US president Gerald Ford dies

LOS ANGELES - Gerald Ford, right, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died. He was 93.

LOS ANGELES - Gerald Ford, right, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died. He was 93.

Ford had battled with pneumonia since January and underwent two heart treatments, including an angioplasty, in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Ford was an accidental president, Nixon's hand-picked successor, a man of much political experience who had never run on a national ticket. He was as open and straightforward as Nixon was tightly controlled and conspiratorial.

He took office minutes after Nixon flew off into exile and declared "our long national nightmare is over".

But he revived the debate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976, but it won praise in later years as a courageous act that allowed the nation to move on.

The Vietnam War ended in defeat for the US during his presidency in April 1975.

In a speech as the end neared, Ford said: "Today America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned."

He was in the White House for only 895 days, but changed it more than it changed him.

Even after two women tried separately to kill him, his presidency remained open and plain. - Sapa

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