In the 1960 elections, Nixon faced incumbent Democratic president Hubert Humphrey for the presidency. Under Humphrey, the United States was beginning to recover from the loss of prestige suffered from their defeat in the Third World War, with several veterans advocating reconciliation with the Soviet Union.
However, Nixon, an advocate of a "return to glory," came to power at a perfect time: a new generation of twentysomethings, children used to American power after the Second World War, and crushed at the lost of the Third, became influential in American politics, seeking to restore the prestige of their homeland. With their support, in addition to that of some hawkish veterans, Nixon won on the platform of "a return from obscurity, and the resumption of America's rightful place as a world power." Indeed, Nixon listed political thinker Joseph McCarthy as an influence, and created the McCarthy memorial early in his time in office.
In October 1962, American spy planes on reconnaisance over Cuba discovered installations that appeared to be nuclear missile silos. Continued reconnaisance confirmed these were missile silos, capable of the destruction of the Southeastern United States. After intense, hostile discussions with Vyacheslav Molotov and Fidel Castro, Nixon, fulfilling his promise to regain American supremacy, launched the invasion of Cuba.
By December of that year, American forces had secured Pinar del Rio in western Cuba, and were quickly approaching Havana. However, the American forces, under Curtis LeMay, encountered an unexpected threat: the guerrilla warfare tactics of the Cubans.
The War dragged on and on throughout 1962, with the American force only reaching Havana in May, due to the confusing tactics of the guerrillas. After the capture of Havana, the American force went on a long march to Santiago de Chile.
By August, the War seemed to be in the Soviets' favor. The American force was nearly destroyed due to the tactics of guerrillas and persistent Soviet attack. The culminating battle of the War was at Las Tunas, where the crippled remainder of the force was destroyed by a Soviet ambush, superior in number.
The American loss of the War lead to a significant drop in Nixon's popularity, aided by the fact that not a single nuclear bomb was used on American territory. Nixon was ousted in the 1964 elections, losing to Adlai Stevenson.