Nixon ran for Senate in California in 1950. Nixon won his primary and would face Helen Gahagan Douglas in the general election. Nixon taking the lead from the Democratic primary where Manchester Boddy compared Douglas to Vito Marcantonio who was accused of being a communist. Nixon accused Douglas of being a communist. He described her as “pink right down to her underwear.”
Nixon sent out five hundered thousand flyers comparing Douglas to Marcantonio. The flyers, as Perlstein wrote, called him “the notorious Communist party-line Congressman from New York” and that Douglas “voted the same as Marcantonio 354 times.” But as Perlstein points out, Nixon had voted the same as Marcantonio in triple digits and Douglas tried to point this out. This didn’t help her. Nixon was able to win the Senate election 59-40.
Prior to the 1954 Congressional elections, Nixon made a number of dubious claims about the efficacy of Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunts and how the Eisenhower administration had done better. McCarthy claimed that there were dozens of Communist subversives within the Truman administration. How many? Well, it depended on the day you asked him. He accused Truman had over 200 subversives one day. Another he claimed there were 81. Another he claimed there were only 50 or so.
Perlstein writes that Nixon, while on the campaign trail, claimed that the Eisenhower administration had been able to roust thousands of Communist subversives from the ranks of the federal government. “Nixon had also claimed that the new White House occupants had ‘found in the files a blueprint for socializing America.'” The Eisenhower civil service administration admitted to finding zero. Being that he told this to a group of reporters, they naturally asked for a copy of the document so that they could report. As Perlstein notes, Nixon then claimed that he was speaking metaphorically.