In the beginning, Ronald Reagan was an actor, and the thought of him running for office was non-existent. As the years went by he became more political. The 1964 presidential campaign saw the emergence of Ronald Reagan, when he made a highly successful campaign speech for Barry Goldwater. At that time, Republican kingmakers in California urged Reagan to run for Governor in 1966. Though he turned them down in 1964, in 1965 he would reconsider, committing to test the waters by taking a speaking tour, designed to introduce the prospective candidate to the electorate.
As Reagan wrote in recollection, “I believed that if I continued speaking for six months I'd be able to identify someone whom the people thought would make a good governor, then I'd campaign for him.” Starting in July 1965, Reagan hit the campaign trail and received so many calls for his own candidacy that in December 1965, he asked Nancy, “’How do you say no to all these people?’ If I decided to run, we agreed our life we knew and loved would change dramatically, perhaps forever.”
Reagan took that leap, ran for governor of California, and won. He took office in 1967, and served a second term, as well. His terms as governor helped to shape the policies he would pursue in his later political career as president. He strongly advocated the Republican ideal of fiscal conservatism.
Reagan became president in 1981, unseating Jimmy Carter, with a mandate to reduce federal spending. Termed the Reagan Revolution, his presidency would reinvigorate American morale, reinvigorate the American economy and reduce American reliance upon government. Throughout his presidency, his policies reflected a down home, conservative economic style, for which he is revered today.
Phil Regan was a singer and actor who also dabbled in politics, endorsing his friend Ronald Reagan for governor of California in 1966 against incumbent Edmund G Brown. The Regans and the Reagans remained in touch, even after the latter went to the White House.
In this letter to his old friend, he reflects back on the surprising success of his political career, and how he never thought he would run for office. Moreover, he shows that the fiscal discipline he instilled when he came into office was one he personally practiced.
Typed Letter Signed as president, on White House letterhead, Washington, September 5, 1985 to close friend Phil Regan, musing on how fate had brought him to the White House. “Dear Cousin: What a kick to get your letter and the enclosure. No, I wasn’t running for office and in those days would have bet the farm I never would. As for the letterhead — naturally, I wouldn’t throw good paper away for lack of a single letter in the alphabet.
Do you know, when I became Governor, I found the office was stacked high with Pat Brown’s stationery? I had the gals x-out his name and type mine in, and we used it until the last sheet was gone.
The letter you enclosed was one of a bunch I sent out after the Drew Pearson column. They were replies to angry letters I received and almost every one got an apologetic response. Whatever happened to those days?
Love to Jo and thanks again. Sincerely, Ron.”
The reference to Drew Pearson relates to a column Pearson wrote attacking Governor Ronald Reagan released on October 31, 1967. Pearson claimed that a "homosexual ring has been operating in his (Reagan's) office, including a claim that a tape recording existed of "a sex orgy which had taken place at a cabin near Lake Tahoe, leased by two members of Reagan's staff. Eight men were involved." Later press reports revealed the alleged tape that Pearson had mentioned in his column did not exist. The allegations of homosexuality were Pearson’s attempt to impugn the reputation of then-Governor Ronald Reagan, who was running for the GOP presidential nomination.
Authentically signed letters of Ronald Reagan while President are increasingly rare. This is a fine example to a close friend.