Longtime NR readers are aware that the magazine was a Reagan booster long before he became President. In the course of researching a paper on the late NR senior editor Frank Meyer, I came across the following:
Of all the leading candidates, Reagan obviously has the most consistent principled stand, on both domestic and foreign policy. Nixon has an onorable anti-Communist record and, if he has been somewhat ambiguous on domestic questions at times, he would seem to be, on balance, acceptable to conservatives–if he can avoid the temptation to which he has succumbed in the past, the temptation of assuming that the conservatives are in his pocket and therefore distorting his position to court the Liberals.
It is on the question of fitness for office that I have encountered conservative hesitance about Reagan. These hesitations seem to me to miss a major fact. While Reagan’s governmental experience may be short, he is the only conservative in a generation who has had the actual experience of carrying solidly conservative principles into practice in a major state. Furthemore, he is doing it with enough success to gain the grudging admiration of skilled observers who are far from sympathetic to his ends. And the objection that he lacks a grasp of foreign policy was effectively dispelled in his recent debate with Robert Kennedy on “Town Meeting of the World,” an encounter from which he emerged (again, in the opinion of neutral and unsympathetic analysts) clearly superior.
From: “Thinking Aloud about 1968,” June 13, 1967.
For those interested, Meyer also wrote the essay “Why I Am for Reagan” in the May 11, 1968 New Republic.