Before ascending to the vice-presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as Representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader.
As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, US involvement in Vietnam essentially came to an end. Domestically, Ford presided over what was then the worst economy since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford’s incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In 1976, Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.
Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems and being admitted to the hospital four times in 2006, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. He lived to an older age than any other U.S. president in history, dying at the age of 93.
During his Presidency, two crazed women made separate attempts to assassinate Ford. In Sacramento on 5 September 1975, Lynnette 'Squeaky' Fromme, a member of Charles Manson's "family", raised a .45 caliber handgun in Ford's direction. She was wrestled to the ground by Secret Servicemen, but there was no bullet in the chamber of her gun. Two and a half weeks later, on 22 September 1975, an accountant named Sara Jane Moore took a shot at Ford in San Francisco. She missed when a bystander, former Marine Oliver Sipple, saw the gun and grabbed Moore's arm, ruining her aim. Though Ford was not hit, the White House waited three days before publicly thanking Sipple, while staff debated an appropriate response after learning that the heroic Sipple was gay.