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Sen.. Baker, the president’s chief of staff, asked me to come down the hall to his office in the West Wing. Entering his office, he was sitting with Secretary of State George Shultz. The conversation quickly moved to removing the lines from the president’s speech that referenced tearing down the Berlin Wall. The State Department had made several attempts during the vetting process to either remove the lines or greatly water them down. The point that was made - the statement would be viewed as an affront by Mr. Gorbachev and set back the work that had been done to normalize relations. I responded that having heard the president deliver the line on several occasions, there was no doubt of the potential impact. But it was none the less daunting as a communication director in his thirties to be responding to the questions of the chief of staff and the secretary of state.

Move ahead about a week as President Reagan stood on the platform at the Brandenburg Gate. I was following every word, waiting for him to reach the line on tearing down the wall. President Reagan came to the passage. He appeared to slightly stand taller and he delivered it. A hush spread across the thousands gathered at the Gate and then applause broke out among those amassed at the Gate. There was little doubt that the message rang true.


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An American Life: The Autobiography by Ronald Reagan
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A great political leader speaks with authority, candor and wisdom of his re...