Presidential speechwriter Robert T. Hartmann, April 11 President Gerald Ford drapes his right arm around Robert K. Hartmann, seen in 1975 seated next to First Lady Betty Ford, with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at right. Hartmann drafted Ford's first address to the nation after President Nixon left office in which he proclaimed, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over." Hartmann, who drafted many of the president's speeches, died April 11, 2008, of cardiac arrest at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. He was 91. Although Hartmann also wrote the "I'm a Ford, not a Lincoln" speech for Ford's acceptance of the Republican Party's 1976 presidential nomination, the "national nightmare" speech would be his legacy. In his book Palace Politics (1980), Hartmann recalled that Ford was dubious about using the line and wondered, "Isn't that a little hard on Dick?" Hartmann threatened to quit if the phrase was cut. "Junk all the rest of the speech if you want to, but not that. That is going to be the headline in every paper, the lead in every story. . . This has been a national nightmare and it's got to be stopped. You're the only one who can" stop it, Hartmann said he told Ford.
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