If there was ever a perfect time for someone to run for President of the United States and I guess I would add Ronald Reagan in 1980 to that list, but the person I'm thinking of would be Richard Nixon in 1968. One of the most divisive years at least in the 20th Century. America seemed to be going through both politically as well as a Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. The Democratic Party had all of the power in the Federal Government for eight of the first nine years. And there was this feeling that America was sort of coming apart.
Whether that was true or not and Richard Nixon, who had been running for president at least since 1965 after sitting out in 1964, sensed this being the great politician that he was. President Lyndon Johnson was very unpopular especially with the Vietnam War. The Hippie Revolution was going on and there was this feeling with Conservatives and perhaps Independents as well, that liberalism at least social liberalism had gone too far. I disagree with that as a Liberal, but that was the feeling from Conservatives. With the civil rights laws, anti-war movement and the Hippie Revolution of that decade as well. And there was this feeling that America needed a change a new direction and Dick Nixon picked up on this.
Dick Nixon had already paid his dues with the Republican Party so to speak. He was already a known name in the party. Serving in Congress from 1947-53, Vice President from 1953-61. And losing one of the closest presidential elections in American history to Jack Kennedy in 1960. Nixon was smart enough not to run for president in 1964 where Senator Barry Goldwater lost in a landslide to President Johnson. But Senator Goldwater did manage to win some conservative Southern states in that election. That the Democratic Party used to own which also helped set up Dick Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign.
And Nixon also campaigned for Congressional Republicans in the 1966 mid-term elections. Where the Republican Party picked up around forty seats in the House and four in the Senate. The Democratic Party still had large majority's in the House and Senate. But these gains also helped set up the 1968 campaign for the Republican Party. Which made Nixon look like the clear frontrunner in the Republican Party in 1968. Because a lot of Republican politicians owed Nixon favors. Dick Nixon saw that America was divided and that he would be candidate to try to unite the country. Or at least unite part of the country behind him and the Republican Party. The people who he called the "Silent Majority", the people who weren't part of the Hippie Revolution or the anti-war movement. And 1964 and 68 was the start of the Republican Party taking over the South and winning more offices. Where over forty years later they basically own that region politically.