1961: Eisenhower severs relations with Cuba
The Republican president did so by closing the U.S. embassy in Havana as U.S. relations with leader Fidel Castro grew more and more strained during the Cold War. Soon afterwards, Eisenhower’s administration authorized the training of Cuban immigrants to attempt to overthrow Castro and lessened trade with the country.
1962: Richard Nixon loses the California governor’s election
Nixon, who later became president (and had recently served as the U.S. vice president), lost the election to incumbent Pat Brown. In his concession speech, the Republican politician famously said, “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”
1963: GOP senators issue a statement defending civil rights
In June of 1963, GOP senators issued a statement reaffirming civil rights activism. It read, “The Republican Members of the U.S. Senate … reassert the basic principles of the party with respect to civil rights, and further affirm that the president, with the support of Congress ... must protect the rights of all U.S. citizens regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin.”
1964: A reporter at the RNC is arrested
NBC reporter John Chancellor got arrested at 1964’s Republican National Convention when he refused to leave after reporters were rushed off the convention floor following Barry Goldwater’s presidential nomination. He then famously declared on television, “This is John Chancellor, somewhere in custody!”
1965: The Immigration and Nationality Act is enacted
President Johnson signed this law, which abolished immigration discrimination against groups including Eastern Europeans and Asian immigrants. In 2016, Politico reported that the law “gave the Republican Party its race problem,” because the modern Republican party appeals to white Americans and white immigrants, distinguishing them from immigrants of color.
1966: Edward Brooke is elected to the Senate
The Republican politician had recently served as an Attorney General in Massachusetts. In 1966, he became the first African American to become a popularly elected Senator since America’s Reconstruction era.
1967: Ronald Reagan becomes the governor of California
The former actor and entertainer ran on promises to “send the welfare bums back to work” and clean up anti-war student protests. He then defeated long-time Democratic governor Pat Brown, an important stepping stone towards his eventual presidency.
1968: Richard Nixon is elected as the 37th president
In a rare turn of events, neither the Democratic or Republican candidates received over 50% of the national popular vote, since third-party politician George Wallace was especially popular. Still, California Republican and Senator Nixon managed to defeat incumbent Democratic Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
1969: Nixon introduces the Nixon Doctrine
After nearly four years of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, newly inaugurated President Nixon announced in a Guam press conference that the U.S. would now expect its Asian allies to “bear primary responsibility to provide the manpower for [their] own defense.” However, he clarified that the U.S. would still act as a nuclear umbrella for these countries when necessary.
1970: Nixon deploys American troops to Cambodia
After significant anti-war protests in response to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, Nixon approving the deployment of American troops to Cambodia sparked even more controversy. He did this so that the military personnel could invade the Southeast Asian nation with South Vietnamese soldiers and remove Northern Vietnamese military personnel from the area.