Sold – The Genesis of Ronald Reagan’s Political Career

Written before his official announcement and referencing his “possible candidacy”.

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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, when Pat Brown, the liberal Democrat who had beat Nixon for election in 1962, was expected...

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Sold – The Genesis of Ronald Reagan’s Political Career

Written before his official announcement and referencing his “possible candidacy”.

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, when Pat Brown, the liberal Democrat who had beat Nixon for election in 1962, was expected to run for a third term.  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.”

Spencer-Roberts & Associates was Reagan’s first campaign management team and took over responsibility for his events and image from May 1965 for the duration of the campaign.  He would later credit its strategists Stu Spencer and Bill Roberts with an acute sense of how to accentuate his strengths (public speaking and general affability) while playing down his weaknesses (lack of knowledge and politically toxic allies).


Autograph letter signed on stationery so new his name is misspelled, California, no date but between July and December 1965, to Mr. Velarde. “I’m afraid there are no letters, bumper stickers, or literature as yet…. I know some volunteer groups around the state have such things but I am not connected any any way with those operations although naturally I’m glad to know there are people interested in my behalf.  I appreciate your kind offer of support. Right now the firm of Spencer & Roberts & Assoc., 1300 W. Olympic Blvd. L.A. are working to coordinate support and evaluate it and they would be the official headquarters for any activity regarding my possible candidacy.”

On January 1, 1966, Ronald Reagan announced his intention to run for Governor of California.

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