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Reagan had fans, foes in Queen City Post staff report
Once he was president, Ronald Reagan found Cincinnati to be a stronghold of Republican support, a small pocket of resistance and a great soundstage.From wide-reaching local visits to large-scale local support of his second inauguration, the Great Communicator had fans and detractors from quarters great and small.
Key visits to Cincinnati by Reagan
Sept. 22, 1979 Critical Ohio campaign drive launched in Cincinnati, speaking to 1,000 at the Convention Center.
Oct. 20, 1980 -- Campaign Speech to the Teamsters Union at the airport, speech to the National Catholic Education Association convention.
November 2, 1980 -- Visit just days before Election Day highlights Cincinnati's importance to the race. Reagan is flanked by Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston and Hugh O'Brian. Gov. James A. Rhodes told the 5,000 well-wishers, "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation." He was right.
Nov. 31, 1981 -- Attended three fund-raising events for the Ohio Republican Party at the Westin Hotel.
August 20, 1984 -- Visited P&G's new headquarters, addressing 20,000 people on Fountain Square, praising Cincinnati's economic expansion.
Aug. 8, 1988 -- Touted administration's record of economic success in speech to U.S. Precision Lens in Amelia and addressed the National Governors' Conference.
But he held Cincinnati up as an example of his city on a hill: a place where the values and economic revitalization he touted flourished. "The Blue Chip City," Reagan called Cincinnati in August of 1984, during a particularly memorable visit and speech.
That month, Reagan, on the campaign trail against Minnesota Democratic Sen. Walter Mondale, visited Cincinnati for a rally on Fountain Square.
The site was hand-picked as the backdrop for the major economic revitalization policy speech before the opening of the Republican National Convention in Dallas, aides told The Post.
With Ronald Reagan that day stood one of the city's other heroes: Johnny Bench. Around him fluttered both American flags and controversy.
The flags on sticks, handed out by GOP volunteers, were allowed to remain on Fountain Square. But the Secret Service confiscated other symbols on sticks: anti-Reagan protest signs.
The Secret Service said the sticks could be used as weapons and they just confiscated the anti-Reagan messages like "This is Mondale Country," and "Reagan Hood: Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich."
Visiting the then-new Procter & Gamble towers that are now the twin trademarks of the city's skyline, Reagan, on this visit, called Cincinnati "a symbol of economic renaissance."
"Cincinnati's thriving. You're not an economic recovery -- you're an economic expansion. Just look around us at all this construction, at the gleaming office towers and the shops and restaurants below. -- You put all that together and you realize Cincinnati's a modern boomtown," Reagan said.
In his noon speech to 20,000 people on the square at the city's center, he was flanked by the tangible signs of economic growth on national television as he commented on Cincinnati's past, present and future.
"It's great to be in the city of the Bengals and the Cincinnati Reds," the man who knew who to grab his audience began. He continued, "It's great to know that Pete Rose has come back home," a home run of a sentence the summer that the all-time hits king took up the manager's job of the Reds.
Reagan quoted Charles Dickens' 1842 observation that "Cincinnati is -- cheerful, thriving and animated."
He tipped his hat to the Taft family of Ohio -- four times -- naming names of four Tafts from then-Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Taft to then-Department of Defense employee William Howard Taft IV.
And with prescient foresight he praised the entrepreneurial spirit of Cincinnati's Tom Nies, CEO of Cincom Systems.
"Men like Tom Nies, who started out 15 years ago with $600 and what he called an 'impossible dream,' " Reagan said, telling the tale of the IBM worker who started his own company in Cincinnati because he loved the city.
The spirit of an entrepreneur like Nies and the "healthy spiral" of an economic system that encourages businesses, Reagan said, are what drive American growth and economic revitalization.
Reagan cited $36 million in sales for Nies' $600-and-a-card-table startup company in 1984. Twenty years later, as if by Reagan's prediction, Nies is a finalist for this year's prestigious Ernst & Young Technology Entrepreneur of the Year and published reports put his innovative software and computer solutions company's revenue at about $200 million annually.
Republican-rich Hamilton County always had been Reagan country, once his candidacy got rolling in 1980. He took 58.5 percent of the vote in his 1980 victory over Jimmy Carter. He took 63.7 percent of the vote in his 1984 victory over Mondale.
After the landslide national victory to re-election, Reagan fans in Cincinnati helped pay for the celebration.
Financier Carl H. Lindner and the Procter & Gamble Co. -- a couple of 'Blue Chips' if there ever were some -- both contributed to Reagan's second inaugural committee, providing no-interest loans. Lindner loaned the inaugural at least $100,000 and P&G's loan was listed in the $10,000-$25,000 range.
After re-election, on Oct. 3, 1985, Reagan visited Cincinnati again, pitching his tax reform plan at P&G's Ivorydale plant in St. Bernard and before the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce (photo).
October 3, 1985
He was greeted at the airport in Kentucky by Gov. Martha Layne Collins. The pro-education Democrat was planning to greet the president, but also give him a few words on her concerns about his proposed tax cut package.
Flanked by Ohio U.S. Reps. Bob McEwen, Thomas Kindness, and Bill Gradison, he was greeted by a cheering section from the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter at University of Cincinnati. Also present were scores of protesters holding signs that said "Reaganomics stink," "Raygun go home" and other messages stressing education spending over defense spending.
Even as his presidency was nearing an end, Reagan was drawn to Cincinnati and was a draw here.
Reagan visited Cincinnati during George H.W. Bush's campaign against Michael Dukakis. At a $500-a-plate fundraiser for Senate candidate George Voinovich, Reagan said "They want pork, pork, pork. And you know what that means. It means taxes, taxes, taxes, taxes."