Two years after losing to Kennedy, Nixon ran for governor of California and lost in a bitter campaign against Edmund G. ("Pat") Brown, but by 1968 he had sufficiently recovered his political standing in the Republican Party to announce his candidacy for president. Taking a stance between the more conservative elements of his party, led by Ronald Reagan, and the liberal northeastern wing, led by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Nixon won the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.
Nixon chose Spiro T. Agnew, the governor of Maryland, as his running mate. Nixon's Democratic opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, was weakened by internal divisions within his own party and the growing dissatisfaction with the Johnson administration's handling of the war in Vietnam. Alabama governor George C. Wallace, running on a third party ticket, further complicated the election. Although Nixon and Humphrey each garnered about 43 percent of the popular vote, the distribution of Nixon's nearly 32 million votes gave him a clear majority in the Electoral College, and he won the election.