Biography of U.S. President Ronald Reagan Part 7 California Governor

About the United States President Ronald Reagan, biography and history of his early career as a California Governor.


40th President



In August, 1967, Reagan announced a $200 million Medi-Cal budget cut, saying he didn't condone handouts to the poor, but the California Supreme Court threw it out. Handouts to big business were another matter: In October, 1967,the Associated Farmers, a group of millionaire growers in the central valley, received from the Reagan administration the use of prison labor to harvest strawberries and grapes. Farm workers were outraged; nothing like that had happened since W.W.II.

In November, 1967, Washington columnist Drew Pearson reported that two top Reagan aides had been forced to resign after they were discovered in a homosexual ring with teenage boys. California newspapers had suppressed the story at the request of Reagan's press secretary, Lyn Nofziger, but when out-of-state publications Time and Newsweek hit the stands, Californians were confronted with the story--and with the governor's denial of it. The credibility gap widened as Reagan hotly called Pearson a liar, then changed his tone and asked that the matter be quietly dropped.

In certain areas of legislation the Reagan administration proved progressive. In 1967 one of the most liberalized abortion bills in the U.S. became law in California. In his eight-year term Reagan increased state spending for higher education by 136%. He added 41 mi. of coastal land to the state park system. He approved the 1971 Welfare Reform Act, which increased benefits to the needy by 43%.

Elected to a second term in 1970 (a year in which he paid no state income taxes) by a margin of 500,000 votes, Reagan continued to represent the prevailing mood of California voters. He used his veto power on fiscal measures 994 times in eight years and addressed the anxious public on issues of taxation and law and order. But since 1968 Reagan and his circle of wealthy backers (his "kitchen cabinet") had been looking to the presidential arena. He made a last-minute bid for the GOP nomination in 1968, but it went to Nixon. When his governorship expired in 1975, Reagan passed up a third term to concentrate on the 1976 presidential race. In spite of his ninth-place rating in a 1975 poll of most-admired Americans, Reagan lost the nomination to Gerald Ford.

For the next four years Reagan cultivated his public image with a newspaper column and television appearance, in which he delivered variations on the basic speech that had been his trademark for over 20 years. At the 1980 Republican convention in Detroit, Mich., Ronald Reagan won the nomination he had sought for 12 years. Henry Kissinger urged him to choose Gerald Ford as a running mate in a sort of "co-presidential" capacity, Reagan consented to Kissinger's idea, and for several days the former secretary of state courted the ex-president. Ford briefly considered the offer, then declined. Reagan then selected George Bush, former director of the CIA, as his vice-presidential choice, despite the fact that in the primary campaign he had denounced Bush as a representative of the "Eastern Liberal Establishment."

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