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Reagan Stories and Lessons – Celebrating CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie’s 90th Birthday – Part 3

The following are excerpts from CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie’s book “TAKEOVER.”

As executive secretary of YAF, I wrote a letter to Ronald Reagan in the spring of 1962, asking him to sign a fund-raising letter for us. After a month or so went by and I had received no response, I put the matter out of mind.

Then several months later I opened an envelope that had inside a letter with a child’s crayon scribbling on it. Since it was not unusual for us to receive our fund-raising letters back telling us to go jump in a lake (or worse), I threw it away, but something made me pull it out of the trash.

I quickly realized that it was my letter to Ronald Reagan with a handwritten note in the bottom left-hand corner, saying words to the effect of, “Dear Mr. Viguerie, I’m sorry, but I just found your letter in Ronnie’s toy chest. If you think my name will be of help, please feel free to use it.

…Reagan was sincere about the SDI program, both as a tool to bankrupt the Soviet Union and as a way to preserve mankind from the sure destruction a nuclear war would bring.

Martin Anderson has vividly described Reagan’s 1979 visit to the NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain complex, and how troubled he was by the powerlessness of a system that could detect impending annihilation but could do nothing to stop it. As a presidential candidate in 1980, Reagan was lobbied on missile defenses by Wyoming senator Malcolm Wallop.

Once again, it was conservatives working outside the establishment Republican Party who kept public support for the SDI program alive and the establishment’s feet to the fire on one of President Reagan’s most important defense initiatives.

One of the two times Ronald Reagan called me while he was president was to thank me for what I was doing to help generate public support for SDI.

…when push came to shove, the toughest opposition to Ronald Reagan’s most revolutionary ideas, such as defeating, not accommodating, Communism, cutting spending and regulation to spur economic growth, and freeing the world from the threat of nuclear war, didn’t come from the Democrats and liberals; it came from the establishment Republicans who refought the arguments of the 1980 Republican primaries every time Reagan sent a proposal to Capitol Hill…


[Back in the 1960s and 70s] Because of the weakness of the Republican National Committee and the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill, plenty of conservatives then, as now, were inclined to leave the Republican Party, at least for a while. Every time the establishment GOP would “me-too” the Democrats, or strong-arm conservatives in Congress or Republican Party politics, some conservatives would contemplate forming a third party.

This conservative disillusionment with the GOP wasn’t new, as I’ve mentioned before; it went back at least to the 1950s and early 1960s, when a vehement group of libertarian-minded thinkers, such as author Ayn Rand, argued for a separate movement, while William F. Buckley Jr. argued for a conservative takeover of the Republican Party.

Goldwater had to swat down the idea of a third party, telling conservatives at the 1960 Republican National Convention to grow up and concentrate on taking over the Republican Party.

Some conservatives had even urged Ronald Reagan to run as a third-party conservative candidate. During the 1970s I found plenty of reason to support these efforts, and I was certainly fed up enough with the failures of the Republican establishment to bolt the Republican Party myself.

This effort gathered so much steam that a group of conservatives convened a meeting in Washington to urge Reagan to leave the Republican Party, launch “a full-blown national conservative movement,” and run as a third-party candidate.

To his great credit, Reagan chose not to pursue that path.

Reagan’s answer to those, including some of his good political supporters, who wanted him to head this new conservative party, was to tell them “they were out of their minds.”

As Reagan saw it then (and he was right) the bulk of conservative voters in America are Republicans—and they won’t desert the Republican Party for a third party.

Reagan understood that if he was ever going to make progress in accomplishing the things he believed in, it would have to be within the Republican Party. This is why, while I considered myself to be first and foremost a limited-government constitutional conservative, I operate, then and now, within the Republican Party…


In the great hundred-year battle for the soul of the Republican Party, conservatives have faced three challenges: the first was to defeat the GOP establishment and nominate a conservative for president, which we did in 1964 by nominating Senator Barry Goldwater; the second was to nominate, and elect, a conservative president, which we did in 1980 with Ronald Reagan. Our next challenge will be to nominate and elect a conservative as president and provide him or her with a conservative majority in Congress and the states so that he or she can actually govern as a conservative.



  • Republican Party

  • Political marketing

  • direct mail

  • Richard Viguerie

  • conservative movement

  • 2024 election

  • Donald Trump

  • Arkansas Democrat Senator David Pryor

  • snake oil salesman

  • Social Security bankruptcy

  • Reagan NORAD visit

  • SDI program

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