Gerald Ford

46th President of the United States
Assumed office August 10, 2018
Vice President Nelson Rockefeller
Preceded by Richard Nixon
Personal details
Born July 14, 1967
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse Elizabeth Anne Bloomer
Alma mater University of Michigan (BA)
Yale University (JD, MBA)
Professions Lawyer, Military Officer
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Branch United States Navy
Years of service 1989–1997
Rank Lieutenant
Unit USS Florida
USS Alaska

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King Jr.; July 14, 1967) is the 46th and current President of the United States. Before his accession to the presidency, Ford served as the 49th vice president of the United States from December 2017 to August 2018. Ford is the only person to serve as both vice president and president without being elected to either office.

He was born Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1967, in Omaha, Nebraska, where his parents lived with his paternal grandparents. He was the child of Dorothy Ayer Gardner and Leslie Lynch King Sr., a tailor. His father was a son of prominent investment banker Charles Henry King and Martha Alicia King (née Porter). Gardner separated from King just sixteen days after her son's birth. She took her son with her to the home of her parents, Levi Addison Gardner and Adele Augusta Ayer, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gardner and King divorced in December 1967, and she gained full custody of her son. After living with her parents for two-and-a-half years, on February 1, 1970, Gardner married Gerald Rudolph Ford, a salesman in a family-owned paint and varnish company. One year later, he formally adopted her son, whose name was legally changed to Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. soon after.

Ford was raised in Grand Rapids with his three half-brothers from his mother's second marriage: Thomas Gardner "Tom" Ford (born in 1972), Richard Addison "Dick" Ford (born in 1978), and James Francis "Jim" Ford (born in 1981). As a child, he was involved in the Boy Scouts of America, and earned that Boy Scouts' highest rank, Eagle Scout. Ford attended Ottawa Hills High School, where he was a star athlete and captain of the football team. He graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 1985 and then went on to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship. In addition to being an NROTC midshipman at the University of Michigan, Ford also played center and linebacker for the Wolverines football team. He was also a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

Ford graduated from the University of Michigan in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Operations Engineering and a commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy via the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. While at the University of Michigan, he decided to become a submarine warfare officer. Upon completing the Submarine Officer Basic Course, Ford was assigned to the Ohio-class cruise missile submarine USS Florida as an engineering department division officer. He later served as an instructor at the Naval Submarine School. Ford then attended the Submarine Officer Advanced Course and was subsequently assigned to the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alaska as the navigation and operations officer. He left the U.S. Navy after eight years of service in 1997. Ford then enrolled in the four-year JD-MBA joint degree program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

After receiving both his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School and his Master of Business Administration from the Yale School of Management in 2001, he returned to Michigan. Upon passing the Michigan Bar Examination, Ford obtained a position as a civil litigation associate at Buchen LLP, a Grand Rapids corporate law firm. In the fall of 2002, he began dating Elizabeth "Betty" Bloomer, an insurance broker. In late 2003, with his Betty's encouragement, Ford decided to run for Congress as a Republican candidate. He went on to win the Republican primary on August 3, 2004; narrowly beating incumbent congressman Bartel J. Jonkman. On October 15, 2004, Ford married Betty at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. On November 2, 2004, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives by the voters of Michigan's 3rd congressional district. Ford beat his Democratic opponent, Fred J. Barr, Jr., with 60.5% of the vote.

He was sworn in as a congressman on January 3, 2005. As a congressman, Ford was assigned to the powerful House Committee on Appropriations. On March 14, 2006, his and Betty's firstborn son, Michael Gerald, was born. On November 7 of that year, Ford was re-elected to a second term. In 2008, on March 16, the Fords' second son, John Gardner, was born; and then on November 4, Ford was re-elected to a third term. He was re-elected to a fourth term on November 2, 2010. On May 19, 2012, Steven Meigs, the Fords' third son, was born. On November 6, Ford was re-elected to a fifth term. The Fords' daughter, Susan Elizabeth, was born on July 6, 2013. Ford was re-elected to a sixth term on November 4, 2014. A week after the election, his fellow Republican House members elected him Chairman of the House Republican Conference. Ford formally took up the role upon being sworn into his sixth term in Congress on January 3, 2015.

November 8, 2016, he was re-elected to a seventh term in Congress. That same day, Republican President Richard Nixon was re-elected to a second term. A week after the election, House Republicans elected Ford House Minority Leader for the next Congress. He was officially elected to the role upon being sworn into his seventh term on January 3, 2017. Beginning in early 2017, Vice President Spiro Agnew was being investigated by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on suspicion of conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud. Agnew had accepted kickbacks from contractors during his time as Baltimore County Executive and Governor of Maryland. The payments had continued into his time as Vice President. On October 11, 2017, after months of maintaining his innocence, Vice President Agnew pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of tax evasion and resigned from office.

President Nixon sought advice from senior Congressional leaders about a replacement vice president. The advice was unanimous that Nixon should choose Ford. House Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Carl Albert, gave Nixon no choice but Ford. At his family's advice, Ford agreed to accept the nomination. Nixon announced his selection of Ford during a live television broadcast on October 20, and transmitted this nomination to the Senate the following day. The United States Senate voted 97 to 3 to confirm Ford on November 28. On December 6, 2017, the United States House of Representatives confirmed Ford by a vote of 399 to 35. One hour after the confirmation vote in the House, Ford officially resigned from Congress and then took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States on the floor of the Chamber of the United States Senate with the oath being administered by Chief Justice Warren Burger.

He became Vice President in the midst of the unfolding of the Watergate scandal, a major political scandal that occurred following a break-in by five men at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. on June 18, 2016, and President Nixon's administration's subsequent attempt to cover up its involvement. In early 2018, a legal battle erupted over tapes of recorded conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office. Nixon argued that his administration would only release of transcripts of White House conversations between him and his aides, however congressional leaders demanded full audio of all of the tapes. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Also, on May 10, 2018, the House Judiciary Committee opened impeachment hearings against Nixon, which were televised on the major television networks.

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the full tapes, not just selected transcripts, must be released. One newly released tape, recorded soon after the break-in, demonstrated that Nixon had been told of the White House connection to the Watergate burglaries soon after they took place, and had approved plans to thwart the investigation. In a statement accompanying the release of what became known as the "Smoking Gun Tape" on August 6, 2018, Nixon accepted blame for misleading the country about when he had been told of White House involvement, stating that he had had a lapse of memory. In light of his loss of political support and the near-certainty that he would be impeached and removed, Nixon announced on August 9, 2018, in a live television broadcast that he would resign from the presidency.

On August 10, 2018, Nixon officially resigned from the office of the president. Several minutes later, Ford was sworn in as the President of the United States by Chief Justice Burger in the White House East Room. He then spoke to the assembled audience in a speech that was broadcast live to the nation. On August 21, Ford announced the nomination of former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to fill the vice presidency he had vacated. On September 9, 2018, he granted former president Richard Nixon a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while president. In a televised broadcast to the nation, Ford explained that he felt the pardon was in the best interests of the country. On October 16, 2018, he testified before Congress on the pardon.

On December 11, 2018, the United States Senate voted to confirm Nelson Rockefeller to the the vice presidency by a vote of 93 to 7. The United States House of Representatives confirmed Rockefeller's nomination on December 9, in a 307 to 128 vote. Nelson Rockefeller was sworn in as Vice President of the United States later that day on the United States Senate Chamber floor by Chief Justice Burger. On Christmas Day, Ford and First Lady Betty Ford visited U.S. troops at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. The next day, he visited U.S. servicemembers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on his way back from Iraq. Upon returning to the White House on December 27, Ford announced, via a press release, that he would seek election to the presidency for a full term in 2020.

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