Selling Ronald Reagan: The Emergence of a President by Gerard DeGroot - review by Tim Stanley

Tim Stanley

The Right Stuff

Selling Ronald Reagan: The Emergence of a President


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Ronald Reagan was a canny old thing. In the 1966 primary to select the Republican candidate for governor of California, his opponent complained that he always stole the show at photo calls: ‘They would put us in line for a photograph … as soon as the photographer was about to snap the picture, Reagan would put up his hand like this [raises forefinger into the air] and make it appear that all of us were deferring to him and looking to him for advice. Well, this was the actor’s ability to steal a scene.’

Reagan won the nomination. Gerard DeGroot’s account of Reagan’s subsequent campaign for the governorship makes the compelling case that he won not in spite of being a mediocre Hollywood actor but because of it. Rivals wrote him off. The incumbent Democratic governor, Pat Brown, a self-described ‘responsible liberal’ and Reagan’s

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