Running major political campaigns is hard work. It is interesting. It is challenging. But it is also hard work. How and why did I become involved in such enterprises?
I had become interested in politics from history courses at Williams College where we had studied American History including the Federalist papers. I had also read widely including Whittaker Chamber’s “Witness” and George Orwell’s visionary “1984”. I had become familiar with the political and economic works of Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Karl Marx and Ludwig Von Mises. I felt that all citizens should be aware of and participate in the political process.
At that time, America was deeply involved in the Cold War. I had served in the Air Force at the time of the winding down of the Korean War and was keenly aware of the costs in human lives and dignity of wars. My older brother had served in the front line as a Marine in the Chinese nighttime mass wave attacks from North Korea. I had lost several friends.
President Truman had initiated a policy of containment of the Soviet Union, a policy designed to prevent the spread of Communism abroad. Containment was a middle road between appeasement and rollback. The goal was to contain Communist expansion without nuclear war. It was based upon a cable from Moscow from the American diplomat, George Kennan in 1946. It was followed with variations such as détente as American policy until the advent of President Reagan.
After military service and having graduated from the University of Virginia School of law, a University founded by Thomas Jefferson whose home at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia I loved visiting, I decided to explore politics before practicing law. I knew that I was interested. Better to learn early than at a later date. Why leave the law in mid career to run for office without any such real knowledge? What were campaigns? How do they work? What was entailed? Should I consider, in the long range, a political career? Were my thoughts and possible ambitions realistic? Would it be appropriate for my family? I was good in debate, public speaking and writing. I was a quick study. I knew that I was reasonably good looking, tall with wavy auburn hair and a naturally mellifluous deep and resonant voice; even today, in my early eighties, it frequently draws comment in the course of casual social contacts and introductions. The question always surprises me. No, I am not a professional radio or television announcer. Most of all, I was interested in politics and the destiny of the nation.
There were also personal reasons for my interest in politics. My wife’s father had been torn from her family home by Russian Soldiers in Riga, Latvia, where he, a Professor of Agronomy, had been teaching in the first days of World War Two. He was among the first to be taken and disappear into Siberia. That was Soviet policy. Kill or enslave those capable of opposition. He was taken by force after the furniture in their home had been ripped apart by the soldiers’ bayonets in front of my wife, then a young child. He survived Siberia, but she was not to see him again until 1960 when we were finally able to visit him in Latvia. She, her mother and her brother had escaped and migrated to the United States following the war. They had fled across Europe with cyanide capsules as necklace jewels against capture and rape by soldiers in the closely following Soviet Army, just a few miles behind them as it raced west in the Soviet quest for land and the defeat of Germany. They had landed in America with five dollars in hand and a cardboard suitcase. They had no reason to wish to return to Latvia and face certain imprisonment in Siberia. For myself, I considered our country’s need for capable leadership in politics to be important if we were to survive détente and perhaps free the peoples of Eastern Europe and dissolve the Soviet Union.
So, upon settling in California and having undertaken the Bar Examinations, I volunteered to work on Vice President Nixon’s 1962 campaign for Governor as a Special Representative and Advanceman. Documents from that campaign are included in the catalogue inventorying these materials accompanying this offer of sale.
Apart from working successfully on more than a few other events and activities, on late Friday afternoon, with the election following on the next Tuesday, I was asked by “Bob” H. R. Haldeman, the Campaign Manager, on an almost impromptu basis to organize, publicize, manage and advance five campaign appearances to be spread around Los Angeles County at five to fifteen mile intervals to take effect on Monday. Three days to organize five events! Well, three days if one counted Friday which was already pretty much gone. Each was to have from 2,000 to 3,000 attendees with platforms, podiums, lecterns, flags and bunting, microphones, telephones installed for each member of the working press together with tables, chairs, paper, carbon paper and typewriters for their use and plenty of signs for the eager attendees to waive. Bands were optional. The routes were planned and run for their proper timing. The police security forces were alerted. Transportation was arranged The effort was undertaken.
With the invaluable help of local Republicans, the events were successfully organized and the campaign party and press arrived within the exact minute at each of its planned stops. At the last moment, Nixon had his wife, Pat, substitute for him. The planning of appearances requires detailed attention. But, for my efforts on that occasion, I gained an excellent, if not almost legendary, reputation. It drew the attention of the professionals, Spencer and Roberts.
I enjoyed the opportunity to work with Nixon throughout the day from morning until late in the evening. He drank seldom and sparingly; generally, if anything, a single Heinekens beer. Later I learned that he had a very low tolerance for alcohol. On election evening, at about 11 P.M., he asked if I could find him a pineapple ice cream milk shake. I found one at a nearby pharmacy with a still open soda fountain. He was appreciative but wasn’t ready yet to concede the election.
Nixon was always well spoken and courteous while I was working with him. When not tired, he appeared quite vital and vigorous. He was well informed on all national and international events and keenly intelligent. It was the morning following the election, an election that he lost, that he advised the press that “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” I escorted him to his car following that notorious press exchange.
That morning was the last time that I saw Nixon until several years later when he saw me in the lobby of the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California and came over to say hello. He had an excellent memory for names and I was easy to spot. It was just prior to his successful run for the Presidency in 1968. We chatted for a few moments and he urged me to remain in politics, strongly stating his belief that the country needed young and energetic leadership. I wished him well. Based upon my own experience, I found it hard to believe the darker side of his personality at the time of the Watergate burglary and the crassness of his language as recorded in the Oval Office at that time. He had, however, served in the Pacific in the Navy during World War II. As in the case of President Obama with his many scandals, his efforts at obscuring his role was inexcusable, But ever after his exposure of Alger Hiss as a Communist spy he did have reason to distrust the generally liberal and progressive press.
I continued with work on several State, Assembly and Congressional campaigns; arranging appearances, walking precincts, working in political telephone banks as well as becoming a member of the Marin County and California State Republican Committees while pursuing several small private business interests.
Then, I was asked by Spencer and Roberts, the nation’s first truly professional campaign management organization, to work professionally and for pay on Nelson A. Rockefeller’s California Presidential campaign.
While I liked Goldwater, I felt that he could and would be readily defeated. This was a Presidential election and would complete my campaign education. So, I accepted. The Republican Party had to include all of its wings and also be attractive to independents. I felt that Goldwater appeared to be rejecting the moderate and liberal wings of the Republican Party. I was right. Goldwater was easily defeated in the General Election. Rockefeller lost in California’s Primary Election and later at the National Convention but not to the detriment of the reputation of Spencer and Roberts who were later employed to run Reagan’s first and second campaigns as Governor. Stuart Spencer, the then surviving partner, later managed Reagan’s Presidential Campaigns.
At this point, I had concluded that it was unlikely that I could run for political office. I had an ear problem that was increasingly prohibiting airplane travel. Upon descent my Eustachian Tube would block and my ear drum would rupture. It was not susceptible to surgical treatment except at great risk. Nonetheless and in spite of my retirement from politics, at Reagan’s personal invitation I met with him and agreed to join his team as his Northern California Vice Chairman and Schedule Director as a volunteer fully at my own expense to arrange all of his Northern California campaign appearances and travel.
Three of us, Thomas C. Reed, Fred Hafner and I met to plan the overview of the Northern California Campaign Schedule at a private office rented as headquarters for the anticipated housing of key staff members at 46 Kearny Street in San Francisco. This was not a ground floor office; the public office for Reagan was located on Market Street.
Tom Reed was a thirty-two year old physicist and successful businessman. In the words of Dr. Edward Teller, Tom was one of Lawrence Radiation labs most creative designers of atomic weapons. He had joined the labs as a consultant following his military service in the Air Force where he had been charged with designing the re-entry nose cone for the Minuteman Missile. He not only designed atomic weapons but has also described witnessing the explosion of one of his designs. It is reported in his excellent work, “At the Abyss”. Later he became Secretary of the Air Force. Tom also worked as a consultant in the National Security Council along with Judge William Clark as one of the key figures in Reagan’s Secret War that brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union. He had moved to Marin where I met him following his work at the Lawrence Radiation Labs and had introduced him to the Republican Assembly and State Senate leaders. Now, he was serving as the Chairman of our Northern California Campaign. Fred Hafner was a political specialist who was working with Spencer and Roberts.
We were not the only ones paying attention to the campaign. With the overview of the Campaign Schedule Plan concluded, we closed the office that night only to find the next morning that our private office had been burglarized and the plans stolen from the central drawer of my desk. Shortly, they showed up in Herb Caen’s popular San Francisco Chronicle column. We changed the locks on the office doors, hired a new group of janitors and installed shredding machines. Hypocrisy hardly describes the situation when the Chronicle later damned the Watergate burglary under Nixon’s administration. Either the San Francisco Chronicle had paid to have our plan stolen, or it had received and used it knowing that the plan must have been stolen. The press was not unilaterally friendly or objective when it came to Reagan or to Conservatives.
Ronald Reagan and his wife always had separate schedules whenever it involved airplane flight. They were concerned that their children be left without a parent in the event of a crash.
The Reagans were always given somewhat simplified versions of the actual schedule as they had no need to know all of the operational details. Further, Nancy Reagan was very protective of her husband’s well being. If the schedule looked too long and complex, she would become concerned that her “Ronnie” would become overtired. On two occasions during the campaigns, she called me directly to express such concerns. So, some “extra” spontaneous “drop bys” were always left out of their copies. When later told, he always did them willingly. I always built short hidden rest periods into the schedules but not because Reagan lacked stamina, he was in excellent physical condition. I did it on all campaigns for all candidates as being on your feet, traveling and meeting new people all day long is exhausting.
In the course of Reagan’s first campaign, I hired a young Austrian immigrant for the Campaign to be my Secretary, Helene McDonald. Her father had died of tuberculosis when she was twelve years old. She had survived the Russian occupation of her homeland at the end of the war. She was too young to be the victim of their rapes. Eventually she met and married an American soldier and came with him to America. Later, she was divorced and came to San Francisco looking to join the Reagan Campaign.
I found Helene to be talented, hard working and devoted to Reagan’s cause. She had seen the looting, rape and pillage of the Russian soldiers and wanted a free and strong country and an Eastern Europe free of its Communist enslavement. At the conclusion of the Campaign I provided her with a very strong recommendation for her employment on the Governor’s Staff in Sacramento together with advice on how to proceed in that office. There she followed my advice and shortly came to the attention of Bill Clark. When he was elevated to the Supreme Court Bench, she became Reagan’s personal Secretary. Later, she remarried and thereafter used the name Helene Von Damm.
Helene Von Damm remained Governor Reagan’s Secretary throughout his first two terms in office. She acted as his executive assistant during his business years following his terms as Governor. Helene then served as Reagan’s Northeast Regional Finance Director in his 1980 Presidential Campaign. When Reagan was elected President she followed him to the White House and was named his Director for Presidential Personnel in 1981 where she served until her appointment as the United States Ambassador to Austria in 1983. Her journey was extraordinary. She had left Austria as a young expatriate seeking a better life in America without wealth or position only to return as an American citizen and the United States Ambassador to Austria. I was proud to have helped her on that journey. The only other person I recommended for a position on Reagan’s staff was Mike Deaver who also followed him to the Presidency and was later frequently involved in advance work.
I found Ronald Reagan to be graceful, hard working, pleasant and always courteous. As previously noted, he was in excellent physical condition. He was also fun and had a good sense of humor. On one occasion, at the end of a very long and exhausting day, his motorcade had been instructed to go to the northern or Post Street entrance to the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco where I had proceeded ahead to await him and his Campaign Staff Members with the keys for their stay and their room assignments. In scheduling a Campaign, I always tried to avoid hotel lobbies because the candidate could readily be delayed by swarms of eager supporters seeking to say hello; either avoid the lobbies or sweep through them so fast that there will be no delay. Campaigns are designed to speak to individuals, but not one at a time. Complications ensued. The first two cars turned and went to the front of the Hotel on the east on Union Square!
Of course, I and two assistants immediately raced through the Hotel to the front entrance thinking that the motorcade had gotten their instructions wrong. The second two cars which had been delayed then pulled into sight and stopped in the street at the corner of the Hotel. They paused, not turning down to the front entrance. We carried hand held portable radio phones. They were at that time the best state of the art hand communication devices available. Mine rang and over the phone came the clear voice of an insane German General barking orders. They were loud enough to be heard at least a dozen feet away. The insane General was sharply criticizing his troops. Reagan had the accent down perfectly. Obeying orders, we turned back into the lobby and ran laughing back to the Post Street entrance, the same entrance where Sarah Jane Moore later fired a pistol at President Gerald Ford.
However, the day was not yet concluded. The Post Street entrance had a single elevator. When called, it came up from one floor below. The staff members around Reagan surged into the elevator. In the rush, they obscured a little old lady standing in the corner. Although it was a tight fit, I was the last aboard. A staff member next to the elevator control panel said “What floor?” I responded “Floor Six”. Immediately and in a gentle voice, Reagan courteously said, “Excuse me Madam, what floor did you wish?” He had noticed her in the back. Frankly, although I could not have seen her, I was embarrassed. I should have noticed. We stopped at her floor first on the way up.
Although I have many memories of the Campaign including driving Reagan from place to place for several private meetings, two more bear recounting.
The first arose on an occasion when I had scheduled Reagan to ride in an Hispanic Parade in San Jose as an Honorary Marshall for the Parade. Governor Pat Brown, father of California’s current Governor, had turned down the invitation. Reagan knew and honored the role of Hispanics in California. He was to ride a magnificent Palomino stallion together with a dozen Honor Guards. All had beautiful Palomino horses with their golden coats and white manes and tails. The Honor Guards were all dressed with jackets and riding breeches studded with shining silver ornamentation as were the saddles. All wore silver ornamented sombreros. All in all it was indeed a splendid sight.
Ronald Reagan was an expert horseman. He rode with grace and ease. Presented his mount, he talked softly with the horse caressing its forelock and then arose expertly into the saddle. At this point, a member of what I must most certainly presume was Caesar Chavez’s nascent Farm Union movement ran forward from out of the crowd throwing his hands up in front of the horse and yelling. Startled, the stallion reared high on his hind legs lashing his front hooves head high out at the intruder. Reagan was not thrown. The man ran back into the crowd.
Reagan settled the horse down and then spoke quietly with the leader of the Honor Guard. He stated that he had no wish by his presence to cause trouble with the Parade and that if they should so wish, they could and should proceed without him. However, the men had been deeply offended that their guest had been so rudely treated. I still vividly remember their response, “Mr. Reagan, you are our guest, we would be proud to ride with you anywhere!” During the Parade I later saw other Caesar Chavez union organizer representatives carrying Farm Union placards. I kept a careful eye on them against similar attacks attempting to startle Reagan’s horse as I paralleled the Parade route on foot. It was interesting. Several of these purported farm workers had absolutely clean hands. None had calluses but several held their signs high but with clear finger nail polish.
The second of my memories reflects the attitude of the national press at that time. Many would come out just for a day or two from the East Coast to join and report on the campaign. On many occasions I would have Reagan ride along with the press in the campaign bus. Few bothered him with interviews and undue questions during the ride on the bus and most found Reagan to be pleasant, personable, friendly and affable. But their stories were almost always the same. Their litany was that Reagan dyed his hair. He wore make-up. And he was simply an actor reciting memorized lines prepared for him by Hollywood.
None of this was true. Until he became President when time prohibited it, he wrote all of his own speeches. Even then he carefully edited them inserting phrases such as “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” He did so even though the State Department repeatedly struck the lines from his speech. If he considered the Soviet Union to be “an Evil Empire” he had no hesitation in so saying. He needed no make up as he had a natural ruddy complexion quite suitable at the time of his Governship for television appearances without the need for makeup. He never dyed his hair. There was no time for such frills. I saw him morning, noon and night day after day. In the morning I would meet him at the door or greet him as he arrived by plane. At night, I would see him to his room and ensure that the luggage had been delivered or take him to the steps of his plane as he departed for Southern California. Later, his hair did finally gray. He was one of those of Irish, Scottish and English ethnic origin whose hair grows gray much later than average.
The problem with the general view of the press that Reagan didn’t write his own speeches was the fact that he did. Indeed, he would always be writing and revising them until the very last minute. There was no way to provide advance copies. For himself, he kept a copy on index cards in his jacket in case his memory failed. It never did. He could speak extemporaneously, the result of extensive private practice, and had an extraordinary memory. People who knew and worked with Reagan throughout his career often commented that it was clear that he had a photographic or near photographic memory. I’ve read that during the time of his acting career, he could read a page and then recite it verbatim.
During the campaign, the press reports had to be filed by telephone or wire. So, at every appearance enough hard wire land phones had to be installed to meet the needs of all of the press with tables, paper, carbon paper and typewriters. Today laptop computers and cell phones are in use and campaigning has come to include data mining and the use of Social Networks. However, at that time the press was accustomed to receiving copies of the candidate’s speeches in advance to facilitate their reporting. With Reagan they didn’t. This posed very real problems. There was only twenty minutes to write and file after any campaign stop before it was time to board the bus and leave. So, Lyn Nofziger, Reagan’s rumpled, cigar chomping, quip loving press representative, decided upon a simple solution. He would write a suitable, single paragraph for each speech and told the press that they could quote it whether Reagan ever actually used the words or not. That solved their problem. They had the key theme of the speech in a single pre-written paragraph. Now the person, Reagan, whom even the press eventually came to recognize as the “Great Communicator”, didn’t have to worry about the presses’ misunderstanding.
Reagan was a gifted writer, raconteur and public speaker. He never was the simple man that so many liberals and progressives in the press demeaned as did Clark Clifford, President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, in his memorable phrase describing Reagan as an “amiable dunce”. It is ironic that the elegant Clark Clifford reached the end of his career in controversies being a key figure in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandal which led to his indictment by a grand jury. Apparently, it was his contention that, although head of the law firm that stitched the deal together and Chairman of the Board of the American Bank that the Bank of Credit and Commerce was using as a front for its criminal money laundering and other illegal enterprises, he knew nothing of its criminal activities. He was never charged in view of his advanced years.
Reagan was frequently the subject of derision by comedians, so-called intellectuals, academicians and New York writers and reporters but I never saw it disturb him. Once, it is reported, he was angered by a false charge of prejudice. A witness stated that it brought tears to his eyes. He stalked out of but later returned to that meeting. Otherwise, he would brush most personal criticism aside, often using it to make gentle fun of himself. Once, when talking about the problems of forests and their conservation, he observed that even trees pollute. Of course that immediately brought down the wrath of such commentators. But yes, trees do pollute the atmosphere! They exude a bluish haze of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Reagan knew that fact; his lesser well informed and lesser well read critics did not. Why else are the “Great Smokies” so named? Or, the “Blue Ridge” mountains? Even one of the nation’s favorite patriotic songs, “America the Beautiful” sings of “the purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain”. Yes, the Rocky Mountains! Their purple color comes from that haze. Reagan wasted little time on such fools; he just kept quietly on his way.
Reagan spoke simply and directly. When asked about his philosophy about the Soviet Union, he responded simply, “We win, they lose.” We did and they did! The Soviet Union’s Prime Minister, Mikhail Gorbachev understood the keen nature of Reagan’s intelligence and once, after the Cold War had ended, was heard to publicly contradict someone who was deprecating Reagan’s intelligence. He was also a skilled negotiator considering Gorbachev to be an easy opponent in contrast to the negotiations he had long conducted in his seven terms as Union President of the Motion Picture Screen Actors Guild. But many on the political left have never troubled to understand the depth and brilliance of his strategy, the quickness and keenness of his intelligence.
Reagan had been a life long student of economics. He understood that the Soviet Union routinely “bragged up” the prospect for their crops, depressing prices so that they could buy cheaply in times of scarcity from world markets, principally the United States. As for food, simply take a globe and place your finger on the line separating Canada and America. Then spin the globe and see where the Soviet Union lies. Most of the country, unlike the United States, is in marginal land, too far north. Wheat grows further north or south by one hundred miles with the change of a single degree in temperature. In Canada, the hardiest variants seldom grow more than a few hundred miles north of the border. The Soviet Union was always hard pressed to keep its peoples fed.
While few in this country understood, the Soviet Union had little to sell other than oil and gas supplies, minerals and industrial diamonds. Reagan was aware of how vulnerable the Soviets were to the world market price of oil. In order to halt their advances towards the conquest of the world, with the help of William Casey, his CIA director, he brought the Soviet Union to its knees by convincing the Saudi Arabians to drastically cut the price of their oil. They had watched the Soviet Advance through Afghanistan towards the Indian Ocean leading to the oil rich Middle Eastern Arab, Iraq, and Iranian lands with the wealth of oil in countries and emirates bordering the Persian Gulf. They were willing to cooperate. No one saw the CIA’s black plane fly Casey secretly by night into and out of Saudi Arabia. The price of oil plunged.
It was Reagan who signed the secret orders to supply the rockets to Afghanistan to take down the Soviet aircraft and had the CIA secretly fund and supply the people of Eastern Europe, such as Lech Walesa, with radios and printing devices in their quest for freedom. He knew the power of communication. He, through his Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberg, repeatedly tested the Soviet’s defenses. He rebuilt the military after President Carter’s earlier neglect.
When Colonel Vladimir Vetrov provided the French with a list of some 250 Soviet spies seeking western industrial and military secrets, the list reached the hands of William Casey and President Reagan. Reagan cheerfully agreed to Casey’s proposal for the mounting of a counter-intelligence operation that allowed the easy theft and transfer of modified hardware designs and software programs with hidden flaws to the Soviet agents. Tom Reed, in his book, “The Abyss” alleged that this resulted in the spectacular explosion of the Trans-Siberian pipeline, the loudest explosion short of a nuclear bomb ever created by man. How many of their planes, ships and tanks could be taken out in any war by the flaws secretly built into their stolen plans with the push of a single button in the United States? It is doubtful that the Soviet Union generals wished to find out. They had the traitor, Colonel Vetrov, killed when they learned of his treason.
Reagan roundly detested Gorbachev’s use of exploding shiny toy bombs in Afghanistan to force parents to remain at home to care for their maimed children who picked them up for play. He found it abhorrent. He was willing to play hardball.
Reagan changed the nation’s previous policy of containment and detente to the elimination of enslavement across all of Eastern Europe. With the help of Margaret Thatcher, England’s “Iron Lady” Prime Minister and Pope John Paul the Second and the courage of so many Eastern Europeans such as Lech Walesa and Boris Yeltsin, Reagan changed history. Always fooled by Reagan’s warm, friendly genial demeanor, many progressives and liberals still have never figured out how it all happened or taken the trouble to find out. It would appear that once they know something, they, in spite of new facts, can’t ever forget. I would suggest that they read Peter Schweitzer’s, “Reagan’s Secret War”, or Paul Kengor’s, “The Crusader”. Tom Read’s book, “At the Abyss” gives an excellent sense of the perils of those days when Communism appeared to be and was rapidly spreading across the entire world. It also tells of its undoing.
Several years ago there was a television script that spoofed President Reagan at work in the Oval Office. In it, honorary guests, such as a visiting girl scout, would come in for a genial welcome by Reagan. Then the guest would leave and out of closets would come an entire war room staff. Maps would be rolled down the wall. Reagan would be fully in charge. Plans were made and orders would be being given. Moments later another guest would be announced. The maps would be rolled up and the staff would disappear back into the closets only to emerge again as soon as the affable Reagan ushered his guest to the door. The maps would be rolled down again. The discussions would begin anew.
This closely paralleled the truth. There was a secret war. It was a war knowingly fought by Reagan and his closest confidants. It was kept apart and secret from the State Department, a leaking ship at best. It is detailed in the books listed above. They are well worth the reading. Knowing so many of the participants, I was not surprised. I too had come to Reagan’s conclusions at that same time and was fully aware of the Soviet vulnerability. Few in the country at that time were. The Soviet Union was seen as an unbreakable monolithic force.
Protests to Reagan’s actions and comments were many. His opponent, Gorbachev, did not wish the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He wished its reform but was quite willing to call in the Spetsnaz, the special Soviet Forces to try to continue its hegemony through the mass slaughter of those who rebelled against the Soviet Union’s yoke. They could not bear the expense of Reagan’s proposed “Star Wars”. At the time laughed at by his political opponents, the program is now operational. Privately, Gorbachev pleaded with Reagan to stop. The opening of the Soviet Union’s files to the West at the end of the Cold War clearly proved that fact. He didn’t.
Only the truly naïve would ever believe that the peoples of Afghanistan, profoundly religious Muslims, would willingly embrace atheism and the occupation of their nation by a foreign power or that Communism was innocent of its many oppressions and slaughters. Only the politically naïve believed that Gorbachev would willingly have surrendered the captive nations of Europe. As Reagan had said, “We win, they lose.”
Well, the movie actor won his first step up the ladder, his first gubernatorial campaign. The vote was 3,742,913 for Reagan to 2,749,174 for Governor Pat Brown. It was 6,261 votes short of a million vote victory.
In the process of helping close down the campaign office, I became aware that almost all of the proposed nominees for Reagan’s governmental positions were young, rising attorneys or financiers from the heart of San Francisco and Los Angeles. They were fine prospective candidates but hardly representative of the State as a whole. This deeply concerned me. I met with Tom Read with our wives for supper at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco and strongly recommended that he undertake the process of broadening the scope of prospective appointees. He agreed and became Reagan’s first Appointment Secretary in Sacramento specifying that his term of office be limited to one hundred days to avoid charges that he might be attempting to advance an agenda of his own. Eventually the list was expanded to include men and women from dozens of different professions and occupations from around the entire state: farmers, fishermen, high tech engineers, entrepreneurs, ranchers, timber men and business men and women. I’m told that it included more minorities than any Governor had ever previously appointed, or than all previous Governors all combined. Later, the press acknowledged their quality.
Although I had not requested it, I was offered the position of Chief of the Fair Employment Practices Division which also enforced the State’s Fair Housing Laws, a matter of great contention at that time with the passage of the Rumford Act. I had also been offered the position of Corporation Commissioner and Insurance Commissioner for the State of California.
Holding either of those two positions would have been a stellar recommendation for any later legal advancement in the field of Corporate or Insurance law. However, I felt that Reagan was perceived by some to be adverse to the interests of minorities. Reagan was, to say the least, absolutely unprejudiced. But that was not the perception of many members of California’s minority communities. His administration needed someone who could work with members of the minority community. As a six-foot two inch tall white skinned former red head with hair turning auburn, one could say that I stood out at the time as being distinctly a member of the minority in that milieu. But that was not the minority with which the public was concerned. Every day saw new reports as California’s cities remained aflame with new reports of racial riots and unrests.
News of my appointment leaked to the press before it was ever formally announced. A radio station called at seven in the morning to awaken me out of a sound sleep with my first press question, “Was I the fox the Governor set to guard the chickens?” Later, I averted a mass walkout of the Division’s employees in protest of my appointment on my first day in office.
The Division had taken to using complaints to hold as a club over employers and landlords rather than resolving the specific issue or issues alleged in the filing of the complaint. All this was much the same as President Obama’s misuse of the Internal Revenue Service using the government to coerce and prevent citizens with conservative philosophy from seeking tax exempt status for public speech organizations by delaying and constantly questioning their positions. The use of the government to delay and harass is a bad policy. There was an outstanding backlog of more than a thousand cases. Over the coming months, the Division was placed back on its lawful course. A sense of trust developed. Quiet slowly returned. The laws were being enforced without prejudice. The backlog was reduced to the normal, incoming flow of complaints. They were either solved or carried into litigation. I refused to use the government to enforce delays as an indirect method of control.
After two years in office, I resigned my position to return to my own affairs only to be urgently recalled by Reagan and his team led by Spencer Roberts along with Tom Reed to set up the Scheduling for his Statewide Re-Election Campaign in 1970. This involved coordinating the campaign schedules with the routine schedule of the Governor’s Office.
As Reagan faced no opposition, the decision had apparently been made to use the Primary Campaign as a practice run of the scheduling techniques and training of personnel necessary to win the General Election. The request for my help was made at a very late date. It required intense work upon my part. At one point, just prior to our first Tour, I had had to remain at my desk from 8:00 A.M. one morning, throughout the day and then throughout the night and next day until 11:00 P.M.
Once the first two tours had been successfully completed and the staff trained, I again returned to my private affairs. Although I had been asked to run for Congress, it was clear that my work in politics had to end. Any further airplane flight had been precluded by my physician. The distances involved in national and even in the administration of California politics permitted no other solution. My campaign days were over. I would have no further political career.