On August 9, 1974, Gerald Ford became the first president who had neither campaigned for or been elected to either the presidency or the vice presidency. Ford later wrote that his friendship with Richard Nixon had placed him in "an impossible situation. I couldn't abandon Nixon. . . . Nor could I get too close to him, because . . . I'd risk being sucked into the whirlpool myself." That, however, is just what happened when, a month after becoming president, Ford granted Nixon a "full, free, and absolute pardon." Highly unpopular, Ford's pardon was a major reason for his loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976. In his memoirs, Ford defended his decision: "I simply was not convinced that the country wanted to see an ex-president behind bars." In 2001 he was given the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his pardon of Nixon.