John Mitchell biographer James Rosen on a Nixon benchmark to which Sen. McCain may hope to attain:

[I]t was…Nixon, that most complex psychological character, who earned more of the black vote — 32% in his 1960 loss to John F. Kennedy — than any GOP nominee of the past half-century. The closest any has come since was Nixon himself, capturing 15% in his winning 1968 campaign, and Gerald Ford, who equaled that figure in his 1976 loss to Jimmy Carter.

Rosen also reminds readers about RN’s civil rights breakthroughs:

And it was President Nixon and his Cabinet “strong man,” Attorney General John Mitchell, who presided, as the nation’s chief law enforcement officers, over the peaceful desegregation of public schools in the South. When the two took office in January 1969, 15 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, nearly 70% of African-American school children in the South were still attending segregated schools. Four years later, that figure stood at 8%. “Don’t expect PR results,” Nixon warned chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, “just do what is right.” Haldeman’s notes from February 1970 captured the president’s determination to “do what is right,” despite the 1960s’ polarizing politics and his own lapses into prejudice.

re: race … don’t want an emotional response — shld be sound, reasoned approach … this is a very historic crisis — country must not move in wrong direction …

Historian Dean Kotlowski recently called Nixon “the greatest school desegregator in American history.” Even George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee — now a staunch supporter of Obama — conceded in 1994 that Nixon “was actually pretty good on civil rights questions.”