You can credit President Richard Nixon with the “America’s Finest City” slogan.
Back in 1972, the GOP planned to hold the Republican National Convention here. It would be a triumphant coronation in Nixon’s “Lucky City” for the man who’d go on to wallop his opponent in the November election.
Then a scandal erupted over a convention-related bribe, and San Diego’s dream of Republican glory vanished. But soon, the city’s young mayor, Pete Wilson, created the new “Finest City” slogan to boost the city’s sagging spirits. The scandal itself was quickly forgotten as Watergate and a presidential resignation captured the public’s attention.
A new book puts the bribery scandal into perspective, revealing its crucial role in the downfall of a president. I interviewed the book’s author, Mark Feldstein, about the dirt he discovered while writing “Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture.”
Why did President Nixon want the GOP convention to be here in the first place?
He loved San Diego and was very anxious to avoid any kind of demonstrations like those that had disrupted the Democrats in Chicago four years later. He felt safe there. It was Nixon country and near Orange County, and as they put it in a memo, “there are few Negroes.”