Reagan began his political career as a Democrat. However, in the early 1950s, as his relationship with Republican actress Nancy Davis grew,he shifted to the right and, while remaining a Democrat, endorsed the presidential candidacies of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as Richard Nixon in 1960.The last time Reagan actively supported a Democratic candidate was in 1950 when he helped Helen Gahagan Douglas in her unsuccessful Senate campaign against Richard Nixon. After being hired in 1954 to host the General Electric Theater, a TV drama series, Reagan soon began to embrace the conservative views of the sponsoring company's officials. His many GE speeches—which he wrote himself—were non-partisan but carried a conservative, pro-business message; he was influenced by Lemuel Boulware, a senior GE executive. Boulware, known for his tough stance against unions and his innovative strategies to win over workers, championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism: free markets, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government. Eventually, the ratings for Reagan's show fell off and GE dropped Reagan in 1962. In August of that year Reagan formally switched to the Republican Party, stating, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me." In the early 1960s Reagan opposed certain civil rights legislation, saying that "if an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so."In his rationale, he cited his opposition to government intrusion into personal freedoms, as opposed to racism; he strongly denied having racist motives and later reversed his opposition to voting rights and fair housing laws. When legislation that would becomeMedicare was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it,...
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