AHC:From prison to the White House

I recently got quite interested in how in the United States it is completely legal for someone to run for president while in prison. The most famous example was Eugene Debs in 1920 but it also happened with Lyndon LaRouche in 1992. Neither of these men actually came very close to winning the election however so the challenge is to have someone run for president from prison and successfully win.
 
Well, I don't see how this could happen, except for this "loophole" I spotted.

You never said the person running couldn't have been President before.

The basic jist of this is that a President is elected normally and within his first term, gains a massive fanbase the electorate, but is very polarizing among many of his fellow politicians, including from his own party. When it is time to run for a second term, a corruption scandal breaks and said President drops out of the running.
For few next years, the now ex president is caught in trials over this case before being given 4 years. The next guy serves 2 terms and his term ends in the middle of the sentence.
From his cell, the ex president launches his campaign, using his formerly large voting base to help keep him going. Alleging that he is an innocent man that was a victim of a witch hunt, he manages to get many to overlook the fact he is literally in prison, and manages to both win the primary and the general election.

Now this scenario is all well and good, but I don't have a particular person I can really apply it to. The closest I can get is a Richard Nixon running from a cell in 1984 in a world where the 22nd amendment only applies for consecutive terms(not for life), Ford never pardons him, and Reagan never runs again(Jimmy carter is reelected).
 
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If someone is in prison that probably means that either their crime was recent or that it was serious enough to merit a long sentence, both of which make it less likely that person would be elected. There is the possibility that the person in question is innocent, but that would still run into the issue that people would think he/she committed the crime.

If you want someone to go from prison to the White House, it makes more sense for there to be a long gap in between where that person is not in prison. For example a former teenage vandal/thief getting elected decades later.
 
This is easier than it first appears.

Franklin Roosevelt. There is a much more active fascist movement that has a good deal of establishment support. They get as far as removing FDR via a coup during his first turn. There is a civil war, and the anti-fascist side wins. Roosevelt gets released from prison and gets put back in the White House. He then wins the next election.

Another possibility is something like Watergate, not the exact scandal, happens during Nixon's first turn. Nixon is actually impeached and removed, and not pardoned but sent to prison. But its widely perceived ITTL to be a frame up. After the country getting close to a civil war, Nixon pulls off the comeback of all comebacks, and gets re-elected in 1972 or 1980 while still in prison.

Basically you need a much more politically unstable polity where it is normal for factions to gain dominance and put their political enemies in prison. This happens all the time in history. Then there is a shift in the political situation and the outs become the ins.
 
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