May 21st, 2010
12:44 PM ET
10 years ago

Nixon grandson seeks U.S. House seat

Nixon's grandson is running for Congress.

Nixon's grandson is running for Congress.

(CNN) - You may not have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore, but they do on Long Island.

Meet Christopher Nixon Cox, congressional candidate from the Hamptons and grandson of the nation's 37th president. Cox, a 30-year-old Republican business consultant, is hoping to ride a wave of voter anger all the way to Washington.

And in a race where he's trying to emerge from a crowded primary field and topple a four-term Democratic incumbent, he's not shying away from his family's controversial political past.

"When voters think about it, it'll be a big positive," he predicted.

In seeking public office, Cox is wading into tricky political waters. Family dynasties are a well-established part of the landscape in American politics. George W. Bush followed his father to the White House; Jimmy Carter's grandson recently won a Georgia state Senate seat; the Kennedys dominated Massachusetts for decades. But Cox enters the political arena shouldering a uniquely divisive legacy, most notably his grandfather's decision to resign the presidency at the height of the Watergate scandal in 1974.

Cox is the only son of President Nixon's elder daughter, Tricia Nixon Cox. His father, Edward Finch Cox, is chairman of the New York State GOP. Empire State Republicans have suffered a series of electoral setbacks in recent years; they currently control only two of the state's 29 U.S. House seats.

The optimistic Cox is convinced he can buck the recent downward trend. He's bullish on the state party's prospects, claiming that he'll be surprised if it doesn't pick up at least five U.S. House seats in November.

"We'll see a big tent Republican Party come out of this election," he predicted, putting him at odds with a number of political analysts detecting a steady rightward drift for the GOP.

Cox himself is campaigning on a platform of corporate and personal income tax cuts, as well as targeted domestic spending reductions to help balance the budget. Like most Republicans, he gives President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan a failing grade. He sees the recent ouster of veteran Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter as "a clear sign people are disgusted with incumbents."

Closer to home, he blasts incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop, a Democrat, for backing what he contends are economically disastrous tax increases and cap-and-trade carbon emissions policies.

A spokesman for Bishop dismissed Cox as a wealthy carpetbagger out of touch with the district.

"Chris Cox is a Manhattan elitist who's running for Congress and trying to fool the people of Suffolk County," Jon Schneider said. "The guy just registered here a couple of weeks ago and is living in his father's West Hampton mansion. ... Tim Bishop has been an effective representative for Suffolk County who actually lives in Suffolk County."

As for Watergate, Cox doesn't believe it'll be much of a factor. Most people who mention Nixon nowadays, he said, cite events such as the president's 1972 trip to China, generally regarded as a turning point in the Cold War.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said most voters in the district are unlikely to draw a connection between Cox and Nixon.

"Politicians and other public figures from George W. Bush to Cal Ripken have learned the power of a popular 'brand name,' " Holland noted. "But that's usually true only if the name is shared. Since Cox's last name is not 'Nixon,' voters are unlikely to make the connection between him and his grandfather. So if Cox thinks it's a liability, he may escape any problems. But if he think his family connection is a plus, he will have to make a serious effort to remind voters that he is a Nixon as well as a Cox."

Cox says he considers Nixon a role model from a policy perspective, highlighting his grandfather's domestic initiatives in areas such as welfare reform and willingness to work with Democrats like Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Although Nixon is largely remembered as an introvert in the public eye, Cox has a very different set of memories. Born almost five years after his grandfather left the political arena, Cox remembers family trips to the circus, weekend sleepovers and baseball games.

Former Mets star "Keith Hernandez was a friend of my grandfather," he said. "We used to get tours of the dugout at Shea Stadium."

Cox says he has no desire to replicate his grandfather's meteoric political rise. Nixon was elected to the House in 1946, the Senate in 1950 and the vice presidency in 1952.

I only want to be an "ambassador for Suffolk County," Cox said. "I can be the person who can bring business in."

Cox does, however, take one piece of political advice from Nixon to heart. "When you're in the arena, you'll get knocked down," he said. "You have to keep fighting. That's very important."

Ultimately, "people have to be judged as individual candidates," he said. "If I'm not serving my district well, people won't care who my grandfather was."

Filed under: Christopher Cox
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Jim Brodie

    Oh goodie, a "business consultant" Nixon offspring seeking to enter politics. Watch out!

    May 21, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. Steph

    Being the grandson of a president shouldn't be a "positive". It should be what you stand for, not who your grandpa is! Talk about feeling entitled!

    May 21, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Steph

    HA! I bet he'll run as an "outsider" just like daddy's little boy Rand is trying to do. Seriously, this guy was conceived, born into and grew up in the political "inside"!

    May 21, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The apple doesn't fall far from the tree as we see with Rand Paul. Why should I believe that Mr. Cox doesn't share the same mentality his grandfather did?

    May 21, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Not to mention that he lives in the Hamptons. He's out of touch and the race hasn't even begun. The idea is to get republicans out of Washington.

    May 21, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Michael from Ventura

    I owe much to his grandfather- he helped turn me into the LIBERAL I am today.

    May 21, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. MikeH

    Good luck son, you'll need it.

    Oh and take that silver spoon out of your nose.

    May 21, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    This kid would have been smart to become a Democrat like his auntie.

    May 21, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Brett

    I would disagree with his notion that people only remember President Nixion for his trip to China. While very important by itself, its like saying George W. Bush will only be remembered for his "No Child Left Behind" policy.

    At face value, it looks like just another republican with all the talking points in tact. Although if he truely intends to work with democrats to comprimise inititives, then its a giant leap forward. We'll definitely see, if he is elected if its true or just all talk silver spoon rich guy.

    I thought his competitor Bishop calling him "wealthy carpetbagger" was very tasteless. Grow up.

    May 21, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Kelly

    "Politicians and other public figures from George W. Bush to Cal Ripken have learned the power of a popular 'brand name,' " Holland noted. "But that's usually true only if the name is shared. Since Cox's last name is not 'Nixon,' voters are unlikely to make the connection between him and his grandfather."

    Oh, believe me, the voters will know EXACTLY who his grandfather is and family's political legacy. Don't count on a victory anytime soon, Christopher. Our memories are long.

    May 21, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    ...... corporate tax cuts .......

    don't need to read any further.

    NEXT !!!!!

    May 21, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    By today's standards, RMN would be a RINO. We just passed his healthcare bill, and in many ways he was a social liberal. At some point he realized that Keynesian economics is the only economics that works and admitted to being a converted Keynesian. If his grandson has his same beliefs, the tea party will eat him alive.

    May 21, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. co citizen

    The young man needs to examine his grandfather's domestic record. Despite all of Nixon's faults, and there were many, he would not be a Republican today. His domestic agenda from social services to the environment were even liberal in the 1960's and 1970's. He would no doubt be proud of his grandson's desire for public service, but would oppose most of the positions on which the young man is running.

    May 21, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. No Incumbents 2010

    Cashing in on his father and grandfather's connections and celebrity. Just like Dubya and brother Jeb cashing in on Daddy Bush's profile. This isn't public service. It is cashing in for self-service.

    May 21, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Wisconsinite

    "We'll see a big tent Republican Party come out of this election," he predicted"

    Weeeeelllll, right there Sonny-Boy we can see that you are an IDIOT! Man, they are just CRAWLING out of the woodwork, aren't they???

    May 21, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. John Ellis

    If people think about how Nixon was and what he actually did, Cox will get about five votes, assuming he has that many family members in the district.

    May 21, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. John Q.

    Why not...? The status quo certainly isn't cutting it, new faces are needed, and not entrenched in Washington corruption. People should take a look...

    May 21, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Chris W.

    Is the argument really going to be:
    "Most people who mention Nixon nowadays, he said, cite events such as the president's 1972 trip to China, generally regarded as a turning point in the Cold War."
    I'm pretty sure Reagan got the majority of praise for the Cold War turn around and Nixon is still best remembered for being a crook.
    Right or wrong, that's how most of us remember/see it.

    As for the ousting of "Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter as a clear sign people are disgusted with incumbents." – I think it may be a sign people don't trust a guy who switches parties after 30 years to ensure he gets re-elected. Arlen Specter is no more a Democrat than either Bush.

    Cox does not seem like the kind of representative I'd be comfortable voting for, maybe he and Arlen should go into business together and leave the running of the country to people who do so to better all of us and not just themselves.

    May 21, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Ken in NC

    What hotel will he use for his campaign headquarters? Want to know so we can rename it the Nixon-Cox Watergate Hotel in advance of his election. LOL

    Just kidding for now.

    May 21, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Jared from Delaware


    He certainly didn't earn his job as a business consultant. His last name and family's money gave him that. F'in nepotism!

    May 21, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    I hope he's nothing like Rand Paul I think the republicans need to get a refund on that nut case and im a republican .

    May 21, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. Video Guy

    Is "30-year-old business consultant" another way of say the kid is living off of family money, and does not have a real job?

    May 21, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Michael

    As someone who wants Tim Bishop to remain my Representative in Congress, this article has been very reassuring.

    May 21, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. once upon a horse

    there are some names that just don't belong in politics anymore, hopefully he'll stick with the last name Cox and leave the Nixon part alone.

    May 21, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. VAVoter

    ((GAG))...are you kidding me? So now any bloke with a few dollars and name recognition can be a US Senator. Lord help us.

    May 21, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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