The making of a president
Inside the White House
'The Great Communicator'
A Life in Photographs

'The Great Communicator' strikes chord with public

Standing near the Brandenburg Gate that separates East and West Berlin, Reagan tells Soviet leader Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" in June 1987  

In a time when dazzling visual imagery was changing the face of communications, Ronald Reagan made use of the simple spoken word to define his political life. His language gave meaning to a national triumph, comforted Americans in a national tragedy and made complex international policy disputes understandable to millions. He spoke in clear, simple terms -- too simple, his critics said -- and painted vivid pictures that sometimes reflected a reality of his own making.

Reagan put the speaking talent he honed as a Hollywood actor into the service of deeply rooted conservative political beliefs: reduction of the size and scope of government, confrontation of the Soviet Union with massive military hardware and a clear moral distinction of ideologies, and the celebration of traditional American values.

Reagan speaks on the 40th anniversary of D-Day in 1984  

His closest aides, as well as his biographers, support the notion that Reagan deserved his nickname of "the Great Communicator."

Voices: Why could Reagan connect?

Video: Watch some of his most famous speeches

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