PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley reacted to the death for former First Lady Nancy Reagan, saying the differences between the 40th President and his wife were what brought them together.

Shirley, during an interview with Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, stated their diversity of interests created an ideal pairing.

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“They proved the old adage that opposites attract. She was social. He was private. She was expensive cuisine. He was hamburger. He was country. She was city. He was more conservative. She was more moderate. If you go down the line, they were actually opposites in many ways, but that provided the glue for their successful and loving 54 year marriage. It was interesting too that they both reached the age of 94. I guess they just did everything together.”

He pointed out that the Washington press was very hard on them, creating lasting images of the Reagans that continue to linger in popular culture.

“Washington was a town that was dominated by New Deal Democrats since the 1930’s. It was a very leftist town, very unforgiving. They made the Nixon’s life absolutely miserable. They weren’t very nice to Mamie Eisenhower. It was just a continuation of their hatred of conservatives and Republicans. I think the Reagans probably understood better than most when they came into Washington, they were walking behind enemy lines. Especially lead by the Style section of the [Washington] Post. The Style section of the Post was vicious, ugly, nasty, rotten. Even the week of his funeral, they wrote stories speculating on his marriage. They wrote stories questioning his acting career. They wrote stories questioning his football prowess at Eureka. They were an utterly vicious, mean spirited band of, I won’t call them journalists, they were just mud throwers.”

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Shirley also addressed the ongoing Republican presidential primary and how Ronald Reagan would react to the devolving tone set by candidates.

“I think he would step back and intellectualize it and say ultimately debate is healthy. Debate is good. Debate is an essential part of Democratic and Republican party and system. Ultimately, out of chaos will come order and that’s what will eventually happen. What happens in the Republican party, I don’t know. I tend to think it’ll go back to the future, back toward Reaganism, simply because it’s a philosophy that works.”

 

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