Tags: G. Gordon Liddy | Watergate | Obituary

It Was Almost Rep. G. Gordon Liddy, R-N.Y.

It Was Almost Rep. G. Gordon Liddy, R-N.Y.
Convicted Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy in Washington, DC. (Jamal Wilson /AFP via Getty Images)

By Wednesday, 31 March 2021 06:00 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Reporters who knew G. Gordon Liddy (who died Tuesday at age 90) and were familiar with his background almost universally agree that there would have been no Watergate burglary that eventually led to President Richard Nixon’s were it not for the chief operative of the Nixon White House’s “plumbers” operation.

“Without Liddy, the Watergate scandal would never have happened,” said Bob Woodward, who covered Watergate from the start with Washington Post colleague Carl Bernstein, “It would not be too much to say that he was both the Rodgers and Hammerstein of Watergate: music and lyrics by Gordon Liddy.”

James Rosen of Sinclair News, biographer of Nixon campaign manager John Mitchell, agreed.

Liddy, Rosen told Newsmax, “was a prime mover for CRP [Committee to Re-elect the President] developing what he called an ‘offensive intelligence operations capability.’”

So, it is pretty safe to say that had a handful of votes changed in the Republican primary for U.S. Representative from what was then New York’s 28th District in 1968, Liddy would be remembered not as “that Watergate man” but as “Rep. Gordon Liddy, R-N.Y.”

With Democratic Rep. Joseph Y. Resnick running for the U.S. Senate, Republicans in the upstate 28th District felt confident they could pick up his open House seat. The favored candidate of the Dutchess County GOP establishment was Hamilton Fish, Jr., scion of a New York political dynasty and the narrow loser to Resnick two years before.

But conservatives very much wanted someone else and they settled on Liddy — then 37, formerly an U.S. Army officer and FBI agent, and at the time an assistant county prosecutor.

At a time when campaigns were part-time avocations and the paid consultant was just entering the political realm, Liddy was attracting eager volunteers with his calls for law and order and victory in the Vietnam War.

“A law firm let me come in and do some work in the morning, and then I would campaign afternoon and night,” Liddy recalled to me in 2000, “We had an all-volunteer operation and people just warmed up to [wife] Frances and our five kids.”

One outside backer brought in by the Liddy campaign was the fledgling direct mail company run by a young conservative named Richard Viguerie. Underscoring the candidate’s law and order theme, mailings for him featured a picture of Liddy brandishing a torchlight amid an angry mob and the slogan: “Elect A Crime Fighter!”

Given radio time for the campaign, Liddy and a friend worked up a unique program that they put together in a garage — and which Liddy loved to tell about for years. The candidate would speak as if at a mass rally and the wild cheering was provided by recordings from Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies in the 1930’s.

“You’d think I was speaking at a football stadium,” Liddy once recalled to me with a chuckle.

“Gordon easily won all the debates — no question about it,” the late John Barry, Fish’s campaign manager, recalled to me in 1981, “He was articulate, to the point, and you knew where he stood. Ham was, well, more lawyerlike. I finally said ‘no more debates.’”

The primary went down to the wire and Fish, better-funded and organization-supported, edged the outsider Liddy by 51 to 49 percent.

The New York Conservative Party had given Liddy their ballot line for the fall and clearly hoped he would continue as a candidate. He didn’t, and instead took over the Nixon presidential campaign in the 28th District. Nixon swept the area and, with the strong encouragement of Rep. Fish (who very possibly feared a rematch from his opponent), the Nixon Administration tapped Liddy for an enforcement position in the Treasury Department.

The rest, as they say, is history.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Reporters who knew G. Gordon Liddy (who died Tuesday at age 90) and were familiar with his background almost universally agree that there would have been no Watergate burglary \ were it not for the chief operative...
G. Gordon Liddy, Watergate, Obituary
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 06:00 PM
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