Two years after losing to Kennedy, Nixon ran for governor of California and lost in a bitter campaign against Edmund G. (“Pat”) Brown. Most political observers believed that Nixon’s political career was over, but by February 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 at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.
For his running mate, he chose governor of Maryland Spiro T. Agnew. His Democratic opponent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, was weakened by internal divisions within his own party, stemming in part from the growing dissatisfaction with the Johnson administration’s handling of the Vietnam War. Alabama governor George C. Wallace—running on a third party ticket—further complicated the election. Although Nixon and Humphrey each gained 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.