EVERETT — Already a lame duck, dogged by a deep recession and weakened by the Soviet Union’s launch the previous year of Sputnik, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent an emissary to Washington to rally Republican voters in advance of the 1958 mid-term elections.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon’s Friday, Oct. 31, visit to Everett marked the vice president’s last speech before the Tuesday vote in what had been a cross-country campaign on behalf of state and federal GOP candidates.
At Paine Field, a delegation of about 150, including dignitaries, politicians, press and law enforcement, waited to greet the vice president’s chartered plane that night, which also happened to be Halloween.
“Vice President Richard M. Nixon has a pleasing good-looking face, with dark, sparkling eyes and features not nearly as bold as they appear in photographs,” declared one two front-page stories in the next day’s Herald chronicling his visit.
Soon after his arrival at the airport, Nixon spotted children dressed in costumes, made a point to greet them and say that one of the things his daughters, Julie, 10, and Tricia, 12, hated most on their trip was to miss trick or treating.
“He was visibly pleased when reporters told him arrangements were made in Seattle for his daughters to spend some time making the rounds there,” the Herald reported.
Nixon also came prepared for autograph seekers like Chari Precht, 7, and her sister, Rosemary, 10, turning to Secret Service agents to provide both girls with stylish cards engraved with the words, ‘The Vice President of the United States of America” and bearing Nixon’s signature in ink.
He also took time to shake the hand of “our youngest backer,” Michael Lee Haddock, age eight months, who was nestled in his father’s arms.
From the airport, a motorcade whisked Nixon downtown to the Civic Center. There, a rally with an overflow crowd of 2,500 and being broadcast on a five-station radio network already was underway.
Nixon roused the gathering with talk of a rebounding economy, a strong foreign policy and containing the threat of Communism. He also pandered a bit, noting Everett’s outstanding football teams of the past, singling out the “immortal” George Wilson, who starred at the University of Washington in the 1920s, and Enoch Bagshaw, a one-time Everett High coach who helmed UW in the same era.
In a Herald interview after his speech, the vice president commended, “the very-responsive audience obviously well versed in national affairs.”
“They didn’t miss a trick,” he said. “And that’s no malarkey.”
Nixon left that night for Seattle and departed with his family the next day for Alaska, which just a few months later would be admitted into the Union as the 49th state.
The election proved disastrous for the GOP, with Democrats gaining 49 House seats and 16 Senate seats cementing their majorities. Republicans did not regain control of the House until 1994 and the Senate until 1980.