The acronym CREEP is short for The Committee for the Re-election of the President, which in 1972 was the fundraising organization of then-president Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign.
The committee officially launched in 1971 and was originally abbreviated CRP. After the Watergate scandal, it retroactively became known as CREEP.
Formed ostensibly to “do whatever it takes” to get Nixon to a second term, members of CREEP would ultimately get caught up in the Watergate scandal, sending some of them prison and all of them to infamy.
The Committee to Reelect the President was organized to win a second term for Richard Nixon in 1972. Headed by former Atty. Gen. John Mitchell, CRP included many former Nixon White House staffers.
As advertising and marketing plans for Nixon’s campaign moved forward in the spring of 1972, so did covert plans — wiretaps and other forms of harassment directed against the president’s opponents — that would eventually bring down the second Nixon administration.
When Nixon set out to be re-elected, he faced some fierce opposition and plenty of people that Nixon perceived to be “enemies.”
As laid out on History.com, it was fertile ground for the formation of a committee like CREEP:
A forceful presidential campaign therefore seemed essential to the president and some of his key advisers. Their aggressive tactics included what turned out to be illegal espionage. In May 1972, as evidence would later show, members of Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President…broke into the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate headquarters, stole copies of top-secret documents and bugged the office’s phones.”
Among the more famous members of CREEP were campaign director John Mitchell and campaign manager G. Gordon Liddy.
Both of them would be indicted.
As described by Vox, the committee also illegally attempted to interfere in the 1972 Democratic primaries by promoting the nomination of George McGovern, as they thought he was more easily defeated:
CRP operative Donald Segretti was involved in many of the worst of these efforts, including fabricating multiple documents with stationery from Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie, the 1968 vice presidential nominee and a strong contender for the presidency that year.
As part of one of the biggest scandals in political history, the legacy of CREEP is one of deception, burglary, illegal banking activity, forgery and perjury.
Besides bringing shame on the office of the President of the United States, the illegal acts of the CRP helped turn a burglary into a political scandal that would bring down an incumbent president and fuel a general mistrust of the federal government that had already begun festering as protests against continued U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War took place.