Early political career
Ronald Reagan began his political life as a Democrat, supporting Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal. He gradually became a staunch social and fiscal conservative. He embarked upon the path that led him to a career in politics during his tenure as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) from 1947 until 1952, and then again from 1959 to 1960. In this position he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on Communist influence in Hollywood. He also kept tabs on actors he considered "disloyal" and informed on them to the FBI, but he would not implicate them publicly to HUAC. He supported the practice of blacklisting in Hollywood, defending it in a letter to Hugh Hefner because he claimed he would help anyone wrongly accused "avail himself of machinery to solve this problem." In that letter he claimed that the list of suspected leftists in Hollywood was not a "blacklist" but rather a list created by disgruntled moviegoers.
His employment by the General Electric company further enhanced his political image. By the 1964 election, Reagan was an outspoken supporter of conservative Republican Barry Goldwater. His nationally televised speech "A Time for Choosing" electrified conservatives and led to his being asked to run for Governor of California.
In 1966, he was elected the 33rd Governor of California, defeating two-term incumbent Pat Brown; he was re-elected in 1970, defeating Jesse Unruh, but chose not to seek a third term. He had vowed to send "the welfare bums back to work," and "to clean up the mess at Berkeley." For the latter, he had UC President Clark Kerr fired and forced the University of California to charge tuition for the first time by cutting its budget. During the People's Park protests, he sent 2,200 National Guard troops into Berkeley. During his first term, he froze government hiring, but also approved tax hikes to balance the budget.
Reagan tried to gain the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, and again in 1976 over the incumbent Gerald Ford, but was defeated at the Republican Convention. He succeeded in gaining the Republican nomination in 1980. The campaign was greatly affected by the Iran hostage crisis; most analysts believe President Jimmy Carter's inability to solve the hostage crisis played a large role to Reagan's victory against him in the 1980 election.
In 1984, he was re-elected in a landslide over Carter's Vice President Walter Mondale, winning in 49 of 50 states and receiving nearly 60 percent of the popular vote. Much of his first election and this second term landslide is attributed to the then-named "Reagan Democrats", a newly emerged but mostly unorganized political force.
On March 30, 1981, just 69 days into his Presidency, while leaving the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC, President Reagan, Press Secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent, and District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delanty were shot by John Hinckley, Jr Shortly before surgery to remove the bullet from his chest (which barely missed his heart) he remarked to his surgeons, "I hope you're all Republicans,"  and to his wife Nancy he jokingly commented, "Honey, I forgot to duck." Apparently he was quoting a remark made by boxer Jack Dempsey in 1926 explaining his loss of his heavyweight championship. After Dempsey lost to Gene Tunney, his wife Estelle Taylor asked him "What happened?" His reply was "Honey, I forgot to duck." Reagan often creatively quoted such witticisms.
As a politician and as President, he portrayed himself as being:
of Japan meeting with Reagan.]]
He is credited with: