By Quin Hillyer at National Review Online;

Many encomiums should be written in coming days about former U.S. senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, known as “Ronald Reagan’s best friend in politics,” who died Monday at age 96. Laxalt’s signal service to conservatism and country has for years been too little credited, but we can hope the credit now will roll in.

Laxalt, governor of neighboring Nevada while Reagan was governor of California, was liked and trusted entirely by both Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Serving three times as chairman of Reagan’s presidential campaigns, for years as general chairman of the Republican National Committee, and as a stalwart conservative senator known for integrity, decency, and quiet effectiveness, Laxalt played key roles in implementing the Reagan agenda. Perhaps his greatest single triumph came when he personally persuaded Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos to abdicate in the face of (justifiable) civil unrest, rather than trigger a bloodbath that might have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands.

Even Ted Kennedy called Marcos’s Laxalt-engineered exit “an extraordinary day in the history of human freedom.”

10/6/1983 President Reagan, with Laxalt front/center,and others on the White House South Lawn

Thousands of people, of course, could tell good Laxalt stories — but, to see firsthand how he operated near the pinnacle of presidential politics, please allow two of my own vivid remembrances of this admirably principled man.

The first came in 1980, at the Republican National Convention at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. I was a 16-year-old page at the convention, running messages for convention organizers while snapping as many photos of political celebrities as I could. The page “holding room” was just off a VIP-only hallway of sorts that ran underneath and behind the convention podium — a hallway whose roped-off entrance was about 15 yards away from a VIP-only back entrance to the arena from the street outside… I was standing just inside the VIP entrance — loitering, really — when in walked Laxalt and a convention official….

[The full column is here.]

 

 

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