Nostalgia Reigns Supreme at Reagan Reception
Republicans jonesing for a nostalgia hit got their fix at the Capital Hilton last night, where veterans of the Reagan Revolution gathered to honor their queen.
Nancy Reagan, still head-to-toe in the Reagan red pantsuit and shoes she wore to the White House earlier in the day, received a long line of admirers, some who literally knelt at her feet. Still recovering from a fall, the former first lady sat in a chair in the ballroom as friends and former Reagan administration officials -- James Brady, Bob Michel, Lucky Roosevelt, Alan Greenspan -- waited their turn to tell her they miss her husband -- and his more genial GOP.
"If President and Mrs. Reagan had a extended family, this would be it," said Reagan Foundation head Fred Ryan, who said the Tuesday soiree was the largest reunion of Reaganites since the former president left office. Like all families, this one was hit up for money: contributions for the Reagan centennial campaign in 2011.
The former first lady's turn on the stage -- the exact same spot where she appeared in her famous "Secondhand Clothes" skit at the 1982 Gridiron dinner -- lasted less than a minute.
"Thank you for coming," she said, surveying the crowd. "So nice to see all of you."
"We LOVE you!" shouted one man from the back of the room.
Today's Republican Party? Not so much. RNC Chair Michael Steele got an earful from Roosevelt, chief of protocol in the Reagan White House.
"I was giving him hell," she said. "If the Republican party wants to win elections, they have to open the tent."
Steele maintained his trademark grin. "A lot of people here represent the legacy of a great man and great president," he said. "I think they are an essential link to helping us regain our footing in the future."
But a lot of things, he admitted, have changed since Reagan's day. "You never heard a harsh word come out of his mouth. It's a little more . . . " Steele searched for a word, " . . . tough today."
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