By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer
Mary Lewis said she never missed a Ronald Reagan movie. The 77-year-old Texico resident praised the former president.
“I just loved him, he was just so handsome and such a good actor,” she said. “He was a wonderful president and a loving husband.”
Reagan, the nation’s 40th president, died Saturday at age 93 after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Clovis historian Don McAlavy said a woman reported seeing Reagan in 1957 reading the newspaper in the lobby of the Clovis Hotel. He reportedly had an hour layover between train trips and passed time in the historic hotel.
Area Republican party advocates Jeff Naggs and Brett Johnson watched Reagan news coverage together Saturday afternoon.
“I think history will look upon Reagan as the man who brought down the Iron Curtain,” said Naggs, chairman for the Curry County Bush/Cheney re-election campaign. “He will be looked upon as one of our greatest presidents.”
Johnson, the Curry County Republican Party chairman, remembers when Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 against Walter Mondale. Reagan was asked if his age would play a factor in his being elected and comically answered:
“I will not make age an issue in this campaign. I’m not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
Johnson said Reagan’s Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 turned the economy around.
“The man befuddled liberals for 20-some years,” he said. “I would say that one of the greatest things he could do is he would go to the people when Congress didn’t do what he wanted them to do.”
Roosevelt County Comm-issioner Tom Clark, a Democrat, remembers Reagan as an effective leader. He said while he didn’t always agree with Reagan’s views, he agreed with his fiscal conservativeness.
Clark said Reagan will not stand out as one of the nation’s greatest presidents, but he respects Reagan nonetheless.
“There wasn’t a lot of controversy that went on,” Clark said. “He was a moral person when he was in the White House which is more than I can say for Bill Clinton.”