In California, Nixon’s name had been smeared as well due to his campaign attacks/strategies. Those in Nixon’s corner felt that perhaps it was his years of debate training that made him so aggressive and relentless in pursuit of an issue/goal. Nixon even admitted to some that his tactics/strategies in 1950 against Gahagan Douglas were a “shoddy” way to win. Gahagan Douglas blamed the Korean War as the main reason for her defeat against Nixon, believing that Nixon would have won anyway without resorting to character assassination (e.g. “The Pink Lady”). Left-Wing editorialists accused Nixon of petty malice, and Herblock’s portrayals of Nixon in his very influential and widely syndicated political cartoons illustrated Nixon’s dirty tactics. By early-1951, “Tricky Dick” had become a political caricature.
In his much larger and expensive Senate office, Nixon brought 33 year old Rose Mary Woods on board as his secretary, whom he met while serving on the Herter Committee as a Congressman. Woods and others around Nixon started to develop a fierce loyalty to the Senator that was comparable to vows taken by nuns; Woods would top that list of loyal surrogates all the way to the end of Nixon’s Presidency. Woods became a gatekeeper, a detail person, and a keeper of secrets for Nixon.
When the Senate wasn’t in session, Nixon traveled the nation and gave speeches in 21 states, which not only provided additional income, but doing so also meant that Nixon established connections with state and local level Republicans. Nixon’s rapid ascent to national level politics in just a few years had taken a toll on Nixon. With the Alger Hiss investigation, Nixon became melancholy and worked himself to the point of exhaustion. Then physical problems such as a painful neck and back occurred, as well as facial tics, sleeplessness and chronic stomach troubles. The times of Nixon being lighthearted in the company of others started to sharply and noticeably decrease.
In 1951, Senator George Smathers (D; FL) introduced Nixon to Bebe Rebozo, a Cuban-American real estate businessman, and Nixon went out on Rebozo’s boat for a short jaunt. Smathers and Rebozo were renown in the Senate for providing a relaxing time in Florida for Senators. Interestingly, among Smather’s closest friends were JFK and LBJ. Rebozo’s initial feedback to Smathers concerning Nixon was that he really didn’t want Nixon back in Florida, since the freshman Senator didn’t drink, chase women, or play golf . . . in time, though Rebozo in essence became Nixon’s best friend.
Nixon’s first speech on the Senate floor was to deride President Truman for firing General Douglas MacArthur while also pressing Truman to expand the war in Korea by bombing Chinese supply lines. By doing so, he was following the official Republican line supporting MacArthur while also taking aim at Red China. Nixon was already exchanging letters with Kyle Palmer of the Los Angeles Times analyzing the upcoming Election of 1952.
In May 1951 while in Paris, Ike (the #1 NATO general) reached out to Nixon, who was in Geneva for a World Health Organization (WHO) conference. Nixon presented himself to Ike as a loyal subordinate, and they talked for 45 minutes. Nixon liked that Ike paid just as much attention when he listened as when he talked. Nixon was strong on the three major issues the Republicans would focus on in 1952: Korea, corruption in the Democratic Party and the battle against Communism. Nixon shared Ike’s internationalism, while Taft was basically an isolationist. Ike didn’t categorize Nixon in the same way as he had Senator Joseph McCarthy and his thugs, or with the Old Guard Conservatives of the GOP.
Ike remained in Europe, waiting to be drafted for the Republican nomination by an adoring public. Warren played coy, hoping that, as a Favorite Son from CA, the convention would turn to him if there was a deadlock among the delegates. Heading into the Republican National Convention of 1952, Nixon and Warren were on a collision course. Warren hoped that he could keep CA’s delegation in his corner, and therefore deny Taft or Ike the nomination on the 1st ballot. Nixon wanted Ike, with his conspicuous help, to secure the nomination on the 1st ballot, and then perhaps be offered the other spot on the ticket.