The Reagan Years - Firing Line - January 27, 1980

(William F. Buckley - so excited over the thought of a Reagan White House he called him "Mister President" a year before the election) Early on in

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(William F. Buckley - so excited over the thought of a Reagan White House he called him "Mister President" a year before the election)

Early on in his campaign, then-candidate Reagan made an appearance on the Firing Line program, hosted by William F.Buckley on January 27, 1980. So taken back by the thought of a Reagan White House, Buckley kept referring to Reagan as "Mister President", asking questions that almost seemed like a coaching session for what would be the grueling campaign for an election that would take place some eleven months later.

Buckley fawned reverential, asking the most maleable of soft-ball questions, as if he didn't want to know if there were any chinks in the Reagan armor, didn't want the audience to feel there was any other candidate even worth mentioning - acting as though the Carter Presidency was already over - it was merely a waiting game until inauguration.

During the one hour session, Reagan gets into domestic policy with a couple of samples:

Reagan on Domestic Energy: “ Vast areas, known to contain minerals and possibly such sources as oil and natural gas are rapidly being taken over by the Federal government. They’re formerly federal lands but they’re now being withdrawn from any multiple use, and restricted to . . .as wilderness areas where the only people that can possibly use those public lands is that small segment of the public who maybe has the energy and the time to go backpacking and hike up to a hill and say ‘isn’t that beautiful’ but none of the rest of us will ever get to see it because they won’t allow you to put a road in.”

Reagan on Education: “I would like to dissolve the 10 billion dollar National Department of Education created by President Carter, and turn schools back to the local school districts, where we built the greatest public school system the world has ever seen. I think I could make a case in the decline of public education when federal aid became federal interference.”

He also makes no bones about his eagerness to do away with regulations citing, among others, the EPA as an evil agency, bent on destroying free enterprise.

All in all, it's a fascinating glimpse into the Candidate Reagan, with a certain amount of goodnatured bumbling tossed in for good measure.

And Buckley loved every syllable of it.

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