Meanwhile, Pentagon officials were worried that the president had effectively vanished off the face of the Earth, because life was extraordinarily different before cellphones. Eventually, a maintenance team managed to get the doors open, and a chair was passed down through the top hatch so everyone could clamber up and out. Johnson's only comment on the whole affair was to joke, "I never knew it took so long to get to the top in the Pentagon," before heading off to make his speech as planned. The recommended maximum capacity of the elevator was lowered, and the Great Elevator Coup failed spectacularly.
Presidential Campaigns Keep Losing Top-Secret Material
In the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan was about to have his only debate against Jimmy Carter. While the election ended up being a rout, it looked close at the time. The debate was important, and the Reagan camp had one key advantage: They had flat out stolen Carter's preparation materials. The documents were labeled "Top Secret," so acquiring them meant their camp had broken the law. When the story broke in 1983, it flared into a scandal called, ugh, "Debategate."
To this day, no one is 100 percent sure what happened, but the prevailing theory is that the material was given to Reagan by William Casey (his campaign manager in 1980, CIA director by 1983). It's believed that Casey got the goods from an aide to Ted Kennedy, because the Kennedy camp was unhappy with how the Democratic primaries had unfolded. When the news broke, there was a ten-month investigation that led to ... absolutely no consequences for anyone.
Ronald Reagan Presidential LibraryWhich is a pretty good summary of the Reagan administration in general.
Debategate seemed to set the precedent that it's totally cool to try to steal your way to the top. Even putting aside the recent Clinton/Trump scandal, another stolen debate prep incident made headlines in 2000, when an anonymous source (later revealed to be the employee of a Bush camp insider) sent Al Gore confidant Tom Downey some debate material from the Bush campaign. The moment Downey realized what it was, the Gore team politely turned it over to the FBI, and Downey recused himself from Gore's debate team. If there was ever a poster boy for "nice guys finish last," it's Al Gore.
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