In retrospect, the idea of leading Democrats shying away from the Watergate scandal in 1973 may seem odd, but the major breaks in the cover-up had yet to occur. At the time, the prospect that the scandal might lead to Nixon's removal from office appeared remote. As late as April 1974, Strauss chastised Democratic governors for calling for Nixon's resignation.
Over the next quarter century, Strauss would come to epitomize the national Democratic leader who cultivated friendly relations with Republicans. His friendship with Bush confidante James Baker III was cemented when Strauss headed President Jimmy Carter's failed reelection bid in 1980, while Baker, also a Texan, held a top job in the Reagan-Bush campaign.
After Carter's loss in 1980, the defeated Democratic President joked to his staff that "Bob is a very loyal friend -- he waited a whole week after the election before he had dinner with Ronald Reagan."
Strauss also counted himself one of George H.W. Bush's closest friends, accepting an appointment as Bush's ambassador to Moscow in 1991. A senior Bush administration official explained the appointment to The New York Times by saying, "The President wants to send one of his best friends" to Moscow.