Ron Reagan to Speak at Democratic National Convention

CNN – Democrats give Ron Reagan prime time speaking slot

Ron Reagan will speak in prime time at the Democratic National Convention on the importance of stem cell research, a senior adviser to presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry told CNN on Sunday. The Kerry adviser, who did not want to be identified, said the appearance of the younger son of the late former President Ronald Reagan came about after “overtures were made by both sides — friends of both.” The adviser did not say on which night Reagan, 46, will speak. The four-day convention kicks off July 26 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ron Reagan, a self-described liberal whose political views were often at odds with his conservative Republican father, has said publicly that he does not support President Bush’s re-election. Reagan raised eyebrows during his father’s burial service in June when he said in his eulogy that his father “never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage.”

I agree with Big Trunk that that line was rather “a wrong note” in the midst of a eulogy. Not to mention wrong; Reagan wore faith on his sleeve all the time–indeed, he essentially inaugurated that practice among modern presidential candidates.

Rob Tagorda has a point, too, noting that it was unlikely the Republicans made too strong an overture to Ron Reagan, given that he has long been vocally anti-GOP.

In news, Robert Novak recounts a fisking by William F. Buckley, Jr. of recent remarks made by Ron Reagan, Jr.

RR Jr.: The nude picture of his sister Patti in Playboy was ”just something that is not too exciting.”

WFB: ”Why then was there so much excitement about it?”

RR Jr.: As for his father’s reaction when he dropped out of Yale to join the ballet, ”That was fine with him.”

WFB: ”It wasn’t fine with him and he enlisted my aid in trying to persuade you to stay in college.”

RR Jr.: Having three cats while being childless ”is like having children.”

WFB: ”No, it’s not like having children.”

RR Jr.: As to whether his mother helps him out financially, ”Of course not. My father felt that children should make their own way.”

WFB: ”I know, and you know that I know, something about that question. But to say that ‘of course’ your mother does not help you out suggests she will not do so even if there were a need. Are you saying she would not acknowledge you in her will?”

RR Jr.: As to the Abu Ghraib prison abuses, ”How can Christians tolerate it?”

WFB: ”I don’t know of any Christians who ‘tolerate it.’ The perpetrators are reviled.”

RR Jr.: In an answer to a question, he said he did not vote for Bush in the last election.

WFB: ”Odd that you should permit this invasion of privacy whose only purpose is to remark the political infidelity of the son of Ronald Reagan.”

RR Jr.: His father ”worked hard to impress upon his children the value of kindness.”

WFB: ”If he did, he was manifestly unsuccessful.”


To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about Ron Reagan in between the time that he was seen dancing in his underdrawers on Saturday Night Live and his appearance at his father’s eulogy. From what I can gather, he seems a decent enough fellow. And, certainly, he has every right to his own political beliefs. Disagreeing with most of the political principles his dad stood for doesn’t dishonor him.

It is a fair question, however, to wonder how interested the DNC would be in hearing his views on stem cell research–or anything else, for that matter–if his name weren’t Ron Reagan.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Actually, it was Carter who made a big deal out of being “born-again.” So I think “wearing faith on one’s sleeve for political advantage” does indeed pre-date Reagan’s inauguration.

    But the larger point, that Reagan didn’t hide his faith, is undeniably true.

  2. Wonder if the GOP will invite Michael Reagan to speak?

    Reagan v Reagan would sure be interesting.

  3. rogerky says:

    Presidents for time immemorial have sought to be portrayed as vessels of Our Lord. Reagan, who clearly did not embrace the teachings of Christ was among them. The current president is the most shameful example of a man whose actions reveal either a misunderstanding of, or a loathing for, the teachings of Christ. Had the Religious Right any moral compass, it would disown Bush and declare him the blasphemer he is.

  4. McGehee says:

    Thank you, Reverend Phelps.

  5. Gagne84 says:

    McGehee, that’s an awfully sad reply to a righteous response. Read Proverbs 28:6.

  6. ritabob says:

    I read Buckley as saying sons should vote as their fathers do, as having a different definition of “tolerate” than others do, as playing with verb tenses when he invokes Nancy’s will, and if there was so much excitement about Patti’s photos in Playboy, why didn’t I hear about them? (You can tell I read the excerpt from bottom to top to see if it made more sense.) Buckley accuses Ronnie of revealing a confidence and then does so himself. Any way you look at it, Ronnie’s appearance at the DNC is a coup for the Dems. Why be so petty about it? Once again, Buckley makes us look small.