News & Politics

25 Years Ago in The Washingtonian… What if Reagan Retired?

After the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, pundits speculated on whether he’d run for a second term. The prospect of Vice President George Bush as the 1984 GOP nominee alarmed the New Right, Jack Germond and Jules Witcover wrote in “Why Do Conservatives Hate Bush?” in the April 1982 Washingtonian.

The story said that conservative activists Paul Weyrich, Richard Viguerie, and Terry Dolan saw a White House conspiracy to thrust Bush into power:

“What ultraconservatives such as Weyrich fear is that their hero, Reagan, has been snookered by Bush. If Ronald Reagan retired in 1984, Weyrich says, “I think you would find him pointing the way for George Bush.”

Viguerie muses about a possible “LBJ scenario”—Reagan going up to Camp David in mid-February of 1984, after many primary filing dates have passed, and saying he won’t seek reelection. If that happens, he says, “it will be very tough to develop the horsepower” to detour Bush.