Today in NC State History: President Reagan visits Reynolds

September 5, 2012
By Chris Saunders

PrintThe subject of the economy has been front and center the last week at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Politicians from both parties stand up with their plans and solutions to jump-start job creation and investments.

Well… 2012 isn’t that much different from 1985, as it was on this day that year that President Ronald Reagan came to NC State’s campus to promote tax reform that he thought could bolster the economy.

Reagan’s appearance in Reynolds Coliseum was one of his first public appearances since he had undergone cancer surgery that July. The Secret Service had been on campus for at least 48 hours preparing for the president’s visit, and there were at least 10 metal detectors set up outside of Reynolds. The Raleigh Times reported that there were around 250 protesters on hand.

President Reagan waits to speak in Reynolds Coliseum in 1985.

President Reagan waits to speak in Reynolds Coliseum in 1985.

Marine One, the president’s helicopter, landed on Derr Field, and Reagan then made his way to Reynolds, where it got so hot that the president had to take off his jacket.

Some 15,000 people heard Reagan describe his tax plan, which he promised would lower taxes on 58 percent of Americans and simplify tax brackets. Some observers saw it as a chance for Reagan to establish deeper connections to the South for the 1986 senatorial races and to speak to a friendly, more-conservative audience, something he needed since his proposal had been losing support that summer. And he went to a familiar place in NC State myth to draw a sports parallel to his tax reform.

“You students of North Carolina State know a thing or two about starting out as underdogs and going on to victory,” Reagan said. “You began the ’83 basketball season near the bottom of the polls but you never lost heart. You gave it all you had through that final second of play when a dunk shot won you the championship.

“Well, what I want to do is bring a little more of the Wolfpack spirit to Washington this fall — and win one for America.”

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