"The Speech": an early step on the journey to the White House. The present speech was hailed by political pundit David Broder as "the most successful political debut since William Jennings Bryan electrified the 1896 Democratic convention with his 'Cross of Gold' speech." Subsequently published as "A Time to Choose," this impassioned explication of conservative thought and policy became known to those in Reagan's circle (and, indeed, in the larger conservative movement) simply as "The Speech."
In terms of its proximate purpose, the speech was a dismal failure: it was after all delivered on behalf of the 1964 Republican presidential ticket of Barry Goldwater and Bill Miller, who suffered one of the historic electoral thumpings at the hands of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. But the speech transformed its speaker from a fading television and screen actor to a rising political star. Scarcely two years later he was occupying the Governor's Mansion in Sacremento and in 1980 he was elected to the presidency.
Reagan began "A Time to Choose," by stating that "The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script." In fact, both Reagan's admirers and detractors should be able to agree that this text lays out a script of conservative domestic and foreign policy that he followed for his entire political life.
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