Checkers was one of the most famous dogs in political history, a cocker spaniel who belonged to Republican vice-presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon in 1952. Denying charges that he had accepted money from a secret political slush fund, Nixon gave a televised address insisting that the only gift he'd accepted was the family dog, Checkers, from a Texas admirer. The talk was a hit with the public, saved Nixon's place as Dwight Eisenhower's running mate, and soon became known as "the Checkers speech." (It is also known as the "cloth coat speech" due to Nixon's comment that his wife Pat wore only a "respectable Republican cloth coat.") Because of its melodramatic and somewhat disingenuous nature, the speech is often recalled whenever a politician gives an emotional public defense of his or her actions.
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