babe v. Universal Pictures, but the Supreme Court, upholding their decision in Toto v. MGM Studios, threw out the lawsuit. Nixon blamed the decision on his many powerful enemies, particularly Chief Justice Earl Warren, whose aides had leaked the fund story after Nixon undermined Warren's efforts to secure the 1952 Presidential nomination.

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