As Stone puts it in one of the many rules he lives by, “He who speaks first, loses.” Stone spends most of his time in Miami these days, but he’s still greeted warmly by the staff at the “21” Club, the venerable former speakeasy on West Fifty-second Street.“I love it here,” Stone said, as we settled into a corner table.

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“Of course a lot of the journalists hated Nixon, but they were always blown away by how smart he was,” Stone said. Not long ago, Stone went to the Ink Monkey tattoo shop in Venice Beach and had a portrait of Nixon’s face applied to his back, right below the neck. Nixon recognized the effectiveness of anti-élitism—a staple of American campaigns even today—as a core message.

It was Stone’s preoccupation with toughness that led to his enduring affection for Nixon. Kennedy’s father bought him his House seat, his Senate seat, and the Presidency. “Everybody talks about the Reagan Democrats who helped put the Republican Party over the top, but they were really the Nixon Democrats.

A sign inside the front door of Miami Velvet, a night club of sorts in a warehouse-style building a few minutes from the airport, states, “If sexual activity offends you in any way, do not enter the premises.” At first glance, though, the scene inside looks like a nineteen-eighties disco, with a bar, Madonna at high volume, flashing lights, a stripper’s pole, and a dancer’s cage.

But a flat-screen television on the wall plays porn videos, and many clubgoers disappear into locker rooms and emerge wearing towels.

Even then, though, Stone regularly crossed the line between respectability and ignominy, and he has become better known for leading a colorful personal life than for landing big-time clients.

Still, it is no coincidence that Stone materialized in the midst of the Spitzer scandal—and that he had memorable cameos in the last two Presidential elections.

“The key to a good Martini is you have to marinate the olives in vermouth first,” he said. He said he got it from Winston Churchill.” Stone did not grow up in such rarefied company.

He was born in 1952, half Italian and half Hungarian, and was raised in Lewisboro, New York.

Stone moved to Washington to attend George Washington University, but he became so engrossed in Republican politics that he never graduated.