WASHINGTON -- Before his 1956 re-election, President Eisenhower asked Richard Nixon to become secretary of defense, but Nixon, fearing for his political future, refused, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Eisenhower believed Vice President Nixon's best preparation for the presidencywould be the administrative experience gained by running the Defense Department -- rather than a second term as vice president, said Stephen Ambrose, author of a new book on Nixon.
An interview with Ambrose about the book is published in the May 4 edition of the magazine.
Ambrose said Eisenhower felt the fact that he had never been secretary of defense was a shortcoming in his own preparation for the presidency. The author said Eisenhower 'wanted very much for Nixon to get administrative experience.'
'In 1956, Ike suggested (Nixon) move to secretary of defense. Nixon resisted with all his might because he thought Ike was trying to do to him what Franklin Roosevelt had done to Henry Wallace,' Ambrose said.
In 1944 President Franklin Roosevelt dropped Vice President Wallace and picked Harry Truman as his running mate.
Ambrose also said Nixon's major shortcoming as president was that he never learned to be an effective administrator.
'He was what Lyndon Johnson said he was -- a chronic campaigner,' Ambrose said. 'He knew how to get elected but not how to govern.'