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The White House Historical Association released a new episode of The White House 1600 Sessions podcast today featuring a conversation with author and historian Richard Norton Smith about his latest book “An Ordinary Man: The Surprising Life and Historic Presidency of Gerald R. Ford.” In the episode, Stewart McLaurin, president of the Association, welcomes Smith to a special town hall gathering to discuss what Smith uncovered while writing the new biography of Gerald R. Ford.

“The day that Nixon addresses the staff in the East Room of the White House and then is escorted out to the helicopter with the Fords, there's that poignant moment of saying goodbye and there are four words in the book that strike me more than anything,” said McLaurin. “They're leaving the helicopter, walking back toward this White House, which is going to become their home. And Ford puts his arm around Mrs. Ford, and he says, “We can do it.””

Ford was born in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Despite what late night comics at the time would have people believe, Ford was an athlete all his life and was a star player for University of Michigan football. He served bravely in the U.S. Navy during World War II and returned home to Michigan to practice law. He married Elizabeth Bloomer and won a congressional seat in 1948. Ford went on to serve 25 years in Congress, rising to the position of House Minority Leader, before becoming President Richard Nixon’s new vice president. When Ford became the nation’s first “unelected” president after Nixon resigned, Ford acknowledged that he was taking the oath “under extraordinary circumstances.”

“I was fortunate in knowing Ford and gaining access to a great deal of material that had not been available to earlier biographers,” said Smith. “It was a license to spend ten years discovering all the things I didn't know about Gerald Ford. There are a lot of surprising factual revelations, but more important, ultimately is the historical perspective.”

The Association’s Official 2023 White House Christmas Ornament commemorates the Ford presidency, featuring decorations inspired by the handcrafted ornaments used in the White House during the Ford administration. The ornament is available for purchase at

The full video of this episode is also available on the Association’s YouTube channel here.

The White House 1600 Sessions is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

For more information, please contact

The White House 1600 Sessions

White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin is the host of “The White House 1600 Sessions,” the Association’s official audio and video podcast devoted to exploring the history, cultural impact, untold stories, and personal accounts of America’s most iconic residence and highest office.

P.D.F. Resources

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit