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    Reagan's Former Assistant: Couple of Things Fairly Similar Between Trump, Reagan

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    Sputnik spoke with Peggy Grande, former assistant to President Reagan and author of the book The President Will See You Now: My Stories and Lessons from Ronald Reagan's Final Years, to get her views on how Reagan compares to Trump, what she learned from working with Reagan and how he could have perceived current political issues such as Brexit.

    Sputnik: Could you describe what it was like to work for one of the most important figures in modern history?

    Peggy Grande: It was certainly the opportunity of a lifetime to have a front row seat to history and to work for that remarkable man for over a decade of his life. I started working for him right after he left the White House and returned to Los Angeles and worked for him for the next ten years, from 1989 to 1999, and in a lot of ways, those were years when he was a little more outside the eye of the public, and yet I got a front row seat to see what he was really like behind the scenes when the cameras weren't rolling, when he thought that nobody was really watching, to see what the man was like, not just the politician and the President.

    Sputnik: How do you feel President Reagan felt about the lampooning he often received in the media, particularly in the UK, and do you feel that there are any parallels between Reagan and Trump regarding domestic and foreign policy?

    Peggy Grande: The President kind of used that to his advantage; he was willing to make himself the butt of the joke or use self-deprecating humour. He took his role seriously, but didn't take himself too seriously, but there really weren't two Ronald Reagans, the same man that you saw in public was the same man behind the scenes. He was warm and welcoming, happy and gracious and very very funny.

    I think people actually underestimated the work and discipline behind the scenes that he put into everything he did and he certainly played that to his advantage.

    Any two people you can easily compare and contrast. There are a couple of things that I think are fairly similar between Trump and Reagan, as both came from an entertainment background; although I laugh when they dismiss Ronald Reagan as just a cowboy actor. They're skipping over the fact that he was the governor of the state of California for eight years, which is certainly executive experience at a very high level. California; if it was a standalone country would be the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world, so he certainly had executive experience, but they did like to dismiss him as just being a cowboy actor who happened to find his way to become President.

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    Very much like Donald Trump; Ronald Reagan was not the party's choice in 1976, he also was not the party's choice in 1980 when he went on to take the nomination. The party loyalists wanted George Bush to be their nominee, so Ronald Reagan really had to make up some ground and we look back and say what a great choice he was, but at the time I think people were very sceptical and nervous.

    Looking at the way Donald Trump communicates to people; you know people criticise his Twitter, but I actually think he should continue tweeting, I just wish he would be a little more disciplined with his tweeting, but that's his way of talking directly to the American people, not above them or through them with media soundbites, but really talking directly to them.

    That was something that was important to Ronald Reagan as well. He gave weekly radio addresses, he would call the cameras into the Oval Office, look into the lenses and come into your living room and tell you what he wanted to tell you, and so there was a desire on his part to connect with people and I believe that Ronald Reagan; if he were alive today, would certainly be on social media, because it would be the best, most direct way to communicate with people.

    There are a couple of things on the global stage where Trump is kind of taking a playbook so to speak from Reagan. He's willing to sit down and have face to face conversations with people that he fervently disagrees with.

    Ronald Reagan believed in face to face diplomacy, he thought there was nothing that two people couldn't accomplish if they sat down across the table from each other and talked to each other, and while it's important to send the foreign service, your envoys or representatives; there is something very special about two leaders sat down talking face to face.

    We see whether it's with North Korea currently; I know that they had a missile launch recently, but since then they really have stopped firing missiles over Japan and come to the table to sit down and talk.

    While there is still much ground to be covered and gains to be made; I think it's a different conversation when you are talking to each other and not about each other, and that's certainly something that was very Reagan-esque.

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    The world continues to be a dangerous place and I don't think Donald Trump is naïve to that, nor was Ronald Reagan, but Ronald Reagan was always very aware of his place in history and knew that the things he did and the decisions he made were not necessarily a blueprint or a template for every decision moving forward. He believed that only the President who's sitting in the Oval Office at the time, who has all the information at their disposal can make the best decision. He was always very careful to not backseat drive even George Bush's presidency, even though that had been his vice president.

    He just realised that there's so much involved that the public doesn't see and that you just have to trust that the President at the time is getting the right information and making the best decisions.

    Sputnik: As President Reagan was often dubbed the political soulmate of then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; who was a firm Eurosceptic, what do you think his take on Brexit would have been?

    Peggy Grande: As you know; Ronald Reagan was a great patriot, he loved this country and he certainly wanted America to thrive and to be strong and he believed that a strong America on the world stage could make the world a safer place.

    I think he would have been very much in favour of a country's right to control their own destiny, to control their own borders and to not be beholden to other people who have conflicting interests and so; without putting words into his mouth, I have to believe that he would have been in favour of sovereign nations taking their own futures into their own hands.

    READ MORE: Trump Inviting Putin to White House Is 'Very Good Sign' — Reagan's Adviser

    He was a wonderful person, I learned so much from him; just by the way, he lived his life, watching him interact with individuals. Whether it was ordinary patriotic Americans or world leaders, he lived his life and led with such a graciousness and warmth about him.

    In a lot of ways; he changed my idea of what leadership really looks like because you think that somebody who's strong and successful can't also be nice and kind, but he certainly had a gentlemanly aspect to him and I think that there's a longing for that today.

    There's not a lot of stability in the world's politics these days and Ronald Reagan certainly represented a time when there was. I'm always optimistic and I hope we will get back to that someday.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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