I have known and respected Ronald Reagan since 1964. I helped pack the Washington State delegation to the 1968 GOP convention with Reagan delegates even though we were committed to Richard Nixon on the first ballot.
In 1976 and 1980, I was the Regional Political Director charged with gathering Ronald Reagan delegates to the 14 Western states – all the West except for California (interestingly enough – about the ame number of delegates as California). We would bring Ronald Reagan and Nancy in to keynote State and major County conventions. Before departing, either Ron or Nancy would always tell me where they would be that night and ask me to telephone them the outcome of the delegate selection.
Yes, I spent quality time with Ronald Reagan. For example, I could have personally responded to that wayward reporter who once asked him whether he wore boxers or briefs…
In 1976, after a hair-breath loss of the GOP nomination to Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan held a “Thank you” meeting for the thousands of young volunteers who had come from all over America. Addressing these people in the Ballroom of the Alameda Plaza hotel in Kansas City, with Nancy as always attentively standing at his side, photographers ignoring Ronald Reagan’s remarks pressed forward thinking they might capture a picture of Nancy with a tear in her eye. Realizing she had become the focus of their attention, Nancy turned her head to the side – and predictably they followed her until she had made a complete 360° turn. She bucked up, bit her trembling lip and focused once again on her husband’s remarks. The Reagans had kindly invited all the political directors to their suite for a following brunch. Ronald Reagan realized Nancy was upset, so he did not stop to exchange good-natured banter with the media and others in attendance. Rather, he took her hand and placed it on my arm and asked me to keep her with him as he made his way to the elevators. We made it with no serious delay and no tears. But, when the elevator door closed, I held a sobbing and insulted Nancy in my arms while her husband vented about how the media makes America’s best people reluctant to seek elective office.
One more interesting story -- 1964 was the Goldwater year. Ronald Reagan recorded a televised speck to support Goldwater. Lack of funding limited the initial broadcast market. Unexpectedly, however, wherever THE SPEECH (and that is how it is remembered) was broadcast, it generated so many contributions that the campaign was able to broadcast it over and over again with contributions far exceeding broadcast costs each time. Goldwater’s trailing presidential polls also began to take on new life. But, after several broadcasts and re-broadcasts, THE SPEECH had to be pulled – not because it was not effective but just the opposite. It was too convincing, too effective, and the public began to ask, why? Why, if there are such easily understood ideas for restoring America, why are we hearing those ideas from Ronald Reagan instead of from Barry Goldwater? Of course, the rest is history. Goldwater and the GOP lost badly and Ronald Reagan’s new-found popularity propelled him into the Governor’s mansion in California.
…Ronald Reagan was a great President. He was great because he was always comfortable in his own skin. He was not driven by poll results – not in the least. As President, Ronald Reagan stuck with his own big-picture agenda. He focused on improving the economy, checking inflation, reducing the size and imposition of government and combating the spread of communism.
Without firing a shot, he won the Cold War with the resultant dismantling of the USSR. And, he did it with grace and good humor which we all learned to admire. In fact, he made a friend of Gorbachev and he told him stories like he did with everyone… Ronald Reagan often sent real messages in his stories and he made no exception with Gorbachev.
Ronald Reagan told stories that carried meaning for all of us – self-effacing stories, self-confident and never arrogant. He respected the opinions of everyone even when he disagreed with them. His messages resonated and they were heard throughout the world. Rank and file Russian and East German citizens were heartened when Ronald Reagan had the courage to call the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire”; when he called Gorbachev’s hand on the Strategic Defense System in Reykjavik; and, even when he stood before the Brandenburg Gates and called for, “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!”
All that being said, perhaps Ronald Reagan’s best speech was given to us on the day he left the White House, when he said,
“I never thought it was my style or the works I used that made a difference. It was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator but I communicated great things – things that come from the heart of a great nation.”
And finally, he said,
“We came to Washington to change a nation and instead we changed a world!”
Dale Duvall was a President Reagan appointee. Duvall was the Acting Director of Community Services Administration until it was disbanded, he served as Vice President and Treasurer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the successor agency to the Marshall Plan programs, and Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, the western organization that designs, builds and operates hundreds of the nation's dams for development of hydro power and water storage/distribution for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes.