Rich Galen

• When Congressman Ford became Vice President Ford he said,"I'm a Ford, not a Lincoln. My addresses will never be as eloquent as Mr. Lincoln's. But I will do my very best to equal his brevity and his plain speaking."

• You know, by now, that Ford was the only person to be President without having first been elected to either the Vice Presidency or Presidency.

Ford became Vice President because Spiro Agnew had resigned under a cloud of corruption on October 10, 1973.

• Ford became President because Richard Nixon resigned under the weight of Watergate on August 9, 1974 having announced, in a speech the night before:

"I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office"

• But the story of how Congressman Gerry Ford became President Gerald R. Ford began well before that.

• In the wake of the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963, the issues of Presidential incapacity were raised in Congress. What if, given the advances in medicine even then, Kennedy had lived, but had suffered such grave damage to his brain that he was incapable of discharging his duties?

Abraham Lincoln lay in a coma for several hours before he died. James Garfield became increasingly incapacitated in the 80 days from the day he was shot twice to the time he succumbed to the injuries. Woodrow Wilson suffered a serious stroke with 18 months to go in his term. And Dwight Eisenhower suffered both a heart attack and a stroke during his Presidency.

• In 1965 the Congress adopted the 25th Amendment which was sponsored by Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN) and Rep. Emmanuel Celler (D-NY). It not only laid out the procedures how to proceed in such a case, but also provided for filling of a vacancy in the office of Vice President.

• Seven Vice Presidents had died in office and one (prior to Agnew) had resigned - Calhoun to take a seat in the US Senate. In each case the death of the President would have resulted in the elevation of the Speaker of the House to the Presidency.

• The 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967 and provides that:

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

• The 25th Amendment also provides for having the Vice President assume the duties of "Acting President. According to the NY Times:

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at