While in prison in 1920, he ran for president and received 3.4% of the popular vote. His health declined rapidly in prison and the attorney general ask President Wilson to pardon Debs. Denied. Once Harding became president, he pardoned Debs.
Wilson gave him a full pardon so as to give Burdick a free pass at ever being prosecuted for anything he said to grand jury. Burdick refused to accept it. He was jailed and fined.