Nixon and Deputy Attorney General Bill Rogers met with among others Sherman Adams (Ike’s #1 advisor) and the chairman of the Republican National Committee to discuss the politics of Presidential incapacitation. During the days that followed while Ike’s condition improved (despite some setbacks), Nixon showed wisdom and self-control. As the weeks passed, Ike’s Circle of Trust did their best to keep Ike’s power in their hands while keeping a close eye on Nixon. Meanwhile, the government and the media feasted on rumors, most of them not positive concerning Nixon.
Nixon knew that a repeat of President Woodrow Wilson’s incapacity needed to be avoided, but he also knew that he needed to find a way to show that the government was still in strong/capable hands without Ike at the helm. In effect, Sherman Adams, who joined Ike in Denver, became the de facto President during Ike’s recovery, while Nixon performed wonderfully as the loyal Vice-President.
Jack Anderson, the beyond-famous investigative journalist, told Drew Pearson that Nixon was acting like a model Vice-President. Dulles was very grateful since Nixon kept silent concerning communists within the government while Ike recovered. Whatever plans Nixon had to leave politics vanished during this time, and Chotiner even started a “stealth campaign” to gauge interest for a Nixon nomination in 1956 in Ike didn’t run again.
No good deed goes unpunished, as Nixon discovered. Ike emerged from his recovery not only ready to run again in 1956, but to also ready get rid of Nixon as his Vice-President. Ike decided to run again in part because he simply didn’t want to give the Democrats a chance to win the White House. Also, as a coronary patient, Ike needed something in which to look forward and to give purpose, which meant another term as President.
On 26 December 1955, Ike invited Nixon to the White House and suggested that Nixon serve in the Cabinet during his second term. There seemed to be some sense in that suggestion, since William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover had become President via that route, while the last sitting VP to be elected President was Martin Van Buren in 1836. Nixon had never been in charge of anything bigger than directing a staff that worked for him (e.g. making sure that Rose Mary Woods kept up with the mail), and therefore, Ike argued, that Nixon could raise his stature by serving in the Cabinet; Ike even dangled the possibility that Nixon could become Secretary of State.
Nixon’s health was also becoming an issue, in that he needed more pills to regulate his real and perceived ailments. The biggest problem facing Nixon was that he didn’t have a goal on which to focus. Nixon refused to play Ike’s game, and Ike didn’t want to remove Nixon as VP. During late-April 1956, Nixon decided that enough was enough, and he formally informed Ike that he wanted to remain as Vice-President. But Nixon’s status wasn’t yet settled, since in June 1956 Ike had surgery to remove an obstructed section of intestine, and in July 1956, Harold Stassen (among other Republicans), started a “Dump Nixon” movement.
In his “Nixonland Speech”, Stevenson went on the attack, so much so that key advisors told him that he had gone too far. Stevenson desperately tried to convince voters that Ike’s health was precipitous enough that Nixon could be President during Ike’s second term. Due to the economy and a multitude of global crises that occurred in 1956 (e.g. the Suez Crisis), voters were comfortable taking a chance on Ike’s health than the prospect of a Stevenson Presidency. Nixon campaigned in 36 states, traveling mostly on board a DC-6. Nixon even decided to try and woo reporters by holding over 50 press conferences during the campaign.
On 20 January 1957 (Inauguration Day was on a Sunday, so the public Inauguration was on the next day), Nixon was officially sworn-in as Vice-President in a near-empty room in the White House by the Republican Leader of the Senate, William Knowland, and Ike was sworn in for his second term by Chief Justice Earl Warren; Nixon was surrounded by his two biggest enemies from his home state of CA. Soon Ike had his VP traveling abroad. During March 1957, Nixon was in Africa, and while in Ghana, he met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who urged the VP to speak out against segregation. Nixon had dragged his feet in dealing with Senator Joseph McCarthy, but that would not be the case for Civil Rights, where Nixon would be one of the relatively few major politicians that tried to lead the way on that front.